Out of This World

Cole Mier, Staff Writer

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The new "Star Wars" movie poster.

The new “Star Wars” movie poster.

Before I begin, let me include a quick caveat. It was the afternoon of Friday, December 18, the much-awaited opening day of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was sitting in a barbershop chair, mid-haircut. After the haircut, I was planning to rush off to a friend’s house for a party. I was tired from a long week without much sleep, and lugging a full backpack up and down the stairs for eight classes only made it worse. Then, I got a text from my mother: “Star Wars tickets at Regal Weschester!!!!!” Over the course of the next thirty seconds, I called every friend I knew with a license and a car and secured myself a ride. All plans were cancelled, my haircut was “cut” short, and I rushed to the theater as fast as I could. The lights dimmed, and as the opening Lucasfilms logo appeared on screen, the theatre erupted in cheers and whoops, and I realized that after being out of place at so many sporting events, I was finally with my people. This was the level of anticipation I had before seeing this film.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was an outstanding film and a breathtaking adventure that the audience embarks on alongside the characters. Despite some flaws, the movie is a mythical quest that sucks you in and refuses to let go until the credits end. In short, the film is fantastic. But before I get too far ahead of myself, the plot. Star Wars: The Force Awakens combines the incredibly talented casts of both the original trilogy and the new trilogy introduced in this film. Directed by J.J. Abrams, who also revamped the Star Trek series back in 2009, the film follows Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) as they join Han Solo (Harrison Ford), General Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in fighting the villainous First Order led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Although the many names may initially seem overwhelming, the movie itself is easy to follow. It strives for a feeling of grandeur, and the large and fantastic cast only adds to the splendor. Epic is the best word to describe the movie. It encompasses all of the feelings of the original installments in the series.

While I loved the new movie, there were some who didn’t share my sentiments. The most common critique of the movie is that the plot is nearly identical to that of Episode IV: A New Hope  The plot similarities are   never detrimental to the viewing experience except in one action scene in the third act. The decision to match plot elements was clearly done for a reason. The largest complaint about the universally despised Star Wars prequels was that it did not “feel like Star Wars.” The newest film focused on creating new characters for us to latch on to while bringing back the old characters for us to fall in love with all over again. The result was the creation a mythical aura which surrounded and permeated the audience. If the plot has to feel a little bit familiar in order for these feats to be accomplished, so be it.

Other than this, the only noticeable issue is that the few computer-generated characters in the movie feel out of place with all of the practical effects. However, all other special effects were fantastic and real, and showcased the incredible effort that went into each and every character design. J.J. Abrams’ talented direction and cinematography were apparent, as every frame of the film sang with incredible artistic talent.

The performances of the newcomers to The Force Awakens are what separate it from its precursors. Finn and Rey, the new leads of the series, are both incredibly fun, smart, and well-developed characters. Rey, in particular, is one of the strongest female leads in film history, a refreshing change of pace from the damsel in distress archetype. Oscar Isaac is charming and hilarious as Poe Dameron, and every time he was off screen, I looked forward to seeing his smiling face again. Adam Driver as the bratty yet menacing villain, Kylo Ren, was a definite highlight for me. But Han Solo’s return was what most blew me away. The audience erupted in cheers when he appeared on screen, and Harrison Ford maintained that same level of energy throughout his entire performance

The highest praise I could give the film is this: I left the theatre not only wanting to see a sequel, but wanting to re-watch the film I had just seen. The directorial techniques, action, and performances were pitch perfect. All of my expectations were matched and exceeded. The science fiction phenomenon has caught my attention, as well as much of America’s, once more, and I eagerly await future installments of this great series.


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