Star Wars: The Force Awakens

When I first heard JJ Abrams was taking on the Star Wars franchise, I got excited. With his first Star Trek film, Abrams showed he could take an iconic and beloved franchise and transform it into something new and exciting, while still respecting its roots.

I think with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he’s done the exact same thing again, except that the Star Wars franchise fits in even better with Abrams’ sensibilities. The Force Awakens is an exciting return to form for Star Wars. It extends the Skywalker saga while introducing some great new characters whose stories I think audiences will get really invested in. Hit the jump to see/read my spoiler-free video review of the film.

One of the things that Abrams has always been great at is combining practical effects with CG. The Force Awakens certainly continues this trend. George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels all looked like they were filmed in front of a green screen, creating a plasticky, fake, weightless look. But The Force Awakens helps us regain the sense of wonder we had with the original trilogy, introducing us to breathtaking new worlds where anything seems possible.

Star Wars is well known for is its production design – the ships, technology, the creatures, and the overall look of the world. All of these elements are invoked, with copious callbacks that will please fans. The juxtaposition of our characters with some of the most iconic film objects of all time is exhilarating to behold.

I won’t say anything about the plot of the movie, but I can tell you that this film moves. Like Abrams’ Star Trek films, it goes rapidly from action-packed set piece to set piece, and the characters are forced to improvise and solve problems on the fly. Watching them do this would be excruciating if you didn’t care about the characters. But every single major cast member does some heavy lifting in this movie, whether they contribute great comic timing or heartwrenching pathos.

The adventure these characters go on is exciting, visually spectacular, and has a few significant twists that I didn’t see coming. It draws to a satisfying conclusion while still leaving the door open for many more question to be answered in future installments.

If there’s anything I can say I didn’t like about this film, it’s that it seems to rely a bit too much on Star Wars: Episode IV in a variety of ways, rather than breaking dramatically new ground from a story perspective. But just when I started to feel that The Force Awakens borrowed too heavily from its predecessors, I’d see an X-Wing fighter make a dramatic maneuever, or see a lightsaber fire up, or hear John Williams legendary score, and the childlike wonder in my heart would activate again in full force.

It’s been over 10 years since we’ve had a new Star Wars film and it’s been quite a long wait. While the prequels may have killed my desire to see anymore films from this franchise, I can confidently say that Episode VII has reawakened my desire to see more of this world up on the big screen. Episode VIII can’t come quickly enough.

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About the Author

David Chen currently lives and works in Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter at @davechensky. He can be reached at davechensemail(AT)gmail(DOT)com.