Star Wars - The Force Awakens: "May The Force Be With You"

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer:    Lawrence Kasdan
                J.J. Abrams

                Michael Arndt
Starring: John Boyega
                Daisy Ridley
                Adam Driver
                Oscar Isaac
                Harrison Ford
                Peter Mayhew
                Carrie Fisher
                Lupita Nyong'o
                Andy Serkis
                Domhnall Gleeson
                Gwendoline Christie
                Mark Hamill
Rating:    ****

Home Release: April 18, 2016 

I am not a fan of the Sci-Fi genre. It is never something that I have gotten excited about, I rarely go out of my way to see such films, and for that reason...I'm fairly new to the world of Star Wars. That being said, Force Awakens is only the second film I have seen in the series, and it completely blew me away. It even gave me the urge to watch the entire series; I just need to find the time.

Luke Skywalker (Hamill) is missing and the dark side, or the First Order, and the light side, AKA the Resistance, are all searching for him. The key to finding him, the missing piece of the map, being looked after by trust droid, BB-8. Leading the First Order is Kylo Ren (Driver), son of Han Solo and Princess, now General, Leia (Ford & Fisher). He is battling the light inside him to fully be taken by the dark side; with help from the Supreme Leader Snoke (Serkis), and to do so, Ren must do some heartbreaking things.

The Resistance, lead by General Leia, are trying to find Luke so they can protect him and reunite him with the ones who love him. Along the way they pick up stormtrooper turned good guy, Finn (Boyega) determined and lost scavenger, Rey (Ridley), and we also meet X-wing fighter pilot, Poe (Isaac). The resistance fight long and hard to defeat the First Order and save Luke; and that is how the writers allow us to meet, get to know and accept the new stars of the series.

John Boyega & Oscar Isaac
Without being a huge fan of the series, I am still aware of the importance of the characters Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, General Leia and Chewbacca, and the huge impact all four of the have had on pop culture, cinema and future films has been immense. So of course each time they appeared on screen for their first time, even I was filled with nostalgia, joy and a small amount of excitement, nothing can beat the original, and having them there along for the adventure was perfect. Each actor seemed confident, comfortable and you could almost feel their own excitement at being back in space. This in turn fills the audience with a childish giddiness, and that adds to the general atmosphere of the film itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed John Boyega as Finn. Not a complete newcomer, but not heard of by many; he is clearly loving every minute of starring in this franchise, and that translates perfectly. You instantly feel for Finn, and from the get go you are willing him on and each scene he appears in, he captivates and never stops giving it his all. Unfortunately, and this may be a controversial opinion, I did not like the character Rey. Daisy Ridley is a very stiff performer, and she came across as cold, uninteresting, and often drained energy from the scene; thankfully her co-stars stopped that from happening.

It felt like the writers were trying to force a relationship between Finn and Rey, but frankly I didn't believe it. It felt contrived, and that seems like a waste of a story. Boyega had the most chemistry with Oscar Issac's Poe, and that is a relationship that needs to be explored more. Not necessarily romantically, but the two actors bounced off one another, and their scenes were energetic and electric. Isaac is another shining star in Force Awakens, his energy, performance and dry wit help to create a fantastic character, that feels almost like a Han Solo 2.0.

Carrie Fisher & Harrison Ford
The standout performance comes from Adam Driver though. Having watched him in Girls for 4 years, I was intrigued at how he would do; the answer, amazingly. Rather than being a stock villain, who is evil and nothing more, Kylo Ren is a three dimensional character that is filled with fear, conflict, anger and of course evil. Driver does a terrific job at portraying this, and you can completely see and believe the emotional journey that Ren goes on throughout the film.

The script by J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, is fast paced, high energy, emotional and full of funny moments. They have created the perfect mix to build this inter-galactic world and the characters that you love or hate. They have written each character with so much detail that even the minor characters, you want to know more about. The likes of Lupita Nyong'o's Maz Kanata or Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma are entertaining in this entry, but I hope that Episode VIII sees them doing more, because they're so interesting to me.

J.J. Abrams was the perfect director for this film. He clearly loves the franchise, the characters and the fans; and that shows. Nothing comes across as lazy, and the inclusion of the original stars could easily have been gimmicky or cliched. Luckily that never happens, they fit in perfectly, and Abrams does all he can to make it seem effortless and natural. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is exciting, thrilling, funny and packs an emotionally punch. The cast and crew have made this film as fans of the series themselves, and that is what makes the seventh entry work so wonderfully.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Trailer