Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

The saga from a galaxy far, far away is BACK! Star Wars: The Force Awakens has FINALLY arrived in theaters, and here's a NON-SPOILER review for those looking for an opinion on this space opera drama's new direction set 30 years after the events of Return of The Jedi! May The Force Be With You, and go check it out!

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It’s been a decade since the last live-action Star Wars movie, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released, completing the circle by ending the prequel trilogy and explaining Anakin Skywalker’s dark transformation into the Sith Lord known as “Darth Vader”. While many were unsure of what the next step in the direction of the franchise would be, a lot of supplementary features and shows would come to fill in the gap such as the stand alone animated Clone Wars film and the subsequent TV Series of the same name.


Flash forward to 2015, and it’s been a couple of years since Lucasfilm Ltd. and all its properties, including Star Wars, were sold off to the Walt Disney company by George Lucas. As a result, a new set of Star Wars films were commissioned to be made, including a new trilogy of films that follow directly after 1983’s Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – which depicts the fall of the Galactic Empire and the death of Darth Vader.


That first chapter of sequel stories is upon us now, as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has just opened in theaters – returning to a saga set in a galaxy far, far away and exploring new characters and adventures while revisiting some familiar tropes and old faces. If you’ve been dying to see what happens after Luke Skywalker completed his destiny and defeated his father Lord Vader, that time is now. Special thanks goes to Walt Disney Studios PH for bringing this film to Philippine shores!!!


Also this review will NOT contain SPOILERS about the plot, so you’re safe for now (unless you surf the interwebz frequently, so be careful about revelations in comments and memes).


Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens begins at a time where peace is still elusive for those in the side of democracy. Luke Skywalker has vanished to parts unknown, and his sister General Leia Organa is desperate to find him in order to combat The First Order  – a new and powerful tyrannical force that seeks to finish what the Galactic Empire started and eliminate those that stand with the New Republic.  Finding a lead to her brother’s location, Leia and the Resistance send ace pilot Poe Dameron to the dessert planet of Jakku to retrieve a map to Luke’s whereabouts.


Unfortunately The First Order also intercepts this plot, and sends troops led by the mysterious and powerful Dark Force user Kylo Ren to gain this information to find Skywalker and eliminate the last Jedi once and for all. Poe is captured and interrogated by Ren, but he is freed by a disillusioned Stormtrooper named Finn, who helps him escape yet both get separated as they flee from the First Order.


Crashing into Jakku, a series of events leads to Finn meeting and joining forces with a female scavenger named Rey and the old swindling duo of Han Solo and Chewbacca. It is here where destiny comes full circle, and a new saga depicting the desperate fight between good and evil begins anew as The Force Awakens and calls out to a new hope to bring balance to the galaxy once more.


After 10 long years, the world finally sees a new Star Wars film… And it’s under the direction of the same man who is a lifelong fan of the franchise and successfully brought the Star Trek franchise back into the big screen as well! That’s right, Lost and Alias creator J.J. Abrams is the man behind the wheel to initiate this grand comeback, and he does it so passionately and swiftly that you’ll feel right at home with how things have come since Disney took over the Star Wars franchise. There’s never a dull moment in the picture, and while we’re certainly going to see new characters get the spotlight, the old guard and familiar iconic stuff that has become so beloved by generations of fans do get the proper nods and respect in this sequel.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)..Ph: David James..© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

When it comes to the casting, Abrams has clearly done his homework and has cast a spectacular cast of players to bring life to the Star Wars universe in its new direction. John Boyega plays the unlikely heroic former Stormtrooper Finn, who develops a conscience and decides to do what’s right by those he befriends and helps through the course of the film. The first friend he helps is Poe Dameron, played by upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse actor Oscar Isaac, who is just so smooth and cool as X-Wing ace pilot Poe Dameron. These two have great chemistry as friends, but Boyega shares that quality and more screen time with the new female lead of the franchise in Rey, played by Daisy Ridley.


Out of the new guard, Rey is certainly the breakout star of the heroic trio. Her background as a scavenger in the wasteland planet of Jakku is similar to Luke Skywalker’s in Tattoine, and that familiarity plays out well and will appeal to a new generation of fans. She’s fierce, on her toes, and has the smarts to back up her looks, and that’s reassuring to know as there will be more of her to come after this adventure.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), and Rey (Daisy Ridley)..Ph: David James..© 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

With new heroes comes new villains, and that is embodied perfectly with Adam Driver’s performance as Kylo Ren – who is not exactly a Sith lord but uses those powers channeled from the Dark side of The Force to get what he wants. He’s the kind of villain that adds new layers of tragedy and discomfort to the saga, and his background will easily be something that ties everything together, for better or worse.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford)..Ph: Film Frame..© 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved..

Of course, it JUST wouldn’t be Star Wars if we didn’t see the old gang back, and Han Solo and Chewbacca feature prominently in The Force Awakens to give the new generation a helping hand. Harrison Ford just reprises his signature scoundrel of a role flawlessly, and he’s easily the one among the original cast who gets more screen time in this sequel. Naturally, Chewie is still played as a menacing yet lovable sidekick, and you have to admire how both partners are reunited with their old ship, the Millennium Falcon – another great ride that’s a blast from the past. Add the return of Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa and of course Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and you have the whole set… Along with sidekick droids C-3PO and R2-D2 of course.


So in a nutshell and non-spoiler way, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is DEFINITELY a welcomed return to a classic space drama franchise that literally became a popculture icon way ahead of its time when it started in 1977. The Force Awakens follows most of the same beats as its predecessor, but it also owns up as a great start to a new set that needs to come off on its own. Welcome back Star Wars… And MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU ALWAYS!