With Episode VIII: The Last Jedi right around the corner and premiering this weekend, we go back to its predecessor, which is the first installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Here is a review of 2015’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which was co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams, co-creator of the hit show Lost as well as director and producer of 2009’s Star Trek and its 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead (although you should have seen this film by now)!
In this film, Jedi Luke Skywalker has disappeared, and the First Order has risen from the ashes of the Galactic Empire to search for him. His sister and now general Leia Organa leads a resistance of people with the help of the Republic in order to find him as a means to bring balance to the galaxy once again. She sends her pilot Poe Dameron to a village in the planet Jakku where a clue on Skywalker’s whereabouts has been discovered. However, when the Order attacks the village, Dameron gives the clue to his droid BB-8. During the attack, a Stormtrooper (FN-2187) begins to doubt his loyalties toward the Order and the sinister dark warrior who leads it, Kylo Ren.
BB-8 eventually crosses paths with a young scavenger named Rey. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren has Dameron in his confinement, but he escapes the Order with the help of FN-2187. Dameron calls him Finn as they make their way back to Jakku. After crash-landing on the desert planet, Finn finds himself separated from Dameron. Wearing Dameron’s jacket, Finn comes across Rey and BB-8, but when those of the Order are sent to find Finn and BB-8, they are forced to leave the planet on a garbage starship. Up in outer space, they find their spacecraft to be abducted in a freighter run by Han Solo and his partner Chewbacca, who reveal that it is none other than the Millenium Falcon.
When members of rival gangs raid their freighter, Solo, Chewbacca, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 are forced to leave in the Falcon, and a gang member informs the Order of their escape. Upon hearing this, Supreme Leader Snoke tells Kylo Ren that Ren’s father, revealed to be Han Solo, is aboard the Falcon, but Ren says that Solo means nothing to him. Those in the Falcon find that the clue that Dameron hid in BB-8 is a map leading to Luke Skywalker. They then enter a green forest planet called Takodana, where they seek help from an ally, Maz Kanata.
Whilst in Takodana, those of both the Resistance and the Order alert others of BB-8’s presence at Kanata’s castle. Finn tells Rey the truth about his past and decides to leave in order to run from the First Order. Rey then ventures off throughout the castle and comes into contact with a blue lightsaber that was once in the hands of “Luke [Skywalker] his father before him,” Anakin. The lightsaber gives her frightening visions of her past and future, and this prompts her to leave the castle. Meanwhile, on a mobile ice planet called the Starkiller Base, General Hux and the First Order fire at and decimate Hosnian Prime and its star system.
The Order launches an attack on Kanata’s castle, but the Resistance comes to the Falcon crew members’ aid, revealing that Dameron somehow survived the Jakku crash-landing. However, Rey is captured and taken by Kylo Ren.
On the Resistance base in D’Qar, Solo catches up with his wife Leia Organa, and Finn runs into Dameron. BB-8 also uncovers a shut-down R2-D2 droid. On the Starkiller Base, Rey is interrogated by Kylo Ren, but she soon realizes that she, too, holds the power of the Force. She uses the Jedi Mind Trick to remove her restraints and open her cell door. The Resistance devises a plan to destroy the Starkiller Base; they send Solo, Chewbacca, and Finn to do the job from the inside. The three run into Rey, and they decide to place explosive charges throughout the base. Solo approaches Kylo Ren, who then mortally impales his father with his lightsaber. Rey, Finn, and Chewbacca witness this.
Rey and Finn run into Kylo Ren before making it to the Millenium Falcon. Ren knocks Rey unconscious, and Finn engages in a lightsaber duel with Solo’s son but fails. Rey comes to shortly thereafter and retrieves the blue lightsaber onto her hands. She fights Kylo Ren, who urges her to join his side, but she uses the Force to gain the upper-hand. Dameron blasts the internal structures of the base, and the whole planet crumbles away. Rey and Chewbacca escape the planet in the Falcon with a badly wounded Finn, along with Poe Dameron and his squadron in X-Wing starfighters. Back at the Resistance base, R2-D2’s systems reactivate, revealing to have a map of Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts, albeit missing a piece. BB-8 uses the Jakku clue to fill in the puzzle, and Rey is sent to locate Leia’s twin brother. She finds herself on an oceanic planet, where she finds Luke and presents him his lightsaber.
This epic space opera introduces us to such great characters, heroes and villains alike. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega do great as newcomers, and Adam Driver performs splendidly as Kylo Ren. Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma is introduced as well, however, more light needs to be shed on her.
Maz Kanata teaches Rey that her path will be set in motion as she continues to look forward, not backward. She says, “The belonging you seek is not behind you; it is ahead.” Such is the case when Rey fulfills the destiny as seen in her vision, and she attempts to fight off Kylo Ren in the snowy woods of the Starkiller Base.
Solo meeting his tragic demise will be a perpetually traumatic scene in cinematic history, although this does not end his story in the Star Wars universe as he is due to have a solo film which will take place before the events of the Original Trilogy.
Overall, this film is visually stunning while maintaining a magnificent story with well-written characters. It does a great job of bringing back old characters (i.e. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, with cameos from CP-3O and R2-D2) and also of good foreshadowing. As Han says, “I have a bad feeling about this.” You can never be too careful with a Star Wars movie. In addition, the musical score continues to lure in its fans. The fight scenes and the dramatic scenes are to die for. Fans perceive this film as having a similar plot to Episode IV: A New Hope, and this could take a lot from the movie.
The Force Awakens receives a 9.2 out of 10.
Easter Eggs, References, and Trivia Facts:
- “The Last Jedi” –
- In a scene which takes place after the Millenium Falcon’s escape from the space freighter, Supreme Leader Snoke informs Kylo Ren and General Hux that BB-8’s deliverance to the Resistance will be “leading them to the last Jedi,” referring to Luke Skywalker. With the successor film’s title in mind, this cannot be a coincidence, which would mean that the last Jedi is indeed Luke Skywalker. Snoke adds that Skywalker’s return to the surface of the galaxy means the rise of a new age of Jedi warriors.
- Dejarik –
- On the Millenium Falcon, Finn briefly stumbles upon an old two-player board game featuring holographic creatures. This was also seen in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (originally titled as Star Wars).
- Above most that were noted, here are some cameo/ short appearances found in the film:
- Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy) appears as Unkar Plutt, a junkyard dealer of Jakku.
- Warwick Davis (the Leprechaun series) appears as Wollivan, a tavern-dweller of Maz Kanata’s castle.
- Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow) cameos as Korr Sella, a female military officer under General Leia Organa.
- Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre) portrays the Stormtrooper that Rey plays Jedi mind tricks on.
- Actress Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd plays Connix, a lieutenant of the Resistance.
- Greg Grunberg (Heroes) and Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist) appear as X-wing pilots.
- Ken Leung (Marvel’s Inhumans) portrays Statura, an admiral of the Resistance.
How saddened were you by Solo’s death? Are you ready for The Last Jedi? Are you hopeful for Han’s prequel solo/ spinoff film in late-May? For more Star Wars-related news and reviews, follow Geek Motivation on Twitter (@GeekMotivation) and Instagram (@geekmotivation).
Written by: John Tangalin