After much hype and buzz following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first film in a new Star Wars trilogy has finally been released. While many feared that the new films were just a way for Disney to gain profits, the movie has proved that this is not the case, with the film being an exceptional installment in the series.
The movie’s characters and acting are splendiferous. Drawing on the casting process from the early films, director J.J. Abrams selected unknown actors for the movie’s new lead characters, all of which are outstanding. Daisy Ridley portrays Rey, a scavenger from the planet Jakku, who gets caught up in the battle between the First Order and the Resistance when she meets Finn, a rogue stormtrooper, played by John Boyega. The idea of a female lead in Star Wars is a new one, but Ridley captures the audience with her tough and independent portrayal of Rey. Boyega is also exceptional playing Finn, showing the character’s struggle to find meaning in his life, following his break from the First Order. Other newcomers include Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. The movie also sees the return of many original characters, including Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, all of whom intertwine perfectly without the viewer ever feeling like they are superfluous.
While the early Star Wars prequels were plagued with writing and story issues, The Force Awakens, proves to break that streak with its powerful and gripping plot. Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, the Galactic Empire has reformed into the First Order, with Kylo Ren as one of its top commanders. Meanwhile, the Resistance is desperately searching for Luke Skywalker, one of the last remaining Jedi, who has gone into hiding. This drives the film forward, keeping the viewer engrossed until the movie’s conclusion. While the film does end on a cliffhanger which may be vexatious to some, it clearly is setting up for its upcoming sequels.
The Force Awakens’ special effects and backdrops are dazzling. From exciting aerial battles, to intense lightsaber duels, creator George Lucas’ visionary genius is fully recognized. The terrain of the desert planet Jakku is also gorgeous to behold with the sunsets of particular beauty.
One main criticism of the film is its derivativeness. From the series’ inception back in 1977, Lucas strived for the movies to be as innovative as possible. This has led some to chide the film for exploring familiar territory, including Lucas himself. However, this gives the movie a certain sense of nostalgia that adds to its appeal for newcomers and longtime fans alike.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the sequel fans have been waiting for. It effectively returns the series to its former glory, albeit through the reiteration of many old ideas. However, the film’s other strengths, including its acting, character development, and special effects more than make up for its derivative qualities and make it one of the best films of the year.