19 dic. 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (9/10): And so does the franchise!

“There's been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark side, and the Light.”

There is a new film that has been released this weekend that not many people may have heard of, so I want to recommend it because it’s worth checking out. Apparently The Force Awakens is the seventh film in the little recognized Star Wars franchise and I’m surprised not many people have been talking about this sci-fi action packed adventure franchise. It seems to have some sort of cult following because there were a few people dressed up in the movies as some of the characters in the film. I’m glad I was lucky enough to have heard about this J.J. Abrams’s directed movie. Abrams who is better known for creating the hit TV series Lost has directed some remarkable films. His first feature film was Mission Impossible III which I will always remember for having one of the best villains in the franchise (played by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman). He followed it up with the reboot of the Star Trek franchise which was a wonderful surprise for fans around the globe. I wasn’t a fan of the franchise myself until I got to see what Abrams did with it. He later went on to direct Super 8 which was as close to a Steven Spielberg 90’s movie that you will ever get. From that point on I knew Abrams could do no wrong. After succeeding yet again with another Star Trek sequel he decided to aim for something much smaller: A reimagining of the Star Wars franchise. If the film has success it will probably be thanks to my recommendation of the movie since I’m hoping it gets a lot of word of mouth. Please go watch this movie even if you haven’t seen the other films in the franchise because it stands on its own. It is almost a remake in a way since it follows the basic blue prints of the original film with some returning characters. I guess Abrams can receive some of the credit because everything he’s done up to now has been highly entertaining. Hopefully the film will be a success and that way people will go back and check out the other films in the franchise starting way back in the late 70’s.

The Force Awakens takes place some 30 years after Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) defeated Darth Vader’s evil Empire (sorry for the spoilers if you haven’t seen the original films). It was a battle between the dark forces and the light. Now the galaxy is facing a new threat. Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) has been training his apprentice, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and establishing the First Order which wants to rule the galaxy and put an end to the Resistance which is led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher). Ren is extremely powerful and he uses the dark side of the force to his advantage subjugating anyone who opposes him. The only one who could threaten his abilities is Luke Skywalker, but he has disappeared and no one knows his whereabouts. Both the First Order and the Resistance are searching for him for different reasons. One of the Resistance’s best pilots, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), has received an important tip about his whereabouts, but when Ren finds out he will stop at nothing to retrieve the information. Dameron has no other option but to hide the information in one of his personal droids (BB-8) and sends him off before being captured by Ren. The droid is discovered by a young scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who helps BB-8 escape from some mercenaries who are after it. Rey and the droid find assistance from an unlikely ally, a rogue stormtrooper named Finn (John Boyega) who is fleeing from the First Order. The fantastic sci-fi adventure begins as these fugitives try to reach the Resistance before the First Order discovers their whereabouts.

Abrams and Disney both leave their personal stamp in this film. There are classic Disney elements to this story which are told through Abrams’s unique style. Abrams knows exactly what his audience wants and he delivers a nostalgic piece of filmmaking by following pretty much the same beats as the original film did. Disney recycles some of its known humor and adds its own familiar tragic elements. I don’t know if The Force Awakens is more of a sequel than it is a reboot with returning characters because it feels so familiar and predictable. But it is exactly what fans wanted and it delivers. Darth Vader is probably the best villain in the history of film, but here Abrams manages to craft another memorable villain who comes close to matching him. Kylo Ren will probably become a pop culture icon just as Darth Vader has been over so many decades. Driver delivers a fantastic and memorable performance although my only complain about his character would be that his powers seem to weaken throughout the film after such a powerful entrance. Although I’m sure that will be resolved in the next film which will probably have a similar tone to The Empire Strikes Back which is my favorite film of the franchise. Harrison Ford stands out once again as Han Solo and he gets a lot of screen time, reminding us all why he is such a beloved action star. He delivers most of the funniest lines in the movie just as he did in the late 70’s and 80’s. The new additions, Daisy Ridley (who reminded me of a young Keira Knightley), John Boyega (who was discovered in the fantastic British horror comedy Attack the Block), and Oscar Isaac all deliver fantastic roles and inject the movie with fresh and well established characters that will deliver the franchise beyond nostalgic value. The Force Awakens had huge shoes to fill, but Abrams managed to reinvigorate the franchise by combining fresh blood with returning beloved characters. Fans will definitely be pleased with the film although it is hard to match the greatness of the original films due to its predictable nature that has more nostalgic value than anything else. We will have to wait and see how it works with younger audiences and if it stands the test of time. 

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