As somebody who grew up on the original Star Wars trilogy, watching The Force Awakens is like catching up with old friends. Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, this film feels more like a Star Wars film than the prequel trilogy did, marking the return of practical effects. Whilst these practical effects were present in the prequels, they took a back seat to CGI. That is not the case here, where they are at the forefront. This gives a realism to the galaxy, making it feel like it has been lived in, and like a continuation of the same galaxy we saw in 1983. Among this nostalgia, there lies a new tale, and a new destructive space station.
Rey is a scavenger, abandoned by her family on the desolate planet of Jakku, who finds herself joining The Resistance as they hunt for the missing Luke Skywalker. Along the way she meets Finn, a stormtrooper on the run, and Poe, the best pilot in the galaxy, as well as Han Solo and Chewbacca. The Resistance is facing off against The First Order, and resident Sith Lord Kylo Ren: your stand-ins for The Sith, and Darth Vader, respectively. Upon its release in 2015, The Force Awakens was heavily criticised for being a re-hash of A New Hope. Both plots feature a resistance fighting an evil order, and whilst that is true on the surface, upon closer inspection there lie many differences.
Rey is our stand-in for Luke, but unlike him she is confident, seemingly content with her life and more than capable of fending for herself. She has no family and no mentor to guide her. Kylo Ren is emotional and driven by what he feels, as opposed to Darth Vader’s calm and menacing demeanor. On the other hand, Kylo is shown to be exceptionally powerful, stooping a blaster bolt with a wave of his hand and infiltrating peoples minds just as easily. Meanwhile Finn and Poe seem to hold no comparisons to any of the original characters, of whom many return. Han, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 are all here, continuing their own stories.
The big “Spoiler Moment” of this film is that Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo, who he promptly murders. Many had suspected that this may happen, as Harrison Ford had originally wanted to leave the franchise during Empire Strikes Back and has readily admitted that he doesn’t want to focus on his old characters. Thankfully, his death is given the gravitas it deserves, with a proper send-off from Leia and appropriate reactions of grief and anger from Rey, Finn and Chewbacca. It may have been expected, but that does not make the moment any less painful, as it’s the delivery of the moment that really counts.
The Force Awakens, at its core, is a continuation of the Star Wars Saga as well as a jumping off point for new stories and new characters. We are given closure in the fate of our original trilogy characters but the story is not focused on them, nor do I think it should be. Obi-Wan and Yoda, despite being main characters in the prequel trilogy, are barely present in the original trilogy. This is because while these (soon to be) nine films are one story, they are in three very seperate acts and as three-act films go, this is a good start. It isn’t brilliant, but after the reception that the Prequel Trilogy received, it doesn’t need to be, it simply needs to be good enough… and it is.
Until Next Time…