So finally….after so many years of waiting the next Star Wars film is finally here and the new trilogy starts. The waiting for some has ranged from about 1.5 years ago, when the film was announced, to multiple years ago since the release of Revenge of the Sith and the prequels in 3D. Now the moment has come and oh what a moment it is. While waiting for the film to start the tension and excitement could be felt in the entire theatre. Outside people were lining up, some completely dressed up some simply in comfortable clothing, seeing how it was in fact midnight. Before I start any kind of review let me remind you that this absolutely will contain spoilers. Of course not for the purpose of spoiling people’s experience but so we can look at the film in detail and review every little bit of it for those who have already seen the film (and ourselves of course). I will start of with just a quick summary of the beginning, then I’ll look at all characters individually and finally sum up my opinion.
I have to admit I felt an immense amount of relief when the film started and the Disney music did not start playing. I have to say it was one of the things I was quite scared for as I thought it would slightly ruin the mood of the film and honestly just the Star Wars we are used to. The opening credits as per usual were accompanied by the main theme and followed by a pan down revealing an absolutely massive ship. I was so happy J.J. Abrahams stayed with this tradition and also the tradition of simple scene switches (which almost looked stolen from windows movie maker when I was younger ). This really made for an authentic Star Wars feel and made it easier for the hard core fans to relate to it again. We are introduced to Jakku and its scenery which is really very similar to Tatooine. We are introduced to our main characters, Kylo Ren, Poe dameron, Finn, Rey and of course BB-8. Let’s look at all of them individually and see who they are, how well they were portrayed and how they progressed throughout the film.
We see Poe for the first time on Jakku retrieving something of importance to the Resistance. We find out he’s one of the Resistances’s best pilots who are currently trying to retrieve Luke Skywalker’s location. Poe hides the device (which later turns out to be part of a map to Luke’s whereabouts) in his trusted robot BB-8 and is captured by the first Order. Disappointingly Poe disappears from our screens really rather quickly after he is rescued from the First order by Finn but then crashes literally into Jakku and is presumed dead. He reappears again later on in the film however leading a team of X-Wing fighters in the final attack against the First Order’s secret weapon, the Starkiller Base. We do not learn much about his background or why he joined the Resistance at all but he will definitely be coming back in episode 8 so I have high hopes. I had hoped to get some more in-depth knowledge as this would have rounded him more as a character and really given us more insight into the Resistance which we hardly got.
We see Finn for the first time in full Stormtrooper uniform and see how much he is struggling on his first mission as he is ordered to shoot innocent civilians on Jakku . His conscience seems to have the better of him and he decides to rescue Poe from the First Order who in return also gives Finn a chance to escape (which really seems to be his primary aim at this point). Together they create quite the comical act and manage to escape in a TIE Fighter, however the First Order severely damages their craft and they crash into Jakku. This really sets up Finn’s storyline and mission for the rest of the film. He finally finds the village on Jakku and is recognized by BB-8 as he wears Poe’s jacket and so is chased by Rey until she manages to stop him (by giving him a blow to his head). The two of them team up under the false pretences that Finn is part of the Resistance to bring BB-8 to the Homebase and give the plans to Leia. I have to say I found the duo absolutely hilarious and beautifully acted out! Finn had a slight resemblance to a younger Han Solo with his wit and quick comebacks but had a bit more seriousness due to his past in the First Order. I thought it was wonderful to see how John Boyega acted all scenes out especially the ones where Finn found himself in some kind of trouble. He brought the exact right amount of humour but also reacted just like any other person would in this (very unlikely) scenario. This made it so much more relatable for everyone watching and very enjoyable. Finn starts to really mature when Rey is captured by Kylo Ren, leaving his selfish mission of escape from the First Order behind to save her. This really was great to see as it also led to the solidification of his friendship with Han Solo and Chewbacca and some epic lightsaber battles! Overall I have to say Finn is a great character with a lot of depth, I am looking forward to hearing a bit more about his past in the upcoming films but also to see how he will progress in the Resistance as he was a major part in destroying the Starkiller Base.
We meet Rey in a beautiful setting on Jakku while she is scavenging for parts to sell in return for food. We are shown some of her home really reflecting the loneliness and isolation on Jakku. I thought it was a very nice touch to show her looking up into the sky wearing an old pilots helmet which reflected some of her longing to her parents that have left her here (who she is still waiting for) but also to really explore the galaxy just like a kid. She meets BB-8 as she saves the droid from the hands of a smuggler really showing her character as a very friendly and highly intelligent girl as she is able to understand the droid. Her intelligence really is shown throughout the entire film as she helps Han-Solo operate the Millennium Falcon which is his own ship and he should know inside out. We don’t learn much about her past or where she would have gained all of this knowledge from which is slightly disappointing however this could be due to a possible link to an existing character. As the film progresses it becomes more and more apparent that she is in touch with the Force and it flows very strongly through her. She only realizes this by the time she manages to defeat Kylo Ren as he tries to manipulate her mind into telling him where Luke Skywalker is by infiltrating Kylo’s mind. Another beautiful moment is when she is battling Kylo Ren with a lightsaber and closes her eyes to feel the Force flow through her and guide her. I thought this was so beautiful as it really illustrated the difference between the Light side and the Dark. It also shows how much potential she has as a Jedi if trained. It is heavily suggested throughout the film that she is Luke Skywalker’s daughter which is highly plausible as Luke’s lightsaber flew past Kylo (his nephew) right into her hands. Overall Rey is a great new addition the list of strong female characters. I really was able to connect to her as I am in the same age range as her and she really made me feel more empowered. She shows a great deal of forgiveness, kindness and strength throughout the entire film which I think is something all viewers strive for. I am very very excited to see what her future will hold and how much more we will find out about her.
We see Kylo Ren for the first time on Jakku as he is there to retrieve the plans that Poe gave to BB-8 for the First Order. I have to say I immediately found him very intimidating and thought the design of his mask was very well done. His voice is altered which is of course a resemblance to Darth Vader however it is different enough to not be a replica. However I like to see it as a purposeful tribute to Darth Vader as we see Kylo strives to be like him and looks up to him very much which however also fills him with fear as he knows he cannot be as great as his grandfather. That’s right….Darth Vader is Kylo Ren’s grandfather making Han Solo and Leia his parents. This of course brings many questions with it which I have to say disappointingly were not answered at all. However I am fairly confident all will be revealed in the next chapter. All we know so far is that he was trained by Luke at the time he was lured into the Dark side and seeing how Luke has been found (finally) we will find out more about how this all played out in episode 8. Of course one of his most character defining moments was when ( ONCE AGAIN SPOILER WARNING ) he pierces Han Solo, his own father, with his lightsaber after pretending to be a conflicted son who is scared to leave the First Order. I really have to compliment Adam Driver here who was absolutely phenomenal as the bad guy. This ranges from facial expressions during especially this scene to his stance and the way he moves in his Lightsaber duels ( I of course do not know how much of this was him or a stunt double). Overall I have to say Kylo Ren was a very successful villain whom we will hear more of I am sure as we did not see him die and heard he was supposed to be picked up to finish his training with Snoke.
Han Solo and Chewbacca:
One of the greatest duos in the Star Wars franchise is back and they are back with a bang. They were absolutely hilarious throughout the entire film and really brought everyone back to the original Trilogy with their wit and many references to their early adventures. Harrison Ford did a great job at portraying the aged Han Solo who has been on his own adventures with Chewy and without Leia it seems. It was clear to see how conflicted he was everytime Kylo Ren was mentioned which of course was explained later on in the film. It was great to Chewy back in action as he did not steal too much screen time but the exact right amount to also connect with the new characters and add some humour from time to time. Han Solo seemed to be inspired by Rey and Finn to really do the right thing again and we were treated to some classic ‘Han Solo negotiations’ which of course resulted in the deaths of almost everyone. Han Solo meets his end near the end of the film through a final betrayal by his son as he tries to get him to come home on request of Leia to try again. It was the saddest moment of the entire film of course. I loved the scene cut to Leia who could feel him dying through the force which was flowing between them which really showed the progression of their relationship off screen.
Now to move on to ‘smaller roles’ that still ofcourse had a big impact on the storyline.
It was great to be introduced to a new little droid just as charismatic as R2D2 and C3PO. He added a bit of cuteness to the whole film and seemed to remind a lot of people in the audience of their pets.
I have to say I was quite disappointed with this character. She had hardly any screentime at all making her whole character quite messy and uninteresting. She seemed really cool at first however to me lost all of that as soon as she very easily deactivated all shields of the Starkiller Base and was then never seen again. I do hope we see more of her in the next film or get some more explanation as to who she is.
I thought he was absolutely fantastic! Great acting by Domhnall Gleeson and great dialogue at all times he also reminded me a lot of Tarkin really setting him up to be a villain. Especially his speech to the troops before the attack on all Republic bases was great and had a lot of hints to Hitler’s speeches to his troops. I am very excited to see more of him and how much more about him we will learn.
She was the only fully CGI’d character but to me seemed really well done. I did hear some of her scenes were cut however I still really enjoyed the ones she had and did not find it distracting we did not know more about her past (non-romantic) relationship with Han Solo and just her past in general.
Another disappointing character in my eyes. The first time we saw him he reminded me a lot of the orcs in Lord of the Rings and especially the Pale orc in the Hobbit. I found this quite disappointing however I realize he has not had much screentime yet and we will definitely find out more about him in the next film but for TFA I really thought background information was lacking which made it quite confusing.
Overall I thought it was an absolutely fantastic film and a great start to a new trilogy. I would definitely recommend to watch it multiple times to really see everything in more detail. I would love to hear what you guys think of it and I apologize for such a long review (which doesn’t contain too much of the storyline itself). I’m sure we will look at everything in more and more detail in the coming days/weeks.