Although a few minor flaws kept it from being a cinematic masterpiece, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is one of the best, if not the best, movies in the series.

“The Force Awakens” is more or less about finding Luke Skywalker, who disappeared sometime between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.”

Many people stood in front of junior Quin LaComb, as they awaited entry to the new Star Wars movie.

Quin LaComb
Many people stood in front of junior Quin LaComb, as they awaited entry to the new Star Wars movie.

Die-hard fans will find this movie amazing, and even those who aren’t will be entertained. For a director who is new to the series, J.J. Abrams did an outstanding job.

The opening scene is very similar to that of Episode IV. A planet is on the screen, but it is soon covered by an enormous ship. Little references and throwbacks like this are continued throughout the film.

The visual effects are amazing. At the beginning, the effects are somewhat subpar, but throughout the movie, they got much better.

The scenes where the effects were noticeably bad may have been the throwbacks mentioned earlier. For example, in one scene, some ships were leaving the mothership that covered the planet in the first scene. The bad effects in this scene might be attributed to a reference to Episode IV.

In the rest of the film, the visual effects make one feel as if they were really there.

The characters in “The Force Awakens” are also one of the most enjoyable parts. Each character is unique in their approach to the plot, and each has their own separate agenda. Kylo Ren wants to find Skywalker, but Finn just wants to escape the First Order (the “new” Empire).

Also, the viewers get quite a few moments of nostalgia when they see some familiar faces, such as Han Solo and Chewbacca.

The heroes of the movie are all charming and humorous. The newest heroes, Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) are both likable. They each have their own little quirks such as humor and sarcasm, and I liked all of the characters by the end of the movie.

And, replacing C-3PO and R2-D2 (the droids from the original movies) is a little droid called BB-8. This spherical droid more or less replaces R2-D2 with the same sort of cute humor and all-around utility.

The villains in this movie stand out from those in other Star Wars movies. Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, is one of the new bad guys who is especially evil and emotional. He is bent on finding Luke Skywalker, and when his goals aren’t reached, he promptly launches into a rage-fueled tantrum. He uses his lightsaber to cut and burn everything in arm’s reach.

He is supervised by a bigger, more mysterious bad guy who remains mostly secretive and unexplained throughout the movie, but this is understandable  because it’s setting up for the upcoming movies.

The army commanded by these new villains is just about as menacing as they are. The new stormtrooper helmets connect the eyes to the mouth, which make them seem like they’re almost smiling, making them all the more menacing. On top of that, the stormtroopers aren’t the cannon fodder they used to be. Instead, they act like the well-trained soldiers they are.

“The Force Awakens” is much darker than the other movies of the franchise. This new-found sense of darkness makes the movie much more sophisticated.

Remember the Death Star? Imagine that, but then make it about seven times more deadly. The stormtroopers have a few scenes where they do some pretty evil acts under Kylo Ren’s order, such as a mass shooting of a captured town.

This is also the first movie in the series where I’ve seen blood from a wound.

However, it’s obvious that Abrams was playing it safe in this movie. The plot is extremely close to that of Episode IV.

Still more people waited behind LaComb.

Quin LaComb
Still more people waited in line behind LaComb.

There’s an army of professionally trained soldiers who tend to keep to the darker side of things, and thus a rebellion has started. There’s a base that can destroy entire planets and emotionally conflicted villains. The plot is good, but I wish that Abrams had maybe strayed a bit further from the the one George Lucas created years ago.

However, the ending is absolutely captivating. I’d been taking notes throughout the entire movie, but about three-fourths of the way through, I was so fixated on what was happening that I refused to look down even to jot down a few words here and there. The end leaves loose ends untied and the viewers wanting more.

Although the movie contains some of the same humor from the original trilogy, there are some lines that really kill the mood. A cute one liner here and there can be great, but the humor can be a bit excessive at times.

My final complaint is that many moments in the film are unrealistic. I’m not talking about unrealistic in our terms, but in Star Wars terms. Lightsabers are supposed to be weapons that need a connection to the Force and lots of training in order to be used efficiently, but two characters (Finn and Rey) are able to pick one up and use it like they’ve been trained for years.

There are also multiple instances where someone is cut by a lightsaber, but instead of being lopped in half or losing a limb, they just get a little scratch on their skin. These moments are unrealistic in both our standards and Star Wars standards.

It’s very hard to compare this movie to the original trilogy because of the technological advances in film since then, but I’d say that “The Force Awakens” is definitely equal to the original trilogy.

—By Quin LaComb

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