Sunday, December 27, 2015


Ever since I was a little kid, Star Wars has been a big part of my life.  Some of my best memories are of sitting on the couch with my dad watching the original trilogy, or going to the theater with my dad to see the prequels.  I've spent countless hours reading Star Wars books and comics, playing video games, watching the movies and TV shows, and even playing Star Wars table-top role playing games.  So when I heard that a new film was coming, I instantly told my father, and we made plans to continue our tradition of seeing these films together in the theater.
From the moment the classic Star Wars music hit, and the infamous crawl made its way on screen, I was enveloped in this film.  It took me back to a simpler time in my life, where the biggest thing I had to worry about was getting my homework done on time.  But this film was more than just a nostalgia trip.  It brought Star Wars back to where it was supposed to be, after the disappointment that was the prequels.  

Now, don't get my wrong, I don't hate the prequel films by any stretch of the imagination.  There are things about them that I hate, and things that I love.  There are parts that make me jump for joy and parts that make me cringe.  But there's one thing, above all, that bothered me the most, and that's the fact that the prequels just didn't FEEL like Star Wars films.  Whether it's their grand scale or the heavy saturation of CGI effects, the disconnect between the two trilogies is very apparent.

This is why I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens so much.  It truly felt like a Star Wars film.  It had the perfect mixture of small scale mixed with big scale, and it's use of practical effects really pushed it over the top.  It was a great amalgamation of the original trilogy and the prequels.

This film is set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi.  While on the planet Jakku, a scavenger named Rey stumbles across a droid who has information about the whereabouts of the long lost Jedi and hero of the Rebellion, Luke Skywalker.  Rey, along with a few allies, are thrown into the middle of a battle between the resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order.

Taking on the directorial role for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible 3).  As a lifelong fan of the franchise, Abrams promised to bring this series back to where it should be, and he succeeded.  J.J. was joined by Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt to pen the script.  Other than a few pieces of odd dialogue, I enjoyed the script.  Several people have complained that the story was too similar to A New Hope, and I don't disagree with them, I just don't view it as a problem.  

It's been over 30 years since a truly great Star Wars film, and I think using a similar story to parallel the old with the new was a great choice for the first installment.  It allowed people to feel a sense of familiarity and showed that you can take the same basic story, and make something new, different and, dare I say, better.

The cast was great in this film.  Newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac, and Adam Driver played perfectly into this world and worked very well with original cast members like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

Daisy Ridley as Rey was the shining star of the film.  Whether she was by herself, hanging out with new droid, BB-8, or running for her life with John Boyega's Finn, she always held my attention, and I believe she'll continue to be a strong character throughout the series.  And seeing Harrison Ford reprise his role as Han Solo was a dream come true.  He truly seemed to love what he was doing, and it showed that he wasn't "mailing it in" as we've seen him do in other roles.  His portrayal of a three decades-older Han was incredibly believable, and he never missed a step.

This film had action, drama, comedy, and heartbreak, and exceeded absolutely all of my expectations. It perfectly set up for Episode VIII and made me pine for what was to come next.  This is a film I will be watching over and over again, enjoying it every single time I do.

The Merc's Score: 9/10

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