On May 25, 1977 the realm of film, science fiction and the real world itself changed: the first Star Wars film was unleashed on an unsuspecting public, and nothing has even been the same since. It changed the entire medium for the better and became the film anthem for entire generation. On May 19th, 1999 filmmakers took us back to the universe of Star Wars: also changing the world as we know it, just not in the way any fan could ever imagine. Hate them or love them, the prequels are an endless conversation for the old and new generations.
The third times the charm; as of December 18, 2015 I can safely say the world has changed yet again. As the wind blows back toward something amazing, an era of greatness begins once more for fans from any generation.
Gone is the stink of George Lucas’s ideas and his over the top lack of direction. Not to deride him in any way, because without him we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but it can’t be unsaid; he doesn’t know how to direct his own story. But we are now at a golden age of movie making where the generation that he inspired is now making movies. Fans are now our filmmakers. Let’s finally say it out loud: this is the era of the “fan boy filmmaker”. And there is no bigger fan boy than J.J. Abrams. One only needs to look at his other movies to see how much Star Wars has influenced all he has done. So when it was announced he was going to direct the first one in this new series it felt like a no brainer.
Not an easy task for Abrams: to bring back characters we know and love, introduce new ones and manage to make us forget the prequels all together. But here he does all of that. He takes all we have known and builds on it and gives us a new story that, despite all fan theories, no one saw any of this story coming. Like a fresh of breath air, this new movie starts off with a bang and never once wavers and we are introduced to new mystery surrounding old and new characters.
It’s like seeing old friends that you had lost contact with: Han Solo (Harrison Ford), General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and even the droids C3-PO and R2-D2 are all wonderful too see again on the screen. Each has their own small arc and each brings some much-needed nostalgia to the fans. But really each is there just to drive the story forward for the new crew; not to diminish them in any way, but other than Han Solo everyone else is a glorified cameo at best. But upon seeing the Millennium Falcon tears did began to well up in my eyes. Who knew that seeing that old piece of junk could give that much emotion?
Han Solo is brought into the movie by pure chance, or is it The Force? In the Star Wars universe you just never know. It’s clear that Harrison Ford is having a good time. Hell, it’s the best acting I’ve seen him do in 20 years! He really is Han Solo! And here he is once again being his awesome smuggler badass self. Leia also comes in with the task of moving the plot to where it needs to be. But never the less it’s great to see her. What the filmmakers did was give you just enough of the old to mix in with the new. But by the end of the movie they all are on this new journey together and feels like the perfect mix.
We’re introduced to the new cast of characters that will take us though this new adventure: Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the droid BB-8 and the new villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). How they each fall into place in the story evolves very organically as the story is presented. In the time we get to spend with each we understand their motives, who and what they are. Unlike the last movies, these new characters are filled with development, already giving way for fans to love them as much as the old characters we’ve spent 30 years loving.
Daisy Ridley’s character of Rey is one hellva of a badass. She rocks! She is amazing and is worth every amount of praise she will be getting for years to come. She enters this movie as one thing and leaves another, as does John Boyega’s Finn. Both are lost souls, but each has no idea what they looking for. Thank goodness The Force always finds away. These two are amazing to watch; just as compelling it was to watch Luke and Leia swing across the chasm in the Death Star. You want to spend as much time with these two characters as you can.
Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron is wonderful. We don’t get to spend as much time with him as a character as I would have liked, but you can imagine him becoming so much more in later movies in this new series. But what we do get is a character you would fly into battle with as your wingman anytime he’d ask. He’s just that cool.
Staying spoiler free towards Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren: here’s a new villain that we will come to love to hate. He is pure evil. He is nothing but a void of hatred and darkness. He perfectly mirrors Darth Vader in the sense that here is a complex and conflicted character. You never know what Ren is going to do next, which makes him that much more interesting to watch.
We get four new villains, including Kylo Ren: General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), Captain Phazma (Gwendoline Christie) and The Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Each has their moment and we get to spend some time with them, but not enough really. Other than Kylo Ren we get little to nothing of these other awesome and scary characters. But that’s really due to plot. Ren is the main figure that needs to be focused on for this movie. We see the moving parts and seeds being planted for the next two flicks in this story. But for so much hype it was a shame we didn’t get as much Captain Phazma as we would have liked.
But what is the same, and always will be one of the biggest and best parts of the Star Wars universe, is the music. John “F**King” Williams! I need say no more. Because without him these movies just wouldn’t be the same. His score is absolutely wonderful from start to finish, with the old themes we’ve come to expect and bringing new ones that are just as iconic. What Williams does with scores is nothing but pure genius and here is just one more example of the master at his best.
What has come a long way from when we started is the evolution of special effects. Where Lucas once had to invent the things we now take for granted, now we see JJ stay true to his word, using as much practical effects as he could. It really makes the movie look that much more real, as if it just comes to life in front of you. Unlike the last three where nothing looked real and we relied on green screen way too much, here you can see a character actually pick something up and interact with it, like in life. Yes of course there are green screens and CGI effects in this, but here they’re used the correct way instead of relying on them purely. Creatures, ships, droids, set etc. all are real and worth looking at. They’re beautiful and just make this universe seems that more real. The amount of time and love is bursting all over the movie making it that much better.
Attempting to stay spoiler free towards the plot and who people are, I will say this: all these new characters are amazing. Each is just so awesome. You want to know more, even as the movie is ending you see things unfolding; you just can’t wait to see the next one. JJ managed to make not only a great Star Wars film, he also managed to make a great beginning to what will be the next great saga in Sci-Fi. I have nothing but high praise for this new movie and look forward to what comes next. This was worth waiting 30 years for.