We here at Dork Side of the Force have separately gone to see Star Wars: the Force Awakens multiple times, and so our writers will be giving their reviews, as they come. Contributor Mike Valverde is a lifelong Star Wars fan, this is his review…
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I must admit that I was nervous about watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but now all those butterflies have disappeared never to return. This is a very good movie, is it as good as what is on Rotten Tomatoes? No-way. It was refreshing to see the Force Awakens revert to the original trilogy of episodes IV, V, VI. From the opening, we get the free flowing scrawl that doesn’t take three turns to read just to nail down all the trade blockage and rerouting.
We get the point right away that there is a new group called the Resistance, which was the Rebels, and the First Order which was the Empire. It follows the same template, and watching the movies you will similar actions take place, such as hot shot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) putting plans into the BB-8 droid, and the Star Killer base is a magnified version of the Death Star.
It also doesn’t take long for the action to pick up right away, and it will look very familiar to anyone who has watched A New Hope. The first main character we are introduced to is Dameron, and not much longer Stormtrooper FN-2187 a.k.a. Finn (John Boyega). The movie explains very well and plausible how these two characters connect, and the chemistry between the actors is fantastic.
When it’s time for Rey (Daisy Ridley) to pop on screen, we are introduced to a very strong female character. We don’t have to be told; she is a badass because we are smart enough to figure that out, by watching her foraging through a downed Star Destroyer, and confronting evil without a hesitancy.
One of the biggest issues George Lucas had with the Star Wars prequels; he wanted the exposition to tell us what was happening instead of us learning from actions. What we begin to learn through watching this film is that J.J. Abrams was tentative to take any risks with the plot or characters. The beat is a nice rhythm, but it has no pizazz. Han Solo is Han Solo; General Leia is Princess Leia and so on. There is very little growth in the character development, and we know the very little background of who they are. Which is very akin to A New Hope.
Even with little room for the actors to display their talents, they all do a marvelous job. You can see this movie without words and still understand what is happening because their emotions display the happiness and their struggles. These unknowns won’t be that way much longer. Isaac has a head start, but both Ridley and Boyega are terrific.
On the flip side, Kylo Ren ((Adam Driver) seemed a little stiff and tried almost too hard to be Ren. The biggest example is when he confronts one of our heroes for the first time on a platform. He does give a nice contrast to Domhnall Gleeson’s portrayal of General Hux, and we can feel his conflict and confusion as he battles finding his true self. Gleeson must have watched every dictator documentary because he puts them on all for you to see. He is a stoic leader and understands the importance of hierarchy, but when it’s time to rally the troops, he puts on his best Adolf Hitler.
Harrison Ford was fantastic and carried this movie to its apex. He brings back Han Solo the way you remember him. Very suave, empathetic and a dash of humility. Ford drilled the emotion of Solo when he states: “It’s all true” that you are completely involved in the character once again. Overall, there is more to this movie that I can recommend, but there are some instances that leave you scratching your head. Kylo Ren and his ending battles with our two heroes are a definite WTF did I just watch moment. There is also a lot left unexplained, which could lead to big problems if not addressed.
The biggest is who are these people, and where is their background story? Literally, all we know is that, Rey is a scavenger living on Jakku, Fin was a Stormtrooper, who could not deal with the First Order, Poe Dameron is a brilliant pilot. We also understand that Kylo Ren has daddy issues, Hux has his whole DNA made of the military lifestyle, and Snoke is freaking tall.
It is really good to have Star Wars back, and the energy and excitement that Force Awakens brings is wonderful, but as a movie that should stand by itself, and should not be compared to either side of the trilogy this gets an 85% on my Tomatometer.