[Review] Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Today Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens was released in France and I have seen it three times, I’m definitely going to see it again in the upcoming days! Here’s my review:

The movie was breathtaking, really breathtaking on every level – the visuals, the music, the story, the performances of the cast exactly what you would expect from a Star Wars movie. It really feels Star Wars and part of the saga. I don’t like to compare it to the 6 previous movies, it’s just one story in different parts so I can’t really compare one story to itself and The Force Awakens is part of this story, it’s part of this same unit. But it doesn’t mean I don’t have a most and least favorite chapter, I do. So far my favorites were Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Episode VI Return of the Jedi and now … Revenge of the Sith is still at the very first place and The Force Awakens is there just next to it. I think it tells how much I loved it.

Seeing the opening crawl with written STAR WARS EPISODE VII THE FORCE AWAKENS just gave me chills, it was wonderful to see and even if you haven’t read Shattered Empire comics, the crawl gives you all the elements you need to know – Luke has disappeared, the First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire, a new Republic has been created and this Republic supports General Leia who’s at the head of the resistance who fights the First Order and everyone wants to find Luke. That’s the plot of the movie – where’s Luke, each side wants to know where he is, everyone wants to find him!

The first scene is similar to what we have in Revenge of the Sith, very quickly we get action in this village on Jakku. It’s where we see the character of Max Von Sydow, speaking of which I was a little surprised we saw him that little, he was like in 2 minutes of the movie. He’s a well-known actor so I thought we would have seen him more. I think we will learn more about his character in the comics or next movie, from what we learn here, he’s definitely someone who knows things and who knew the Jedi, who knows what happened, in a way he’s similar to Maz Kanata. This first scene really sends us right into the story, right into the action and we get introduced to Poe Dameron, BB-8, Kylo Ren, Finn and Captain Phasma.

For Phasma, I knew she wasn’t going to have a lot of screentime but she was really here to look cool because she has no action scene and she’s actually ‘easily’ (more than easily, it just happens in a second) captured by Chewbacca Don’t worry, she doesn’t die, even if in the movie it’s not clear what her fate is, Kathleen Kennedy confirmed Phasma would be back in Episode VIII.

Finn, it’s not his real name, we actually never learn his real name. Finn is the name Poe gave him because this stormtrooper number was FN-2187 so Finn was easier to say than this number. John Boyega delivered an amazing performance with this character. Finn receives a great story development – he starts as a stormtrooper who wants to run away from the First Order and ends as hero, a good guy from the resistance. He is also a big part of the comic relief in the movie, he has a lot of funny moments and some involve BB-8 too. Speaking of the humor, there is a good dose of humor in the middle of the action and drama. Him and Poe makes a good team at the beginning and Poe really is a hell of a pilot, the best pilot of the resistance for sure!

Poe Dameron is a strong character who is not afraid of the enemy, he doesn’t give up that’s for sure even against the powerful and frightening Kylo Ren. I love his X-Wing, it’s black and orange, it fits with his rank – Black Leader. We don’t see him a lot, we see him at the beginning until the escape and then we see him at half of the movie when he comes with the Resistance at Maz’s castle and then he’s there for the rest of the movie.

Rey, well we meet her on Jakku. She’s the one who gets the bigger character development, she’s the center of the movie, her and Kylo Ren. At the start, she’s a lonely character, a scavenger who lives in an AT-AT and works for Unkar Plutt for her survival and from the moment she meets BB-8 and a bit later Finn, everything changes. The Jakku part lasts like 20/30 minutes so we have some good time to get introduced to her and have a lot of questions because we don’t know her last name and we wonder who are her parents. The name of her parents and her last name are not revealed in this movie which was surprising because I thought we would learn. However, we are given some good hints at who she probably is and I think she may be a Skywalker. Rey is the big hero of The Force Awakens, the title is about her, it’s her awakening in the Force, on the light side. It starts when she touches the lightsaber and later when she is tortured by Kylo and then fights him. By the end of this sequel trilogy, she’s going to be a jedi for sure. At the beginning, Rey is no one and at the end of this movie she’s a Force user, someone important, someone on a journey. Daisy Ridley is the star of this movie, her performance is amazing! A little detail about her outfit – She pretty much keeps her scavenger clothes until the end, only in the last two scenes she wears another outfit.

Kylo Ren, he is the contrary of Rey, he’s not on the lightside, he is consumed by the darkside. He is a frightening and scary villain when you first see him, you are impressed, there is this dark presence around him that makes him frightening. He is also very powerful with the darkside, stopping a laser shot in the air was never done before in the previous movies but he is also weak. He is a tormented character, he is torn apart between the darkside that pulls him down and the little light that is left of him, that is left of Ben, his real name. So there is a very human side to his character. He’s a villain that sure is but he is conflicted, there’s still good in him at some points but his anger really consumes him. There are two scenes where he gets so angry that it’s terrifying, he’s really really terrifying – he smashes everything around him because he fails, that’s just so terrifying to see him like this. Throughout the movie, you can have pity for him because you can feel there’s still good in him but by the end I think you can definitely can’t pity him because he does something that fully turns him to the darkside. Adam Driver is fantastic, great performance by him!

Among the big three – Luke, Leia, Han. Solo is the one who gets the bigger screen time, he’s there for 3/4 of the movie while Leia there for 1/4 of the movie and Luke is only there 30 seconds (there’s a reason Mark Hamill wasn’t part of promoting TFA, it’s because his character really has the smallest role in the movie.) I can tell you seeing Han and Leia again was just wonderful, beautiful to see! When we see Han, he’s back at being a smuggler and back in troubles while Leia is a general leading the Resistance but Han quickly comes back to being into the fight, the only fight that matters – fight the darkside. The Leia/Han reunion is beautiful but sad too because it’s been so many years they haven’t seen each other. Leia is the same as we saw in the previous movies but she is tired now, tired of this fight. Han, there’s a lot of the young Han from the previous movies in him as when we see him he’s back to being a smuggler but he is much wiser than in the previous movies. He believes in the Jedi, the Force now and hearing “It’s true, the Force, the Jedi, all of it,” it shows a great development in his character, he has changed a lot. Harrison Ford delivers a brilliant and masterful performance, he has some scenes that I’m not going to talk about in the review because these would be big spoilers but in these scenes, he’s really brilliant, it’s all I can say!

Ken Leung is a Lostie (actor from the TV series LOST) so I was happy to know he was in this movie as Lost is my favorite series and Star Wars is my favorite thing. I thought his character would be very small but he turns out to have a good screentime, he has some lines, we see him working with Leia, proposing a plan, he’s someone important in the resistance.

I’ve talked about Kylo but I haven’t mentioned the two other big villains yet so maybe it’s the right time to talk about them. Kylo and Hux hate each other, we can see it the way each other talk and both are really really frightening. Hux’s speech at the starkiller base is just CRAZY, it’s a very Hitlerian speech, very scary and actually this scene is inspired by our world by the Nazis and how Hitler was talking and the First Order salute is similar to the Nazis salute. The First Order is purely evil. Hux and Kylo may be frightening but visually Snoke is even more frightening. He is the tallest Star Wars character that was ever created! He is so huge! He is also deeply mutilated, it raises questions on what happened to him. We also know he is a darkside user, whether he is a Sith or not remains to be seen but he is born from the darkside.

To come back to Hux’s speech scene, it’s when he destroys the Republic, we do see the planet of the Republic, it’s located in the Hosnian system (spelling?), if it’s like in Aftermath then the capital is still Chandrilla, it could look like it from what we see in the movie. It has a beautiful architecture but it goes away to fast. We see the planet and its fleet for ten seconds and then BOOM, it’s all gone because of the Starkiller that destroyed it. I wish there was more development on the Republic, from what we know it’s an important player in the galaxy, it supports the Resistance and it’s the Republic that has a big fleet, the Resistance only has a bunch of X-Wings and some transports. It actually opens the question to how is the Resistance supposed to fight the First Order in Episode VIII, they’ll have to find new forces because at the end of the movie, they lost a lot of fighters during the Starkiller base attack.

Speaking of attacks, there is a lot of action in this movie – the opening scene, the escape scene from Jakku, the fight with the pirates, Maz’s castle battle and the Starkiller base battle. Each battle is beautifully directed with great CGI and practical effects too. The CGI/visual effects of this movie are mind-blowing, ILM is really the best for special effects! There are also two lightsaber duels – Kylo vs. Finn that ends quickly with Finn being wounded and the second which lasts longer Kylo vs. Rey.

John Williams brings wonderful new sountrack, there’s a lot of new music and some returning themes too so a good mix between the two like in every Star Wars movie.

The movie has a very satisfying ending, you definitely to see more and you’ll have to wait two years to know what happens next!

That’s it for my review, I don’t want to go too much into the details as it would give spoilers so I’ll just stop here saying that it’s a brilliant chapter of the Star Wars saga. 10/10 (the same grade I gave to Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi)

For a deeper analysis of the movie, stay tuned, I’ll post an article about it in the upcoming minutes or hours!

And for the pleasure of the eyes, here’s a gallery of all The Force Awakens posters and banners (you can click on the pictures to see them in full size):

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