By Sam Coles:
Star Wars! Say that to anyone and they will know what you’re talking about even if they’re not a fan of the franchise. It’s amazing how this franchise has remained popular since its first release back in 1977 and in recent years with the prequels they haven’t been given too much love. J.J. Abrams takes the director’s chairs with Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and does he succeed in bringing the magic back to the Star Wars universe? In short yes.
The film begins on a dark and foreboding night on the Planet Jakku and a pilot named Poe is being briefed for a mission to deliver a map to the resistance. It’s not long before The First Order which is a basically the new version of The Empire are attacking the small village where they are stationed. I have to say that this film is very brutal and violent for a Star Wars film and I’m surprised with this I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing it’s a welcome change to make the Star Wars universe darker. After they get what they want Kylo Ren the new Sith Lord orders the Stormtroopers to execute the entire village which is a very shocking and powerful moment in the film and this is only the opening scene.
Then film switches gears and we’re introduced to the character Rey who is a scavenger who has been on her own since she was a child and she scrapes by everyday by scavenging parts so she can eat. It’s not long until she is caught up in the madness when she meets Fin a Stormtrooper who has defected from The First Order and they then go on a galactic adventure to fight against The First Order. This is the highlight of the film; these two have excellent chemistry on screen you can tell that they’re really enjoying these roles as they bounce between serious situations to the more comedic moments. That’s another aspect I love about this film is the fact they can happily switch out the serious mask out for the laughing one so it’s not constantly dark throughout the film it can suddenly be light hearted as Han Solo cracks another one liner.
Kylo Ren as the new villain is excellent because it’s not too over top although he is in some scenes when he gets very angry, but most of the time he is calm and collective with his mysterious presence. Even when he is torturing someone he is somewhat calm as he says “You’re my guest”. Adam Driver nails the role as the new villain as he seems sympathetic in some scenes because you can see him trying to fight his feelings with the light side then he stabs someone to combat that problem, so he has a mixture of someone you can hate but like at the same time.
Let’s talk about the visual effects and spectacle of the film and I have to say these are some of the best looking battles I’ve seen in any Star Wars film with great air combat scenes and gun battles on the ground. The sounds effects are punchy and beefy with the mix of the traditional sounds of Star Wars blasters and lightsabre noises, but with added bass so it really sounds like the weapons do damage. The visual effects are a joy to look at where it doesn’t have too much CGI but enough to build the beautiful vistas that are housed within the worlds that are created.
The film is shot beautifully with great establishing shots introducing the new worlds with the hot sands of Jakku as you see sun set behind the hills. There are some great close ups especially during the interrogation scenes with Kylo Ren and other characters you really feel how tense the situation is as he gets up close and personally with the prisoners.
I was pleasantly surprised with The Force Awakens as I was a bit hesitant but my mind has been put to rest after watching it. It has great characters, action and beautiful visual effects and I urge you to watch this film if you haven’t already.