“The Force Awakens” lives up to previous Star Wars films

Cody Evans, Staff Writer

Since the 1977 premiere of George Lucas’s “Star Wars: A New Hope,” several different generations of Jedi, Sith, Clone troopers, and Rebels have emerged. Today teens and adults alike enjoy Lucas’s works, T.V screens flash with images of Imperial Star Destroyers, computer monitors are dominated by the Star Wars Battlefront games, and Star Wars merchandise is sold at nearly every retailer in the country.

Thirty eight years after the release of “A New Hope,” and after a tantalizing trio of prequels, Disney released “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on December 18th as one of three sequels to the original Star Wars trilogy.

Characterized by the introduction of five new characters — BB-8, Finn, Rey, Kylo Ren, and Supreme Leader Snoke — and the incorporation of old characters such as Luke Skywalker, Leia Skywalker-Organa, Chewbacca and Han Solo, “The Force Awakens” fills the void many Star Wars fans have been feeling since 2005.

The plot centers on a commoner who stumbles upon and assists a droid who is supposed to deliver a very important piece of information to another main character. On the journey, the hero mysteriously and inexplicably learns the ways of the Force and struggles against an antagonist who wields the dark side of the Force. The plotline describes both Luke’s and Rey’s courses of action during their respective movies and almost appears to be recycled.

Another overused theme in Star Wars saga is the process of planetary annihilation. With the introduction of the Death Star in “A New Hope,” and its reintroduction with the Death Star II in “Return of the Jedi” the notion of planetary destruction was captivating and awe inspiring. But introducing the already overused theme in the seventh Star Wars installment left some viewers with a stale feeling.

With these grievances in mind I still enjoyed the film; however, Disney and LucasFilms most certainly could have incorporated a higher magnitude of new ideas into their film. In spite of some of the plotline appearing to be recycled, the new ideas that were introduced into the film were groundbreaking.

The rogue First Order trooper FN-2187 — dubbed Finn by X-wing pilot Poe Dameron — is a rather refreshing addition to the Star Wars saga. Storm Troopers, modeled after Adolf Hitler’s soldiers, are known for their undying loyalty (and lousy aim), but Finn defies every rule of blind loyalty most Storm Troopers follow.

Impressively, the screenplay initially convinced both me and many other audience members that Finn was going to be the future Jedi, but as the film progresses it becomes increasingly evident that Rey is the padawan learner rather than Finn. If events had unfolded predictably “The Force Awakens” would have been more interesting. The notion of a Storm Trooper leaving the very faction he served and becoming a Jedi peacekeeper is almost inconceivable in the Star Wars universe and could have supplied the element of surprise the film needed to further captivate the audience.

Taking the entirety of the Sith code into account, the Sith apprentice Kylo Ren is a rather poor excuse for an antagonist. Not only is he conflicted between the light and dark sides of the Force, but Ren is quite temperamental when his plans are foiled — to an extent that can only be paralleled by General Grievous’s childish rampages during the Clone Wars. Hopefully after his training is complete he will become the full fledged Sith Lord that will fulfill his aspirations of rivaling Darth Vader.

With the exception of a few minor details “The Force Awakens” shatters the quality of the prequel trilogy and perhaps even surpasses the quality of the original trilogy. The superb combination of CGI and quality acting allows the movie to be as awe inspiring and magnetic as it is to many viewers, and it’s more than fair to say that the partnership between the LucasFilm team and the Disney Corporation has outdone itself.