Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review!

Jedi Jondee here on Jakku,

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an emotional journey.  I think this ranks at the very top of Star Wars films simply because of this, not only Star Wars action, but an emotional dimension to the movie. There are parallels to A New Hope and Force Awakens; a young person lives on a desert planet, meets a droid carrying important information, and enters a galactic scale conflict. It is interesting to see Snoke as a twenty-five foot tall (or so) hologram. I suspect that it is like the Wizard and projects what is a small, frail person. The strange part is that I think this film is closest to Wizard of Oz; A young girl is lost, meets some friends including a hairy companion (though Chewbacca does not have a tail), and enters a strange, new world. JJ Abrams is to be commended to crafting a proper roll out for the film. It ranks up there with Lord of the Rings which had enough teased to want to see the movie, but kept its secrets close. This also goes for Kathleen Kennedy’s guidance and the faith of Bob Iger and everyone at Disney for this new trilogy and the Star Wars franchise.

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The basic plot has to do with the disappearance of Luke Skywalker. After he left, there was the rise of the First Order and Supreme Leader Snoke. The remnants of the Empire were in the Unknown Regions revealed in the novels. The Resistance is an off shoot of the New Republic formed by Leia Organa. She has sent Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on a mission to the desert planet Jakku. He is an ace pilot with the rank of commander, Luke’s rank in ESB, and his loyal droid is BB-8. The audience loved every scene he was in with Bill Hader and Bill Schwartz as voice consultants for BB-8. Poe is there to get information from the mysterious Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow). The First Order has arrived with several troop transports dispatching the new stormtroopers. It is clear that they are highly trained and ruthless especially against the Tuanul villagers.  Poe gets out of his Blue Squadron X-Wing (the new T-70 model) and places the information in BB-8 (like Princess Leia with R2). He uses his blaster rifle to hold off the stormtroopers, one trooper, FN-2003, is wounded by Poe and trails his bloody handprint on another trooper’s helmet, played by John Boyega.  The command shuttle (an Upsilon-class shuttle with stabilizer wings that give it a menacing bat profile) has landed.

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Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is hooded with a mask like a motorcross rider, he has Dark Side powers that we’ve never seen before, and easily captures Poe for questioning when he finds no use for Lor San Tekka. Kylo wants everyone eliminated and gives the order to Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) in her chrome armor (it is explained in the Visual Dictionary that it was made from the Emperor’s yacht). She gives the order to fire on the villages and the trooper with bloody handprint does not fire his blaster. Poe is taken to his cell on board the Finalizer, Kylo Ren’s new model Resurgant-class Star Destroyer (twice the size of the original trilogy Star Destroyer). The stormtrooper with the bloody helmet is stunned at the violence and has to remove his helmet on the empty shuttle. Captain Phasma questions trooper FN-2187 (the Death Star cell number of Princess Leia) and has him report to her later. His helmet resolves to the goggles from a stormtrooper helmet used by a scavenger in the interior of a crashed Star Destroyer. She removes her goggles and it is Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey slides down a piece of scrap metal to load her scavenged goods to her speeder and returns to Niima Outpost.

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There she exchanges her goods for rations to the bulky merchant Unkar Plutt (Simon Pegg) and returns to her home. She adds water to the ration which puffs up into a green meal bread. Rey chomps on it in the shadow of her home made from a fallen AT-AT walker. She puts on a Rebel helmet and then hears a muffled droid. Rey runs over with her staff to find a droid snatched up by Teedo, a small alien (Kiran Shah), astride his luggabeast (a cybernetic beast of burden). She argues with Teedo and frees the net which reveals BB-8. The droid mews until brought home by Rey. Kylo Ren confronts Poe in an interrogation chair, he reaches out and uses the Force to pull the information from Poe’s mind, and leaves. He places the search for BB-8 to General Hux (Domnall Gleeson). Poe is freed by a stormtrooper to be brought for further questions by Kylo Ren, but it is FN-2187 who is freeing him to pilot for both of them. They reach the new SF TIE fighter with FN-2187 manning the rear gunseat blasting stormtroopers and the Star Destroyer’s underside cannons. Poe introduces himself and FN-2187 tells his serial number, but Poe dubs him “Finn.” He is anxious to return to Jakku to find his droid, BB-8. General Hux orders the ventral cannons to destroy the TIE fighter. Finn takes out one of the missiles, but another hits the TIE fighter sending it back to Jakku.

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The film brings Rey and Finn together to escape Jakku. They get drawn into meeting our heroes from the original trilogy. The audience on opening day clapped at every appearance of them. Rey is easily the best Star Wars character, innocent, but able to take care of herself. Daisy Ridley is propelled to an important actress with this film. John Boyega has a conflicted character, but injects humor into Finn and a total dedication to his new friend who believes in him. Harrison Ford’s return as Han Solo is perfect. The most surprising is he is now a believer in the Force. He has also returned as a smuggler alongside Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew with Joonas Suotamo as the Chewbacca double). Carrie Fisher is now Leia as a seasoned general who worries about her family including her brother. The new characters are equally interesting. I was fascinated by Maz Kanata played by Lupita Nyong’o as a wise leader of pirates on lush green planet of Takodano. She is incredibly old with massive goggles and an understanding of the Force. The same goes with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, who is brutal lashing out with his cross guard lightsaber in anger, it really seems that this trilogy will revolve around his character and possible redemption. There is enough star fighter battles, blaster and lightsaber fights, and chases than I expected. This film really expands the Star Wars galaxy into new territories, but the stars shine the same. Eight BB-8’s out of Five!

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