Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

This weekend was the weekend that Star Wars fans have been waiting and hoping for. Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally premiered.

It takes place three decades after Return Of The Jedi ended. The old Empire is a thing of the past. But the dark side lingers. The new leader of the empire is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). He is driven by one goal: to find and kill the last Jedi knight, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). But Luke has disappeared without a trace.

Luke’s sister, the former Princess now General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is still the head of the rebellion. She sends her best pilot, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to locate her brother. While his mission is still in progress, Poe is captured by the empire, but a storm trooper with second thoughts about his life choices, Finn (John Boyega) helps Poe to escape. Crash landing on the planet, Jakku, Finn is helped by Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger whose family abandoned her long ago. Poe’s droid, BB8, holds the key to finding Luke.

Rey, Finn and BB8 find the Millennium Falcon while escaping the Empire. This brings Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) back into the fold.

Can our heroes, both new and old, defeat the new empire or will the empire win?

When it was announced several years ago that Disney had acquired the rights to Star Wars and J.J. Abrams was to direct Episode 7, many among the fan community were concerned. As much as I like Disney films, they are a world apart from Star Wars. Thankfully J.J. Abrams (who is also a fan) and co-writers Lawrence Kasdan (who had a hand in Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi) and Michael Arndt wisely returned to the elements that made the first three films instant classics: a solid story, excellent actors and practical effects.

As the director, J.J. Abrams wisely utilized film to shoot as a pose to digital cameras. The film feels very much like the first three films: fresh, fun and entertaining.

One of my favorite elements of the film is Kylo Ren. Unlike Darth Vader, there is still a humanity to him. He is a nuanced villain whose reasons I will not give away, but I will say that he is not simply a villain because the film needed one.  Another element of the film that I loved as a female fan was the element of not just more women, but strong female characters. Besides Rey and Leia,there is Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), a Yoda like figure and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) a female captain of the empire. My only quarrel with the filmmakers was a scene where one the female characters was briefly a damsel in distress, which felt out-of-place for her, but that is all I say.

The movie clocks in at around two hours. Normally I would say that a movie that is two hours should have left some scenes for the extras section of the DVD, but for Star Wars, I will make allowances.

And, if any of my fellow Janeites have also seen this film, they will see a performer who has in the past, played a role in an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. Her time on-screen is brief, and I will not give away who she is, but she is there.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is presently in theaters. 



Late Flashback Friday- Christmas Edition- Love Actually (2003)

Over the years, Hollywood has released a plethora of Christmas movies.

In this post, I want to talk about one of my favorite Christmas movies, Love Actually (2003). The movie is about eight different couples who are loosely connected over the course of the Christmas season.

Set in London, England, every couple is dealing with their own unique struggles. Jamie (Colin Firth) is in love with Aurelia (Lucia Moniz), a Portuguese woman  who does not speak English. Harry (Alan Rickman) and Karen (Emma Thompson) have been comfortably married for a number of years. Then Mia (Heike Makatsch) is hired as his secretary. Karen’s brother, David (Hugh Grant) is the newest Prime Minister. He has developed a crush on Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), one of his junior staffers. Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are newlyweds. Peter’s best friend, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is secretly in love with Juliet. Daniel (Liam Neeson) is dealing with the dual loss of his wife and raising his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster).

This is one of my favorite Christmas movie for several reasons. First, the mostly British cast (some who have appeared in iconic Jane Austen adaptations). Secondly, the  movie is just plain fun. Thirdly, this film is far from the cheesy, predictable Hallmarkish film that it could have been. (Not that there is anything wrong with Hallmark films, I personally don’t care for them). Fourth and finally, these characters are human and not cardboard cutouts.

I absolutely recommend it.

Merry Christmas!

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