Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The First Order Of Business

Set thirty years after the fall of the Galactic Empire in ‘Return Of The Jedi’, the galaxy is looking at a new threat from the evil sith, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. When a turncloak called Finn (John Boyega) crashes on Jakku, he meets a scavengers called Rey (Daisy Ridley) whose droid contains intelligence in the form of a map. Together, the tag team join forces with rebellion and smuggling legend, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to be certain that the Resistance led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), receives the information concerning the location of her brother, Jedi knight, Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

The rebirth of this franchise is a breath of fresh air. It’s a great first installment of this new trilogy and I’d even go so far as to say that I forgot about the prequels for the time I was watching the movie. Abrams has made a movie that has made up for the abomination that are the Star Wars prequels. This movie has gotten a lot of stigma in the sense that it’s too much like episode four, ‘A New Hope’ and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a throwback to the Original Trilogy. Abrams wanted to improve on the prequels which he did, but played off the nostalgia appeal fans of the previous trilogy would have. You can’t please everyone and there are many fanatical nerds who live to complain and will complain about every detail. They thrive on nitpicking and cannot enjoy this movie for what it is. This first installment has given me hope. This has reinvented Star Wars for a new generation of fans yet it can be enjoyed by those who grew up with Original Trilogy as well.

Rey (Ridley) and BB-8 on Jakku

Rey (Ridley) and BB-8 on Jakku

The story was well written even though it was reminiscent of A New Hope. I saw certain things that were very similar, like the scenes with Maz (Lupita Nyong’o) in her place of residence being very similar to the cantina scene in the previous trilogy. In A New Hope, R2D2 has the intelligence for Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi where as in this, BB-8 has info for the Princess in regard to her brother. I didn’t mind that it was similar to A New Hope. It had its own style and flair. There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? Yes I have. It pushes all the right buttons for me. I wasn’t part of the generation that had the honor of seeing: Hope, Empire and Jedi at the cinema but I did grow up watching the Original Trilogy. This movie a struck a chord for me and made me think back to my childhood; with the return of Han and Chewie (we’re home) and the the piece of junk ship, the immortalized Millenium Falcon. But what really made me think back was when we were introduced to General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson), Snoke (Andy Serkis) and our main antagonist, Kylo Ren.

To me, Gleeson’s performance was the best in the whole movie and he was uncanny to the OT’s General Tarkin. I will say it now and I will say it again, British actors make the best villains and Husk didn’t take any crap from anyone even if it was Kylo Ren who was very skilled with the force and dark side, even more than Darth Vader as we saw when Kylo Ren or Ben Solo (as we find out) holds a blaster blast in mid-air whilst having a conversation. He’s twice the sith that Darth Vader was yet he still has the personality of teenager with teenage angst as we see when he loses his temper and lays waste to rooms with his lightsaber. When he’s wearing the mask, he’s scary and menacing but when he removes it, he just seems to be a young man in conflict with himself and Jon Snow’s doppelgänger, especially with that flaming sword, lightbringer. The only difference between the two is not power but conviction. In his own mind, Darth Vader truly believed what he was doing to be right but in comparison, Kylo Ren is in conflict with himself and lacks conviction.

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I only caught on to Gleeson when he played Bill Weasley in Deathly Hallows Part I and Part II but he’s also been a number of other things including: Anne Karenina, Ex Machina and most recently in Brooklyn along side Saoirse Ronan where they both deliver career-defining performances. But even more recently, he is starring in The Revenant with Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio which I am also will be amazing as I have heard nothing but good things. Adam Driver (Inside Llewyn Davis) as Ben Solo was heartbreaking. The scene on the bridge broke the fanbase. I think I had a lump in my throat for some time but the film itself had many ‘lump-in-the-throat’ moments. Adam Driver gave a good performance but quite forgettable.

As is customary with Star Wars, action is no short supply when Han Solo is around the corner. There were great examples of SFX, VFX and action sequences, but the general cinematography was on point as well as great use of green screening for Andy Serkis’ Snoke and Nyong’o’s Maz. My favorite action sequence being when the Resistance came to our heroes’ aid wherein Finn had a confrontation with a stormtrooper who wielded a weapon that could rival that of a lightsaber. I liked the fight but I’d rather have had Gwendoline Christie’s (Game Of Thrones) Captain Phasma go up against Finn than a ‘nobody’. It seems fitting since he ran away and she was his commander. I was gutted we didn’t see more of her.

Gwendoline Christie as the ruthless Captain Phasma

Gwendoline Christie as the ruthless Captain Phasma

This movie was made by Disney and as Disney have done with Marvel, the movie is riddled with jokes and comedic moments. I liked it to a degree, but Finn just seemed to be a comedian throughout the movie with few moments of general seriousness.It just seems that in a lot of blockbuster movies these days, that young black males are often portrayed as liars and class clowns. Towards the end of the movie, he became a courageous hero who wants to help his friend. But what I did like is that Rey was leading a female hero in her own right rather than being a damsel in distress as is typical with many works from Disney. Great performances from Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as supporting characters and very good performances from Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) Daisy Ridley (Mr Selfridge) and John Boyega (Attack The Block) too, but Ridley must be commended in this movie as it’s her first major role.

In conclusion, there are numerous questions left unanswered at the end of the movie. We have two more movies left in the trilogy and I can wait, yet I know other fans who aren’t quite as patient. It’s a grand trilogy-opener and I can bet that Episode VIII will improve on this one as Empire Strikes Back improved on A New Hope. Let’s be honest. Star Wars was broken and Abrams has now fixed it. When they announced that Disney had now acquired the rights to Star Wars, I wasn’t happy but now with this movie, I have hope that this trilogy is in capable strong capable hands and the future of Star Wars is going to be a prosperous one.

May the force be with you