Friday, January 1, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, a film review

Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens is the long awaited sequel to the original trilogy. It opened to rave reviews and box office success. As of December 29th, it has made over $1 billion worldwide with one big market left to open in China and it is the second grossing movie of 2015 and the 10th all-time grossing movie. It is anticipated to break James Cameron’s Avatar $2.7 billion record. The movie provides great nostalgia for the fans as seeing the beloved Star Wars characters on the big screen again and for some fans, for the first time. I was three and half when Return of the Jedi opened in 1983 so I vaguely remember the movie when it was new. The Force Awakens also gives great nods and references to the original trilogy which will excite fans. Without giving away any major spoilers, here are a few of my thoughts. 

The Force Awakens gives a new twist on a familiar story. Some reviews have complained that The Force Awakens models A New Hope with the hero coming from obscurity on a desert planet. The Force Awakens, A New Hope and the entire Star Wars saga models a very familiar story called the hero’s journey as described by mythologist Joseph Campbell. In The Force Awakens, Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a scavenger on the planet Jakku. Just like Luke Skywalker was a moisture farmer and Anakin Skywalker was a slave on the planet Tatoonie. While Luke and Anakin dreamed of life off their desolate planet, Rey is patiently waited for the return of her family when she is pulled into the adventure of a lifetime. Yes, she is Force-sensitive and has abilities she didn’t know she had but what hero of a Star Wars movie wouldn’t be Force-sensitive?  

The movie introduces new villains. Kylo Ren and the First Order. Rising from the ashes of the Galactic Empire, the First Order is fighting the Republic and the Resistance for control of the galaxies. A few critics have brought up Kylo Ren’s conflict between the dark side he desperately wants to embrace and the light side which still pulls at him. However, they fail to remember that Darth Vader was also conflicted. He felt there was no coming back from the dark side and there was no resisted the dark side. He eventually redeems himself to the light side by rescuing Luke from the Emperor. I look forward to seeing the continued internal conflict within Kylo Ren and the answer to the question: does he full embrace the dark side and become pure evil or will he be redeemed like Darth Vader? I, personally, would love to see Kylo Ren embrace the dark side.

Lastly, The Force Awakens is great entertainment. Fans now span four generations and will continue to gain fans in future generations. It is a great movie that families can enjoy together. My four year old daughter was introduced to Star Wars from the moment she was born. Her middle name, Hope, was inspired by Episode IV. She has seen the movies and my husband’s collectibles since she was a baby. She loves R2-D2 and now loves BB-8. The Force Awakens had great movements of thrilling chases, dangerous, almost impossible, missions and reluctant heroes who soon realize that something bigger than themselves is calling them. My husband had moments of tearful joy during the movie. I laughed at references to the originals and old familiar lines. My daughter eagerly sat on the edge of her seat and cheered when the characters she knew came on screen.

I’ve read other reviews and it is my opinion that some fans will never be satisfied at any new Star Wars movie. Some fans will always compare any new films to the original trilogy. The Star Wars universe has been a part of our lives for so long that it has become something to be protected and treasured. And God forbid, if someone else comes along and has another idea where the story will go, especially now that Disney is at the helm. As a fan who grew up with the original Star Wars movies, I was excited for the continuation of the story. After I saw the movie twice, I enjoyed the movie more and more. I cannot wait to add the DVDs to the rest of our Star Wars library and I eagerly await Episodes VII and IX in coming years.