Writer: Casey Chong
Overall: 4.0 Out of 5
Cast: 4.0 Out of 5
Plot: 4.0 Out of 5
Effects: 4.0 Out of 5
Cinematography: 4.0 Out of 5
Watch this if you liked: The “Star Wars” original and prequel trilogies.
Ten years after the mixed reception of the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy (1999-2005) and thirty-two years after the beloved original trilogy (1977-1983) (yes, this reviewer is excluding the 1997 Special Edition trilogy version), the live-action "Star Wars" saga finally returns to the big screen.
Ever since Disney has taken over the franchise three years ago and announced a brand-new "Star Wars" movie shortly after, anticipation has been mounting high to a feverish peak. Cut to the present day, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has finally arrived and this reviewer is trying his best to keep the review as SPOILER-FREE as possible, so here goes.
Much like the way J.J. Abrams had successfully resurrected the "Star Trek" franchise for today's generation with the 2009 reboot, this reviewer is happy to say that the director has done it again!
Those who were previously put off by George Lucas' CGI overload in the prequel trilogy can now breathe a sigh of relief, since Abrams and his technical crew are wise enough to blend old-school practical effects with state-of-the-art digital trickery. The result is a visually stunning movie that is best experienced on the big screen. While Abrams has certainly gone all out in the action department where there are the expected lightsaber duels, but it was the numerous well-choreographed 'dogfight' scenes that excelled the most, thanks to the great swooping camerawork.
The iconic theme is also no letdown here as John Williams' score brings the same rousing music quality as always to the "Star Wars" movies. So that's another thing checked off on our list.
While the effects are spectacular, thankfully, the introduction of the new characters are well planned out and are bound to be fan favourites. That includes John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and newcomer Daisy Ridley (especially), where each of them deliver robust performances. Then there's the cute but reliable BB-8, the best thing after R2-D2, and of course, no "Star Wars" movie would be complete without a mention of the recurring characters. First up, there's Harrison Ford, who still manages to bring the same swaggering charm that made him such an iconic character as Han Solo. It's also nice to see the beloved Chewbacca as well as Carrie Fisher reprising her role, albeit one that is more mature, as General Leia.
As for the plot, this new instalment has the same fast-paced and action-packed vibe of "Star Wars" (1977) and "Return Of The Jedi" (1983), while adding a shade of twisted darkness that recalls the subversive narrative style of "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980).
Although the overall movie is a satisfying cinematic experience, it is still not without its flaw. For some reason, this reviewer found the introduction of would-be sinister new villain, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) somewhat lackluster as it doesn't cut the same cloth like the iconic Darth Vader.
Hopefully, this issue of villainy will be addressed in the future sequel. Till then, the Force is reasonably strong with this new movie that will appeal to both old and new generations of "Star Wars" fans.
Look Out For: The spectacular 'dogfight' scene involving the Millennium Falcon at planet Jakku.
Trivia: Back in 2012, J.J. Abrams was first approached to direct the then-untitled new "Star Wars" movie, but declined the offer because he didn't want to take on the burden of the iconic franchise. However, producer Kathleen Kennedy managed to convince him by asking the very question; "Who is Luke Skywalker?" Determined to know the answer, he finally changed his mind and agreed to take on the directing job instead!
Best Watched With: "Star Wars" die-hard fans, geeks, casual/curious moviegoers and basically anyone with a huge fond for nostalgia!
Cinema Online, 16 December 2015