Monday, January 4, 2016

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens - A Spoiler Filled Review!

Well, I figure if you've made it past the post title you've seen the movie and you're well aware that I am going to be going full spoiler here.  

Yep.  Welcome to the new Midnight Cinephile.  I'll spoil the shit out of some stuff, but I'll give you fair warning before hand, so if you read something that you didn't want to, it's your own damn fault!  Okay?  Okay!  Let's get this bad monkey started!

Star Wars Episode VII
The Force Awakens
D: J.J. Abrams
W: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan & Michael Arndt
 S: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega & Oscar Isaac
Rated PG-13 - Approx 135 Min.
 - Every generation has a story.
 - Coming to your galaxy this winter.
 - The force is calling to you. Just let it in.

 - A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Alternate Titles
Okay, so it's pretty much the same everywhere.  Slight variations not much to report on.  Except for the Vietnamese title which according to IMDb is Thân Lúc Thực Tình.  Running that through Google Translator comes up with Body At Food Situation.  Uhhh....what?

"The droid... stole a freighter?"
                                              -Kylo Ren

Luke Skywalker has vanished.
In his absence the sinister
FIRST ORDER has risen from
the ashes of the Empire
and will not rest until
Skywalker, the last of the Jedi,
has been destroyed.

With the support of the
REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa
leads a brave RESISTANCE.
She is desperate to find her
brother Luke and gain his
help in restoring peace
an justice to the galaxy.

Leia sent her most daring
pilot on a secret mission 
to Jakku, where an old ally
has discovered a clue to 
Luke's whereabouts . . . . 

Now THAT is an opening crawl, damnit!  No Trade Federations or treaties or other political jargon.  BOOM!  Luke has vanished!  The extremely Nazi-esque First Order has risen like a dark phoenix from the rubble of the severely crippled Empire.  Leia is no longer a princess, but rather a general and she's searching for Luke so that he can open up a can of Force Whup'Ass on the First Order!  Plus it sets us up to meet Poe Dameron.  What more can you ask for?  It's everything you could possible want in the Star Wars Universe condensed into three paragraphs that made me at once giddy and nostalgic.

I'm not going to go through the entire plot, but rather pick and choose some of the scenes that really resonated with me.  Again, since you're reading this, that means that you've seen it (or you just don't care about spoilers!)  So here's some of my favorite moments.

Right off the bat we're on Jakku were Poe Dameron is meeting with Lor San Tekka (which is a tiny role played by the always amazing Max Von Sydow.  Tekka is the 'old ally" referred to in the opening crawl.  He gives Poe the missing piece of a map that supposedly leads to Luke Skywalker.  All is well until Kylo Ren shows up looking for the map.  Poe beats feet to his X-Wing with everyone's favorite new droid, BB-8.  Stormtroopers blast his engines disabling him.  They capture Poe and bring him to Ren, who takes him prisoner after killing Tekka.  BB-8 escapes out into the desert.

Now this opening scene blew my mind for a few reasons:  First off, we get our first look at Kylo Ren.  He's pretty intimidating, what with his Vader-like mask and unstable looking cross-guard lightsaber.  The most insane part of the scene is when Poe first off a shot from his blaster and Ren stops the bolt mid air with The Force!  That's scorching plasma just hanging in the air through his shear will of The Force.  Holy shit!  This guys got some serious chops!

The other thing that really caught me with this scene is our introduction to Finn (or FN-1287 as we're first introduced to him as).  The raid on Jakku is his first battle and after watching a fellow Stormtrooper catch a blaster shot from Poe's X-Wing to the chest, he freezes.  His fallen comrade wipes a bloodied hand across his helmet, which for the first time in the entire series humanized a Stormtrooper.  That's some pretty powerful stuff!

Finn decides that he is not going to kill for the first order and helps Dameron escape a First Order Star Destroyer in a TIE Fighter.  The two men immediately bond (as I suppose you would when you've just escaped death together) and you know that this is going to be a strong friendship to watch throughout the rest of the trilogy.  The two have a fantastic chemistry and I'm looking forward to seeing more of their exploits!

What more could you ask for in an opening sequence?  I mean We're introduced to a pretty awesome villain.  We're introduced to two of our heroes as well as one of the cutest damn droids this side of Coruscant!  Action!  Adventure!  This Jedi craves those things!

It was interesting that the revealed as early as they did that Kylo is in fact Han & Leia's son.  There had already been so much hype, talk and speculation on the internet that you just KNEW he was going to be someone's kid.  I did think that it was really awesome that his given name is Ben Solo.  It's a perfect nod to the recently erased Expanded Universe that Disney no longer considers to be canon.  See in the EU, Ben was the name of Luke Skywalker's son (with Mara Jade in case ya didn't know).  The scene in which Han confronts Kylo/Ben on Starkiller Base was extremely powerful for me.  I knew that Han was going to die.  Hell, Harrison Ford has wanted to kill off Han since The Empire Strikes Back.  What I didn't know was how hard it was going to hit me.  The scene was masterfully shot.  The look on Han's face when Kylo runs him through with his lightsaber....not an ounce of hatred.  Only sadness and love for his son.  Before falling off the precipice that they are standing on, Han puts a hand up to Ben's face, almost comforting his son who is clearly agonized and conflicted over what he's done.  It was like a punch right in my gut.  It knocked the wind out of me and tears instantly streamed down my face.  It actually made it sort of hard to concentrate on the movie for a few moments for me.  It hurt less on the second viewing though, so that was good.

There's been a lot of talk online (and in person) where people are complaining that this is basically A New Hope version 2.0.  Well, sure it's similar but really, isn't that what Star Wars is all about?  Lucas said many years ago that each trilogy (remember this was envisioned as a twelve-parter originally) was meant to be a parallel to the others.  It's a the story of the Skywalker family and if history has taught us anything, it's that it is cyclical.

So if the Star Wars saga is meant to chronicle generations of Skywalkers, then who is the new Skywalker in this trilogy.  Well, my money is on Rey.  For a number of reasons.  First of all, her Force powers really awaken when she touches Luke's lightsaber and she has visions.  She see's Kylo and the Knights of Ren standing over what I'm assuming are the slain bodies of Luke's students.  We see a darkened hallway on Bespin.  A hooded Luke putting a hand on R2-D2.  All vague yet Skywalker-centric stuff.  Plus we now know what I suspected at the end of the film.  When Rey is standing atop to the cliff with Luke, I thought I saw recognition in his eyes.  Not for his old lightsaber, but recognition of Rey.  My theory is that Ben and Rey are cousins and will end up on polar opposite sides of The Force.

I'm not even going to get into the lightsaber fight between Finn/Rey and Kylo Ren.  It's been debated to death online already.

Captain Phasma was absolutely amazing and I can't wait to see more of her in future Episodes.  I think she's going to have a lot more to add to the story.

Supreme Leader Snoke was actually pretty damn awesome.  The running theory that he is indeed Darth Plageuis...and I'm leaning towards that as well, but time will tell!

There's actually a little of the red stuff spilling in this episode.  The aforementioned Stormtrooper who takes a full frontal blast from an X-Wing canon was definitely exsanguinating!

Sorry dude, no Slave Leia  style costumes this time around.  But Daisy Ridley could wear a garbage bag and I'd still find her hot.

There are more monsters, aliens and creatures than you can shake a gundark at!  Seriously.  It's Star Wars!

Final Thoughts
Since everyone else is picking an order of their favorite Star Wars films, I figured I should probably do the same.  So without further adieu, I give you the Midnight Cinephile Official Star Wars Film Preference Order™:

1 - Empire Strikes Back
2 -The Force Awakens
3 - Return of the Jedi
4 - A New Hope
5 - Revenge of the Sith 
6 - Attack of the Clones
7 - The Phantom Menace

I'm sure that order of preference will probably piss off a lot of people, but's my damn list!

No comments:

Post a Comment