Sunday, December 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Year: 2015
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong'o, Dohmnall Gleeson, Max Von Sydow

Plot: Thirty years after the fall of the Empire, the First Order has risen from its ashes. They possess a weapon that can destroy entire star systems. Both the Order and the Resistance are looking for Luke Skywalker, who has gone missing. The Resistance's only hope rests in the hands of a scavenger, a reformed stormtrooper and a little droid.

Review: The wait is over. The most anticipated film of the last decade is finally here. So can J.J. Abrams do for Star Wars what he did for Star Trek (honestly I don't know what Trek purists are so mad about Into Darkness, it was an awesome film to me)? The answer is yes.

The plot is actually quite simple. Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, is missing. Both the First Order and the Resistance, led by Luke's sister Leia (now a general) are looking for him. There is a map to his location, stored in a droid, BB8, which makes its way to Rey, a scavenger who is also a very skilled pilot. She then runs into Finn, a former stormtrooper of the First Order who just isn't the kind of guy that kills people. The two attempt to get BB8 to the Resistance, with a little help from everyone's favorite smuggler, Han Solo. Meanwhile, they are continuously chased by the Order, led by Kylo Ren, who sorta looks like Darth Vader.

Sound familiar? Yeah, it almost resembles the plot of Episode IV, doesn't it? But to Abrams' credit, the film ends up being very entertaining and thrilling. He keeps the story flowing smoothly while making sure every cast member gets their chance to shine. All the visual effects look pretty good too, and from what I hear, Abrams tried to be as practical as possible, and the results look damn great.

Cast wise, it's actually great to see Harrison Ford back as Han. In the last few years I can't recall a film where Ford was even remotely memorable, but slipping back into Han is a natural choice and he's still great in the role, albeit a little grumpier. Carrie Fisher looks noticeably older here (so does Ford honestly) but still possesses enough screen presence as Leia. The duo, along with Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca and Anthony Daniels as C3P0, are a welcome sight for loyal Star Wars fans.

As for the new cast, I gotta give credit to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega for really nailing their respective roles as Rey and Finn. Both of them have great enthusiasm for the material and it shows, especially during a thrilling aerial chase between the Millennium Falcon and two TIE fighters. They are great additions to the future instalments of the franchise. Adam Driver plays Kylo Ren, who is somewhat a less refined version of Vader, and definitely more vulnerable. One wonders what he will be like in the days to come. Oscar Isaac plays Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, who provides some well timed comedy, but doesn't quite get enough time to really shine.

As for the million dollar question: do we get to see Mark Hamill? Yes, we do. I'll say nothing more, but safe to say, it's a cool moment indeed. Oh, do look out for several people you might recognize if you're a film/TV geek. Like Abrams stalwart Greg Grunberg as a Resistance pilot. Or Game Of Thrones actor Thomas Brodie Sangster as a First Order officer. Or Ken Leung as a Resistance admiral.

As mentioned, the plot is much too similar to Episode IV, thus making it quite predictable overall. But it's really not a huge deal. The most important thing is the experience, and Abrams has managed to make Episode VII his own while making well executed nods to what fans love most.

Bottom line is, if you even remotely loved Star Wars, then you need to go see this. Period. (9/10)   

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