Thirty years after defeating the Galactic Empire, Han Solo and his allies face a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and his army of Stormtroopers.
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
**The Force Awakens: A New Hope 2.0** The highly-anticipated follow-up to the Original Trilogy treads through familiar waters, taking the "safe route" approach. Though The Force Awakens has its fair share of phenomenal moments and is definitely an improvement over the Prequel Trilogy, its reliance on using the Original Trilogy (mainly A New Hope) as a template feels nothing more than an imitation of events that occurred prior. At the end of Return of the Jedi, the Empire suffered a great loss, with the destruction of the Second Death Star and deaths of The Emperor and Darth Vader. It was implied that Luke, the last surviving Jedi, would restart a New Jedi Order (based on Expanded Universe media, which has been declared non-canon by Disney). That is indeed what happens; however, a rogue student of Luke's slaughtered his peers, seduced by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order and adopts a new identity as Kylo Ren. In summary, the Jedi Order did indeed happen (off-screen), but gets wiped out (off-screen, again), leaving Luke the last surviving Jedi and retreats into exile (off-screen... seeing a pattern?). The Empire is basically resurrected as the First Order, with the Rebel Alliance becoming the Resistance, and once again, they're tasked with destroying a gigantic ball of death. Sounds an awful lot like A New Hope, as a modern-day "soft reboot." Droid carrying top-secret info? Check. Villain dressed in black with mask? Check. Protagonist lives on desert planet? Check. Discover that they're indeed Force-sensitive? Check. Han Solo and Chewbacca escorting our heroes to destination? Check. A cantina featuring a cantina band? Check. Mentor figure (Obi-Wan in ANH, Han Solo in TFA) killed by villain? Check. Battle of Death Star (Yes, I'm calling Starkiller Base a Death Star)? Check. Does big ball of death get destroyed? Check. Rey is indeed a Force-sensitive individual, but throughout the movie, she is just as good a pilot as Han Solo, is able to use a Jedi mind trick with ease, and easily overcomes the villain (Though it could be argued that due to Kylo Ren's injury from Chewbacca, he was weakened). There better be a damn good explanation as to why Rey is so strong with the Force when The Last Jedi is released. Anakin and Luke required training to become a Jedi, Rey is basically a pro with little to absolutely no training. Finn... Though I did enjoy the idea of a Stormtrooper defecting from the First Order and eventually helping out the heroes, Finn got annoying quick. From cringe-worthy lines to his constant "Gotta get away from the First Order" state of mind, he should have been a more battle-hardened individual who eventually became disillusioned with the First Order. His more cowardly approach to defecting wasn't very well-executed. But I gotta admit that the relationship between him and Poe Dameron was well-done. Didn't feel forced, just felt natural. Him standing up to Kylo Ren in a duel made me respect his character a lot more. His battle with the other Stormtrooper was just amazing. I'm honestly hoping his character develops more in The Last Jedi. I liked Poe Dameron from the get-go. From being a smart-ass to Kylo Ren to taking out multiple TIE Fighters, Poe is definitely a welcome new character to the Star Wars universe. Especially BB-8, just an absolute ball of cuteness. BB-8 was one of the two new characters that really stood out to me. Funny how Star Wars manages to make you like the droids so much. Han Solo and Chewbacca play a substantial role in this film. Han Solo's death was beyond tragic, just seeing an iconic character we saw develop from a selfish, Force-denying individual to taking charge in dire times (putting his life on the line). Once Han Solo yelled out his son's name, I knew his time was up. Leia, now a General, doesn't really get much time to shine. She and Han have been broken up for some time now (I'm guessing since Ben Solo became Kylo Ren), but their bantering still remains. C-3PO (now with a red arm) and R2D2 (in low power mode due to Luke's departure) are basically given minimal roles in favor of BB-8. Luke Skywalker made an appearance in the very final moments of the movie, but does not utter a word. Just seeing his expression when Rey hands him his father's lightsaber was more than enough. A quick summary of other characters: Captain Phasma, a more useless female version of Boba Fett. Maz Kanata, a color and gender-swapped Yoda who somehow manages to obtain Anakin's/Luke's lightsaber. Supreme Leader Snoke, a mysterious figure leading the new Empire (sorry, First Order) and first appears as a hologram (like the Emperor). General Hux, deliverer of a Hitler-like speech to his space Nazis. Kylo Ren. In my opinion, Kylo Ren is the best part of the entire movie. Sure he worships his deceased grandfather Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and flips out into extreme tantrums, he is more than just an ordinary one-dimensional villain. He worships Darth Vader because he wants to carry on his legacy of killing the Jedi and achieve his intimidating status of being a ruthless individual. He is torn by both sides of the Force. He is indeed strong with the Force, stopping blaster shots in mid-air, freezing people in-place, and can probe the minds of others as a method of torture. His unstable crossguard lightsaber is appropriate for his uncontrollable anger and conflicted state of mind. Once he killed Han Solo, there is no hope for him returning back to the Light. He became a full-on evil person. I'm ready to see the damage he will do in The Last Jedi. The action/set pieces were very well-done and that opening sequence with the raid on the Jakku village is one of the best and most chilling moments in all of Star Wars. The Battle of Takodana and the resulting battle was phenomenal and seeing Poe take out multiple TIE Fighters make him an exceptionally skilled pilot, even moreso than Luke. The final battle between Rey/Finn and Kylo Ren didn't feel choreographed at all, just felt like a battle between novices, unlike the highly-choreographed kicks and flips and lightsaber-twirling present in the Prequel Trilogy. Rey and Finn leaving Jakku in the "garbage" ship and the whole sequence through the Star Destroyer graveyard was beyond phenomenal. Though The Force Awakens does indeed take steps forward to move the franchise forward into a new direction, it takes several steps back into familiar territory. And yes, it feels as if I have been ripping on this movie, but in my honest opinion, The Force Awakens is a solid entry to the Star Wars franchise. The action set-pieces were so well-done, the nostalgic factor of the Original Trilogy is prevalent, Kylo Ren proved to be a well-developed villain with room for improvement, and the relationships between the characters feels so organic and fluid-like, as if they're all cohesive with one-another. My Rating: 7.5/10.0
2 hr 16 mins
$ 245,000,000.00 (Estimated)
$1,823,223,624.00 (Estimated in USA)