After the issues with the prequel trilogy, it was always going to be a tough ask for J.J. Abrams to please both new and existing fans and deliver a film that appeals to both. Whilst The Force Awakens isn’t the best Star Wars film in the franchise, it brings some much needed stability to the series with a film that stays relatively close to the story beats of A New Hope, while moving the narrative forward with a brand new tale. There are times where it feels unncessarily convoluted, with its tale teasing an era of new Jedi and flirting with new characters Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) as Jedi but overall The Force Awakens feels like a standard Star Wars film that doesn’t push the boundaries of the series.
The story starts after the events of Return Of The Jedi , three decades to be precise, with a new threat emerging named the First Order. Led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) their mission involves picking up the shattered pieces of the Empire and continuing Vader’s work. Within the First Order is stormtrooper defector Finn who decides being a stormtrooper isn’t all its cracked up to be and lands on desert planet Jakku to get away from the First Order. Whilst there, he runs into scavenger Rey and cheeky robot BB-8 and together they get caught up in the Resistance’s search for the missing Luke Skywalker. Along the way, they battle the First Order and Kylo Ren and with a powerful Sith uprising the question remains – where are the Jedi? There are times where the pacing feels a little off and some characters are severely underdeveloped but on the whole, The Force Awakens does a good job of delivering a satisfying story that importantly feels like a Star Wars film.
There are a few questionable decisions through the film, including an underdeveloped Captain Phasma who’s iconic silver stormtrooper suit makes it feel like they might be a key character but isn’t developed enough. There’s another sith behind the scenes that feels like they could play a large role in the coming films but here their inclusion is a distraction that does nothing to further the plot. There’s also the odd decision to have Kylo Ren remove his helmet and reveal his true face too. His demeanor is cool and hardened with the mask on and he feels dangerous but with it removed, it breaks the allure and menace which is a shame.Furthermore, his starkiller weapon feels like a cheap Death Star rip off and more than anything else, highlights the story similarities to A New Hope as the characters scramble to stop the weapon from wiping out the rebels.
Having said all of that, The Force Awakens is still an enjoyable film despite its shortcomings. Its practical effects are a joy to behold and there’s enough of a Star Wars vibe to make it truly feel like a worthy successor to the Original trilogy after the hit or miss nature of the Prequels. There are times where the pacing feels off and the film does stick closely to A New Hope in terms of storytelling but it feels like a smart move to play it safe. The Force Awakens is a film built for stability rather than innovation and in this respect, it works as a bridging gap for the inevitable next film in the chapter which hopefully pushes the series forward. What Force Awakens does well, it exceeds in and with a slew of new characters and some decent action, The Force Awakens finally feels like a worthy successor to the Star Wars trilogy.