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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie Review

It is finally here! The movie that everyone has been waiting to see and maybe the most anticipated movie of all time. Fans are pouring into theaters for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the worldwide phenomenon of Star Wars. It has already broken the domestic $100,000,000 mark just from preordered tickets. In my lifetime, I can’t remember a movie that has gotten this much hype. It’s actually really cool to see the way film and movies can bring us together and connect people who may not usually interact. It’s a mutual passion between so many people. Now this movie is called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I can tell you, the Force is awake!

Chewbacca (left) and Han Solo (right)
I don’t want to spoil anything about Star Wars: The Force Awakens because the Disney marketing team and J.J. Abrams have done a phenomenal job keeping the movie’s plot a secret. Of course it is good versus evil with lightsabers and the Force, but if you asked me what I knew about this movie a month ago, I would tell you exactly what the trailers gave me. We were going to get Han Solo, a new lord of the dark side, and two new characters attempting to bring balance to the Force once again. Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings our two new characters, Rey, a scavenger, and Finn, a former First Order soldier, together in an unusual circumstance and pits them against the dark side with the help and teachings of Han Solo. There. That’s all I’m going to say. I think that even if you’re a fan of the Star Wars saga and the prequels, we can all agree that the prequels were not on par with the original trilogy. I mean, the first two movies are about council meetings, trade negotiations, and a stale love affair. In my opinion, this movie absolutely blows the prequels away. It may even be on par with the original trilogy.

Daisy Ridley as Rey
First, I have to talk about the characters. They are all absolutely brilliant. We get to see one of the coolest movie characters of all time, Han Solo played by Harrison Ford, back in action, and he is just as great as you remember him. He seems a bit more broken, weathered, and aged, which works perfectly for the character. He still brings the silver-tongued, quick shooting character to the screen, but he is more experienced, and you can just tell that he has “lived life.” He works so well with our new characters and as the teacher of the ways we have come to know and love. He has kept his incredible likability, and his chemistry is just as good with Chewbacca as it was in the original trilogy. Daisy Ridley also gave an awesome performance as one of the new main characters, Rey. Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley had been an extra/double on the sequel to the British comedy Inbetweeners, and she had shot a few episodes of a television show that was never aired. On the first day of shooting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams told her that her acting was wooden. Imagine that. You are basically beginning your career with the biggest franchise in cinema history, and on the first day, the director tells you that your acting is wooden. That is a huge shot. I can definitely say that after watching this movie, she is a star. I’m sure that she is overly grateful to Abrams for telling her what he thought and pulling her acting chops out. She ended up giving an absolutely phenomenal performance, which is a compliment to both Daisy Ridley and J.J. Abrams. I really loved her character. She is so enjoyable to watch on-screen and had automatic chemistry with the rest of the cast. I haven’t had a chance to see anything from John Boyega before this film, so I didn’t know what to expect from him from an acting standpoint. If you have seen him in interviews or on the popular app Snapchat, you know he is incredibly funny and very entertaining. His personality carries right into his character of Finn and makes him one of the best characters in the movie. Another character I absolutely loved, and may be my favorite character in the film, was Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron. Oscar Isaac gives such a great performance and, for me, his Poe Dameron is the most likable character in the movie. Right off the bat, he is the one of the coolest characters the franchise has to offer, and I would even say he is the new Han Solo of the saga. He’s the awesome, likable, smooth talking pilot who can do no wrong. I absolutely loved Oscar Isaac, and I’m even more excited to see him play Apocalypse in X-Men Apocalypse. I loved both Ex Machina and Drive, which is one of my favorite movies, but I have never taken notice of him until Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He is a revelation, and I can’t wait to see him develop his character more in the next movie. I also really liked Adam Driver’s portrayal of the new evil force, Kylo Ren. In the trailer, we see him admiring Darth Vader, and with the mask and the voice modulator, it seems like he would be a much less impressive version of Darth Vader. He is definitely a fan of Darth Vader, but he brings a human element with emotion and struggle to the character. I really liked to see him on-screen, and was a very interesting and well-developed character.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
J.J. Abrams does just a phenomenal job directing this movie as well. Abrams is a huge fan of Star Wars, and he took on a huge task in directing this movie. He needed to rise above the prequels and bring back the Star Wars saga that we love. If this movie failed, J.J. Abrams would be torn to shreds. In fact, he did not want to take the job at first due to the enormous pressure that would be on him making this movie. Luckily, he took the job. Abrams is one of the only directors in Hollywood I trust with a Star Wars movie in their hands, and he does such good job directing this movie. He really pulled out the passion and performances from all of the actors and delivers very well shot action and plot. This movie has some incredible action shots. The shots with X-Wing Starfighters and TIE Fighters are absolutely brilliant, and both the special and practical effects in this movie are stunning. Abrams did a wonderful job pulling the best possible performances from the actors, and it really pays off with some of the best Star Wars characters we have seen since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.

J.J. Abrams on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was also an incredible theater experience. This movie is so enjoyable that you are glued to the screen for the entire run time. I haven’t had this good of a time watching a new movie in a very long time, and it was so much fun to be able to put my mind completely into the movie. I wasn’t bored for one second, and every plot point is absolutely engrossing. From the scroll text to the final “swiping” transition, I was having the best time of my life. The scroll text is also the quality we haven’t seen since 1983. Every time a character we had seen before in the original trilogy appears, I got chills. When I saw the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” I got chills. When a reference to the originals is made, I got chills. That’s not a spoiler. I’ve tried my best to keep this spoiler free, and I think it is safe to assume there will be references to previous adventures.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia
As much as I loved this movie and had a fantastic time with it, it did have its flaws just as all movies do. First off, I thought that there were characters who didn’t reach their maximum potential. As likable as Poe Dameron was, he didn’t get enough screen time for the audience to be able to fully appreciate his character. Another character who was very hyped up before the movie was Captain Phasma. I tried not to expect too much, but with all of the hype surrounding her, I was expecting and hoping for a Boba Fett caliber of awesomeness. Well, that didn’t happen. She didn’t do anything. Next, to me, a few plot points seemed too close to the original 1977 Star Wars. I still enjoyed those scenes, and I wanted to see nods to the original, but sometimes it was too similar for me. It felt like a rehashing as compared to an homage at some points. I also thought there are times where the plot is developed too quickly. I would have rather seen time taken to expand some plot points, and multiple times I remember thinking to myself that a certain event transpired much too quickly for me. Finally, as good as the effects are, there are some obvious shots of CGI. Multiple characters are just very obviously computer generated to me. I thought the motion capture accounted for most of what was a bit apparent, but when it was all said and done, the effects were good enough to make up for these times.

John Bodega as Finn
Overall, I had the time of my life with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I feel like I get to be a part of cinematic history with this film, and I am definitely going to be back in theaters and purchasing this movie the first day it is in stores. I can’t wait to give it another look. It was a pure joyride through the entire runtime with spots where you will get chills or even tear up a bit. It left on a perfect note for me to clench tightly until the next movie, almost as was done in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s not quite the cliffhanger and twist that The Empire Strikes Back brought, but it did make me excited for the next film in a year and a half. The Force has definitely been awoken from its period of dormancy, and I’m going to give Star Wars: The Force Awakens an 8.9/10.

Daisy Ridley as Rey (left) with new droid BB-8 (right)
Did you get a chance to check out Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet? Theaters were open early in the morning and fans were waiting for almost twelve hours alone inside a theater to make sure they could get a good seat. Were you a part of that? If you were, what did you think about the movie? Comment down below to let me know! My next Throwback Thursday review is yet again going to be for one of my favorite films of all time. I am a huge fan of all genres of film, but the late 1980s to early 2000s action movies are ones I choose to watch when I’m bored or need to watch something enjoyable. In honor of the 2015 remake of the classic film, I will be reviewing 1991’s action packed adrenaline thrill ride Point Break. It’s, again, one of my favorite movies of all time, and I am excited to get to talk about it. As always, thank you and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTO: Wookieepedia

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm