Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Plot: Years after The Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker is missing, and the Nazi-like First Order is attempting to take over the Galaxy. Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has a map to where Luke may be, and he gets attacked by First Order & Darth Vadar acolyte Kylo Ren (Adam Driver.) Scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds cute robot BB-8 and meets an Imperial defector Finn (John Boyega.) They escape on the Millennium Falcon to take the map to the rebels, but soon run into Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca. Before the climatic battle, we see rebel base, an enemy super-weapon, and an X-wing fighter attack. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: The Force Awakes is lots of fun, and cleverly written. It gives us two interesting new characters Rey and Finn, both underdogs and alone in the world. New villain Kylo Ren is a striver; he aspires to be evil, but is conflicted inside. I think will see a more angst from Adam Driver in the following movies.

Daisy Ridley plays Rey with subtlety, and there some great reaction shots. John Boyega's Finn is likable in part because of the character's history, but also because of the personable acting. Two good performances. Adam Driver is less good as Kylo Ren -- too stuffy.

The script got so many things right. It skip over details of the old story, and pick up key points with new characters. We have the old characters for familiarity, but they are not involved too much. The replacement of Darth Vader with another villain is hard, and we will see how Kylo Ren evolves.

The movie is more about friendship and sacrifice than it is about good and evil. The movies may be about the ascent of Rey, who begins as garbage picker, and who seems to have bottomless potential.

Force Awakens is as good as one could hope it to be, and so much better than Phantom Menace.

I want to see it again.

Cast: Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac

Directed by:
JJ Abrams

Written by:
Lawrence Kasdan, JJ Abrams, Michael Arndt; It will be interesting to learn to what extent they borrowed from the older Star Wars fiction for characters like Supreme Leader Snoops and Kylo. 

The Music:
John Williams is back in the saddle at age 83 with a great score. John Williams has had some middling quality work over the years, but this was as good as ever. I love The Scavenger and Rey's theme. 

The Visuals:
Great special effects

4.0 stars: The highest rating is that I want to see it again. 

More: So who is the Supreme Leader Snoops? I am voting for former Emperor Darth Sidius. I think he's still alive and even more disfigured.

Major spoilers: Clearly the plot recycles elements from the previous movies. It starts with a droid with a secret, people search for the last Jedi master, towns folk are massacred by stormtroopers, we spend sometime in a bar, go to the rebel base, and finally go destroy a planet-sized super weapon.  In the middle, there is another villain confronting his father scene that ends differently.