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Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

USA 2015
produced by
J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Kathleen Kennedy, Tommy Harper (executive), Jason D. McGatlin (executive) for Walt Disney Productions (Lucasfilm), Bad Robot
directed by J.J. Abrams
starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Peter Mayhew, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Gwendoline Christie, Joonas Suotamo, Pip Andersen, Simon Pegg, Kiran Shah, Sasha Frost, Pip Torrens, Andrew Jack, Rocky Marshall, Greg Grunberg, Emun Elliott, Brian Vernel, Yayan Ruhian, Sebastian Armesto, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Warwick Davis, Cailey Fleming, Mark Stanley, Ken Leung, Iko Uwais, Anna Brewster, Harriet Walter, Tim Rose, Mike Quinn, Erik Bauersfeld (voice), Kipsang Rotich (voice)
written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt, based on characters created by George Lucas, music by John Williams, special effects by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Base FX, Halon Entertainment, Hybride Technologies

Star Wars, Star Wars 3rd Trilogy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In a far distant future and a galaxy far far away: Finn's (John Boyega) a Stormtrooper for the new evil empire, the First Order, but his first mission even proves to him he's on the wrong side, when he and his fellow Stormtroopers are ordered to massacre some innocent villagers after a rebel, Poe (Oscar Isaac), was found among them. So he frees Poe ... but during their escape, their spacecraft crashlands on a desert planet, and only Finn survives the crash. Poe though was no ordinary rebel, he was carrying a droid back to the rebel stronghold as this droid held the only map to the whereabouts of mythical Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

This little droid, BB-8, has in the meantime been found by trash metal collector Rey (Daisy Ridley), who has adopted the little fellow as her sort of pet, not knowing the information it's storing. Incidently she lives on the planet Finn has crashed onto, and it's only a matter of time before their ways cross ... and when they do, they (with BB-8) find themselves on the run from the Stormtroopers who are after the droid, and somehow get their hands on Han Solo's (Harrison Ford) Millenium Falcon and leave the planet ... only for them to be captured - by Han Solo and his trusted sidekick Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) eventually, but after some misunderstandings they all figure they're on the same side, and even though Han has left the rebellion long ago to go back to smuggling, he agrees to get Finn, Rey and BB-8 to the rebel base ... even if that means he has to meet with his ex General (former Princess) Leia (Carrie Fisher) again.

Of course, the rebels are a little nervous as the First Order has a new superweapon, the Starkiller, a planet that sucks all energy out of any sun it might fly by to then shoot another planet out of existence. Han Solo and Leia have a personal score to settle with the First Order, too, as their leader, Snope (Andy Serkis), has turned their son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to the dark side.

Finn wants to leave the rebellion (he has never officially joined anyways) and run as far away as possible, but then Rey is captured by stormtroopers and delivered to Kylo Ren, and now he sees it his duty to free her - even if that means that he and Han and Chewbacca have to destroy the Starkiller in the process.

Once on Starkiller, the inevitable conflict between father and son becomes inevitable as Han and Kylo cross paths, and Han tries to win over his son to the good side again - but is killed in the process, which makes Chewbacca more than a little angry. Rey in the meantime has discovered the "force" in herself, and she has freed herself, and ultimately, she and Finn fight Kylo Ren using Luke's lightsaber, and of course they win even if Finn is gravely wounded, then the rebels led by Poe, who has somehow survived his death, destroy the fleet of the First Order.

So good defeats evil once again, and with that settled, Rey, now accompanied by Chewbacca, goes and finds Luke ...

 

After the almost generally disliked prequel trilogy, Walt Disney Productions (who has since bought out George Lucas) and director J.J. Abrams managed to give fans what they longed for with The Force Awakens: A fun ride that's big spectacle and ticks off everything Star Wars fans could have hoped for, inclulding appearances by the major players of the original trilogy, some bigger some smaller of course. And what's really good about this film is that the ride never stops, there are no boring bits in this, no padding or the like, or over-convolution or lengthy explanations. That said though, The Force Awakens is really just that, a fun ride, and not a perfect film: For once, in the hands of J.J. Abrams this has become more of a fan film with maybe too many references to the original trilogy, while at the same time telling a story that's lacking innovation, on the other hand, too many plot elements seem under-developed: The Starkiller is never milked for its full potential, Kylo Ren lacks a proper backstory, he seems to be just there to mirror Annakin/Darth Vader's turn from good to evil, Han Solo's sudden demise was a bit too anti-climactic, as was the demise of Kylo Ren on the crumbling Starkiller, it seems to have been dreamed up just out of necessity to have a lightsaber duel since this is Star Wars. That all said, the film's still fun and caters well to fans and uninitiated alike - but greatness it isn't.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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