Don’t worry, this Star Wars: Episode VII review is a total non-spoiler
When I was going into the theater to see Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens for the first time, I was nervous. I was nervous about how I’d feel, with so much expected from it and seemingly so many people relying on it to basically at least nullify the aftereffects of the Star Wars prequel trilogy that were released in 1999, 2002, and 2005.
I’d say that my nervousness about the expectancy of Episode VII was justified for that reason. Luckily, J.J. Abrams was successful in giving us something to be truly excited about with The Force Awakens.
It seemed that part of the process of bringing the movie about was bringing the nostalgia of the original trilogy into light. The obvious signs of that point to the characters that we’ve admired since A New Hope graced the big screen in 1977. Ever since we found out that Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill were brought on board, we already had a feeling this was going to really hype fans up for these sequels.
Those characters on screen brought much joy to my geeky mind, and seeing Harrison Ford, one who didn’t much appreciate being asked or talked to so much about anything Star Wars before being involved in it again, portray Han Solo with such fluent ease was something in itself to behold. Let’s just say an older Han Solo doesn’t mean a less funny Han Solo. I can’t say how wonderful it was to see Ford in this role again. As much as he is Indiana Jones, he is also Han Solo.
Carrie Fisher’s role as General Leia Organa was an interesting one. Her prominent title shows that Leia hasn’t gotten softer over the years, but has seemingly gone through her challenges in a militant way. Seeing Princess Leia again had to happen if Solo was returning.
As for Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, his appearance is one that I can say is memorable, but not really something I can talk about at this point.
Aside from the characters that we remember, there are other iconic moments and objects that were brought in to remind us exactly what we’re watching. The moment the Milliennium Falcon comes into view, it’s definitely an eye-opening, squealing, type-of-moment that you’ll want to see several times over.
But there is a story to be told, and this movie isn’t just about throwing Easter Eggs at us. New characters come into play, and you kind of get to see how the old brand of characters mix in with the new brand of characters. The connections are interesting to say the least.
Daisy Ridley’s Rey is probably the most interesting of them all, something that the writers and Abrams probably wanted to set from the very beginning during this day and age in which the lack of strong female characters are cause for all sorts of alarm. And it works really well for the movie and this character.
John Boyega’s Finn definitely brings about questions for fans as his background is of one that I don’t know has ever been dealt with before. So, it’s something curious and quite different from what we’re familiar with in the past.
Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron is probably the most straightforward of them all, which brings something like ‘vanilla’ to mind, especially when Isaac himself has played more flavorful characters before. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. There are those types that are pretty much straightforward and likeable, kind of like Luke Skywalker in A New Hope.
Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is one that we’ll have to pay attention to, and even more so in the upcoming episodes. There are things that this character does that may be surprising, and maybe even a bit humorous, but when you think about it, are probably just as reasonable. I can’t say more than that, but as faulty as he is, there’s a very human characteristic for what he does and why he’s like that. I’m really curious to see how things go with him.
As far as the storyline overall, I’m going to admit that it’s not a perfect movie. But neither was A New Hope. There are things that I’m sure several fans would like to have done differently, including the way too similar feel of the final battle scene, visually dynamic as it was. The introduction of the new characters brings a different type of feel to it, even with some of the humor and drama. You can even feel the differences in how the new characters interact with the originals. Because of that, there are purists out there that will never be satisfied. But don’t let that discourage you from enjoying the movie. Overall, it’s an excellent story with a new unique set of characters, and something for fans to look forward to in the future films.
Regarding the visual effects of the movie, I can’t complain. There were some really epic battles in the movie that were as exciting as those from the original films, without a smidge of lens flare (thanks J.J.) However, having said that, there was nothing groundbreaking in doing what was already done. And that’s why the original Star Wars cannot be topped, at least not just yet. Back in 1977, what Lucas had done was presented moviegoers something new and fresh in the world of visual effects. Nowadays, that’s not easy to do. And unfortunately, the use of 3D cameras hasn’t become as mainstream as they would like to think. Nor is it an easy medium, it seems, to really make the most out of. So, we’re relegated to seeing a movie that’s pretty cool, but not quite life changing.
Still, it’s a satisfying addition, must more satisfying than the prequels, to the Star Wars universe. Now, is it worth going to see it in IMAX? It depends on what you’re looking for with that format. My second time seeing it was in true IMAX (15/70), so yes, it’s a visual beauty to see in a large format such as IMAX, and the sound is definitely on par. But if you’re wanting to see what you gain from a 3-D perspective, I didn’t find it added anything to the movie. The story is just as good on a less expensive movie screen. At least give yourself enough credit to see it in a movie theater. These types of movies were made for the big screen.
My Grade: A-