Star Wars Rewind: The Force Awakens

For a while, people believed Star Wars films have run their course. Virtually no one was expecting to see an Episode VII anytime soon. That was until George Lucas sold the rights to Disney who planned to make a new trilogy, continuing the story. The first of these films being “The Force Awakens.”

When the film was announced, people were ecstatic about the prospect of revisiting this universe. Despite the excitement, there were hints of doubt as this was the first film in the series to have no input from Lucas. Does the movie live up to the franchise’s legendary name? Will Disney get ideas for future spinoff movies along the way? Well it’s been years since this film was released, so let’s see how it holds up.

The film takes place years after Return of the Jedi. The First Order, led by Kylo Ren, has risen from the ashes of the Empire and plans to conquer the rest of the galaxy. They’re hunting Resistance pilot Poe Dameron and his droid BB-8, who has a special map leading to Luke Skywalker- who has gone missing. Dameron is captured but is then released with the help of a rogue Stormtrooper named Finn, though the pair are separated in the escape. Finn ends up on Jakku where he comes across a scavenger named Rey, who rescues BB-8 and both agree to help get the droid back to the Resistance. Along the way, they come across Han Solo and Chewbacca who join the group to get the map to General Leia Organa and find Luke Skywalker before The First Order destroys the Resistance.

The biggest thing that everyone has pointed out was how this movie was clearly taking numerous pages from “A New Hope.” While it is obvious, they still keep the setup itself different enough so that we can accept it as its own thing. As with most sequels, there are changes that fans will find upsetting, while others like us find interesting. Continuing the story itself is a big move. When “Return of the Jedi” ended, people saw it as the perfect ending to the series. All the characters were happy and everything seemed to have come together nicely. This film definitely throws that happily ever after out the window with what it does with the characters. Fans either love or hate that, but we personally do like the idea of what happens after happily ever after. If people want to say it ended with “Return of the Jedi,” they can. They can also look at this continuation as its own thing. While there are some stories in the Legends books that we would’ve liked to have seen on the big screen, we understand if they wanted to tell an original story. As far as this one goes, it’s a good start.

One of the best aspects of this film is the characters and their interactions. These are people who aren’t generally big names, but they feel so realized that they stick with you after watching it. You remember these people from Rey, to Finn, to Poe, to BB-8…The list goes on. What makes them stand out is that, unlike the original movies where everyone’s characters were these archetypes we’ve seen before in old folklores, the characters for the most part are written like actual people. They don’t feel like they’re carbon copies of the original characters, they legitimately feel like their own individuals.

Another thing we liked about this movie was how it handles the old characters. The biggest standout being Harrison Ford as Han Solo. He was great in the original movies, but here he’s older, smarter and gets a lot of great moments here. He’s such a great character in this and works brilliantly with our main leads. It’s also really heartwarming to see him share the screen again with Carrie Fisher as Leia. Even though they’re not together anymore, you still feel a major connection between them.

We also like to talk about Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. On the surface he doesn’t seem like an interesting villain, but the way he’s played and written make you feel the complexities of this character. He is so torn and conflicted that you can feel the pain in his performance. You want him to turn good and do the right thing, but at the same time he’s done so many terrible things and will continue to do terrible things. This causes people to go back and forth with him, which is what a character like this should do.

Much like the previous films, we get a lot of different elements weaved into the storyline. They range from old sci-fi to fantasy, which is what makes up a lot of this universe. Truth be told, this is the first film since, “Return of the Jedi” where it felt like traditional Star Wars. It’s amazing how they incorporate so many practical effects and create so much atmosphere with these environments. It also helps that it’s led by characters with interesting identities. They’re all charming, funny and have stories set up for the future that we couldn’t wait to see more of.

While the story itself does feel safe, it also manages to take a few risks. For example, there is a major death in this. Without giving anything away, it was something we saw coming, and have seen done before in other films. But the way it’s played here does feel like a risky move.

Overall this is a really good movie. We understand why they went the route they did, so they can show people they can do a Star Wars film right. While it’s not the most original story, it takes enough risks where it justifies its existence and keeps people invested. We’ll even admit that when we saw the film for the first time, we did get that nostalgic feel that the originals gave us. Watching it years later, it still holds up really well. It’s entertaining, engaging, and has everything a Star Wars fan could love. The Force is strong with this one.

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