“Star Wars Awakens” (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens)

Star Wars The Force Awakens Poster.jpg
Oh, it’s gorgeous.

Okay, here it is. I’ve been waiting for this movie for three years, and being teased endlessly in a slow barrage of set photos, fan trailers, and ten second teasers was getting just too much to take. When I saw the first official trailer, I had to watch it again just to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. All of the other trailers just went uphill from there. So, I went to see it on Friday with a whole bunch of friends from school, on it’s first full day. How did I like it? Oh, God.

After the fall of the empire, the sinister First Order has risen, led by the Supreme Leader Snoke and the evil Sith lord Kylo Ren.  To combat the Order, a military group affiliated with the New Republic, the Resistance, was formed. But, Luke Skywalker has been missing for a while, after the fallout of his failure training new Jedi. General Leia Organa Solo has sent out one of her best opereatives, Po Dameron, to safeguard a piece of the map that will lead to the missing Skywalker.

Before The Force Awakens came out, I had already deemed it the most important new movie for me for a while. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had a movie of this much personal importance come out in my lifetime before, (I could say The Avengers, but thirteen year old me had no idea what I was getting into when I walked into the theater for that movie, so it dosen’t really count). That meant that I was determined to avoid all spoilers, (like usual), and even all reviews. I was absolutely dead set on forming my own opinion on The Force Awakens. Seriously, I got angry at one of those Youtube banners on the homepage for showing me one second of footage that I didn’t want to see. I was determined. And how did it go?

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The Millennium Falcon engages two First Order TIE fighters.

Okay, well, grinning incessantly like a little kid and getting chills when the Star Wars logo flies past the screen and breaks your eardrums around two seconds into the movie is a good sign, and I only got more excited the more of the crawl that I read. Then, the movie began. Oh, god, the movie began. Already, the new stormtroopers were there. New and interesting characters were there, villains and heroes clash, without you even understanding the stakes yet. And it was smart, too. Giving the data to BB-8, like R2-D2 in the original, or unveiling the X-Wing to the excited cheers of the crowd were both fun, and it felt like Star Wars.

This kept going on and on for the rest of the movie. Plot twists abound, laughs are had, characters grow to know each other, and the plot, as a whole, thickens. This is all about thirty minutes into the movie. After the thirty minute mark, everything gets better. Circumstances abound, and the new characters we’ve fallen in love with meet up with the old characters that we fell in love with in the 70’s. But that’s enough summarizing, you’ll just have to go see the movie yourself.

The characters in this film are astoundingly fun. Watching Finn and Po escape together and bond is just too much fun, and seeing Rey’s journey through Jakku is a treat as well. There’s this great feeling when you have this kind of multiple perspective styled storytelling, when all the pieces fit together, and you get to see the characters you’ve grown to be fond of over the past amount of time grow to be fond of each other on screen, and The Force Awakens nails that. The heroes are heroic, and fun to be around. The villains are big and bad, and pose a significant threat.

Kylo Ren Snow (TFA)
Kylo Ren and his awesome lightsaber.

The plot is interesting as well. There’s no prophecy and no chosen ones here. Just some people trying to do what’s right, and maybe save the galaxy in the process. That’s what I think the prequels kind of failed to do, in my opinion. Sure, there was the fact that Darth Vader was the chosen one to bring balance to the Force, but even that was barely touched on during the originals, and was mainly used in the prequel trilogy. What The Force Awakens has feels much more real. Rather than a seemingly straight line path that the prequels forged, the plot here follows the original’s style, being more like action and reaction, and getting to see it all on screen is a real treat.

It’s a very funny movie, too. I found myself laughing way more than I thought I would, and even though most of it is just in-jokes or references that only Star Wars fans would get, there were a couple of really good jokes in there. Basically, if you went in without experiencing any other piece of Star Wars, then you might think it was occasionally funny. However, because I’m a fan, I thought it was hysterical at times. So, there’s certainly fun to be had.

X-Wings Skimming (TFA)
Po Dameron leads Red squadron across the bay.

But, the thing that stuck out to me the most was how respectful it was to the previous films. This was one of my main worries, because JJ Abrams was never able to separate himself enough from older Star Trek movies when making his Alternate Timeline films, and they seemed to lean on the previous installments too much, and weren’t really their own thing. This went against the “boldly go” motto of Star Trek, and sort of left a sour taste in my mouth when the credits rolled. They’re good movies, but they spend most of their time looking backwards. I was afraid that this was what would happen to Star Wars, but damn, was I wrong. Abrams hit the perfect balance between acknowledging that the previous Star Wars movies happened and making sure that you knew you were watching a new Star Wars movie.

The Force Awakens payed proper respect to the originals, and rewarded you for knowing what came before it with clever jokes and references, and a whole shit-ton of jaw-dropping “look at that” moments. There is not a single boring moment. At every turn, you’ll be laughing, or grinning, or staring at the screen with a gaping mouth, or biting your nails in worry. Every second is used to the fullest, and it’s easy to see that something really special is happening here. This is Star Wars. It feels so good to just sink into it, and let it happen. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like a little kid watching this movie, and there was not a single time where I felt let down.

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Rey, Finn, and BB-8 make a break for it.

In the end, everything’s escalated, and it’s all out of control, but you get to see the characters (new and old) working together to fix everything. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out in the end, because the odds seem insurmountable and there are still two more of these episodes until we finish this “sequel trilogy”, but it feels like the first time I watched the original Star Warsyoung and wide eyed, wondering how a movie could possibly be so good.

This movie blew my mind with how insanely good it was. It just fits, and feels so amazing. Sure, maybe I won’t get to see The Thrawn Trilogy, or Children of the Jedi, but that’s okay. Well, it’s not okay, but you get what I mean. Disney, I’ll always curse you for destroying the Expanded Universe and ripping apart the continuity that I grew up on, but I also always insisted that you could redeem yourselves with the movies. Yeah, this has only been one of those movies (and we’re getting another every year), but this is the best start I could have asked for.

It feels weird to say this, because it’s kind of a big deal, and it’s been less than a day since I’ve seen The Force Awakens, and it’s also been around twenty two years since people have said this last. But, it’s true. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars movie ever made.

The new characters are great, and the old characters are better than ever. The plot will keep you engaged, and the twists never stop coming. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you wont kiss your money goodbye. The Force Awakens more than lives up to the hype, it surpasses it with flying colors. This is everything you loved about Star Wars, and more that you didn’t even know you did.

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