Editor’s note: We all love movies, but rather than ask a syndicated columnist who has never visited our beautiful High Desert, we commissioned our own local movie critic: Nolan P. Smith to review films and give us a local perspective. Enjoy!
Review by Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)—When it was first announced that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm, and with it the Star Wars franchise, fans were excited and scared to death at the same time. Excited because we would be getting the long anticipated Episode VII. Nervous because, well, we were getting Episode VII. What if this new film doesn’t have the same spark the original trilogy had? What if it ruined a franchise we have loved for so long? Episode VII- The Force Awakens has landed, and I feel that our fears have been put to rest.
This is Star Wars, all the way.
Directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Super 8), this film takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi- the closer of the original trilogy. The Empire has been defeated, Darth Vader is no more, and the Republic was victorious- but a lot can change in 30 years. From the ashes of the Empire comes the First Order- a ruthless regime with Stormtroopers and the mysterious Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). The Republic, now the Resistance, has grown in numbers as well, with hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), droid BB-8, and led by their iconic leader, General Leia (Carrie Fisher). In the middle of this conflict falls the two new heroes, Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), both who end up deep in a conflict of their own on the desert planet of Jakku. With Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2, and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the gang is all here and then some.
Being spoiler free, I won’t give away plotlines or character developments, but rather comment on the nature of the film. For me, one of the major achievements here is that this film felt like a new generation Star Wars film. Not that I am knocking the prequel trilogy- but this feels like a true successor to the franchise. Our new heroes find their niches in the universe- with Poe Dameron being the surprise for me. The villains are creepy, scary and definitely evil- even the Stormtroopers are more ruthless instead of being the armored pushovers we remember from the past films.
The designs and special effects are outstanding. We knew they were going to use more actual costumes and set designs rather than green screens in this film, and it shows. The worlds look fantastic, as do the aliens that inhabit them. I love the spacecrafts, mainly the slick, shadowed X-Wing piloted by Dameron. The musical score fits seamlessly with the film as well, making for an overall amazing experience.
Walking out of the film, I felt completely satisfied with what I just watched. This is the next generation of Star Wars- no, I think a better way to say it would be this: this is the evolution of Star Wars. Easily one of the best films in the franchise, and of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a must watch.