Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  I don't need drugs because the high this film gave me is incredible!



Star Wars:  The Force Awakens – 5 out of 5

I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan since I was barely able to develop conscious memories.  The first home video I remember watching was the original; A New Hope, and the first film I can remember seeing in the theaters was Return of the Jedi.  I played with all the toys, read all the books in the now-defunct Expanded Universe and read all the comics from Marvel’s old run and Dark Horses’ tremendous work after that.  I played every video game and will even admit that, while I didn’t enjoy everything about them, I am a fan of the prequels.  My body has Star Wars-themed tattoos all over my body including the Mandalorians’ mythosaur skull and symbols from the Sith, Jedi and Black Sun.  My parents, whether by accident or on purpose, set me on a path to be a serious geek for the Star Wars universe and I own toys and collectibles for it, been to a few conventions on it and have geeked out over shaking hands with Peter Mayhem.  When Disney purchased the property from George Lucas three years back and announced that they would make more films, I flipped with excitement.  That excitement reached a boiling point for the seventh episode in the mythology with The Force Awakens.  My expectations were high but I walked in with no doubts that I was going to be entertained.  I was completely wrong…it was even better than what I hoped for!

             **Don’t worry…there won’t be any spoilers here**

                                                          Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I want a BB-8.  No, not the smartphone controlled one
but a full size, fully autonomous one.
30 years has passed since the Rebellion destroyed the second Death Star.  From the ashes of the evil Emperor, a new order has risen and threatens the new Republic.  To combat these forces, the Resistance is formed but to help stop the First Order once and for all, they need the help of a powerful old ally.  Their greatest fighter pilot; Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is sent to retrieve a map to help locate this man but the evil user of the dark side; Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), uses his forces to stop him and take the information for himself and deliver it to General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and the all powerful Supreme Leader Snoke.  However, Poe hid the information in the little (and freakin’ adorable) droid; BB-8.  The droid ends up befriending a struggling junker on the planet of Jakku named Rey (Daisy Ridley) and a runaway stormtrooper named Finn (John Boyega).  Together, they team with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in order to get the information to General Leia (Carrie Fisher) and the rest of the Resistance before Ren and the First Order use their superweapon to destroy all that oppose them.

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Boyega seems like a cool guy.  I think we should be best friends.

I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for Episode VII since they released the first photo of the table read.  Since then, I’ve watched every trailer and TV spot they released and read all the new canon books and comics released (and I have to say that every book Marvel has done with this now official expanded stories is gold and I don’t miss the Expanded Universe).  Money and timing prevented me from seeing the film the day before and on the release date but after soaking in all the glory with my eyeballs (that were wide as plates the whole running length) the wait proved to be worth it.

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Dude...Marvel, Captain Phasma needs her own series.  Please, please, please!

The Force Awakens is, to put it simply, amazing!  The film made me laugh, it made me cry on several occasions but, most of all, it transported me back to when I was a kid and my mom and dad would throw an old VHS copy of Episode IV into the VCR.  J.J. Abrams visuals and the story that he helped craft was the perfect mix of honoring the adventures Han, Leia, Chewie and Luke took back in 1977 and paving a new road for new journeys with the likes of Poe, Rey and Finn…and, of course, BB-8.  In a world of cynicism and jaded pessimistic world views, The Force Awakens made me remember what it was like to first see the galaxy far, far away and filled me with joy and the child-like sense of wonder.  The fairy tale-esque vibe that Lucas created almost forty years ago was all here and it made for an incredible theater experience.

                                                                                        Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
At one point, every single one of these troopers hit their heads on a door.

                                                          Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
What happens if Ren sneezes in that helmet?
The visuals are gorgeous and every second is filled with the familiar whimsy and eccentricities that we’ve come to expect from this reality.  The action is fast-paced and exciting.  Whether it’s battles with blasters or screaming TIE fighters in dogfights with X-wings, the action supplied is more than satisfying and griping.  The returning old characters filled me with nostalgia and the new characters were all intriguing and fun.  I can’t wait to learn more about the likes of Kylo Ren, Rey and Finn in supplemental books and comics and to see more of them in the upcoming episodes.  The performances from everyone from the returning favorites like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to the new faces like Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and the more digital features given life to by performers like Lupita Myong’o and the incredible Andy Serkis were rad and I really lost myself in their characters.  John Williams’ score, as expected, is exactly as it should be, complimenting and enhancing every scene and making them more emotional and important. And, finally, the mixing of practical and digital effects was seamless and simply magical.

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Yes, Chewie and Han, you're home.  And so am It because that's what The Force Awakens felt like.

Even though I am a super obsessed Star Wars fan, I tried to be as objective as possible while experiencing the film so that I can admit if there was anything I didn’t enjoy.  Heck, I will admit that I wasn’t a fan of Hayden Christensen’s performance and I didn’t like Jar Jar in the prequels but I couldn’t find any real faults in The Force Awakens.  Granted, there were a few lines of dialogue that felt a tad awkward but there was only a line or two and, in the grand scheme of emotional scenes and epic space action, this was a drop in the bucket that was barely even noticeable.  Hell, I’ll even admit that there’s one point in the story that dragged but this was only for a few minutes and is just another drop that is barely noticeable among the rest of the amazing qualities this film threw at me moment after moment.

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The Force is strong in this movie!

                                                           Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Play this for the full effect with this visual.
Maybe I sound like an overzealous fan that is only focusing on the positive but Star Wars:  The Force Awakens is what a Star Wars movie is suppose to be.  The story may feel like it was told before but it got that right blend of being familiar and new at the same time but it also did a great job of setting up this new trilogy and ending on the right point of being satisfying and leaving me salivating for the next one.  Additionally, the film is truly very fun because of genuinely funny scenes, cool new characters and its stellar action.  The film also has some awesome cameos littered throughout the film that only enhances the viewing experience to something more than just an exciting film.  Finally, unlike the prequels, this film just felt like it belonged in this established universe.  I’m not saying that Episodes I-III don’t feel like Star Wars films but there visuals were so drastically different than what was seen in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  I’m not saying the prequels don’t feel like Star Wars films—far from it—but Episode VII feels like it is the natural progression from Episode VI.

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I know it's a weird thing to get excited about but inter-atmosphere dogfighting is awesome!

I went into Star Wars:  The Force Awakens with high hopes and had those hopes met and exceeded.  I knew that when Disney purchased the property that the series would be in good hands because The Mouse, for all his flaws, knows his audience and knows how to give them what they want and, alongside J. J. and his team, they delivered something incredible.  My excitement level is just as insane for Episode VIII as it was for this one but, at the very least, I get to see Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story next year.  Now, the real question is:  How many times am I going to see this one in the theaters?

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