Monday, January 11, 2016

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
directed by JJ Abrams
starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and more.

I had all the intention of trying to write a spoiler free review after seeing this movie after it came out, but since it's now good past the release date I think I'll just go on with some spoilers.

It's pretty exciting getting to see a new Star Wars movie. Almost as exciting as it'll be when I see Fantastic Beasts (but that's a whole other discussion.) I've said it numerous times on our previous podcast episodes but Episode III is still a favorite of mine. I haven't seen the original trilogy in years and perhaps it's time for a revisit. In fact, after seeing The Force Awakens, I wasn't crazy about the look of Kylo Ren. My first impression was that he looked like Severus Snape, but then I re-watched part of Empire Strikes Back, and I thought the actor had a similar face to the young Harrison Ford.

I like the story behind the new characters. Rey is pretty cool. Her voice (and accent) remind me of Keira Knightley a lot. That's not a bad thing really but it was a bit distracting. I like how tough she is. She did seem to master things quite easily whether they included fighting or flying a ship, making her seem more idealistic than realistic. That could all be attributed though to the fact that the Force is strong with her, giving her lots of natural instincts and abilities.

Her background isn't given in full detail up front, but she was dropped off and left on the planet Jakku. She becomes a scavenger to survive. She is convinced she needs to stay there because she feels like the one that left her will come back to her. The truth is that that's not going to happen, as it's later revealed in the movie. I like that Rey has a moment in which she's going to run away. I like it because it shows she's not perfect. Aside from her rather heroic traits, I think she's kind of a naive person. She believes someone will come for her on Jakku. She, also, believes Finn's story, though the audience knows he's lying to her about working for the Rebel Alliance.

Now, I have mixed feelings about Finn. On the one hand, I like how he was a stormtrooper but after being confronted with having to kill others and seeing his comrades get shot at, he wants nothing to do with the First Order. There's the part about him that has yet to sort out with Rey the truth of his background that makes me think of this guy as a weaner, too. It boils down to that small part of him that I see as a coward. He runs away from the First Order and he plans to continue running, that is until Rey gets kidnapped by Kylo Ren. Finn, Hans Solo, and Chewbacca head out to rescue Rey, but she becomes too hot to handle as her powers with the Force start to kick in, basically showing everyone she doesn't need anyone coming to save her. She's no damsel in distress.

I see Kylo Ren becoming like Anakin Skywalker. In this movie he's aiming to be more like Darth Vader, but I feel like it's a set-up for the future movies for him to head down that path of evil but eventually turn to the light. If he himself in the movie suggests that he wants to be more like Darth Vader, I then see that as Kylo wanting to have that spark of good in himself, too. That is, unless he only knows of Darth Vader as an evil icon. Kylo, also, reminds me of Anakin as a young adult in how he has incredible power and potential yet also seems bratty and weak. I say weak because sure he's got power and status in the First Order and he tries to convince Rey that he can teach her the ways of the Force, but in comparison to her own potential, he's just completely out-shined. The only thing he is able to pull off is *spoiler* in killing his own father, and his father wasn't exactly putting up a fight. Kylo doesn't come across as a really villainous bad guy, either. This is why I think he has the potential to turn into a good guy down the road. He's just trying to survive in this mad world after following his own crazy choices that led him to the First Order.

I like the roles played by Hans Solo, Leia, and Luke. There was such a big build-up to the reveal of Luke. The entire time that led up to it I just had a gut feeling the movie was going to end right afterwards, and it did. The movie seemed to pass by really quickly for me and so the slow build-up to Luke awkwardly stuck out. That scene is meant to be dramatic and leave the audience with some impact but I think the way it was shot also awkwardly stuck out to me because it was a little reminiscent of camera shots like those in The Lord of the Rings. It didn't mesh for me. Some other things that I liked about the movie, though, included the characters Poe Dameron, BB-8, and Maz Kanata. Overall, I enjoyed this movie. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

-O. Pelaez

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