James King, Arts & Entertainment Correspondent
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars movie that has ever come out of the franchise. I know that may sound like an exaggeration, but after catching up with the franchise so far, it has become my favorite entry in the franchise.
That isn’t to say the movie doesn’t have problems, all movies do. Though, it completely makes sense why this movie became one of the highest grossing movies of all time. I feel that this movie really captures what makes Star Wars unique and lasting – the “what” that makes generation after generation keep coming back to the franchise.
The story takes bits and pieces from the entire franchise and stitches together into a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie, and I mean that in the best possible way. I tend to disagree with most fan assessments that the movie is just a retelling of the first movie, as I feel it steals from a lot more than just the first movie.
There are elements that are taken from earlier movies for sure, like Ray’s humble beginnings mirroring Luke’s, Poe’s flight skills mirroring Han Solo’s, and Kylo Ryn’s turn to the dark side feeling weirdly similar to a certain sith lord’s, they all have their own flavor mix.
The movie does a great job of remixing and adding elements to the characters and their canon, so the movie doesn’t become a simple retread of the earlier Star Wars movies. It feels familiar, but changes up enough elements to keep it fresh and keeps it from becoming overly predictable.
What I like best about this movie though is the visuals. That’s always been a selling point for me in these movies and this one is no exception. The junkyard desert of Jakku was amazing to watch with the huge star destroyers in the background, as characters travelled their way past them, was complemented by the sense of scale as Ray climbed through them.
The sense of scale was really amped up for this movie and you can feel that in a lot of the ship and building designs. Even some of the alien designs play with your sense of scale as some are very huge and muscular while others are barely there. I have never seen the world of Star Wars so beautifully realized until now.
The acting is much better than many of the previous instalments. While some characters do come off a little flat in places you can really tell what certain characters are feeling just from the looks on their faces and even from the body language. It really helps to sell the mythos and the world as our new heroes meet the old ones with shock and awe. It’s especially effective in earlier scenes where one of the characters has to emote using only his body language. You could really feel his fear and anguish, which made his lighter and happier scenes hit that much harder.
This is easily my favorite Star Wars movie, by a large margin. The Force Awakens represents the pinnacle of the franchise to me. It’s not only a good Star Wars movie, not only a good sci-fi movie, but put simply, it’s a great movie. It has built on the foundations before it and made something better. While the other movies have people’s nostalgia to help prop them up in people’s mind, this movie doesn’t need that crutch.
It is the beginning of a bright, but different Star Wars.