Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rey: “There are stories about what happened."
Han Solo: “It's true. All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi...they're real.”
release year: 2015
viewing setting: home Bluray 4/5/16 and theater 12/23/15
synopsis: Thirty years after the death of the Emperor and the destruction of the second Death Star...not much has changed, and the bad guys still seem to have the upper hand.
impressions: I'm going to assume that anyone reading this has already seen the movie, and so instead of giving it a high-level critique or trying to discuss it without spoilers, I'm instead going to just give my own thoughts and impressions about it. All in all, this was basically a remake of the original Star Wars movie, but with new characters as well as surviving old ones. I'm guessing they didn't want to stray too far from the formula that had worked in the past, so they figured out a way to stick to it while adding some (but not too much) new stuff and not going in any risky new directions. The problem makes sense: how to reinvigorate the franchise while not pissing off the fans? So they pulled it off. It's not perfect, but it's well-done and very fun to watch...spaceship battles, people fighting with laser guns and lightsabers, moral decisions to be made, a super-weapon, aliens, special effects, kids gone bad, continuity ties to what came before, a sense of destiny for some characters, a mysterious main bad guy, and even a major sacrifice at one point. Again, it's not perfect, but I'd claim that nothing could be perfect in this situation, not to every single type of Star Wars fan.
acting: Daisy Ridley is one of two primary new protagonists introduced here; she's a scavenger who's used to living on her own and fighting to survive, and then she ends up in spaceships and other worlds and realizes that she's got the Force and perhaps a greater destiny. John Boyega is the other new character, a Stormtrooper who decides he doesn't want to kill innocent people and then does something rash (but right) which eventually puts him with the good guys. Adam Driver is Kylo Ren, a Darth Vader worshipper (and wannabe) who has power but also a temper, and throws tantrums. As for the returning characters, Harrison Ford's Han Solo gets the most screen time by far, and is pretty much an older version of the dashing, daring hero he last played three decades ago - though the character now has some problems due to his son becoming evil many years ago. Carrie Fisher gets decent screen time as now-General Leia, who looks and sounds a lot different than before and had a fling (but apparently not a marriage) with Han Solo. Mark Hamill only appears at the very end and doesn't say much, but it looks probable that he'll have a much greater role in the next film. Peter Mayhew also returns as Chewbacca, who is responsible for some humorous moments here. There are others old and new, but these are the main acting parts.
final word: It didn't suck but wasn't awesome; it did entertain, and was probably about s good as could be expected from a real sequel to episodes 4-5-6.
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