Writing this review for Star Wars: Force Awakens is possibly the hardest movie review I have ever had to write - for multiple reasons. With most reviews, I would start by describing the basic premise of the movieís plot which generally is known by the time a film makes it to the theater. In this case even a simple description of the basic plot (like telling you what the opening scroll-down story said) would reveal a pretty major spoiler, so in an effort to keep this review spoiler-free I am only going to tell you this movie boils down to good vs evil and an oppressive military organization vs a struggling band of freedom fighters trying to restore peace throughout the galaxy. Sound familiar? Well it should. While there certainly are elements of this movie I found enjoyable, originality is not one of them.
Another challenge in writing this review is that the movie is the opening act for a larger story set to last at least two more movies (if not more), so a lot of incomplete pieces remain at the end. While the strategy understandably keeps you engaged until the next release, I think they could have spent a little more time fleshing out some of the storyline to give this film a little more dimension.
Okay before I go any further about things I didnít like so much, let me tell you what I did like. This is Star Wars, and it contains many of the elements that have made Star Wars enjoyable to so many for so many years. Great special effects, intriguing-looking aliens, cool space battles, laser gun battles and lightsaber duels. This film contains many things the young Star Wars fans like I was when I first saw Episode IV really liked and were entertained by.
Seeing the original cast members return such as Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) was really great for long-time fans. These two were truly the stars of this film. Some of the fresh faces like Daisy Ridley as the young Jakku scavenger Rey and the droid BB-8 were fun to watch as well, and of course the Millennium Falcon back in action is always great to see. She may be a hunk-a-junk but for us Star Wars fans, sheís our hunk-a-junk.
Now before I delve into what I didnít like, let me say one scene in the movie is probably going to have everyone talking on the way out of the theaters. While I am not going to give you any details about it, I will say for me at least this was probably the best scene and the worst scene to watch in the entire movie, perhaps the entire franchise. You will know what I am talking about once youíve seen the movie.
Okay, for things I didnít like. As I touched upon before, I think there were areas they needed to spend a little more time fleshing out, such as the actual political structure of the galaxy as it is today. To me, this was not entirely clear. Basically, I think they needed to spend some more time explaining how we got from the events at the end of Return of the Jedi (which I believe in the movieís timeline took place about 30 years ago) and this movie. Itís possible they could give us more details in the next movie, but weíve waited all these years. I think they could have given us more. I also felt this movie had too many things that occurred by happenstance just to further the story. Too many coincidences, which again are hard to describe without giving away major plot points, but I think you will know what I am talking about once youíve seen the movie for yourself. I also felt there was a little too much carbon-copy storytelling going on here. This movie had a lot of repetitive elements from Episode IV making it feel somewhat unoriginal, which for a movie of this type is hard to criticize too much, but still I would have liked to have seen something a little more original.
So what grade do I give this movie? (As if it mattered because letís be real, I could tell you itís the worst movie ever and you all would still go see it because itís Star Wars.) For me, itís not the worst movie or even the worst Star Wars movie, nor is it the best. As for an actual grade, I am going cop-out here and give it an incomplete. As a diehard Star Wars fan, I need to see the movie at least one more time to really take everything in. Even then, until I see the entire 3-movie saga it will probably be difficult to say how good it really is or isnít. I doubt anything will ever be able to replace the original trilogy for me, but I think there is enough here for a new generation to be able to discover the magic that is Star Wars.