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The Road to Skywalker: A Review of The Force Awakens (2015)

The Force Awakens (2015) is the first film of the newest trilogy of Star Wars, taking place after the events of the original trilogy and is the first film under the commandment of Walt Disney Studios. Directed by J.J. Abrams, this film stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver as the new leads, with Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprising their roles. When a new order threatens to destroy the New Republic, Finn (Boyega), Rey (Ridley) and Poe (played by Oscar Isaac) must find a way to stop them and search for Luke Skywalker (Hamill), the last surviving Jedi.

Unlike other films in the Star Wars franchise, in which some characters feel one-dimensional or poorly written, all of the characters here seem to have emotion, conflict and a range of good and bad traits. Our heroes are written well enough that we like them and love their journey, but don’t feel like they are Mary Sues. This helps alongside the performances given by their actors, as Daisy Ridley and John Boyega prove that they can carry this huge franchise incredibly well.

Adam Driver has become the biggest star from this trilogy outside of the franchise, and his acting here proves why he is becoming beloved in the industry. He is simply the perfect casting for the role of Kylo Ren, and it is clearly shown that his character has a dark background that goes back to the days of Anakin Skywalker and his own path. I would have liked more from Kylo Ren in this film, particularly finding out more about his character, but that will come later on in the franchise for sure.

It is so clear how far technology has come since the days of A New Hope, as this may just be the most visually stunning film of the franchise. From the cinematography, the choreography of the action sequences and the use of CGI, it is hard not to get sucked into the world-building of this film. The new creatures introduced here, particularly BB-8, is the perfect inclusion to this film and it is hard not to love him.

There are many callbacks to the original series in this film. From the return of the original cast in Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, the references to the events of the past films and the return of Chewbacca and all of our favourite characters, it could have easily come off as cheesy and forced for the fan service. However, they were all worked in well to the story and only helped elevate the film and remind fans why they fell in love with the franchise.
There are several huge moments that happen in this film, particularly affecting those who were in the original series. This was a risky and bold move from the team to make these choices, but they left a huge impact. The last sequence is captivating and leaves you begging for the sequel, even if it was a two-year gap between this and The Last Jedi.
There were several journeys that the film went on, and I found myself invested in every single one of them. However, I wish that we got more time with some of the characters such as Poe and Finn. It feels like the main focus of this film is on Rey, and yet out of the three, she is the least interesting of the group. The character of General Hux (played by Domhnall Gleeson) is intriguing, but nothing was really done with him to make him an engaging character to the audience. There were just some great ideas here that I wanted to be explored further.
This film captured everything that I was missing from the prequel trilogy. Whilst there was heart and romance, it felt natural and not the forefront of the narrative. Whilst there was fan service, it was done to enhance the script and story. The visuals are stunning and Kylo Ren is a fantastic villain for the franchise. This is a solid start to what would become one of the most controversial trilogies made, and that is even before the release of The Rise of Skywalker.
4/5

What did you make of The Force Awakens? Were you glad that Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.

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