Peter's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Spoiler Free Review

On Monday night, I was very fortunate to attend the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Hollywood. To say this film is highly anticipated for me is an understatement. This is without a doubt the most anticipated film of not just the year but of my lifetime. I'm a huge Star Wars fanatic, and I'm a big fan of JJ Abrams (warts and all), so my expectations were already higher than the buildings on Cloud City.

After the jump you can read my initial reaction to the film, completely free of spoilers of any kind. Did the film live up to my expectations? Find out in my Force Awakens spoiler free review.

The Force Awakens TV Spots

Star Wars Is Back

I had a huge grin on my face almost the entire run of this film. And when the end credits hit, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Not because of any big plot twist, but purely out of joy — the promise of more Star Wars.

Star Wars is back, and I'm ecstatic. It's so great to revisit these characters we know and love and explore this galaxy again. The legacy characters aren't treated as gimmicks or cameos, their involvement transcends nostalgia. I particularly enjoyed watching Harrison Ford revisit Han Solo — unlike the last Indiana Jones movie, it feels like Ford was having fun with this film.

This film introduces some interesting questions and fun mysteries that will be explored in future films (or maybe books). What will we find in the future of the Star Wars franchise? I'm excited to find out but 527 days is an awfully long time to wait. Heck, the wait for my screening on Thursday to see the film for a second time seems so far away.

A True Continuation Of The Original Trilogy

The first line of dialogue spoken in the film is (invisotext, highlight to reveal) "This will begin to make things right" and its very fitting considering the disappointment most original trilogy fans had with the prequels. Star Wars: The Force Awakens should make you forget that the prequels even happened. It feels like a continuation of the original Star Wars trilogy that we all know and love. JJ Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote Empire and Raiders) have perfectly captured the feeling, tone and sense of wonder that filled the original trilogy.

In a way The Force Awakens is almost a remake of A New Hope, but cleverly remixed for a new generation with some inspired changes and unexpected moments. The action is thrilling, the characters are compelling, their interactions are delightful, and everything looks spectacular.

The galaxy is filled with all kinds of new alien species, most of which look to be created practically, all of which I would hope to own action figures of if I were younger (heck, I still might buy some of them).

Finn and Kylo Ren lightsaber fight Star Wars: the force awakens

The Emotion In The Action

This film has my favorite lightsaber duel of the entire series. It might not be as flashy and cool as the Duel of the Fates sequence in Phantom Menace (say what you will about that movie, that sequence is pretty awesome), but the raw energy and the amount of emotional investment we have in these characters, this story and the situation elevate the sequence. I'm also impressed at the moments of calm that Abrams boldly insets into the action.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

In A Movie With Luke, Han and Leia, Somehow Daisy Ridley and John Boyega Are The True Stars

As a Star Wars fan, the highlight of this film should have been seeing Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia back on the big screen, but somehow Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were all I could talk about after seeing this film. Daisy Ridley is a true shining star, she is amazing in The Force Awakens. And don't underestimate John Boyega, he brings a fresh attitude and humor to the series that you couldn't anticipate even if you've seen Attack The Block. The new cast is absolutely stellar and have such great chemistry together on screen.

And speaking of new characters, Adam Driver is pretty great as the villain of this new film and I fell in love with the new droid BB-8.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Remarkable Action And Cinematography

Not one single shot of a space ship, X-Wing or millennium falcon flying is like anything you've ever seen in any other movie. From the framing, to the movement, to the blocking, every shot is like a master class of making even the smallest moment look cool and interesting.

Every action sequence in this film features a shot that stood out to me to be something remarkable. Abrams and cinematographer Dan Mindel often chose to present moments from interesting points of view. So instead of shooting a space battle in the air, we see it from someone on the ground or from the inside of a cockpit. Every action shot was carefully planned and is full of energy and inspiration.

Find out what I didn't like about the movie, after the jump.

the force awakens trailer

What Didn’t I Like?

The film isn't perfect, and I do have some minor nitpicks. I don't want to go into any details because I don't want to spoil anything you you, so here they are in the broadest of strokes:

The Force Awakens Starkiller Base

Sometimes Over-recycled and Too Many Call Backs

* The film probably didn't need a new death star, and that complaint is probably the other side of my earlier point that the film is in many ways a remake of A New Hope. There is a lot plot cleverly recycled and remixed with the new and unexpected, but some of it feels unnecessary.

* The film features some fun callbacks and references to the earlier films, but a few times it felt like it was too much and far too obvious.

The Force Awakens Score

The Score Is Good But Unremarkable

* I was hoping to fall in love with John Williams' score but it pretty much faded into the background. I'm not saying the score is bad — there wasn't a moment that I disliked, it was just unremarkable. You might even argue that the music disappeared because I was so invested in the characters and story to notice it, but I just feel like the themes aren't as bold and iconic as the original pieces from the original trilogy.


Mysteries Vs. Plot Contrivances

* While the film leaves a bunch of mysteries open for us to explore in future films, some things happen in this film which are left unexplained. And because I'm not entirely sure we'll ever get an explanation, those moments might seem unearned or just convenient for plot sake.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens r2d2

I was expecting to see more from some of the characters:

* As a fan of the original trilogy, I was disappointed that R2-D2 and C3PO didn't have larger roles in the story. Like some of the other legacy characters, they are mostly relegated to the background but given a couple moments to shine.

* I think we all assumed Captain Phasma would have a larger role in the story, considering how much of the marketing features the chrome trooper, but alas I was sad to see that wasn't the case.

* The Raid guys were sadly underused. Was their action scene trimmed down? I'm wondering if they were used in some other capacity? It should be noted that they were not featured in any trailers or advertising what so ever (there is no official image or video of their scenes online), so unlike say Captain Phasma, maybe my over-expectations of their involvement are on me.

This is as much as I can say without getting into details. We will have coverage of the movie that goes into more story dissection after the film's release (and after the jump, away from the eyes of anyone who hasn't seen the film — don't worry).

If there is anything I'd tell you is to avoid spoilers before seeing the film as it does have some interesting moments that are sure to be ruined on social media. I think the trailers and marketing have been very cautious about revealing much of the movie so far, so I wouldn't be too worried about avoiding official marketing materials.