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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Star Wars VII reawakens franchise (WARNING: Spoilers ahead)

Photo by Photo via Creative Commons
Star Wars Episode VII

A fandom was reawakened this Thursday as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hit theaters for its opening weekend. The latest franchise installment was extremely entertaining and will keep both Star Wars die-hards and padawans alike engaged in all two-and-a-half hours of the film, but it also arguably feels more like a reboot than a sequel. 
The J.J. Abrams-Disney magic shines throughout the movie, and tickles even the most hard-to-please funny bones. The movie feels unique from both the originals and the prequels, largely due to its distinctive sense of humor. The storm troopers look downright ridiculous for most of the movie, the new adorable droid sidekick, BB-8, is somehow even cuter and funnier than R2-D2, and the character dialogue is probably 75 percent humor overall.
This, along with Easter-eggs and returning characters galore, pushes the movie forwards smoothly and enjoyably. What Star Wars VII lacks, however, is any sort of originality. Perhaps because it was a safer move on Disney’s part when being handed such a large franchise, almost every single archetype and plot twist from “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977) and “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) are somehow included in “The Force Awakens.”
The movie focuses on an orphan who lives on a sandy planet and wonders about her family, while somehow having also mastered becoming a pilot, learning to fight, and connecting to the light side of the force as an untrained adult. Sound familiar yet? Wait for it. Then, we have suave rebel super-pilot, his humorous helper, a Death Star weapon that can now destroy multiple planets at once, and a cute droid carrying super important data. The sandy-planet-orphan girl, Rey, then gets into some trouble when she comes across the droid, BB-8, and decides to keep it — just before storm troopers come looking for it. She bans together with the humorous helper (and ex-storm trooper) Finn to return the droid to the rebels.
This is where she runs into a much older Han Solo, fights off some aliens who want to eat her and her friends, realizes she is Jedi potential, and eventually comes face-to-face with the new dark Jedi, Kylo Ren. Ren — spoiler alert — is Leia and Han’s son and idolizes his late grandfather, Darth Vader. He betrayed his master Jedi — his uncle Luke — to go to the dark side. Ren proceeds to kill his father, Han Solo, (on a bridge, of course. If you’re in the Star Wars universe, NEVER go on a bridge, especially if it doesn’t have handrails) believing it will make him stronger in the darkness.
Despite this, the rebels destroy the Death Star weapon, Rey and Kylo Ren have an epic light saber fight that luckily leaves both parties alive, and the Rebels and storm troopers live to fight another day. If none of this sounds familiar I suggest you rewatch some of the other Star Wars episodes before watching “The Force Awakens.”
The writers took absolutely no risks with this film. This might be a trademark of J.J. Abrams, who did similar work with “Star Trek” (2009) and “Mission Impossible III” (2006). He also made both of these feel like unique and highly entertaining reboots rather than prequels/sequels. He took the same archetypes from the original films and just filled them in. In other words, the plot is nothing new — it gives Star Wars fans exactly what they would want and expect. This makes for an extremely satisfying and highly entertaining movie, one that secures an audience for the next five Star Wars films Disney is making within the next five years, but it isn’t what the original Star Wars films were all about — innovation. 
The writing was unimaginative, but the actors make up for it. John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver transcend their youth and prove they have talent beyond their years. All three are able to joke around one moment and show deep, extreme emotions the next.
Driver, who has been in award-winning films such as “While We’re Young” (2014) and “Lincoln” (2012) does an excellent job at playing a power-hungry creep who has a lot of potential to be a big bad guy. His intensity fits the internally struggling character, and he holds back just enough to show he isn’t quite a fully-fledged dark Jedi yet. Ridley does excellent in her first big-name movie debut. The beautiful actress plays both innocent and yet hardened well, making her a good fit for the role. Boyega is the most entertaining of the three, cracking wise-guy jokes one moment and getting ready to fight against or flee from the storm troopers the next. His boyish charm isn’t lost as he also struggles with mild PTSD and protecting Rey at all costs.
The graphics for the movie were where the producers probably made the most risks. The CGI was, for a lack of a better term, out of this world. The producers and directors included some of the 70s-esque puppets just to add to the feel of the movie, but the detail that was added to the new space ships, planets and other computer-generated items was phenomenal. The movie is worth watching in either 2-D or 3-D simply because of this.
Overall, the film will be received well, and personally as a Star Wars fan, I loved it. As a movie critic, my only wish would’ve been that the writers had taken a few more risks and reached outside the archetypes a little more. Not as much as they did for the prequels (which overdid the experimentation thing), but enough that Star Wars was still exploring new and unique storylines. The movie is, however, a force to be reckoned with. 

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