Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Spoiler Free Review)

“Thank the maker!”

Now, if any of you read my piece on “Remembering Star Wars” you’re already aware that Star Wars is something of a love/hate thing. Namely, I used to love it, but now I hate it. Or that is, I did hate it…

I went into Star Wars: The Force Awakens with no agenda, I didn’t expect to loathe it, because it looked nothing like the dreadful prequels…but I also didn’t go into it looking through nostalgia glasses ready to adore it either. I went into this film the best way possible, willing to give it a chance to impress me. To make me feel the way Star Wars did before the horrors of nonsensical added cgi footage…or pod races…or Jar Jar Binks.

And you know what? It’s good.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a genuinely good film.

But it’s not a great film. It’s essentially a mishmash of the original trilogy and has some ham fisted plot exposition…but, the characters and the art direction shine brilliantly here.

This might be one of the most beautifully put together films I’ve seen all year. Every frame is a masterfully composed photograph, lovingly created with all sorts of silent backstory that is subtly told through each extra,  practical fx puppet or prop in the background characters interact with.

And the characters themselves? Fantastic. I was especially pleased with Rey (Daisy Ridley) who exudes such strength and confidence. I haven’t seen a female protagonist so less in need of rescue from anyone, since Taarna from Heavy Metal. She’s excellent. I found John Boyega to be a good character as well, though he’s not quite as fleshed out as Rey. Just sort of along for the ride and happy to be so. Who really stood out to me was the main villain, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). As much as I love the Marvel movies, the one area they lack greatly in is the villain department, so it pleased me to no end that Disneys other big franchise Star Wars got it right. Simply put, he’s fantastic. A great mix of childish rage and ambitions, with a genuine inner turmoil over wanting to do the right thing.

The Force Awakens is a perfect amalgamation of old and new. It didn’t feel like something I hadn’t seen before, but still managed to surprise me a couple times (that beautiful ending!) and if I’m being perfectly honest, that is the absolute best thing this movie could have done.

This film has not only made a tired old Star Wars cynic a fan again, it’s also the best film in the entire Star Wars anthology. It’s the Rocky Balboa of the Star Wars films, easily the best of the bunch, but only because of the respect and acknowledgement it gives to the previous entries.

May the force be with you.

-Sock Talk Jon-

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