The latest story in the Star Wars saga is here and smashing all the records in the book. Here’s my The Force Awakens spoiler review.
And in case it wasn’t already obvious… spoilers spoilers spoilers. If you haven’t seen Episode 7, turn back now, Jedi.
Also the comments will likely have spoilers in them, so… just don’t read this at all if you haven’t seen it.
Okay, so… Star Wars. I’m a massive fan. I’ve seen all the movies. I’m aware of all the changes in each of the re-releases – 1994, 1997, 2005 (my favourite) and 2011. I’ve already admitted my appreciation for the Star Wars prequels. I’ve played most of the games – KOTOR, KOTOR 2, The Force Unleashed 1 and 2, Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, Rogue Squadron/Leader/Rebel Strike… you get the point. I’ve enjoyed The Clone Wars (2003), some of the 2008 series episodes, and also enjoyed watching the new Rebels. I guess the only thing I never really did was dive into many of the books that have been released about the Star Wars mythos.
Self professed nerd, as you’re probably aware if you’ve read the site before. At the time of writing, I’ve seen Star Wars Episode 7 3 times in the cinema (including one in the IMAX in Hong Kong Airport… how amazing they have an IMAX in an airport!). And I’ve heard lots of people talk about it. What did I think of the movie? Let’s have a look.
Also, spoilers. I want to mention some of the theories and some ideas I had about the movie, too, so… final warning. Although, I have left out some big details on some of them, so there you go.
Playing it safe… kind of
If you’ve heard people talking about The Force Awakens, chances are you’ve heard how much the movie is like A New Hope. They’re not wrong. The movie starts with a hunt for an item entrusted to a droid. Han and Chewie are doing their old schtick again. Leia is still a respected General/leader (and now a Disney princess). You have your young Force sensitive(s) in training. The older father character is present and then removed. Tatooine and Jakku are pretty much the same. And then there’s a bigger Death Star with a snow landscape reminiscent of Corellia. Oh, and Ackbar – good to see you old friend.
I think though there are enough new twists on the old format to change it up. A lot of people have said the prequels were very different and people didn’t like them for that reason, so it’s only natural the tried to make it similar again. However, I think there was more than enough new content in every section of the movie to make it feel like a brand new movie. And even Lucas has said of Star Wars that history repeats itself, and it’s like poetry in that it rhymes. JJ and team have definitely preserved this philosophy.
I loved the character of Kylo Ren. What a complicated little man. The first scene where you see just how powerful this guy is is great – the moves he uses are much more reminiscent of Starkiller from The Force Unleashed. Every single time he holds that laser in mid-air and everyone walks around it – wow. I can’t think of a character who has done something similar in any of the mythos (I could be wrong, Star Wars fans).
But more than that was his conflict. Brilliantly portrayed by Adam Driver, this guy has definitely fallen, and he’s immensely interesting to watch. Looking forward to more of Ren going forward, and the implications of his actions going forward will be interesting to see.
Once we reached Jakku, we were immediately introduced back into a world full of puppets. This was pretty cool to see. While there were still heaps of costumes for aliens used in the prequels, one of their criticisms was their overreliance on CGI. After repeated viewings though, as cool as the puppets were, it’s clear to see that CGI still has a greater edge on the old artform, simply in terms of range of motion, and even realism. An obvious example of this is a vulture and a hippo-like character – both of them don’t hold up as well on repeated viewings. Their presence as well as the presence of CGI characters however gives viewers a nice transition from Episode 6 into 7, where the age of the film is bridged by the simple techniques of having more tangible characters present. Overall, it was cool to see, but I don’t think they’ll be able to rely as much on puppets in the next episodes.
Half way through we’re introduced to a system called the Hosnian system. Unfortunately, no one cares about it. I remember when I first saw the movie I was like WOW CORUSCANT… wait, it’s not Coruscant… and now I no longer care. If they had made Coruscant the capital of the Hosnian system instead, the point of Starkiller Base would have been much more emphatic.
Andy Serkis as the big bad guy. Just who is he? Some people have suggested Darth Plageuis even though he was a Muun in the old Expanded Universe. Others have suggested Palpatine reborn. Others still have said, and I hope this is the case… he’s just a new character called Snoke.
Having played a lot of the games, it’d be really cool if Snoke was actually a Sith from the old Sith Empire, and not someone like Palpatine who was born on Naboo and raised in the ways of the Sith. I would love to see the Sith Empire involved in the mainstream movies and not just through the canon of the games or the Clone Wars series. Please please please be on Korriban and let’s have a movie take us to the burial grounds of the ancient Sith Lords, and the fringes of the Sith Empire!
The bromance – Poe and Finn
Finn and Poe. How cool was this. The chemistry between those two is the sort of mateship that Star Wars really hasn’t had to this level. Sure you have Luke and Han, and Obi-wan and Anakin. But Poe and Finn is like next level. Looking forward to more of both these characters going forward. They’re both excellent.
And okay, everyone went nuts that Finn was able to use a lightsaber, cause non-Force users apparently shouldn’t use one *cough*HAN SOLO EMPIRE STRIKES BACK*cough*. I actually think he’s Force sensitive, especially as highlighted by the fact that Rey and Finn perform in tandem the destruction of a Tie fighter in one of the most synchronized ways possible, as well as when Kylo at the beginning senses his defiance. We may yet see Jedi Finn… and I hope we do.
From the start, his absence was a powerful presence in the film. The title crawl begins “Luke Skywalker has vanished”. Awesome. We’re in.
It looks like Mark Hamill will have a much more prominent role in Episode 8, and I hope he does. How interesting to see his self-imposed exile following the betrayal of his students. We have seen this before in the prequels. But perhaps, as many theories suggest, Luke has actually fallen to the dark side in his isolation. We’ll see.
I think far and away the best thing about The Force Awakens was Daisy Ridley’s Rey. What an amazing character. Well acted, very relateable, and just has so many cool dimensions to her character. Above Shaak Ti or Ventress, this may be the most powerful Force user yet.
Repeat watchings on the movie highlight the fact they really are trying to hammer her to us as Rey Skywalker – her reaction to the lightsaber, Maz Kanata suggesting the lightsaber belongs to her as it came from Anakin and Luke, the trailers all have Luke talking about how the force runs strong in his family ala Return of the Jedi. I think being a JJ Abrams script we will definitely see more of a twist in her character.
Perhaps she’s a Kenobi. Maybe she’s Snoke’s daughter. Maybe she was one of the young Jedi in Luke’s new Order who was sent to flee from Kylo’s rebellion… or perhaps she was actually the Jedi who snapped and killed all of Luke’s students? We will see.
Also, that flashback was great. Seeing the Knights of Ren, hearing the voice of Ewan MacGregor and Alec Guinness, Mark Hammill, all the cool things she saw… very cool. Keen to see her have more to do with the brilliant character of Maz Kanata in the next films, too.
You cannot win, Revan
You know, as the movie went on, and I watched it again and again, I really felt like I’ve seen these characters before.
Ah yes, the young Jedi Bastilla, and the Sith Lord Darth Revan, from Knights of the Old Republic.
Kylo is pretty much Revan. The costume is identical. His battle abilities are similar. He makes decisions that seem to be pointing toward a greater goal.
Rey is pretty much Bastilla. Same hair style, similar fighting stance, same British accent, and she also comes equipped with Battle Meditation, Bastilla’s key ability, which she uses at the end of the movie to thwart Kylo’s advance.
I wonder if we’ll see the influence of these characters going forward? Time will tell.
So there are some of my impressions and theories of The Force Awakens. Overall, brilliant movie. Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, it’s just a good movie. As a Star Wars fan, it holds up just as well as any of the other Star Wars movies do. Bravo, Disney and Co., bravo. Also, you may have noticed I left out “the big moment”. I thought it was well done and important to increase the character of Kylo Ren. I also liked Chewie getting a perfect shot in following it happening. That’s all I really have to say about it.
What did you think of The Force Awakens? Who do you think Snoke is? Or Rey? What are you looking forward to in Episode 8?