AM At The Movies: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Above: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' directed by J. J. Abrams, hit theatres around the globe this past weekend
AM At The Movies: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Run Time: 135 minutes

Remember the ill-fated, poorly executed prequels? You won’t after seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Those three films – The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – underwhelmed an audience ravenous for a return to the familiar Star Wars universe, with a reliance on CGI and cardboard performances from key actors causing the trilogy to fall flat. While they weren’t as bad as they’re remembered now, the didn’t satisfy the cravings for more Rebels vs. The Empire encounters that everyone had been waiting for since The Return of the Jedi.

Thanks to J.J. Abrams, those hunger pains have been soothed.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is everything long-time fans of the franchise wanted it to be and probably more.

As much as there are always going to be those that feel otherwise, the seventh entry into the universe initially dreamt up by George Lucas is much closer to the original three films – A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Jedi – than the prequels, with pieces of the opening sequence and various beats throughout the film serving as a nod to the original film in the collection.

There are upgrades and improvements in this latest film – the first of three sequels to the original trilogy, which will bring the series total to nine – and they’re a large part of why this next trilogy has the potential to top what Lucas’ initial three films did.

I know that sounds like blasphemy to some Star Wars fans, but Abrams’ introduction of more wit, an amazing female lead and the visual improvements that come with making a movie in 2015 over 1983 when Jedi was released establish The Force Awakens as an outstanding starting point for this next trilogy.

Abrams’ decision to use miniatures and real settings over CGI and green screens really pays off, as the movie looks clean and crisp without any of the unbelievable elements that often accompany pictures that are overly reliant on computer-generated images. The colours of the landscapes and locations pop, as do the familiar, but remixed images of The First Order, a more militant, more violent faction that has risen to power in the wake of the Galactic Empire’s fall.

The cast of relative newcomers are in line to be major stars once these films are done, with Daisy Ridley really standing out amongst the bunch as Rey, a scavenger from the planet Jakku who has much more in store for her than rummaging through old star destroyers. Adam Driver does a very good job as the big bad, Kylo Ren, but because he’s so commanding and frenetic in everything he has done up to this point, you have to shake the thought of him being Adam from Girls every time he removes his kick-ass helmet.

Without getting into any real detail about story or characters, let me just say this: this is a thoroughly entertaining film on its own and sets the table for bigger, better, more complex films to follow.

You need to see the first three movies – the original trilogy, not Episodes I, II and III – to get all the inside jokes and fun little moments contained in this film, but even if you don’t know your Star Wars history inside and out, you can sit down, catch up quickly and enjoy what you’re watching while getting excited for what’s to come in the next few years.

After waiting all year for this movie to arrive – and several years for this new trilogy to come along and wipe away the memories of all things “Anakin Finds His Dark Side” – The Force Awakens hits the mark in every way.

Tags: Star Wars

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