By Ives Cupino
OCONTO FALLS, Wisconsin, U.S.A. – Telling the story of good versus evil, the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned its countless rave reviews and huge box office success.
It’s the story of the Resistance, led by the reprising General Leia Organa, versus the First Order, headed by Supreme Leader Snoke. Both parties are desperately trying to track down the Jedi Luke Skywalker, who mysteriously disappeared.
A young scavenger named Rey manages to get hold of an important droid, BB-8, who possesses key information about Skywalker’s whereabouts.
Together with Finn, a Stormtrooper-gone-rogue, the pair embark on a mission to deliver BB-8 to the Resistance and finally piece together where the last Jedi in the universe may be.
Despite garnering almost universal hype, walking into the dimmed theatre to see The Force Awakens, I was not expecting to be impressed.
As much as I adore director J.J. Abrams – his television series Fringe is one of the most mind-twisting detective shows I’ve seen – I slightly resented the Disney hijack of the Star Wars franchise from Lucas Films.
Besides that, well, we all know how the modern Star Wars prequels turned out in comparison to the originals.
I couldn’t help it when my skepticism dwindled as soon as those yellow letters ran from the screen and that iconic opening sequence played.
But with the very first action scene between the Stormtroopers of the First Order and star pilot of the Resistance, Poe Dameron, my uncertainty vanished altogether.
I settled in for what I knew was going to be a truly awesome movie.
The plot was a powerful, driving strength. Unlike the prequels, it never stagnated awkwardly, and the romantic subplot managed to avoid suffocating the viewers.
The fresh-faced, breakthrough actors, namely Daisy Ridley, who played Rey, and John Boyega, who played Finn, were quite impressive. Their acting truly shone when the tumult of their emotions did not seem forced or obnoxious but rather honest and, at times, positively heartbreaking.
And although the original remains unparalleled, The Force’s soundtrack – by Oscar-winning composer John Williams, who also wrote the original – was thrilling. Elements of the early score were at the forefront, but new tweaks to the composition flowed well without drowning out the nostalgia.
**WARNING: PLOT SPOILER BELOW**
There was another thing I appreciated about The Force Awakens. Abrams managed to seamlessly, and at time, humorously, weave subtle feminist undertones into the plot.
Rey, the female protagonist of the film, epitomizes this. Each time Finn, the male hero, grabbed Rey’s hand as they ran to escape the Stormtroopers’ grasp, Rey shook it off with indignant protest, “I know how to run without you holding my hand.”
Such lines ring true against absurd movie clichés, while still keeping the mood light-hearted. And when Rey’s potential as a Jedi was revealed – the Force is exceptionally strong within her – Abrams hearkened back to Princess Leia’s own Jedi potential that was never really explored in the original movies.
The first Star Wars sequel of three installments, The Force Awakens failed to disappoint. From start to finish, the movie was well-produced with a stirring plot, striking special effects, notable acting from both veterans and newcomers, and an electrifying score.
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