Review: Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, best film this side of the galaxy

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Maya Peirce, Co-Editor

For almost four decades, Star Wars has led the charge in the revolution of the movie business. Year after year, the cult films drew in millions in box office sales, culminating into one of the best sci-fi legacies in the galaxy. Even with such a background to live up to, the latest episode, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, was far from disappointing.

The film opens with the classic yellow, scrolling text on star-studded space. In a matter of words, the entire plot is summarized in short: A new threat called the First Order bears down on a Resistance, both racing for the map leading to the last of the Jedi Knights, the missing Luke Skywalker.

With a preceding cast of varying notoriety, you can’t walk into the theater without recognizing a few actors. While the film showcased several returning legends like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the loveable droids R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), there was no stopping this feature film from redefining the Star Wars universe. Written and directed by J.J. Abrams, the latest episode brings fresh ideas and characters up to the plate, and it’s nothing less than a feast of action-packed scenes, expert cinematography, and generously placed inside jokes.

The hero of the story, Rey (Daisy Ridley), is a parts scavenger on the planet of Jakku when she stumbles upon Finn (John Boyega), a stormtrooper turned conscientious objector to the First Order. The presence of a female protagonist proved to be slightly surprising, especially when regarding past films. When the first episode of the space saga, A New Hope, premiered in 1977, only two major female characters existed. The Force Awakens brings a much more diverse cast to the universe, filling many major roles with females and going against the very white-washed stereotype of the science fiction genre.

Structure-wise, the film was practically flawless. The story is multi-layered and engaging, with humor and drama used in nearly every scene. It brings action scenes to their extremes and nostalgic moments to their most sentimental. An emotional roller-coaster of dueling morals between good and evil, the seventh installment of the series continued the streak of strong plot basis.

The movie, while staying faithful to past nuances, did implement a new technique of filming. Nearly the entirety of the scenes in past movies took place in front of a green screen. Abrams, on the other hand, spent most of his filming outside in varying environments from sand dunes to frozen tundra. This provided amazing opportunities for breathtaking cinematography. As for the special effects portions of the film, execution was incredibly well-organized. With constant tension and action, it’s impossible for the audience to look away.

There’s a certain stigma surrounding the series: you either love it or hate it. Episode VII gives all viewers a chance at a fresh start while still providing goodies for their devoted fanbase. With beautiful cinematography, fast-paced action scenes, and the occasional wookie, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens is a crowd pleaser for fans old and new.