Where do I even begin? I was bursting with joy by the end of this movie! To me, this was a proper sequel to the Original Trilogy (OT) and it had just the right amount of nostalgia. I guess I’ll break this post into two parts to keep it from becoming one huge, scatter-brained ramble.
First, the elephant in the room: Han Solo is dead. Unlike people in other reviews I’ve seen, I honestly didn’t see this coming right from the start. Now, I figured one or more of the original characters would probably die at some point in the sequel trilogy (they are “passing the torch” to the new cast after all), but I didn’t really expect to see it in the first movie. When Han died it was legitimately heartbreaking. TFA does a great job of making you feel genuine emotion. This movie has A LOT of emotion. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk some more about the overall plot.
The Force Awakens takes place about 30 years after the OT and it seems that in this time, Luke Skywalker has gone missing. The successor to the Galactic Empire and The Resistance are both searching for him. I really like The First Order as the new evil force in the galaxy. They were legitimately terrifying and show that they can quickly get things done, unlike the Empire. I mean just within this movie, they had captured most of the main characters and proved that they are not to be fucked with. The Empire may have had two Death Stars, but The First Order has a god damn death planet with the Starkiller Base (nice little nod to Luke’s originally written family name and Vader’s apprentice in the Force Unleashed games). I like The Resistance a lot too. They seem to have grown a lot since they defeated the Empire and Princess Leia is now General Leia. The Republic still supports them, but not publicly. The First Order, not being stupid, knows of the Republic’s support and proceeds to blow them up with Starkiller base’s sun-powered weapon. This is one of the points in the movie that puts a big question in my mind: what planet was it that they destroyed? My friend and I wondered if it was Coruscant, which if it was, holy shit! Like damn that’s incredibly fucked up.
The search for Luke involves finishing a map to his location and brings together a defected Stormtrooper (Finn) and a scavenger (Rey) with our old favorites, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Leia. I’ll talk more about the characters in part two. We also finally learn the identity of our new villain, Kylo Ren. It turns out that he the son of Han and Leia and that his birth name is Ben (after Obi-Wan). This reveal makes Han’s death all the more heartbreaking, as it’s Ren that kills him. Han confronts him and it appears that he might actually turn him back from the Dark Side but then Ren stabs him through the heart with his lightsaber. Befor Han falls, he lovingly touches Ben’s face, which I thought was a really nice moment. The other big revelation is that the awakening in the force is from Rey. After finding Luke’s lightsaber, the one used by his father, she starts to discover her powers. She appears to be quite powerful, she masters the Jedi mind trick after only a couple tries and proves to be strong enough to resist Ren when he’s interrogating her. There is an awesome lightsaber duel toward the end of the film between Finn and Ren and then Rey and Ren. Rey is able to overpower him and show that even without proper training, she can hold her own with a lightsaber. Finn also does quite well for not being a force user, but he ultimately gets struck down and put in a coma. Kylo Ren survives this encounter but is badly injured. The Resistance then destroys Starkiller Base (you’d think they would’ve learned something after the destruction of two Death Stars). The end of the movie is one of my favorite parts. With the map completed thanks to R2-D2 waking up, Rey seeks out Luke. She finds him secluded on an island and presents him with his father’s lightsaber, ready to accept her destiny and be trained as a Jedi.
The plot of TFA has several parallels to A New Hope, but I never felt like it was just ripping it off. It seemed more like a nice homage to the movie that started it all and a nice nostalgic tie to the OT. BB-8 is a droid with and important message for Leia much like R2-D2 had the message for Obi-Wan. We have a father-son revelation with Han Solo and Kylo Ren. Luke seems to have become a secluded hermit much like his Jedi mentors Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. A team of X-Wings destroys the enemy base. They may be re-used plot points, but they didn’t feel forced to me. As I said before they felt more like an homage to the original film. The Force Awakens also does an amazing job of setting up the new trilogy and making you want more. There are so many unanswered questions but this was very much intentional. That’s it for part one of my review. In part two I’ll talk more about the characters and what I thought of them as well as give my thoughts on things I’d like to see moving forward.