Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver


I was very excited to learn that Abrams, a quality director, was going to be making a Star Wars movie. I had high hopes, and how interesting that he had just made Star Trek Into Darkness. After decades of debates have divided fans between the two franchises, here was a director who would create the first real link between the two franchises.

And Abrams delivers, giving a franchise surviving only on its historical momentum much-needed new life. The story is familiar and fresh at the same time, with many of the plot elements from previous Star Wars films used again but updated with new characters and new twists. The first two Terminator movies did the same thing with great effect. And the film ends at a great launching point for sequels. With two more quality installments, the sheer size of the story and these films would easily make it the most impressive franchise in film history.

A few shots in, I could tell that this film was made with a certain craftsmanship and polish that the previous films lacked. Photography and effects are amazing. Editing and pacing are spot-on. And the whole time, Abrams is very careful to honor the previous movies. He remains faithful to the existing storyline and consistent with the characters. Visually, he doesn’t take too many chances and uses many of the same kinds of shots from the previous films. Ships and weapons have even more steampunk appeal than they did in the earlier films. The wipes between scenes and a lot of the familiar sound effects are nostalgic and fun.

Casting and characters and top-notch. I love how Abrams used a cast of mostly unknowns for the film. He really lucked out with their performances. Ridley and Boyega, the leads, are set for life. With a solid performance and a cute tomboyishness that’s impossible to hate, Ridley is going to be the world’s sweetheart for the next few years. Driver, imposing and hinting at an accent similar to Javier Bardem’s, is really good as Kylo Ren. Oscar Isaac, who is really making a name for himself lately, is great as Poe. And it’s nice to see so many of the old stars back. I wonder how much Hamill got paid to stand there for 15 seconds. Where’s Billy Dee Williams? Maybe they’ll bring Lando back for one of the sequels.

My favorite Star Wars film. If there’s any knock, it’s that the film is maybe TOO faithful to the previous ones, and that there’s not much new here in terms of characters or relationships or ships or weapons. I’m sure the sequels will address that.

I wonder what people would think of this movie on its own, if it didn’t have the franchise’s 35 years of history behind it.

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