Several decades following the destruction of the Galactic Empire's Death Star in The Return of the Jedi, a new power known as The First Order has grown to take its place under the leadership of a Sith Lord and his apprentice, Kylo Ren. A ragtag bunch of misfits from all over the galaxy must join some familiar rebels to battle this new evil before it's too late.
Why It Makes My List:
While the action is impressive, the story is so well-told that it is not about how cool the lightsaber battle looks (like Episode I) but what happens to the characters. Emotionally-charged, funny, captivating, satisfying and exciting!! Lastly, there are plenty of nods to the original Star Wars films but not so many that it feels tired or overdone.
Other Reasons to Watch:
- Character Development: They did a phenomenal job of introducing us to new characters, making us feel attached to and care about what happens to them. This was in no small part due to some brilliant casting and then use of those actors in this film.
- Terrific Ensemble Piece: Daisy Ridley: I don't care if this was her first feature film, she was brilliant. She has the charm, charisma and accent of Keira Knightley, with comedic talent and acting chops as well. John Boyega does a fantastic job of portraying, like Luke before him, a young man trying to do the right thing despite being kind of new to this hero thing - plus he delivers many of the funniest lines in the film. We all know Harrison Ford is a tremendous actor but I saw something in this film that I haven't seen in him in a long time - that he was legitimately having fun!! There were real smiles and you could tell he was enjoying himself.
- Tone: This film was more gritty and realistic than most sci-films. It gives you an idea of what these epic battles are like on the ground level (not just looking at them from the cockpit of a spaceship). On that note, it was definitely dark and dramatic at times, similar to Revenge of the Sith, but at the same time full of lighthearted, nostalgic, laugh-out-loud moments; you would think those two element wouldn't blend together very well (like how disjointed Revenge of the Sith felt), but instead it works together perfectly.
- Practical Effects/Special Effects: There were some phenomenally fun sequences involving CGI spaceships but they managed to incorporate noticeably more practical effects than Episodes I-III and it helped to ground the film.
Reasons to Pass:
- Musical Score was Lacking: Though John Williams' compositions are usually a sure thing, I wasn’t as in love with this score as with previous installments. I wouldn't say distracting in any way though.
- Pacing: There were some slower parts here and there, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.