By Cynthia Ayala
It’s been thirty years since the fall of the Empire. Now the Galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and the First Order. But Skywalker is missing and the allies of the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa, are beginning to flounder. And when a defector Stormtrooper named Finn crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey and her droid that contains a map to find Skywalker. A new hope lies with them, their ability to survive and fight against all the odds and the location of Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi Knights.
Probably not a very clever title but one that suits this review, this is, after all, the first Star Wars film since Episode III: Revenge of the Sith that came out way back in 2005. Wow, I suddenly feel old.
Anyway, back on point. This film was amazing. It wasn’t something fresh but at least the writers understood that in order to make this film new and acceptable by the massive following, they had to really start of from scratch and tap into what made the first film so good. So with the canon thrown out the window by Disney in order to lift some of the restraints that may have hindered the film (I say may because there are numerous stories that could have been brought to the screen) they gave J. J. Abrams and his crew some leeway to work on a new fresh story. Although, again, it wasn’t that fresh. It really is a mirror image of A New Hope, just upside down, pulling some elements from the entire trilogy to make this film. On the one hand that is very disappointing because there is such a vast number of stories that the writers could have chosen to bring to life but instead they settled on a story that has already been done. Personally, I still think they should have done the Yuuzhan Vong because those are very different and unique villains in the Star Wars Universe. So it’s a little disappointing to see another version A New Hope back on the screen, but at least the writers were able to recapture the flame and do it right and write a good story even if it wasn’t a unique and fresh idea.
Was it fresh? No, any fan watching this will immediately be reminded of the original trilogy from story elements to story progression. However, what does make it somewhat fresh are the character dynamics. They are strong and bring so much life and laughter to the film. It was funny, it was eye-catching and the story was so solid. And for book and comic book fans, J. J. Abrams didn’t completely throw out the canon, there’s still some of it in there, if you know where to look.
Another thing about this film is how it turns the mirror upside down; it flips the film on its head and completely revitalizes the film franchise. Okay, not completely, that’s a stretch, but it does breathe life back into the franchise that had suffered so much since Episodes 1, 2 & 3. Let’s not play around, those three films were awful and if you like them…well I’m sorry (not sorry) for speaking the truth.
Now, while this film may be a flipped mirror version of A New Hope, it definitely has more comedic elements than that film. Oh my goodness, the writers knew just were to put the funny lines and write it so cleverly. John Boyega was the defector Stormtropper and he was not only written so well on the page but the way the actor carried out the part was amazing. He was amazing. Daisy Ridley was also amazing, carrying out her role with perfect precision making her own character one to remember. She has strength, will power and a brokenness inside her that differs from other characters in the series. Her growth and her acting ability, the direction she was given makes her a standout character. This is only further proof that J. J. Abrams is a great director and writer with the ability to balance both very well and make a good film in the process.
One thing that really did upset me though was the fact that in all the trailers we see Stormtrooper Phasma played by Gwendoline Christie and in the movie, she hardly gets any screen time. They didn’t do anything with her character and they could have. Once again that would have been a moment for the writers to draw from the canon, manipulate it and make the movie fresher. They didn’t do that. They have this hyped up interesting character played by an amazing actress and they did absolutely nothing with her. That’s a no-no.
Overall, this was great film and the story is so familiar on so many levels that fans are going to appreciate that. It is not 100% fresh as an idea, but the writing, directing and acting in the film make it one to remember.
Why are you still sitting here reading this? Go see the movie, you might get lucky and find a seat in the packed theaters. (★★★☆ | B)
Directed by J. J. Abrams
Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams & Michael Arndt
Based on Characters by George Lucas
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Peter Mayhe, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Daniels & Max von Sydow
Genre | Length | Rating: Fantasy/Science fiction | 2 H 16 MIN | PG-13
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures