Monday, January 11, 2016

Movie Review: Star Wars VII; the Force Awakens

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Image result for star wars the force awakens poster

*Rubs hands together with delight*
*Begins snickering with excitement*

Ooh, boy...  Where to begin?
When I first heard that Disney had undertaken a new Star Wars trilogy, my honest first thought was, "I have a bad feeling about this."
But then, I found out that J.J. Abrams would be the mastermind behind this new movie, and I found a new hope.  
See, I was quite impressed by his Star Trek reboot films, regardless of whatever criticism they may have received.  Watching them, I realized that he had the ability to put a new spin on an old and beloved series without ruining the theme, feel, or sentiment  attached to it.  SO from that point on, I settled back to wait for the newest installment in the Star Wars universe.
I actively avoided all speculation about the new story line, and refrained from forming my own theories about it when I watched each new trailer with my family.  I wanted everything to be a surprise.
Star Wars has always been a favorite in my family.  I don't remember watching the movies for the first time, but they were always a part of the lore.  As such, revelations like **OBVIOUS SPOILER** Vader being Luke's father **END SPOILER** were common knowledge.  I can't tell you how much I wish I could forget that so that I could be wowed by it for the first time.
Now, with a new series coming out, I had that chance, and I was so excited!  Even Nani, my spoiler-addicted sister, refrained from finding any juicy tidbits and leaked details.

And let me tell you, when the time came to see the film, it did not disappoint.  So now, I move on to the actual review.  I'll try to keep it spoiler-free, for the most part.

Image result for star wars the force awakens summaryThirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and the First Order. When a defector named Finn crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey, a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi Knights.

First of all, I have to say how I absolutely loved the fact that they went back to using a lot of practical effects for this movie.  Even if the mouth movements of Admiral Ackbar don't quite match up with what he's saying, I've always thought it gives sci-fi fantasy movies a whimsical touch.  It brings the tone of the movie right back to original trilogy, which is great.  I actually don't hate the prequels, as so many do.  There's a lot about them that I actually enjoy- but they definitely don't have the same feel as the originals, and I think that's what George Lucas intended.
Storywise, I found this movie very interesting.  There were many similarities to the first three episodes, but it still managed to be its own story.  There was nothing about it that made me think, "This is just stupid...", which is great because most new shows that I've watched these days have made me do that.  This story, from beginning to end, made me want to know more, more, MORE!  What happens next?  Why is he doing this?  Where did she come from?  Are they gonna fall in love??
Honestly, sometimes I feel like a child again.
Let's talk about the characters- because I think pretty much all of you know that characters are my favorite part of a story.

Rey, a young woman who has grown up alone on a desert planet, is our new central character.  Readers, I don't care if she might qualify as a Mary Sue, she's a good one!  It's been a long time since I've said "I wanna be her!", but this girl definitely inspires that feeling for me.  
She isn't the whining, pathetic, angry jerkette that has become so popular in television these days, nor is she the dramatic, controlling, angry archtype of action women.  I have one name for those kinds of characters- and I think you'll like it: 
"Drama Goats"
Because the writers milk them for all they're worth.  
Get it?
*Dies laughing at her own joke*
Anyway, back to the subject at hand- Rey isn't one of those.  She is innocent, sweet, lonely, and hopeful.  Her actions and reactions are believable.  And I just have to say, she's a total natural with the Force.  I look forward to seeing where her character arc will take her.  
Finn, a deserting storm trooper, is unlike anyone we've come across in Star Wars so far.  He has a unique perspective on events due to his background, and his personality is sweet and caring despite his harsh upbringing.  I love the way that he instantly connected with Rey, becoming protective of her, yet also quite respectful of her abilities.  
At times, Finn is clumbsy, mostly because of his limited knowledge- but once he's in his element, i.e. in a battle with a blaster in his hands, he proves he's worth his salt.
**SORT OF SPOILER**(By the way, I totally ship Finn with Rey.  They're so cute together!)**END SPOILER**
And now we come to Kylo Ren, the main antagonist.  Definitely not the Big Bad, but the antagonist for sure.  I was surprised by his character- he wasn't at all what I was expecting.  I'm very glad he wasn't!  His status as a highly emotional, unstable warrior desperate to prove his worth makes for an interesting story.  Furthermore, the fact that he admits that he is frequently "tempted by the Light" provides some new depth to the normally pure evil villains of the sci-fi world.  
Don't get me wrong- I do love to hate the purely despicable villains like Darth Sidious and (for the most part until Episode VI) Darth Vader.  But I think the choice to have Kylo be perpetually in conflict with himself over his actions and desires was a very good one.  It doesn't make him any less despicable, but it does open up possibilities in his character arc.  The way I see it, he could either be redeemed (miraculously) or become a horrible, bloodthirsty monster.  Who can tell?
There is one particular scene where he is interrogating Rey, and I found the dynamics between them fascinating.  I very much look forward to seeing where the next movie takes this.
And of course, we have the characters we know and love- Han, Leia, Luke, Chewbacca, Artoo, and Threepio.  I felt that their character development since the previous films was believable, given the events that are revealed to have happened during the 30-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.  
Now that I've raved about the movie for a while, let's take a closer look at the pros and cons.


A) It's awesome!  B)  It's Star Wars!  C)  It made me want to watch it again right away.
The effects are great, the story is compelling, the characters are a breath of fresh air.  The movie doesn't bog itself down trying to explain the impossible technology, it just tells the story and assumes you'll follow along.  This is helpful both to viewers who are not scientifically minded and would get confused trying to keep up with tech-talk, and also to those critical thinkers who realize that nothing in Star Wars is realistic.  By making it more like a fantasy, where things just are the way they are, the story is much more effective.  


Morality-wise, there isn't much to worry about in this show.  I don't specifically remember any swear words, but I could be wrong.  I've only seen it once.  
There is one scene where some of the main characters are in a bar/space club, where an alien woman with minimal clothing is sitting on the lap of a large alien dude, who is looking at her intensely.  
Toward the beginning of a movie, the First Order, led by Kylo Ren, attacks a small village and begins murdering its inhabitants.  Laser blasts fill the air and both soldiers and civilians are killed.  One storm trooper leaves a bloody hand print on the helmet of his friend.  There is no graphic violence, but sensitive children may be disturbed by the idea that all of those villagers died.  
A young pilot for the rebellion is questioned by his enemy, and interrogated by a form of telepathy, which appears to cause him great pain.  Young children may find this frightening or disturbing.  
There is one sequence where one-eyed tentacled aliens run amuck aboard a ship, devouring anyone who comes too close, and tossing men around like rag-dolls.  This is probably the most intense scene in the movie, and will likely frighten young children.  My seven-year-old brother seemed to handle it well, though.  It really depends on the child.
Numerous fight scenes, mostly fantasy-style violence with no graphic images.   


This movie is a fun, interesting adventure for anybody who loves sci-fi, Star Wars, or good stories in general.  I would recommend it for ages ten and up, but as I mentioned before, my seven-year-old brother watched it and was just fine.  I applaud the writers and filmmakers for this newest work of art.  Well done!

To quote my uncle...

"Stupid Star Wars, now you've sucked us back in!"

And thank goodness you did.

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-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  Clearly, I do not own the images in this post.  If I did, I would be a really, really good artist.  All credit goes where it is due.  :)


  1. Thanks for reviewing this, Emma! I'm planning to see TFA as soon as I get the chance . . . but that probably won't be until it comes out on DVD, unless a miracle occurs.

    1. You're welcome! I hope you get the chance to see it in theaters, just for the fun of it. ;)

  2. I remember the panic when I heard they were coming out with a new Star Wars. "Nooooooo!" I thought, Luke style, as I envisioned more prequel-ish movies.
    But when I heard that the story closely followed the originals, I perked up.

    I loved how Rey and Finn, both so capable and tough in many ways, were still innocent and out of their comfort zones.

    I like how you touched on not everything in star wars being realistic. My mathematical and scientific-minded Grandfather can't seem to enjoy the series, not while the light sabers stop at a point. "It's fantasy..." we say "It's not how lasers work!" he replies.

    Thanks for the review, Emmarayn! (by the way, 'drama goats' is a great new word!)

    1. Glad you liked it! Indeed, Finn and Rey's innocence is a rare treat, I'm very pleased with their characters. I can totally identify with Finn during the "Get the one I'm pointing to!" scene. XD

      And drama goats... yes, my family and I enjoy that one. Thanks!