Film review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars The Force Awakens PosterIt’s been 10 years since the release of the last Star Wars film, and considering the quality of the prequels, The Force Awakens was poised to either reinvigorate the franchise or be another blow to what integrity the saga has left. Luckily, The Force Awakens is a success.

With the benefit of modern CGI, the Star Wars universe feels more real than ever and The Force Awakens is a visually stunning film. The Star Wars universe is full of dramatic landscapes and interesting looking characters, and the technological advances only improve their impact.

For those who aren’t Star Wars superfans, The Force Awakens is still very entertaining, and a great sci-fi action film by itself. Most non-fans still know the main plot points and characters of the original films, so while they might not cash in as much on the nostalgia and Easter eggs, they shouldn’t feel too lost.

The new leads, played by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, are given a fair amount of development and genuine personality. Boyega as Finn feels like a character we haven’t seen before and Ridley as Rey follows in Leia’s footsteps as the strong, smart female.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is easy to dislike as a whiny wannabe Darth Vader. His performance draws direct comparison to Hayden Christensen as young Anakin Skywalker, except Driver does it on purpose, and does it well.

With a project that has so many characters it’s nearly an ensemble piece. The amount of screen time given to the new characters and the returning champs could have easily swung off balance in either direction. Instead, we get just enough of the old favourites while still making it clear that the story is more about the new cast’s journey.

The joy all the actors take in being a part of this project is clearly visible. Knowing that major players were lining up just to be a faceless Stormtrooper (I’m looking at you, Daniel Craig) makes the excitement contagious.

The movie suffers from a bit of a pacing problem. It moves at a breakneck speed throughout, and could have benefitted from letting the audience take a breather. Several times the plot feels predictable, but there is enough mystery about the new cast of characters to keep you discussing the possible answers long after viewing.

Being a space opera, the entire film is kind of gratuitous, but the final scene is the worst offender. The movie ends on a very dramatic note which I will not spoil. The camera cuts between the two characters involved several times, followed by a crane shot of both people. There is no dialogue, and neither of the characters even move from their initial positions. The scene does deserve a level of gravitas, but it goes on a little too long.

Overall, The Force Awakens is the burst of energy and modernity that Star Wars needed.