A month before the new Star Wars movie was supposed to come out I was pretty indifferent about the whole affair. Before I am called crazy by the masses I want to put a disclaimer here, my first experience to the Star Wars universe was The Phantom Menace. I remember being bored beyond my mind and having no idea what I was watching, so it took me a lot of guts to revisit the Star Wars universe. Now in retrospect, I can definitely say that I was missing out since I can only imagine what it would have been watching the original trilogy as a kid. The concept, the perfect 3 act storytelling, the underdog protagonist versus the ultimate antagonist: this would have been my favorite trilogy as a kid had I seen it then.
Once the original trilogy was out of the way I decided to revisit the prequels. Conclusively there is not much I missed out there and nothing is really special except the last 15 minutes of The Revenge of the Sith. I cannot believe how much noise was present in those three movies and it can easily be made into one(You can check out The Phantom Edit on Youtube if you haven’t already).
The movie begins with the very familiar screen crawl and right off the bat it feels right. There is a kinetic energy in the movie that is just inexplicable and this is something very similar to the new Mad-Max movie. Star Wars is one of the those franchises which never lacked in concept but execution and Abrams definitely changes that with his midas touch. The Force Awakens has some great homages to the original trilogy and all of those work in a perfect mix and hit you in just the right nostalgia spots. Abrams takes on the herculean task of balancing pleasing fans of the original trilogy, the extended universe spanned by the Star Wars novels & comic books and the prequels, which I personally know has some fans.
One of the finest additions that is back is the humor: Star Wars had a very distinct humor going on till the prequels came along. Han Solo’s swagger is not the only thing missing from the prequels.
The movie begins with the First Order, an analogue to the old evil Empire, attacking the resistance on planet Jakku. We’re introduced to the conflict in a very new way when Finn(John Boyega) , a stormtrooper actually sees the horrors of war. He realizes that the First Order might not be the best team to be in and decides to quit. During this attack we’re also introduced to, most probably my favorite character in the movie, Kylo Ren(Adam Driver). In a breathtaking sequence he faces Poe Dameron(Oscar Isaac) and the First Order captures Poe. Poe as it turns out hides a part of the map to find Luke Skywalker in a droid called BB8. BB8, in a very familiar chain of events ends up on the doorsteps of Rey(Daisy Ridley), our new protagonist. In a very interesting sequence, Finn meets Rey, escapes the First Order for the second time and ends up in the millennium falcon. Since I saw the trailers I was waiting for Harrison Ford utter: “Chewie we’re home” and it was magical all three times I saw the movie. There are several moments like this when I believe a true Star Wars fan will be transported to his childhood. The movie crisply makes a point of establishing new characters while respecting the old ones and their legacy. Ford & Fisher have instant chemistry as soon as you see them together.
One more key thing to point here is the distinct world building that Abrams does. We are introduced to the scorching and barren Jakku, the green and luscious Takodana and the icy Starkiller Base which serves as an evolved DeathStar. All three of these planets serve as characters in the movie.
Without spoiling the rest of the movie, I’ll now delve on some aspects that I didn’t like about the movie. Subtlety is not one of Abram’s strong points and it is clearly evident here as the entire narrative is heavily supplemented by exposition. The CGI used to show Snoke is one of the worse CGI models I have seen recently and could definitely be worked on for future films. The heavily featured and advertised Captain Phasma serves entirely as a plot device and has no purpose in the entire movie.
Last but not the least, I want to delve more into our main antagonist Kylo Ren played brilliantly by Adam Driver. Ren has many similarities to the great Darth Wader but is a much more layered character. There are many sequences in the movie where he has fits of rage and each one of those is better than the previous one.
Finally I would like to mention that although not without its flaws the Force Awakens delivers on the promise of making Star Wars relevant again and strikes exactly the right cords. If this is the New Hope of the new trilogy then I cannot wait for the new Empire Strikes Back.