Rhys Reviews: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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*It goes without saying, with this review there may be some spoilers ahead of you. I’ll try and keep the twists as minimal as possible, but something may come out, so keep that in mind.*

A long time ago,

in a galaxy far,

far

away…

STAR WARS! *DUU-DUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!*

Those two words symbolize a long running franchise that has captivated the hearts of millions around the world ever since the first feature under this brand’s name – Star Wars IV: A New Hope. And since then we have had six different features films made, countless video games under the title, comics, toys, television shows, and so, so, SO MUCH MORE focusing one of the world’s most well-known franchises of all time. But even with new content being brought out many forms like with games, shows and the such, no one could have really thought that we would see full-length feature films carrying on from the events of Return of the Jedi, right? Well luckily for all of us, that fantasy has become reality.

Today I will be talking about one of the most hyped up cinema releases in such a long time with ‘Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens’. I guess you guys can actually THANK Disney for helping make this happen after buying the rights of LucasArts and all things Star Wars because hey, we got a new film out of it! THREE actually since people are still eagerly awaiting the next two films, especially with how this film has gone. The film’s opening weekend broke box office records in North America making $238 million with a worldwide total of $517 MILLION, over HALF A BILLION making it the second biggest opening ever in theatres. So to say people wanted to see this was somewhat of an understatement.

So when I got to see the film in theatres I knew I was in for something special, I mean it is Star Wars! But when that infamous first quote appeared on the screen before the Star Wars logo appeared with the well-known score following it, and the strolling descriptive text, my childhood was truly resurrected; I mean I can easily still see this by watching the six films before it or playing such games like ‘Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 1, 2’ – and of course ‘The Old Republic MMORPG’, but this was different. This made me I felt like a young, single digit year old again who watched ‘The Phantom Menace’ for the first time. Yes, that film was my first start was and not A New Hope, some people start out different okay, no judgement.

I watched all six films in preparation to get myself reminded of the films lore since most other content relating to the films isn’t considered canon in most cases, so for this film I’m just going off of the six that followed it. I was truly hoping they would capture the same essence as the originals and even the prequels to some extent. And boy, oh boy, did it do that – and in my personal opinion, outdo them.

Now it was so GREAT to see actors in the past films reprising their roles, like Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as General/Princess Leia Organa, who I suppose could be considered a Disney Princess now? Yeah, yeah, I know, the joke’s been made, whatever. Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Tim Rose as Admiral – “IT’S A TRAP!” Ackbar, and of course, Mark Hamill, who has managed to walk away from the microphone for a few moments, as Luke Skywalker. And yes, he DOES appear in the film, what with him being in the casting list and all.

But with a large amount of the original cast, we were introduced to new faces, and also big time feature film world stars, such as Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, and many, MANY more as well.

For what it is worth, everyone performed tremendously during the movie as those who returned to the Star Wars Universe looked to have never missed a beat, while the newer cast performed brilliantly for the first of this new trilogy. They also never seemed out of place in the world of Star Wars either, and if anything, some of them added to it.

One thing I truly liked in this film over all of the others is that it put a bigger emphasis on female characters. Now I’m not saying Star Wars has made women look bad or anything because, they haven’t; I mean Leia is probably one of the most recognisable female role model figures in the world in my opinion, and she’s from ‘Star Wars’. There just haven’t been enough strong female characters to come out of the main films in my opinion. But this film focuses on them – Rey is the main protagonist and one of the main focus points in the new film with some of the best scenes.

Other characters like Captain Phasma (who I was shocked to find out was a woman during the film) and Maz Kanata, played by Lupita Nyong’o (and providing CGI motion capture for), rose up as image breaking characters. Phasma for seemingly like a kickass captain of many of the Stormtroopers of this film, and Kanata for being one of the wisest characters from the film, being somewhat of a counterpart to Yoda for this generation, but with the Jedi powers of course. It’s just a shame Phasma’s role in the film wasn’t as big as it could have been. Hopefully she’ll get her moments in the next two films. Heck, even a space fight during the last parts of the film were female-lead, which was a pleasant sight to see.

Now the music in the film was composed by John Williams, who of course made the soundtrack for all the films prior to this one also, and alongside the well-known tracks from the past, some new pieces were heard throughout that sounded like they belonged in the Star Wars universe and fitted-well in the moments they took place in.

The visual effects of course were beyond stunning – whether it’s the battles that took place on foot or in the air and space, everything just looked breath-taking and reminded us of the fights of old, but of course vamped up to meet modern day effects. The different visuals of the different species were brilliant, the environments used throughout the film, the use of light and darkness in the film. Everything just fit so well from a visual point that also related to the scenes they were used in.
While there weren’t too many twists or shocking moments, the ones that did happen were definitely big ones. I’ll try not to spoil them so much, but some of what happens will make your jaw drop and your heart stop. These were very well done, fit the story nicely and just work so well. They even hinted towards other plot points that could happen in the next two films, or maybe that’s just me theorising what I saw during the film and what I want to happen. I want Kylo Ren and Rey to be brother and sister SO BAD! You know seeing as Kylo is Han & Leia’s son. Again I DID mention spoilers so you only have yourself to blame if you get upset at me over that.

Some of the scenes I liked were Rey, Finn & BB-8 escaping Jakku and the visuals and moments that took place during this. The moments when Rey demonstrated her force abilities and of course the Kylo/Finn (and especially the Kylo/Rey) showdown that lead shortly after this. These battles, particularly the Rey and Ren fight are some of the best to come out of the whole Star Wars Universe in my opinion. But I will admit that Rey ended up besting Kylo Ren without proper Jedi training seemed to be too much to an extent, but I didn’t care because it may reveal more plot points in the future. Could Rey be even more powerful than Anakin AND Luke Skywalker?! This film seemed to suggest that with the ways she handed her untapped abilities.

Not sure on my favourite character over all since you had many older faces being brought back while some of the newer faces stood out equally against each other. Rey for being the badass, star struck scavenger, Finn for his quirky humour moments, Poe the bro, (him and Finn are my BroTP). Kylo Ren for being such an interesting character/villain throughout, and of course for his amazing character design appearance wise. Even General Hux, portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson put on very well done performances that make me want to see more of him. I’d also like to see more of Phasma and Kanata in the other films, and I can’t wait to find out even more of Supreme Leader Snoke, who while his name somewhat underwhelming for his exposing figure, was definitely a mysteriously compelling character who was portrayed as such by Andy Serkis.

Some moments of the film did leave me wanting more as you’d expect, with some parts having me confused. For example, Finn being able to wield the lightsabre. Solo briefly used the sabre during the original trilogy to undo something, but he doesn’t use the force nor used the sabre in combat. With Finn being able to fight with it, does that mean he has the potential to use the force? Especially considering in the poster for this film he is seen wielding it. That would be nice to be explaining either in Episode VIII or IX, and focuses on someone who isn’t a Skywalker.

And it goes without saying that Rey’s connections with the force need to be explained further. With her not wanting anything to do with any of it after coming into contact with Luke’s Lightsabre, she managed to push those feelings aside quickly enough when hit with danger and somehow using them rather well for someone who may not have used them much in the past. Maybe her ‘assumed’ training with Luke can answer many of those questions in the next film.

I also have to mention that I saw this movie in 3D. And while the visuals were out of this world, I hold that more to the actual film itself and less with the 3D used. Me personally, I felt very underwhelmed with the use of 3D with the glasses I was wearing, and I’m not sure if I should blame the glasses or not for that. This happened to me the last time I saw a film in 3D as well. Maybe this just proves that 3D is nothing more than a money grabbing gimmick, I mean all I needed to do was see the film normally and it would have been just as good. I say this now and I’ll likely see VIII and VIX in 3D as well because like I said, 3D is a gimmick that grabs people’s attentions and makes something seem bigger than it already is. Plus I saw this film in 3D so I may as well right? Eh, i’ll think about it when the next film comes out.

Also either when I buy this film on Blu-Ray, DVD or if I feel like seeing it in theaters again, I need to make a point to see it with English Audio Description, which is used for people who have sight problems/are blind. This is because voice actor Martin Billany, who is mainly known for his online alias as ‘LittleKuriboh’ for his Yu-Gi-Oh! And Naruto abridged series, as well as other voice over roles in other abridged shows on YouTube; and even some TV shows, anime and video games, provides the voice over for The Force Awakens! For him to get to do this is such an honour and I as a fan of his work could not be more proud for him.

So yeah, that’s it. ‘Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens’. A clear Box Office success and is just as big a success in fitting in with the other Star Wars films. I may even go as far to say as this film was the best opening film for all of its separate trilogies, being better than both ‘The Phantom Menace’ AND ‘A New Hope’. Maybe that’s just the young adult in me saying this because people these days tend to like what’s new and fresh in their minds. But I just re-watched the films before this, and I still think this it is better than the two mentioned. But of course that is just my opinion, others can agree, more will disagree I’m sure. Now for a corny ending to say farewell to everyone who read my review on this truly amazing film….. may the force be with you!

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