Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the long awaited sequel of the beloved sci-fi series directed by J.J. Abrams. The movie takes place thirty years after the fall of the evil Galactic Empire with a new antagonist faction called the First Order having risen to take its place. The First Order, headed by the powerful and ruthless Sith, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and his mysterious master, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), searches for its only perceived threat, legendary Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who went missing many years prior. A clue to Skywalker’s location is hidden on a BB-8 droid, which ends up in the hands of Rey (Daisy Ridley), a young scavenger, and Finn (John Boyega), a defected storm trooper. Teaming up with old favorites such as Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), they must escape the First Order, destroy its ultimate planet annihilating weapon, and find Luke Skywalker before time runs out.

Many were worried Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be another hyped up disappointment like the prequel films before it; however, it was not. Even though J.J. Abrams has never directed anything on the level of the Star Wars films, I knew he was a fan of the series and understood it well. In addition to this, after the symphony of failures that were the prequels, Disney would handle any new Star Wars movie with the caution and skill of surgeon. My hypothesis was proved to be correct, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best science fiction movie to come out in some time and the best action adventure to come out this year.

Many components ensure that this an expertly crafted movie and worthy edition to the Star Wars legacy. Firstly, all the acting of both the established stars and the unknowns, is flawless with each slipping into their character as if putting on well worn cloths. The music is wonderful like the rest of John Williams’s work, and the special effects are great as well; the Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is cutting edge and incredibly realistic. The massive resurgence of use of practical effects such as animatronics and puppetry makes the film much easier to appreciate. The writing is also top notch, presenting us with unique, interesting, complicated, and loveable characters who bring us back to the quotable, funny, and poignant lines present in the original trilogy. It is also crucial to applaud the cinematography, which is above the standard and includes the best opening shot of any movie I’ve seen for many years. Lastly the fight choreography, once again straying from the endless twirling “dance” fighting of the prequels, returns to a simpler more realistic style and is all the more meaningful and entertaining for it.

If the film falters in any way, it’s in that The Force Awakens uses the basic plot of its trilogy counterpart, A New Hope, as a scaffold to build off of. Just like A New Hope, there is a youth living on a desert planet who longs for adventure and comes across a droid with a vital piece of information in it that an extremely evil empire searches for. Another similarity is that the evil empire is led by a masked sith who is powerful in the force, and they have an impossibly huge space station that can blow up planets with a laser. The use of the basic storyline of A New Hope isn’t necessarily bad. This new trilogy may have some trouble finding their feet, so using an established story is not ill advised. However, if this trend continues into the second film in this new series it will become a very distracting issue. This Star Wars trilogy for a new generation should distance itself from the previous generations in order to become its own unique creation. Copying directly from the old films will leave the J.J Abrams trilogy feeling like an unoriginal rehash rather than a new great series. People come to these films to see something new done with a beloved idea, not the same idea with a different mask. It will be best for everyone if this trend stops here.

One aspect of the feature that I’m sure many fans will be split on is the villain, Kylo Ren, specifically his casting choice. To state my opinion on the matter shortly, without spoiling anything, for his character being that not of the most intimidating man in the galaxy, but that of a young many striving to become like the most feared man in the galaxy was, it think the casting fits. The acting fits the character well and the only qualms I have is that for who he is supposed to be, I wish he had looked more threatening underneath the mask.

All in all, the biggest flaws with this film were just small aspects that are minorly distracting, the rest was a banquet of entertainment and fun. Almost everything about this movie  should be the standard to which we hold all other blockbusters from now on. It’s fun, humorous, heartfelt, action packed, and takes a place in the pantheon of great Star Wars films. I can guarantee that watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be a great way to start the new year, and I will give it a solid and well deserved A.

By Sam Finbury