Ever since 1977 it was an event when a new Star Wars movie was released. Some things don’t change. It still is an extraordinary event when a new Star Wars movie reaches the big screen. I have the feeling that this time it will be the last time that Star Wars will feel new. Like it’s going off into new uncharted territories. In the next 10+ years we will be bombarded with these movies, much like the Marvel movies. The hope is that they will maintain the quality. Which I honestly have little doubt about. But Disney will milk that cow like crazy. That’s for sure. And that feeling of ‘something new’ will vanish. And this time that feeling is still there. That something ‘magical’ new is going on. This magic is captured by Star Wars Episode VII – “The Force Awakens”. I will completely avoid spoilers even though I bet everyone of you will see this movie anyway. I more want to talk about the movie instead of going too much into the story.
This movie does something interesting. When the end-credits rolled I had the impression that it completely leaves out the prequels (Episode 1-3). Not a single word about what happened there. And sure, in the timeline there has passed a lot of time since then. Still! Here and there a line about what happened in Episode 4-6. The movie starts, of course, on a desert planet. Where Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is on a secret mission, hunting down a map that is supposed to show the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Luke went into hiding when his attempt at rebuilding the Jedi Order failed. Things go a little wrong and Poe gets captured by the ‘First Order’ (which is basically the empire). He manages to slip the map into his robot buddy BB-8 and sends him away. This ‘First Order’ is what is left of the galactic empire. Which is a little mysterious since we never get a clou about how strong they are and if they are still a mighty force that is ruling star systems. So, have the rebels won or not or what the hell is going on?! We’re left in the dark about political developments of the past 20 to 30 years. I’m undecided if I like that. Since I would have liked to know how things went after the second deathstar blew up. Especially how the political situation is now in the new film. We don’t really get that. When Poe gets captured we also meet Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is also looking for that map. Kylo is a Sith apprentice and a kinda sorta Darth Vader fanboy. He’s still very young and has problems mastering his temper more than once. But he is also powerful with the force and has some skills. He is an interesting conflicted character that, I hope, will get explored more in the upcoming movies. When captured Poe meets a stormtrooper who is also very conflicted and trying to get out they both decide to team up and flee. Poe calls him Finn and together they manage to flee. They still get shot down and crashland when Finn meets Ren. Ren is a young woman who is trying to survive by scavenging spaceship wreckages. Some very impressive pictures in that part of the film. She stumbles upon BB-8 and they become friends. Not long after they meet Finn, they get attacked by the First Order that is looking for Finn and the robot. Together they flee the planet on a rusty, old piece of junk spaceship. You guessed it… it’s the Falcon. A pretty fantastic chase sequence is going on then. From then on things start to fall into place. We meet old and new characters. A lot of lucky coincidences happen. A tiny bit too many for my taste. But well, things have to connect one way or another. So I’m fine with that.
I hear the term ‘Soft Reboot’ tossed around quite a bit. And I guess you could call the movie that. I would compare it to what the Jurassic World movie did. Where they take elements of previous movies, repackage them and put them into a new movie. While Jurassic World did that much more obvious (at least in my opinion), I think SW:TFA did it in a smarter way. There definitely are similarities to A New Hope and Empire here and there. We also get a lot of ‘fanservice’ moments that make every fans heart grow a little. But without making these moments feel forced. They’re fun little sidenotes that pop up every now and then to help connect the old with the new. The downside of a ‘Soft Reboot’ approach is that it becomes predictable. Since they’re making use of a formula that’s already been used. Granted, they remodel that formula, but at its core it’s still the same. And while the character plotlines in this movie are relatively open, you can still, very early on, see where the movie as a whole will go. So I wished the movie ending, regarding the bad guys, was not as definitive as it was and more open.
While this movie at its core is a little puzzle’ish put together with elements from other Star Wars movies, it’s the new characters that really make it all work for me. They casted some people who are relatively unknown and it really benefits the film. The chemistry between Finn & Poe and later Finn & Rey is very entertaining and brings back that feeling when we saw Luke and Han together for the first time. There is some nice back and forth between them in the dialogue scenes and more than once they sprinkle in some light hearted comedic moment that makes you laught or at least smile. The cast all around feels natural and not as artificial as in the prequels. Only Kylo Ren could have benefited a little with some less cheesy lines.
So yeah, is it a flawless film? No. Is it the first truly good Star Wars movie in 30 years? Yes. Let’s be honest here. The prequels exist but they only scratch the surface of being good movies. They surely are entertaining on certain levels but they miss the point of Star Wars. And it’s fascinating how the initial creator of this beloved universe made these movies and missed the mark so much. And yes, I’m one of these people who blame Lucas. And the fact that there was no one around him who said “NO that’s stupid, try something else”! It’s a well documented fact that he had a lot lot lot of help with the first trilogy. But all the people who helped him back then, were not around for the prequels. That’s visible on screen. So it’s good we have fresh blood going into the new movies. Yes… I feel a bit sorry for that generation of kids that got introduced into Star Wars with the prequel movies. While this new movie should have been their introduction. However… this new movie comes with its own set of holes too. Some characters could have benefitted from a better introduction for example. Or the use of CGI where it wasn’t actually necessary. Yes, they did a lot of practical FX and it shows and works. Still, there are some questionable scenes where the CG work distracts a little. I can forgive that though. They did too many things right.
Yes. This is a real Star Wars movie. I enjoyed it and had a good time. When I left the theater I wanted to know how this story will be continued. The last time I had that feeling was with Lord Of The Rings (Fellowship). It will be interesting where Disney will take us with this. So far, it looks good!
Star Wars – The Force Awakens on IMDb