The Force Awakens (2015) – Opening Night

The Force Awakens (2015)I just got home from seeing Star Wars The Force Awakens on its opening night. Before I go into anything I’ll say this. I went into this movie 100% spoiler free and as this review is being published before the film has been out for it’s full opening weekend I’ll keep it spoiler free. I’ll do another review where I talk spoilers after seeing the film again… and boy will I see this film again.

Yes, I’m a Star Wars geek. Yes, I’ve been rather down on the prequels especially as of late. There may be a bit of recency affect going on here but this was a god damn amazing film! Wow. Just… wow. It’s going to take a few more viewings to determine where I rank it amongst the rest of the saga, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s far superior to the prequels and I may have enjoyed it more than at least one of the original trilogy. (gasp)

As soon as I got out of the theater I tweeted this:

I can’t even tell you just how relieved I am that this film has lived up to the massive hype that it’s received. It is 100% deserved. JJ Abrams managed to do something that I didn’t think would be possible. He gave new and old fans a Star Wars experience that they could look at with both nostalgia as well as longing for a continuation of the story.

The Characters

I was totally invested in the new lead hero characters of Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisey Ridley) and Poe (Oscar Isaac). In fact, I enjoyed them far more than I thought I would. And while he wasn’t necessarily intending to replace the beloved R2-D2 and C-3P0, the “character” of BB-8 is more than worthy to be mentioned in the same conversation with those two iconic characters. Abrams did an outstanding job of weaving these hero characters in with our returning heroes Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess (now General) Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

And yes… Luke Skywalker is in this movie. I’ll leave it at that.

I was worried that Kylo Ren, played masterfully by Adam Driver, was going to go the route of Darth Maul in the prequels where he was a bad ass villain but never really amounted to much. That clearly isn’t the case with Ren and I couldn’t be happier. We don’t get much here from the other bad guys but I’m guessing we’ll get more from them in subsequent films.

The Plot

As I said, I’m going to keep this particular review spoiler free so I’m not going to go into a plot summary or even specific plot points. There are several twists and turns here, some of which I saw coming and others which I did not. I will say this… The Force Awakens is a very tight movie in the way it’s told. One of the big complaints I had about the prequels was there was just too much going on and it became very difficult to follow who was doing what, who was fighting who, etc. That’s not the case here. It’s straight forward enough that even if you don’t know who all the characters are you know what their mission is and what their motivation is. That’s a very, very good thing.

Where this really stands above some (most?) of the other films in the Star Wars saga is the dialog. This is absolutely the “funniest” of all the films in the franchise. And while humor and Star Wars normally don’t go together it doesn’t detract from the film. There were a couple of times where I was legit laughing out loud. “That’s not how the Force works!!!”

JJ Abrams has done a superb job linking this film to the original trilogy. Very little attention was paid to the prequels. Whether that was done intentionally or because we are so far removed from those films (in the Star Wars timeline) doesn’t really matter. There are a slew of callbacks here to the original trilogy. Perhaps there was one or two too many but as a lifelong fan it felt just right. This FELT like a Star Wars movie.

And it felt really good to be home.

Final Thoughts

The Force Awakens has been hyped like no movie since possibly The Phantom Menace. When I walked out of that film I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed The Force Awakens on an entirely different level. This was clearly the start of something big. It’s the start of a new trilogy, with new characters for us to fall in love with and to learn about. In case you can’t tell by now this is a strong, strong recommend from me. It’s not a perfect film, but is exactly what I was hoping for. A Star Wars film that gave me just enough of the old blended with some really compelling and exciting new. That’s exactly what this was and I can’t wait to see it again. You can guarantee that I won’t wait for home release. I’ll see this one in the theater AT LEAST once more.

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