Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95% (Critics) / 92% (Audience)
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and Harrison Ford
Studio: Universal Pictures
Synopsis: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. – (Source)
The mixture of old and new characters never has one jarring moment as the newbies are all instantly worthy of rooting for (and in the case of Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, rooting against) while not being overshadowed by the old school STAR WARS favorites like Han Solo and Chewbacca. Harrison Ford’s Solo especially has instant chemistry with Daisy Ridley’s and John Boyega’s Rey and Finn.
The film is also heavy on the action without sacrificing much character building. And the action is great and almost non-stop. There are no drawn out debates about trade routes or Midichlorians to be found here. Instead J.J. Abrams hits the ground running and only lets up when it is absolutely necessary. Also this movie doesn’t look like a STAR WARS film. Abrams may be a fan of the franchise’s history (as evidenced by the many call backs to the original trilogy) but he still makes sure to put his stamp on this movie (lens flares for everybody!!!) and it is the better for it as the movie just flat out looks better and has a better visual energy than any STAR WARS movie before it. It flies by so fast that you barely even register the nearly 2 and a half hour running time.
This script won’t be winning any awards and it suffers under the crutch of using a mountain of coincidences and happy accidents to move things forward but that has always been an issue with the scripts for this franchise’s films.
While I don’t think any egregious errors were done in the fleshing out of characters there were some who could have used a bit more screen time to work on that area. Not the least of which is Kylo Ren. He looks cool and Driver plays him with a combo of internal conflict and straight forward malice but he still seems more like a character sketch than a fully realized character especially when compared to Rey and Finn.
I also think that a major (and shocking) death could prove to be a bit shortsighted on the part of Abrams and crew because, while the scene in question packed a punch, that character was a highlight of this film and there will be a vacuum left by this character’s absence that I don’t think anyone else in the cast is equipped to fill.
Creating a character as cool looking as Stormtrooper Captain Phasma, casting the character with a physically commanding actress like Gwendoline Christie and then relegating Phasma to not much more than a blown up bit player just seems like a huge missed opportunity.
Final Verdict: The movie aint perfect but it is a damn sight closer to perfection than I ever thought I would get from a STAR WARS movie after those disappointing prequels. Sure it is a paint by numbers script that relies heavy on nostalgia but it succeeds based on the chemistry of the actors assembled and some really wonderfully shot action scenes. As a fan of the franchise and an overall unabashed geek for stuff like this I enjoyed pretty much every second of this movie and can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.