Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Spoilers Contained)

First of all – welcome back Star Wars, I have reverted to a child again and put in requests for Star Wars toys for Christmas and there might me a few lightsaber battles that need to include me and some peow peow laser gun battles in the backyard, with, well, myself. I got so nostalgically emotional watching THE FORCE AWAKENS I literally burst into tears at key plot points, much to the embarrassment of my fourteen year old bestie, Finn (appropriately named considering one of the lead stars has the same name). STAR WARS is back people and it is back on a grand scale that is going to slice through all the Harry Potter records with the precision of a well placed lightsaber. STAR WARS: EPISODE VII THE FORCE AWAKENS is out now from the incredibly happy Disney. It is rated M and runs for 135mins of mind blowing joy.

 

Star Wars The Force Awakens Movie Poster Image
Star Wars The Force Awakens | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie Poster Image

 

BY JASON KING

I am one of those Star Wars obsessed geeks who has watched the originals over a hundred times, enjoyed (at the time) but was sadly disappointed in the prequels and was left bewildered and wandering the mind deserts of Tatooine wondering what the hell went wrong with George Lucas and his lack of faith in the formula that worked for this franchise. The prequels were bogged down in child-like distractions and annoying characters and the introduction of convoluted and boring political ramblings, something completely incompatible with both a children’s film and a Star Wars universe film. Star Wars is all about black and white, dark and light – THE  END, it is a battle between opposing sides minus all the greys and unnecessary rubbish – just give us humour, action, heartbreak, love and innocence against evil set in some of the coolest sets of all time.

 

rey and bb8 image
Star Wars The Force Awakens | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Rey and BB8 Image

 

STAR WARS: EPISODE VII THE FORCE AWAKENS embraces the successful formula wholeheartedly and recaptures the nostalgic glory of the originals, so much so that at times you may think you are watching a remake of EPISODE 4: A NEW HOPE. It uses the basic storyline of A NEW HOPE while introducing us to new, incredibly likeable characters to take the lightsaber and allowing us the opportunity to get emotional at seeing all our favourite characters return.

I REPEAT THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS BELOW!!! ONLY READ ON IF YOU HAVE SEEN THIS MOVIE!!!

In this we start by meeting Rey on a planet called Jakku, basically Tatooine with one moon and a different name. She is a junker, searching for parts and tech left over from the last Empire Rebellion battles from years in the past so that she can survive. The Jedi and the events from thirty odd years in the past are now memories in the old and legend to the new generations. Rey stays on Jakku, left as a child when her parents were taken, here she waits in hope for them to return until a chance encounter with the cutest droid of all time, BB8, who oddly has plans, or more a map, stored inside him.

The Resistance is still battling on fighting a new enemy in The First Order, basically the newer, Nazi inspired Empire. The map inside BB8 leads to Luke Skywalker who has been missing for years after an apprentice Jedi turned on him and went to the dark side. Sadly this apprentice is Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia who has been tempted to follow the path of his grandfather. Luke has withdrawn to monkdom like his idol and previous mentor, Ben Kenobi, and Han Solo has returned to what he knows best, being a smuggler, too distraught to remain with the love of his life, Princess Leia.

 

Star Wars The Force Awakens Phasma image
Star Wars The Force Awakens | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Phasma Image

 

Kylo Ren now works for The First Order and is the replacement Vader, answering to a hologram master who is the size of a Rancor. Ren is now searching for BB8 and will do anything to obtain those maps to Skywalker’s whereabouts. Stormtroopers are tearing up Jakku trying to find BB8 and it is here BB8, Rey and Finn all join up. Finn is a stormtrooper who grew a heart and has escaped his servitude because he refuses to kill innocent people. They steal an old abandoned spaceship that resembles the Millennium Falcon and from here our party expands into the universe and shenanigans.

THE FORCE AWAKENS is my equal favourite Star Wars film with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, hands down, I have not felt this way since seeing EMPIRE, it blew my mind and felt like a huge hug from a long lost friend, it was a feeling I never knew I would feel again and I know I will be watching this film hundreds of times, better than that is the set-up it provides for the trilogy that will come from it.

The new cast is brilliant and you will love the characters of Rey, Finn and BB8 and while you will hate Kylo Ren more than Darth Vader you will love the acting from Adam Driver. Rey is a female who is basically the love child of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, she takes shit from no one, can handle any ship and is not afraid to enter the unknown and fight evil, she is the perfect next-gen Jedi.

Finn is her perfect side kick, her ultimate friend and an interesting character in that he is a defected stormtrooper. I loved John Boyega (Finn) in ATTACK THE BLOCK and bloody hell that one small role landed him a role that will keep him famous for eternity. And Daisy Ridley as Rey will satisfy die-hard fans of Star Wars, boys and men the world over and will become one of the ultimate young female idols of all time, and no matter how much you think it, she is not related to Keira Knighley, but the accent and her mouth are identical.

 

Kylo Ren and Stormtroopers Image
Star Wars The Force Awakens | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Kylo Ren and Stormtroopers Image

 

Seeing Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in the trailer made me kind of cringe at his age and also at my deflated love for him over the years seeing his roles get worse but this role is his best in decades, the true actor of Harrison Ford was there in one of the most loved characters of all time, his age was no barrier and the banter with him and Chewie had me choking up. It was also sublime seeing Carrie Fisher back in Leia’s character and the old faves of C3PO, R2 and perhaps or perhaps not Luke Skywalker :).

J.J. Abrams has just skyrocketed up my list of favourite directors, what he has created with the writing of Lawrence Kasdan is beyond epic, it is timeless canon for the Star Wars franchise. He recaptured the best of Star Wars and introduced new and embraceable plots and actions and dialogue. The most die-hard fans of this movie will find it to be Triple X Star Wars porn. The skill that has been used to set up a trilogy is commendable, besides the fact I just want to see this movie over and over and over again I am left satisfied but longing for the next few years to pass swiftly so we can see what happens next.

 

Han Solo and Chewbacca Image
Star Wars The Force Awakens | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Han Solo and Chewbacca Image

 

Because of this set up for the trilogy we do see some weaknesses in the film: firstly Kylo Ren, I love his character but he is a young temperamental child in the power of the dark side, he looks dark and Vader-like evil but his skill at the dark side is lacking, he should easily have been able to eliminate Rey and Finn but his training is incomplete, he is basically reverse Luke, battling through his younger years and not quite ready to be pure evil. I did not hate this, I liked it, I loved seeing that he likes to pain himself to feel the hate and that he battles with the light side in maintaining his hate, I do have faith he will become the most nuanced in-depth character to be tormented and destroyed by the dark side but this will take time. BUT – due to his dark-side immaturity the lightsaber duels in this film are lacking, and as much as it hurts to say, THE PHANTOM MENACE still has the best lightsaber duels matched with the best score.

Phasma is another character that I am certain we will see more of in the second instalment, sadly in this she is just a shiny chrome stormtrooper played by the brilliant Gwendoline Christie from GOT fame but underused in the entire film and pretty much pointless. I also found Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) to be a boring version of Palpatine but again I see a future for him as his character evolves in the future instalments.

And finally the “death star” plotline is too similar to A NEW HOPE and RETURN OF THE JEDI, it is exactly the same but bigger and badder and slightly reminiscent from the 2009 STAR TREK planet destroyer, also made by JJ. Hearing things like “it will be ready to fire in two minutes” actually made me chuckle at the carbon copy of earlier instalments – I am sure there is more to the universe than planet destroying!

 

Finn (John Boyega) Image
Star Wars The Force Awakens | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Finn (John Boyega) Image

 

As for the HUMUNGOUS spoiler I have refrained from mentioning, I was emotionally devastated appropriately but it made sense and makes the film all the better for it.

I don’t think anyone expected STAR WARS: EPISODE VII THE FORCE AWAKENS to be as grand and epic as it is and for the future, promise it has. The movie expertly uses 3D and if you can get to IMAX DO IT!! I have seen it twice already and will be seeing it many more times. And the best thing of the entire movie, it makes amends for the prequel abominations and sets up a galaxy that can be enjoyed for a long time into the future.

I stand and I applaud my film of the year and I do look forward to seeing THE FORCE AWAKENS take a few Oscars early 2016.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.

For curiosity sake:

MY STAR WARS MOVIE RANKINGS:

1. The Empire Strikes Back

1. The Force Awakens

3. A New Hope

4. Return of the Jedi

5. Revenge of the Sith

6. The Phantom Menace

7. Attack of the Clones

Technically a 4.5 POP score would be more appropriate but I am a Star Wars geek and this film made me jizz!

 

5 Pops

 

 

Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).