By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)
The short version of this review for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is, “Stop reading this review and just go watch it,” because it is just that good. JJ Abrams delivered in one film what George Lucas failed with the three prequels — namely, a worthy successor to Return of the Jedi.
In some ways, I didn’t think it could be done, since the original Star Wars trilogy was lightning in a bottle — How could you replace Luke, Han, and Leia? The obvious answer to that is you don’t.
The original cast is back in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and huge props to Harrison Ford for reprising his gruff Han Solo character. But Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac are phenomenal, playing Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron, respectively, that are out of their depth and fighting the good fight.
Adam Driver as the villainous Kylo Ren is a revelation for evil in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He’s far more nuanced than any of the Sith in all six of the previous movies.
None of them try to duplicate the original characters, which is extremely refreshing. The humor between them all has the right amount of snark, but not in the same way that the original trilogy had. The dialogue definitely has a 21st Century audience in mind, but without taking you out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Even Kylo Ren gets a few chuckles out of the audience at times.
Abrams choice to use as many practical effects was spot on, and brings back some of the realism that made Star Wars a classic. That’s not to say he didn’t rely on any CG visual effects, because there are a lot of them in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the decision was made to use practicals whenever he could.
A criticism I could make about this movie is that there was quite a lot of fan-service and that’s not even a fair criticism! Fans will recognize elements from A New Hope here but there are enough twists and turns that make it just familiar enough but also different enough to be exciting and enjoyable. John Williams is back with an excellent score however there’s nothing that really stands out in the same way as the original fanfare, the Imperial March or even Duel of the Fates.
The Force Awakens also has a slightly different flavor from both the original trilogy and the prequels. It’s definitely Star Wars but slightly different in many of the aesthetics to bring a fresh new take.
For me, the top three Star Wars films, in order from best to third best, have been Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, and Return of the Jedi. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has knocked Jedi from the third spot, and may even tie with A New Hope for second place. I won’t know until I rewatch the film again, but I think this weekend, I could use a second visit to a galaxy far, far away.