'Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens' Review by Ammar Akhtar (NO SPOILERS)

This will be a non spoiler review for those who have still not seen the movie. A spoiler filled review will be released after.

'The Force Awakens' is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Harrison Ford. 'The Force Awakens' is a continuation of the Star Wars trilogy which takes place 30 years after the events that occurred in 'Return of the Jedi'. This is all that you should know going.

The Star Wars franchise means a lot to me along with plenty of others around the globe. 'Empire Strikes Back' is my favorite one out of all of them as it explores the characters far more than the first one did while maintaining an interesting and compelling story. I adore the plot of 'Empire', which is why I consider it one of my favorite movies of all time. I was very excited about the announcement of a new Star Wars movie, yet I was skeptical. We'd seen the worst of Star Wars (the prequels) and I didn't want that to happen again. I was also very worried it would be overhyped to a point where in a couple years we'd look back and say, "Man, I actually didn't like Episode VII". After seeing the movie, I can confidently say this: 'The Force Awakens' is one of the best Star Wars movies ever, and it's my favorite movie of the year. 

There's so much to enjoy in this movie! From the characters to the non stop, fast-paced plot, this movie shocked me. However, the best compliment I can give this movie is the whole experience. Going in, we all knew nothing, which is something I value. Nowadays, studios love to fill their trailers with shots that spoil the entire movie (ex: 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2', 'Batman v. Superman). However, the trailers for 'The Force Awakens' barely showed us anything. We really couldn't decipher anything based on what it showed us, and Abrams forced us all to go and experience it at the movies. This was such an excellent decision because every twist and turn in this movie wasn't shown in any of the trailers, and because of this I was truly unable to predict what would happen. Along with that, all of the Star Wars pizazz felt amazing as it was a throwback to the classic films. The opening texts to the sounds of the ships and lightsabers all added to the great feeling. 

Let's begin to delve deeper into the story elements, particularly the characters. First of all, our two leads Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were fantastic. I thought they did a fantastic job (far better than Christensen and Portman in the prequels), and they certainly proved that they will be great in years to come. Both of their characters were great as they were well fleshed out and their history was very interesting. I don't want to say exactly what occurs with their characters as it will spoil some elements, so I will leave it at that. Oscar Isaac was also great as Poe, although he was in the movie for a very little amount of time. However, he was always a positive man and his presence was always entertaining. Along with the new cast, the originals are in this movie, however they don't take up most of the screen, which I loved. Abrams made the right decision by introducing us to new characters as the older ones have already had their own stories told, and it's now time to see a new era. Carrie Fisher was great as Leia, and her story as well was very interesting as it crosses paths with her lover, Han Solo. Now, in my opinion two people stole the entire movie: Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Driver did an excellent job portraying the villain, and his character was beautifully told. He's not just a villain, he's an actual person. He's nothing like Darth Vader, but he's a flawed man that had a rough past. His evil presence was so great and it truly scared me. However, I understood his reasonings behind his actions, which is something I want to see in villains. They aren't simply bad people who want to rule the world, they have some sort of purpose, and I saw that with Kylo Ren. Moving on, Harrison Ford proved he can still act with his outstanding performance. In the past years, he's been a lot like Bruce Willis, where he simply gives a decent job and is usually very lazy. However, he proved he could still act as his performance was truly moving. There was one scene in particular in which Ford showed so much emotion, and it was so moving. Overall, I thought the casting choices were great and I was very impressed with it all.

One of the aspects I loved about this movie was the secrets and cliff hangers. In 'Empire' there was so much that was left unanswered. For example, Yoda mentions that there is one more Skywalker who can bring balance to the force, the obvious plot twist in which Vader reveals he's the father, and Lando and Chewie leaving to find Han as he was sold to Jabba. In tis one as well, there was so much that was explained, yet I still left the theater wanting more. That can be seen as a good or bad thing. Some may find it disappointing as they didn't get what they wanted and others may see it as a great idea that leaves you wanting to see Episode VIII. In my opinion, I thought it was a great idea as it leaves the audience wondering what will happen. I won't give any examples of what occurred due to spoilers, but it was a great idea.

There's one question everyone's been dying to know: where's Luke? All I will say is that he's in this movie and Abrams definitely had the guts to pull of what he did with him. 

Now, is 'The Force Awakens' a perfect movie? No, it's not. There were subplots I didn't find that compelling and some parts simply happened in order for the rest of the story to move along smoothly. However, it's very hard to find a movie so immersive and makes you want to watch the film in the theater like this one did. The whole experience was by far the best aspect in the entire movie, and it's very hard to find a movie like that these days. Along with that, no other movie this year had such emotional weight like 'The Force Awakens' did. There were scenes that felt so raw and beautiful, it was at times so heart-renching and tearful. The lightsaber fight that's teased in the trailers is a prime example of that. It had so much tension and emotion that it was truly something that I won't find anywhere else. It took the power of the originals and the awesomeness of the prequels and combined it to make it so epic! However, my main point is that there is simply no movie in 2015 or even the last few years that has moved me like 'The Force Awakens' did. Some critics I feel have not felt that at all probably because they've experienced something like this before with the originals back in the 1970s/80s. However, I've only seen two Star Wars movies in theaters (Revenge of the Sith and this) and 'Revenge of the Sith' was a movie I don't even remember watching. Although I did watch the amazing originals when I was young as well, I knew everything going in. The audience of the originals were like us today, they knew absolutely nothing about the movies. Unfortunately, I wasn't there to experience that, however Abrams gave it to us once again for the older generation to look back at and for the new audience to experience for the first time. As a whole, I was impressed with 'The Force Awakens'. There are a few movies where I experienced a movie, and 'The Force Awakens' is one of them. Please check this movie out as it will show you how great movies can be. 

MY SCORE: 10/10