Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also known as Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens) is a 2015 American epic space opera film and the seventh film in the Star Wars Skywalker saga and the first installment in the series' sequel trilogy. It was directed by J.J. Abrams from a script written by Lawrence Kasdan, Abrams and Michael Arndt, and premiered in Los Angeles on December 14, 2015, with a worldwide release four days after.
It's 34 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire in the Battle of Endor, and the galaxy faces a new threat from an evil warrior named Kylo Ren and the First Order. When a defecting stormtrooper named Finn crash-lands on the desert planet of Jakku, he meets Rey, a tough scavenger whose droid, BB-8, contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi Knights.
- It's nice to see Star Wars come back with a new sequel after 10 years, but sadly it gets worse with its sequels.
- Breathtaking visual effects. Criticisms about the prequels' overuse of computer-generated imagery were listened to, and the film has far more scenes using physical sets and practical effects, combined with some computer-generated imagery. It also has much clearer visuals, without the excessively cluttered scenes (some of which are considered to be dense) of the prequels.
- The imagery of the "boneyards" of Jakku with wrecked Imperial and Rebel equipment looming over barren deserts is very striking.
- The chase through the wreckage of a downed Star Destroyer is both a breathtaking visual and an inventive use of the series' classic imagery.
- Despite having an unoriginal design, BB-8 is a really cute and likable character.
- Amazing soundtrack and musical score courtesy of John Williams.
- Great cinematography and editing.
- The film introduces several new original characters that mostly work as new mainline characters.
- Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher give great performances, as do Adam Driver and Andy Serkis.
- Snoke is a menacing and memorable villain.
- Kylo Ren is also a very likable, understandable, and intimidating villain.
- Poe Dameron is easily the most likable of the new characters introduced in this movie, if not the sequel trilogy as a whole; he is admittedly a bit under-used, as he was originally supposed to die at the end of the first act, but fortunately the producers had the sense to film new scenes to have him survive.
- The final scene where Rey meets Luke Skywalker in a kind look is pretty nice.
- The scene where Chewbacca is trying to put the moves on a female Resistance doctor and it seems to be working is legitimately charming.
- Epic action scenes that are well-directed and effective.
- In particular, the lightsaber duel between Kylo Ren and Rey is far more visceral than the floaty lightsaber combat of the prequels and feels more like two people trying to actually fight each other rather than having a dance-off.
- Kylo Ren stopping the movement of a blaster bolt in mid-air via the Force is admittingly pretty awesome, and an excellent way to show us how powerful he is.
- Han Solo's death at the hands of his son is emotional, shocking and heartbreaking.
- Decent pacing.
- Despite the decline in quality in the overall trilogy, the film is a decent start to the said trilogy despite the many flaws.
- Decent direction by J.J. Abrams.
- The film has a rather lack of any real transition between itself and its predecessor: seemingly as an overreaction to criticism of the prequels for its usage of exposition, there is no explanation for the political situation or why anything in the film is the way it now is, at least in the movie; the information for what actually happened between the two films is instead shunted off into external source material.
- Another example is the First Order being able to afford to build a weaponized planet in complete secrecy, something one'll have to go "EU-diving" to get any explanation of; this also shows them as a very powerful force appearing to be just as powerful as the Empire and yet somehow isn't ruling the galaxy when clearly they have the manpower to.
- On that note, how is it that the Republic wasn't able to stop the First Order from getting so powerful in the first place? You'd think they would do everything in their power to prevent another totalitarian power from trying to take over the galaxy after what the Empire did, but no. In fact, there's a deleted scene where Leia tries to send a message to convince the Republic to take action against the First Order.
- The story of how Maz Kanata ended up with the lightsaber Luke lost back in The Empire Strikes Back is never explained in the later films. Well, it was written but for whatever reason was cut and put into external source material instead.
- The film lacks a sense of scale, with a huge number of events being the result of characters simply bumping into one another as if the film takes place in a small town rather than a galaxy. Even the action sequences fall prey to this, an example being a Star Destroyer only being able to deploy three TIE fighters to go after Rey.
- A particular stand-out example is when Rey simply bumps into Han and co while escaping from the planet-sized Starkiller Base, despite there being no reason whatsoever for their paths to intersect.
- While likable as mentioned above, BB-8 has a very unoriginal design, being basically just a tiny R2-D2 head pasted on the top of a soccer ball.
- It features some clichés, particularly the "I Surrender, Suckers" cliché among others, which have been used better in prior and later films.
- Despite Rey being the main character, she feels like a third wheel given how we spend more time with Finn than with Rey.
- In recent years, many people felt that Finn would've worked better as a protagonist since he's mentored by the likes of Han Solo and Maz, and works great as a foil to Kylo since Finn was raised in an abusive environment by the First Order and came out of it with his sense of morality intact, defected after refusing to kill innocent villagers on Jakku, and eventually joined the Resistance. Kylo Ren, meanwhile, was raised as part of a loving (albeit, dysfunctional) family but chose to join the First Order, embrace the Dark side, and murder his father.
- False advertising:
- Luke Skywalker, bizarrely. Despite Disney hyping his appearance in the movie and Mark Hamill getting top-billing, he only appears right at the very end of the movie getting no lines and literally seconds of screentime. You can say this was even foreshadowed due to him not appearing in the trailers, posters, or any of the promotional material.
- Despite all the interviews stating how cool Captain Phasma was going to be, she was heavily wasted as she only appear in some scenes, during which she respectively doesn't do much: She gets beaten up by Chewbacca, turns off the shields of Starkiller Base despite having no reason to believe that Han, Finn and Chewie are going to release her if she helps them, and then is implied to have been unceremoniously thrown in a trash compactor.
- Poe Dameron was heavily promoted as a main character, fueling speculation that he would be part of a new trio of heroes. While he's a major supporting character indeed, he's ultimately just that: A supporting character. He vanishes for the entire middle act after getting separated from Finn on Jakku, and he spends the final act running interference with a Resistance X-Wing squadron while the main characters storm Starkiller Base to rescue Rey and confront Kylo Ren.
- Thankfully, unlike Phasma, his role does get greatly expanded in The Last Jedi.
- Lor San Tekka was highly expected to be a prominent character, but he's killed by Kylo Ren within the first five minutes of the film.
- Finn was heavily marketed wielding a lightsaber, implying that he was gonna be a Jedi or the new hero of the saga, but it was subverted for Rey to take that position. What's even worse was that due to the next two movies constantly overpowering her to the point that it becomes hard for the audience to identify with her; many consider that Finn was better suited for the role of the hero, instead of Rey.
- This film is more or less a soft remake of the first film, more so than Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The plot being that a force-sensitive character from a desert planet helps a resistance group fight back against a totalitarian force whom blow up their massive space station. In addition to recycling concepts and plots from both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, large portions of the story are remarkably similar to George Lucas's original story treatments for those films.
- The opening scene depicts a platoon of stormtroopers along with the bad guy who are trying to recover a secret piece of information being held by La Résistance, which is then given to a droid for safekeeping.
- The droid wanders an endless desert searching for its master to return the secret info to the Resistance base, but instead meets with The Hero who decides to aid its journey.
- Luke was going to be a girl in one of the earlier versions of A New Hope. The concept of "Luke as a girl" is revisited in the character of Rey.
- Rey is also a transplant of the original version of the "another" Yoda spoke of in Empire who was Luke's twin sister (but not Leia) who was being trained in secret on the other side of the universe, and was going to be the hero of the proposed Sequel Trilogy as it existed in 1980.
- Han Solo is yet again being pursued by criminal groups to whom he owes a lot of money.
- The party visits an expy of the Mos Eisley cantina, where they meet an expy of Yoda.
- The original proposed ending for Return of the Jedi had Han killed in battle, Luke disappearing to search for his twin sister and train a new generation of Jedi and Leia giving up her title of Princess to lead a new Republic. In The Force Awakens, Leia has given up her title of princess to help lead a new Republic, Luke disappears after his Jedi students are betrayed and murdered, and Han is killed in battle.
- The Knights of Ren are closer to the original version of the Sith, who were a rival faction of force users who supplanted the Jedi as the Empire's main peacekeepers.
- Lucas originally planned for Luke to disembark from his X-wing to manually drop the bomb to destroy the Death Star, at which point he and Vader would engage in a lightsaber duel. Kylo Ren, Finn, and Rey fight a lightsaber duel during the Resistance's fighter attack on Starkiller Base.
- Kylo Ren himself is much closer to the prototype Vader, a high-ranking but still subservient general who does not need his trademark mask and is a member group of rival Force users to the Jedi who ended up betraying and murdering their former comrades
- Han was originally a big-talking cabin boy on a crew of pirates and ended up stealing a ship from them with Luke's assistance. Han now has a fallen reputation as a big-talking two-bit conman, who skips out on a crew of pirates with Finn and Rey's assistance.
- The Heavy communicates with his master via a hologram that makes his master appear to be of gigantic proportions.
- The Resistance is threatened by a planet-destroying superweapon which has a weak point in the form of a renamed Thermal Exhaust Port, and they have nothing but fighters to throw at it.
- The Resistance has a small fighter hangar base and war room that look quite a lot like the Yavin IV base they used to stage an assault on the Death Star.
- Han Solo leads a small unit onto the surface of the superweapon planet to sabotage a shield generator for the coming attack.
- Han Solo, in his role as this film's Ben Kenobi, sacrifices his life to this film's Darth Vader (although unintentionally).
- The Hero of the story experiences an epiphany and opens up to the Force in order to secure victory against The Heavy.
- In The Phantom Menace Lucas wanted to have Anakin bring Queen Amidala's ship out of hyperspace directly above the planet of Naboo's surface as a way of bypassing the blockade and showing off his massive Force potential. Here Han does it on Starkiller base to bypass the shield and show what a crazy fool he is.
- Like in Return of the Jedi, Han Solo has to turn off the superweapon's shield generator to enable an attack.
- On that subject, the "need" to re-establish the status quo basically makes everything the characters of the original trilogy struggled for moot, Han's back to his old ways, having left Leia and rewound all his development as a character, and everything Luke tried to do after Return of the Jedi blew up in his face and now he's in hiding having achieved nothing at all. The most galling part is that the Galactic Republic, the free state that these characters fought so hard to establish, seems to be swept aside in a single stroke.
- It has a poor grasp of the Star Wars lore, technology and sci-fi space physics in general.
- A good example is the Millennium Falcon hyperspace-jumping inside Starkiller Base's shields creating such an obvious contradiction (in that if this were possible, there would've been no need for two-thirds of Return of the Jedi to even happen) that external material had to be written to explain that Starkiller Base had a one-off special shield which would be uniquely vulnerable to this.
- Rey is a bit of a Mary Sue. In particular, Daisy Ridley's acting can at times be summarized as just widely open eyes and stands around with her mouth open to express an emotion. Where Luke and Anakin were in need of a mentor to learn how to control the force and you see their progression until they finally master it by the third installment of their trilogies, Rey is able to learn how to use the force so efficiently without the need of a master to the point to where she's almost a master (by The Last Jedi she practically is). It doesn't end there, however.
- Rey being the victor over Kylo Ren in a sword duel, despite having been the first time she ever touched a lightsaber while Kylo had been explicitly training at it since his childhood, meets no clear explanation. The film vaguely implies her self-taught experience with her staff might have helped to translate her skills to lightsaber fighting, but the little resemblance between a metal staff and a single-bladed lightsaber undermines this explanation (and the same happens with Kylo's side wound, which was implied to be a factor in his defeat, despite the fact he was moving pretty quickly for someone whose injuries should be slowing him down)
- Rey being able to fly the Millennium Falcon like an expert despite flat-out admitting she's never flown it before or that the ship hasn't flown in years, while her own flying experience has been limited to atmosphere and a flying simulator she mentions once after the stunt is over. While being a powerful Force-sensitive might have played a part in it, many have pointed out that Luke and Anakin at least had implied or shown experience before getting into a climatic flying scene (Luke making multiple mentions of his piloting skills in A New Hope while child Anakin showed off his skills in the dangerous pod race in The Phantom Menace). It certainly doesn't help when Finn asks incredulously how she did that, she still answers "I don't know!"
- Sequel baiting: There is setups for plot points in future installments, ranging from Rey's parentage to the Knights of Ren seen in a vision at one point in the film. The Last Jedi has almost zero payoffs for any of the plot points that were set up in the previous film (save from Rey meets Luke and Smoke's origin), resulting in backlash and criticism. All of them were later resolved in The Rise of Skywalker.
- The film has a disagreeable feeling like it's forcefully going through the stuff of classic Star Wars characters to give it to the new, "better" characters, such as Rey ending up with Luke's old lightsaber (it is never explained how this was recovered after being dropped into the atmosphere of a gas giant, a planet without a solid surface, like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in our solar system) and Han's ship, as well as Chewie and R2-D2 as her sidekicks.
- The opening scene of the movie with the stormtrooper transport might be risky for viewers with photosensitive epilepsy.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was critically acclaimed, for its screenplay, direction, acting performances, musical score, visual effects, editing and action sequences, although some critics found it derivative of the original trilogy, particularly A New Hope. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 92% approval rating based on 437 reviews, with an average rating of 8.25/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series' former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 80 out of 100, based on 55 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". It was also a box-office success, breaking several records in the process, including highest-grossing opening weekend, and being the fastest to reach $1 billion. It is currently the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time, behind Titanic, Avatar and Avengers: Endgame.
The reception of this film among fans, though still generally positive, has become slightly negative in recent years after the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi however, as many plot points in this film were never resolved in The Last Jedi. George Lucas criticized this film, stating that he felt Lucasfilm failed to replicate his efforts to "make it new." Some criticized the film for being similar to A New Hope. Others also criticized Han getting killed by Kylo Ren before he even gets to interact with Luke.
- BB-8's design is a nod to a Ralph McQuarrie concept for R2-D2.
- Poe's absence from a large section in the middle of the film was a result of the character being written back into the script at the last minute: he was originally supposed to be killed in the crash on Jakku.
- Abrams confirmed that Leia hugging Rey instead of Chewie was a mistake: the script was rewritten in a way that skipped over a scene where Chewie would have taken Finn to a doctor, leaving Rey and Leia to meet one another.
- Unused footage from this film would later be used for Leia's scenes in The Rise of Skywalker.
- Abrams claimed that the similarities to A New Hope were intentional.
- Contrary to popular belief, the font used in the title of the opening crawl is the same font that was used in the ones in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (News Gothic), albeit slightly thicker, in lieu of the font used in Return of the Jedi, the prequels, and The Last Jedi (Universe). News Gothic was used in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as well.
- Several directors were considered, including David Fincher, Jon Favreau, Brad Bird, and Guillermo del Toro.