SPOILER-FREE MOVIE REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens | FanboysInc

SPOILER-FREE MOVIE REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

By Jeff Ayers

SPOILER-FREE MOVIE REVIEW: Star Wars The Force Awakens

SPOILER-FREE MOVIE REVIEW: Star Wars The Force Awakens

Spoilers are stupid. They cheapen the creative experience, and ruin the true, unfiltered reaction anyone can have from enjoying something for the first time. Rest assured, this review will not, in anyway, spoil one of the most talked about movies in decades, Star Wars The Force Awakens. This will, however, assume you are here reading this review with at least some want to see the movie, and have hopefully seen the theatrical trailer. If you haven’t, here it is in all its glory:

 

I will start by telling you I went to the 9 pm showing, on Thursday night, in anticipation that it would be an energizing event. I was lucky enough to see all three prequels at “midnight” showings as well, and they were full of loud cheers, applause, and the occasional boos. ( I am looking at you, galactic senate negotiations). This experience was none of that, as a packed movie theater sat completely silent throughout the entire 2 hour and 15 minute showing. Everyone was on the edge of their seat, watching with baited breath as the continuation of this epic space fantasy played out in front of them. When the credits rolled, everyone burst into applause, and not a single one of us left the theater disappointed.

As a fan of Star Wars, this movie delivers everything you would hope for, and more. Many fans of the series have various problems with the George Lucas prequels, most notably that they didn’t feel like they were watching a Star Wars movie. The Force Awakens, right from the first few scenes, achieves this overall feel, and retains it throughout the movie. J.J. Abrams has been hotly contested in recent months if he was the right man to take the helm of the next Star Wars franchise, as he has received mixed emotions for his recent reboots of the Star Trek franchise. I can tell you that he did, in fact, do a great job with this movie, but the praise cannot all go to Abrams.

While the directing accolades fall squarely on his shoulders, the writing of this movie was born from the talents of Abrams, Michael Arndt, and Lawrence Kasdan. That name should ring loudly in the ears of the Star Wars fandom, as he was the writer of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This was incredibly important to the creation of this next chapter, and his talent can be felt throughout the entire thing. This movie is Star Wars – it has the correct tone, and pace, and emotional cues that fans of the original trilogy hold in high regard. To have someone who has such an innate and personal attachment to the universe, and the characters that reside in it, proves to be invaluable to the final product. The Force Awakens never feels forced (pun intended) or cheap from scenes being shoehorned into it. Rather, this movie organically flows from beginning to end, and does a great job setting up the next trilogy and story arc.

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From a pure movie going standpoint, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a cinematic experience that should be enjoyed on the big screen. While I cannot say how good it is in 3D, the 2D viewing was awe-inspiring. J.J. Abrams decided to make this movie with as much practical effects as he possibly could, and that adds to the realism the movie exudes, which is hard to achieve when you are telling a fantasy story in space with laser swords. The explosions you see in the trailer above, are all real. The energy blasts obviously are not, but when they strike sand or rock, the debris you see on screen is real. It is incredibly hard to discern what is CGI, and what isn’t in some sequences, which makes the movie all the better. Abrams went back to having people in costumes as well, so many of the alien races you witness are organic and captured with natural light, so they feel totally real. Large sets were built, including full scale models of X-Wings, Tie Fighters and the Millennium Falcon, which injects a true texture to the film, that you could never achieve with green screens and computers.

The cast all did an amazing job supplanting themselves into this universe that many fans know so intimately. Newcomers Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) all do a superb job conveying their respective characters. Ridley especially has a lot to do in this movie, and was cast in the part while she was a bartender in real life. She rose to the occasion and completely makes you believe in her character, her strengths and weaknesses, and her eventual interactions with the other characters. Boyega and Isaac also do well in their roles, adding depth and diversity to the picture. The biggest weight is carried on the shoulders of Driver though, and he is surprisingly convincing as the mysterious villain, Kylo Ren. The internet has been a buzz about his red lightsaber with the augmented exhaust ports since it first showed up in the trailer, and it is dealt with beautifully on the screen. In fact, the lightsaber usage in the movie is all on point, hearkening back to the original duels with Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, and Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The original cast returns, and they all fall back into their characters with ease, none more so than Harrison Ford. Reprising his role as the scruffy nerf herder Han Solo, he electrifies the screen with his presence. 30 years have past, both in the movie and real life, since we have seen this character, and right from his first scene it feels like he never left. Solo, along with Peter Mayhew reprising his role as Chewbacca, bring nostalgia but also new life to the story as it plays out. Both Ridley and Boyega are the embodiment of all fans of the Star Wars franchise when they finally meet Han Solo on screen, as it is shown in the trailer. Their wide-eyed disbelief as he tells them the stories they thought were myth are all true, and the Light and Dark Side of The Force, along with Luke Skywalker, are all real, plays to the audience in a real and emotional way.

This movie is going to break all sorts of records concerning money and attendance, and it deserves to break them. It is most likely one of the best visual experience you can have in the movie theater, right up there with epics like Avatar and the recent Jurassic World. As a fan though, it felt like being a kid once again, and discovering A New Hope for the first time. With that movie, I was introduced the Star Wars universe, and its crazy cast of characters, and was totally invested in the fantasy that George Lucas had created. Star Wars: The Force Awakens achieves this same feeling once again, as it is almost a love letter to the original trilogy, while also setting up a brand new chapter in the ever spiraling story. It acts as both a true sequel to those iconic movies, and a perfect jumping on point for a new generation of fans.

 

FBI Score: 9.4 out of 10. I am sure any fan of the Star Wars franchise can find faults within this movie, but it achieved exactly what it set out to do. It creates a compelling and exciting story set in the established universe of Star Wars, and brings you an epic adventure that is visually stunning on the screen.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

  1. The breakout star of this movie is the adorable droid BB-8, who will surely become a fan favorite for years to come.
  2. I would totally give this movie a ten, yet some things did irk me upon my first viewing. Also “94” is a significant number that true fans of the franchise will hopefully get.

Jeff Ayers

Both my parents instilled in me at an early age the awesome power and incredible wonder of the written word. My father sat with me when I was four years old and taught me to enjoy reading with classic comic strips like SPIDERMAN, PEANUTS, B.C. and, later, CALVIN AND HOBBES. My mother exposed me to such classics of literature as Poe, Tolkien, Stoker and Doyle, and I started my own comic collection with allowance money from mowing lawns. I liked Wolverine before it was cool, I watched as Superman died and returned, and huddled under the covers as I turned the pages of SANDMAN. Reading is like oxygen to me, and all genres and formats are welcome and devoured equally. I am the co-host of The DW and Incredible Jeff Show, CEO of Permian Productions, and a reviewer at Graphic Novel Reporter. I am 34 and live in scenic Saratoga Springs New York, where I haunt coffee shops and dive bars and the best comic shop anywhere, The Comic Depot.

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