As the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker nears, so does the end of the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga. Thus, it is an ideal time to look back on each film that came before it, in chronological order, starting with the prequels. This is The Force Awakens, the second revitalisation of the franchise and the beginning of the third trilogy.
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a Resistance pilot on the sandy planet of Jakku, where he obtained the map to the long-lost Jedi master and Resistance leader’s brother, Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) location. Poe doesn’t make it far as he’s quickly captured by the First Order, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who are after the same goal. Unbeknownst to them, a droid by the name of BB-8 was given the map and escaped from their grasp.
BB-8 eventually meets with Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger living all by herself. At that time, Poe is saved from the First Order torture sessions by Finn (John Boyega), a stormtrooper gone rogue. Due to one rough landing, Poe goes missing and his saviour subsequently gets to the city where our scavenger resides. Finn and Rey’s paths cross soon enough, when they leave the planet to deliver the map to the Resistance. On their way, the duo finds out that the First Order has been building the Starkiller Base, basically a bigger Death Star, which poses a serious threat to anyone who dares to oppose the regime.
In terms of story, The Force Awakens isn’t anything groundbreaking and the structure is eerily similar to that of the first Star Wars. The main hero is an outsider from a desert setting, she teams up with a fantastic pilot, a droid carries vital information and the evil regime possesses a planet-shaped superweapon. However, the film is a great experience, even upon rewatch. It’s just so damn fun to go on this adventure with all of the characters and follow their journey.
All of the new actors shine on the screen and are perfect for their roles. The chemistry is amazing and they really feel like friends by the end. Daisy Ridley is the standout, completely owning every scene she’s in. Part of the reason why this film is so enjoyable is she, bringing back the childlike wonder for the first time since Star Wars. General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) also appear in the film, as side characters in bit parts, helping the new generation in their fight against the First Order. It’s a smart way of including them in the story, as instead of taking up away the spotlight from the new generation, they enhance it.
The Force Awakens reunites the old talent not just in front of the camera, but also behind. Legendary composer John Williams returns once again, creating a fitting score to this space escapade. Among others, he’s responsible for Rey’s Theme, one of the most heavenly charming tunes in the film, that I see as a future classic ranking among the numerous iconic Star Wars tunes.
From shootouts in tight corridors and aerial battles, to a breathtaking climactic duel, the action is great and plenty in The Force Awakens. That duel is, quite unsurprisingly, the best sequence in the film with its high stakes as the unexperienced Rey has to face Kylo Ren, a master compared to her. It is also a visually stunning sequence and cinematographer Dan Mindel (Star Trek) crafts vibrant beautiful images, not making each setting feel necessarily real, but indeed cinematic.
The Force Awakens kick starts the new trilogy with an amazing, fun adventure. It’s a delight to see both the old and the new characters on screen, interacting with each other and living in this world. Sure, it’s not exactly a breath of fresh air, but does that matter when you’re taking after one of the best?