action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 8th, 2018 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

star wars episode vii - the last jedi

It’s funny, but I just realized that it is almost exactly 1 year since I started reviewing the Star Wars movies, and I now find myself watching the most recent one. Now there was a lot of buzz about this movie but the biggest surprise was what happened after it came out. People went absolutely ape-shit on the internet over this movie, for all sorts of reasons. I can kind of understand the one bit about Princess Leia but the trolls that attacked Kelly Marie Tran really took things too far. Anyways, all of the negative media buzz concerning this movie weighed in on my mind when I finally went and saw Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, but I refused to let it ruin my day and set back to enjoy the movie.

The plot: After the destruction of the First Order’s Starkiller base, General Leia Organa orders the Resistance base on D’Qar to evacuate but a fleet of First Order Star Destroyers arrives before they can flee. General Hux, the former leader of Starkiller base, prepares to open fire on the base when Poe Dameron approaches his flag ship and opens a communication with it. As Hux speaks with Poe, Poe acts like he can’t hear him in an effort to stall for time, then he makes an attack on the First Order’s dreadnought, taking out it’s surface cannons. The ruse works as the Resistance is able to escape the base before it is destroyed and Leia orders Poe back to the fleet but Poe disobeys her orders, saying that they need to destroy the dreadnought while they have the chance. With the last of the dreadnought’s surface cannons destroyed, Resistance bombers head towards it, with Poe and other fighter craft covering them. As the bombers get close to the dreadnought, most of them are destroyed when a tie fighter crashes into one of them, causing it to explode and take most of the others with it. The last surviving bomber makes it over to the dreadnought and though badly damaged, manages to drop it’s bombs and destroy it, which brings a cheer to the Resistance members but Leia is saddened by the massive loss of life that the victory cost them. As the fleet escapes into hyperspace, Finn awakens from the injuries he sustained fighting Kylo Ren and wanders out of the med bay, only to be spotted by Poe and as Poe goes to help him get dressed, Finn asks where Rey is. On the planet Ahch-To, Rey hands Luke Skywalker his old lightsaber and he stares at it before tossing it over a cliff. Rey is shocked by his actions and after retrieving it, goes to try and speak to Skywalker but he refuses to open the door to his cabin. Rey gets Chewbacca, who knocks down the door and roars at Luke and when Rey says that Luke is coming back to the Falcon with them, Luke asks where Han is. Elsewhere, Supreme Leader Snoke hears Hux’s plan for how they will destroy the Resistance and is pleased to hear what it is. As Hux leaves to carry out his plan, Kylo Ren approaches Snoke and Snoke admonishes him for his defeat against Rey, causing Kylo to get upset after he leaves the throne room. Back on Ahch-To, Rey explains why she is there to Luke but he refuses to help her and goes about his day. Rey refuses to give up and follows him around but after a bit, she senses something with the Force and is drawn to an old tree, where she finds some ancient books inside. Luke confronts her and reveals that the books are the original Jedi texts and then questions Rey again about why she is there and when she tells him about what is happening with her, Luke tells her that she needs a teacher but he refuses to teach another generation of Jedi as he had come to the planet to die. The Resistance fleet comes out of hyperspace and as Leia chastises Poe, then discusses what their next plan should be, the First Order fleet appears behind them and starts opening fire. Finn says they should do another jump but Leia realizes that they tracked them through hyperspace, which should have been impossible, and if they did another jump they will be stuck with no fuel and at the First Order’s mercy. Poe goes to lead an attack squad against the Star Destroyers but Kylo and his squadron attack the Resistance flagship, destroying their fighter bay and all of the fighters in it. Kylo then goes to attack the bridge but when he senses Leia’s presence on board, he hesitates but his wingmen don’t and blow up the bridge, sending Leia hurtling into space. Kylo is called back as the Resistance ships have moved out of range for the Star Destroyers to cover him, but they continue chasing the fleet, picking away at their shields. Meanwhile, Leia uses the force to head back to the flagship but the effort leaves her exhausted and she is taken to the medbay, while Finn picks up the signal/tracking device Leia had to contact Rey. Back on Ahch-To, Luke sneaks onto the Falcon and is surprised to see R2-D2 on board. When Luke tells R2 that he won’t be going back, R2 plays the old message of Leia begging Obi-Wan Kenobi to help her, and Luke reluctantly agrees to train Rey. Back on the Resistance flagship, with Leia incapacitated and the rest of the leadership dead, command of the fleet has fallen to Vice Admiral Holdo and when Poe approaches her to find out what the plan is, she refuses to tell him. Meanwhile, Finn attempts to escape with the biotracker in an escape pod but he is stunned by a technician named Rose. As Finn recovers, Rose is taking him to the brig when they start arguing about the First Order being able to track them through hyperspace, which causes them to come up with an idea. Finn and Rose tell Poe their idea about sneaking on the lead Star Destroyer and taking out the tracking system long enough for them to get away. Poe contacts Maz Kanata to see if she can help them crack the First Order’s security codes but she is tied up in a labor dispute but recommends a first class hacker that can be found on Canto Bight. Meanwhile, Rey wakes up to begin her training only to see a vision of Kylo, who is also able to see her. Rey tries to attack Kylo and Kylo speaks to her but when Luke appears, the connection is severed. Luke takes Rey up to a cliff and teaches her the first lesson about the Force but as she opens herself up to it, a darkness within the island calls out to her, causing her to react via the force. As Rey stops her efforts, she comments that Luke has closed himself off from the force and Luke tells her that he has seen this much power once before and he wasn’t scared then but he is now. Meanwhile, Finn, Rose, and BB-8 head to Canto Bight to locate the master hacker but as they search for him, they end up being captured for illegally parking their shuttle on a private beach. Back on Ahch-To, Rey has another vision of Kylo, who wonders why the Force is connecting them and when she tells him she found Luke, he taunts her by asking her if he told her what happened the night the temple was burned. Luke continues the lessons and tells Rey how in the end, the Jedi were failures due to their own pride in their abilities with the Force. Rey disputes the notion but Luke tells her about how the Jedi allowed Darth Sidious to rise to power and create the Empire, and how his own pride allowed his nephew Ben to become Kylo Ren and slaughter his students. Back on Canto Bight, Finn and Rose try to figure out a way out of the cell when DJ, a hacker who is in the cell with them offers to help them. They refuse his offer but when DJ picks the lock and leaves, they leave as well, escaping into the sewers, while DJ encounters BB-8, who is knocking out the guards with coins he acquired. Finn and Rose find themselves in a stable and as the kids working in the stable move to sound the alarm, Finn and Rose tell them they are with the resistance and the kids help them escape by opening the stables and letting the racing fathiers out. Finn and Rose ride on the back of one through the city and out to the beach but the police blow up their shuttle before they can get on board so they continue riding up the cliffs. They manage to elide the police and set their mount free when BB-8 appears in a shuttle, driven by DJ, and they quickly get on board and speed off. Back on Ahch-To, Luke finally opens himself up to the Force and uses it to reach out to Leia, who calls out his name. Meanwhile, Rey continues to have conversations with Kylo and he tells her that Luke had attempted to kill him because he feared Kylo’s strength in the Force. Shaken by what Kylo told her, Rey heads to the hole that is strong in the Dark Side of the Force and ends up falling in. Inside, she finds a strange, cracked mirror, which shows myriad reflections of herself and when she tries to see her parents, she only sees herself again. Rey talks with Kylo about her experience and as they continue talking, they tell each other they are not alone and touch each other through the Force. Luke enters Rey’s cabin and seeing what is happening, yells out for them to stop, destroying the cabin in the process. Luke angrily yells at Rey to leave the island and Rey asks if what Kylo told her is true. The two end up fighting and Rey ends up besting Luke when she uses the Force to grab Anakin’s old lightsaber and uses it on him, causing him to stumble and fall to the ground. Luke tells her that he had sensed a darkness in Kylo and when he looked into his mind, realized that Snoke had already turned him. Luke reacted on instinct and activated his lightsaber but couldn’t bring himself to kill Kylo but Kylo realized Luke’s initial intention and struck down Luke and destroyed his school. Rey tells Luke that she had sensed Kylo’s turmoil and feels that she could bring him back to the light and despite Luke telling her not to leave, she takes off with Chewie and R2-D2. After they leave, Luke goes to destroy the ancient Jedi texts and the tree/temple when he sees the Force Spirit of Yoda watching him. When Luke can’t bring himself to do it, Yoda summons a lightning bolt to destroy the tree and texts and when Luke argues about it, Yoda tells him that they offered nothing that Rey didn’t already know. Yoda then tells Luke that he needed to pass on what he had learned, and that included his failures as they were more important to learn from. Meanwhile, Finn and Rose are making their way to the First Order fleet and when DJ tells them he expects to be paid for his services, they tell him the Resistance will pay him when they are done and Rose gives him her necklace as a down payment. Elsewhere, the Resistance fleet has lost both of it’s escort craft and when Poe goes to see Holdo to demand to know what their plan is, he discovers that she is fueling the escape craft and plans on having everyone abandon ship. Poe is angry that she is willing to risk everyone’s lives in unarmed ships and tells her about his plan with Finn and Rose and when Holdo refuses to change her plan, Poe leads a mutiny and takes command of the ship. As Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 sneak onto Snoke’s ship, Rey tells Chewie to jetison her in the escape pod and wait for her signal to return, then leaves the ship and heads to Snoke’s ship as well. She is met by Kylo, who places her in manacles and takes her up to see Snoke. Finn, Rose, DJ, and BB-8 make it to the tracking system but are captured by Captain Phasma and as Poe, who was in contact with them, despairs over their capture, he is shocked to see Leia break through the door to the bridge and stun him. Lei has Poe loaded onto one of the escape shuttles and as she discusses the plan with Holdo, Holdo says she has to stay aboard and pilot the flagship to make sure the shuttles are able to escape and though Leia is saddened by the sacrifice, she knows Holdo is right. When Poe recovers, Leia points out the nearby planet Crait and explains that there is a former Rebellion base on the planet that is heavily fortified and should allow them to contact their allies in the Outer Rim while the First Order passes them by. On Snoke’s ship, Snoke reveals that he had facilitated the connection between Rey and Kylo, as he knew Rey would fall into his trap so he could either kill her or turn her. Meanwhile, DJ is revealed to have cut a deal with the First Order and told them of the Resistance’s plan and they begin firing on the escape shuttles. Meanwhile, Snoke continues to taunt Rey and reveals the Resistance shuttles being destroyed. Snoke orders Kylo to kill Rey but as Kylo moves to do so, he secretly maneuvers Anakin’s lightsaber so that it is facing Snoke, then activates it, cutting Snoke in half. Rey and Kylo then proceed to fight off Snoke’s guards and after killing them, Rey tells Kylo to call off the attack on the shuttles but he refuses, saying that they should get rid of the old and she should rule at his side. Rey refuses and they end up fighting over Anakin’s lightsaber, eventually causing it to be split in two, knocking them both out. Meanwhile, Holdo maneuvers the flagship towards the First Order fleet and jumps to light speed, sacrificing herself by crashing into Snoke’s ship and destroying or damaging several of the smaller Star Destroyers while buying time for the remaining shuttles to make it to the surface. Finn and Rose, who were about to be executed, attempt to escape in shuttle but are forced to deal with Phasma and her stormtroopers but manage to escape with BB-8’s help, who had taken over an AT-ST. Meanwhile, Hux heads to the throne room and sees Snoke dead and Kylo lying unconscious on the floor. Hux moves to kill Kylo when Kylo regains consciousness, saying that Rey killed Snoke and demanding to know where she is. When Hux tells Kylo that she escaped in Snoke’s escape pod, Kylo orders their troops to the planet’s surface to finish off the Resistance and when Hux questions Kylo’s authority, Kylo force chokes him into accepting Kylo as the new Supreme Commander. On Crait, the Resistance prepare to hold off the First Order, Finn sees that the First Order has a battering order cannon with them and warns that it will crack open the shield door in seconds. The Resistance starts to lose hope, especially when they learn the shield door is the only way in or out, but Finn says they have to have hope that their allies will come and they should hold out until then. The Resistance forces head out to the surface, while Poe, Finn, and Rose lead a squad of pilots in ancient Rebellion speeders to take out the battering ram cannon. AS Kylo orders the support Tie-Fighters to take out the speeders and ground troopers, the Tie-Fighters come under fire by the Millennium Falcon, with Rey and Chewie on board, and the fighters all go after it. Poe leads the speeders towards the cannon but as they start getting picked off, he tells everyone to break off the attack. Finn refuses to listen and continues towards the cannon, intending to sacrifice himself to destroy it, but Rose crashes her ship into his, knocking them both out of the way as the cannon fires and blasts a hole in the door. Finn rushes over to Rose’s ship to see if she is still alive and asks why she did that and she tells him that the way they will beat them is not by destroying what they hate, but saving what they love. Inside the base, the Resistance learns that their distress signal has been received in numerous systems but nobody is coming to help them and Leia says that they must have finally run out of hope. Suddenly, Luke appears in the base and speaks with Leia, apologizing for what happened to Ben (Kylo) and saying that he is there to face him. Luke heads outside to confront Kylo and when he sees him, Kylo orders his troops to open fire on him but Luke is seemingly unfazed by their attack so Kylo orders his shuttle to land so he can confront him. Poe and the remaining Resistance troops watch Luke and Finn wants to help him but Poe realizes that Luke is stalling so that they can escape. As Poe tells everyone to try and find another way out, he notices that the crystal foxes that were in the base have vanished. Bringing that to everyone’s attention, they all see one last fox staring at them before making it’s way down a tunnel and they all follow after it. They eventually catch up to it at the site of a recent landslide and Poe starts to give up hope when Rey, who had been searching for them, uses the Force to lift the boulders away, allowing the Resistance to escape. Meanwhile, Luke and Kylo are fighting when Luke suddenly stops, as he knows his stalling has worked, and when Kylo moves to kill him, his blade goes right through Luke, revealing that Luke was simply a Force projection all along. As Luke disappears, Kylo realizes he has been tricked and sends his forces into the base but they find it empty. On Ahch-To, Luke ends up dying from his exertion battling Kylo, with both Leia and Rey feeling him pass. Kylo senses Rey and the two stare at each other through the Force before Rey closes the door to the Falcon and they leave. As the surviving members congratulate each other on surviving, Leia and Rey speak about feeling Luke’s passing, With Leia saying that the Rebellion is reborn. On Canto Bight, The children that helped Finn and Rose escape are reenacting Luke Skywalker’s stand against Kylo and the First Order when the stable manager yells at them. As they rush off to get back to work, one of them uses the Force to summon a broom to his hand and starts sweeping before staring up into the stars.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi honors the saga’s rich legacy while adding some surprising twists — and delivering all the emotion-rich action fans could hope for.” When filming, Laura Dern said “pew” every time she shot her blaster. Although not audible, one such instance even made it into the finished film. It can be noticed in the close-up shot when Holdo is stunning her opponents. With the passing of Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels is the only actor to appear in all 8 of the main Star Wars films. Though it didn’t earn as much as it’s predecessor, the movie was a box office smash, earning $1.333 billion off of a $317 million budget.

Here’s the deal. When you watch any of the new Star Wars movies, you have to ask yourself one question before you start; Was this movie worse than Episode I? With that being said, this wasn’t what I would consider a great follow up but it was a good movie, and definitely better than The Phantom Menace. The acting was good, with Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), and Adam Driver (Kylo) doing good jobs reprising their roles. I also thought that Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were good reprising the roles of Luke and Leia respectively, while Kelly Marie Tran did a good job as Rose. The story was honestly a little disappointing because you had so many side things going on at once. Granted, the movie seemed to resemble Empire Strikes Back in some regards but while George Lucas did a good job keeping the different sub-plots flowing smoothly, the sub-plots in The Last Jedi seemed to keep jumping around at random in such a way that they felt disjointed with each other, until the last 30 minutes or so where they started to rejoin each other. Speaking of resembling Empire, the last battle on Crait really did feel like it was the Battle of Hoth, just with different equipment. Now, for the scene that brought about so much anger. Seeing as how she was the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, there was always a chance that Leia would be Force sensitive. In fact, she showed her abilities starting to emerge at the end of Return Of The Jedi. So to assume that in the years after the fall of the Empire, that she would not have undergone at least some basic training with Luke is pretty silly notion (in the old Star Wars books, Leia was actually trained by another Jedi, as she felt Luke was going to soft on her). Now, I will admit that the scene itself was quite a bit over the top, okay it was REALLY over the top, but it wasn’t as far fetched of a thing as the haters claimed it to be. The special effects were incredible and the colors and imagery in the scenes were amazing to see. I loved the battle in Snoke’s throne room, where Kylo and Ren fight the guards against the solid red backdrop of the walls and curtains, with the curtains catching fire and falling among them adding to the raw emotion in the scene. I also liked the sand that turned red on Crait, as it made for a nice way to liven up the otherwise barren battle scene. So it is a good movie and did do a good job in being the midpoint in a trilogy but it needed to nail down a couple of issues to be considered truly great.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 16th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Star Wars Trailer

 

In 2012, the deal of the century was made when it comes to Hollywood, as George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for just over $4 billion. This means that Disney, who already had a newfound  cash cow going with the MCU, now had control of arguably one of the biggest movie/pop culture franchises of all time. It wasn’t long after the purchase that the news came out that a new trilogy was being worked on, with the first entry getting a release date of 2015. Now I have been a Star Wars fan for a long, long time, but I will admit that I was a little nervous about Disney getting a hold of Star Wars, with my biggest fear being that they will make it too kid friendly and lose some of the dark tones that made the original movies so great. Despite my worries, I had no problem going to see it and obviously enjoyed it, as I bought it when it came out on video, so let’s get set for the new adventure in a galaxy far, far away with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

The plot: 30 years after the death of the Emperor and the destruction of the second Death Star, a new regime known as the First Order has risen up and seeks to overthrow the New Republic. A resistance, led by General Leia Organa, tries to stop the First Order while also seeking out Luke Skywalker, who has disappeared years ago. On the planet Jakku, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets with a village elder, Lor San Tekka and receives a map to where Luke is hiding. Suddenly, his astromech droid, BB-8, alerts him to the arrival of 4 First Order troop carriers, and he quickly makes a run for it but his X-wing is damaged. Poe gives the map to BB-8 and tells him to run, then tries to help the villagers by shooting several stormtroopers. The stormtroopers quickly round up the villagers, killing those that fight back, and wait as a shuttle lands and Kylo Ren, the newest Sith Lord, departs and proceeds to question Lor before killing him with his lightsaber. Poe attempts to shoot Ren, who stops the laser blast with the Force and freezes Poe, allowing some stormtroopers to take him prisoner. Ren orders Poe taken aboard his ship, then orders Captain Phasma to kill the remaining villagers but one of the stormtroopers, who had been affected by the death of another trooper, does not fire his weapon. As they return to their Star Destroyer, Poe is taken away while the stormtrooper, FN-2187, is told to report to Phasma’s division to explain his lack of action in the village. Back on the planet’s surface, a scavenger named Rey is grabbing materials to sell from a crashed Imperial Star Destroyer and heads to the nearby town to sell the materials. After returning home and eating some food, Rey investigates a commotion and finds another scavenger attempting to capture BB-8 and she quickly rescues the droid and reluctantly allows him to come home with her when he keeps attempting to follow. The next day, Rey takes BB-8 with her to sell her salvage and when the merchant offers to buy BB-8, she considers it but refuses his offer and leaves with BB-8, not knowing that the merchant contacts someone to steal the droid from her. Back on the Star Destroyer, Ren begins interrogating Poe and, using the Force, learns that the map is with BB-* and orders his men to find it. Some time later, FN-2187 takes Poe from the interrogation room and, pretending to be transferring the prisoner, sneaks him into an empty compartment and says he will help Poe escape if he takes him with him. Poe and Finn, what Poe decides to call the stormtrooper, sneak into a Tie-fighter and, after blasting the hangar while still tethered, manage to escape from the Star Destroyer and Poe heads back to Jakku to collect BB-8 but they are struck by a missile and end up crashing to the surface. When Finn regains consciousness, he goes looking for Poe but only finds his jacket before the wreckage disappears beneath the sand and explodes. Shedding his stormtrooper armor and donning Poe’s jacket, Finn makes his way to town and witnesses 2 men attempt to grab BB-8 from Rey but as he goes to try and help her, she manages to knock them both out. As Rey releases BB-8 from the bag they put him in, BB-8 sees Finn wearing Poe and cries out, causing Rey to notice him and chase him down. Knocking Finn to the ground, Rey questions him about the jacket and he explains that he helped Poe escape from the First Order but that Poe died when they crashed. Suddenly, they see a pair of stormtroopers being pointed in their direction and Finn grabs Rey and starts running, with the stormtroopers firing at them as they chase after them. The stormtroopers call in for some air support and a pair of Tie-fighters arrive and begin blasting the city. Rey, Finn, and BB-8 try to escape in a ship but when it blows up, they board an old Corellian YT-1300 freighter, with Finn manning the lower gun turret while Rey attempts to fly them out of there. After making their way through the wreckage of a Star Destroyer, and Finn shooting the two Tie-figters, Rey takes them into space but says she has to go back, as she is waiting for her family to come back and get her. Finn convinces her to help him get to the Resistance base, then secretly asks BB-8 to tell them where the base is. Before they can leave, their ship is captured by a larger freighter and they quickly hide only to be discovered by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who had seen the freighter and recognized it as their stolen Millennium Falcon. Han wants to get rid of them but when Finn says that BB-8 has a map leading to Luke Skywalker and they need to get to the Resistance, Han pauses and turns to face them. Suddenly, they hear a noise and when Han checks his ship’s sensors, they see a ship docking with them so he tells Rey and Finn to hide. Han is confronted by two gangs that he swindled money from and Rey tries to help by sealing the gangs behind the blast doors but accidentally releases two of the Rathtars that Han and Chewie were transporting. As the Rathtars begin attacking everyone, Han, Chewie, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 manage to get on board the Falcon, though Chewie is injured in the process, and escape but one of the gangs contacts the First Order to let them know that Han has the droid. Kylo Ren and General Hux go to see the First Order’s Supreme Commander Snoke and inform him of the latest developments and suggests they use their newest weapon to destroy the Republic, weakening the aid for the Resistance. After Hux leaves, Snoke speaks with Ren, asking if he will have a problem in his mission since Han Solo is his father but Ren says he means nothing to him. On the Falcon, Han asks to see the map that BB-8 has and after seeing it, says the map is incomplete. Rey asks what happened to Luke and Han says that Luke had been training a new generation of Jedi but one of his apprentices turned on him and destroyed everything. Luke felt responsible for what happened and simply left everything and rumors had him seeking out the first Jedi temple. Han agrees to help them get to the Resistance and heads for the planet Takodana and meets with Maz Kanata to get her help, but as they walk with her, a droid contacts the Resistance to inform them of BB-8’s location while a second patron contacts the First Order with the same information. As Maz is speaking with the group, she stares at Finn and says she sees the eyes of someone who is running, then points at two smugglers who are heading to the Outer Rim and Finn leaves to go talk to them. Rey follows and asks what he is doing and Finn asks her to come with him but when she refuses, he tells her to take care and leaves. Rey feels something compelling her to head down to the lower levels of the bar, where she finds a chest containing a lightsaber. When she touches it, she suddenly sees visions of Luke’s past, as well as her own, before seeing a future vision of her fighting Ren and she quickly drops the lightsaber and backs out of the room. Maz approaches her and explains that the lightsaber had belonged to Luke and now calls out for her but Rey doesn’t want anything to do with it and quickly runs from the building. Meanwhile, General Hux is giving a speech his troops as they prepare to fire the Starkiller, a planet that has been converted into a weapon more powerful than the Death Star, and they all watch as the beam fires, destroying the Republic capital and several smaller planets, as well as portions of the Republic’s fleet. On Takodana, Finn, Rey, Han, and Chewie, as well as several other patrons see the beam and the planets destructions. Finn goes back to Hand and Chewie and asks where Rey is and Maz hands Finn the lightsaber and tells him to give it to Rey, just as the First Order arrives and begins attacking. In the forest, Rey and BB-8 are running from some stormtroopers and Rey tells BB-8 to keep moving while she holds them off but she ends up being captured by Ren. Meanwhile, Finn, Han, and Chewie are captured by the First Order but are rescued when Resistance X-wings arrive and begin fighting the First Order. Ren orders his troops to fall back and Han and Finn see Ren carrying Rey on board his shuttle and leaving. When a Resistance transport arrives, Han is reunited with Leia and he tells her he saw their son. As they are taken back to the Resistance base, Finn finds out that Poe is still alive and the two friends embrace before Finn asks Poe for his help. Poe takes Finn to see Leia, and Finn says he knows about the Starkiller base and offers to tell them what he knows in exchange for her help in rescuing Rey. BB-8 gives them the map, which C-3P0 says matches no system in their charts, then BB-8 approaches the powered down form of R2-D2 and tries to get him to function but 3P0 approaches and says R2 hasn’t moved since Luke left. Back on Starkiller Base, Ren attempts to interrogate Rey with the Force to learn Luke’s location but Rey’s is able to resist and senses that Ren is scared he will never be as powerful as Darth Vader. Ren approaches Snoke and tells him of the situation and when Snoke asks about the droid, Hux appears and says that Ren said the droid wasn’t necessary since he had Rey and that it is probably in the hands of the Resistance. Not wanting the Resistance to locate Luke, Snoke orders Hux to use the Starkiller on the Resistance and Hux orders the weapon to charge, drawing it’s energy from a nearby sun to power it. Meanwhile, Rey is able to use the Force to influence her guard into freeing her and she leaves before Ren returns to take her to Snoke. Back at the Resistance Base, they learn that the Starkiller Base is charging to fire again and that they are it’s target. Finn tells them how they can destroy the base but he will need to be on the surface to do it and Han says he can get him there. As the Resistance prepare for the mission, Leia approaches Han and as they talk, she asks that he try and bring their son back alive. Han, Chewie, and Finn had off in the Falcon and reach the planet, breaking through their shield by coming in at light speed. Once they get inside the base, they capture Captain Phasma and have her lower the shields so the Resistance fighters can make their attack run. Finn wants to try and locate Rey but Han points behind them to show that Rey had escaped. They meet up with her, and Rey hugs Finn when she learns that the rescue was his plan, and they head outside but when they see that the Resistance fighters are not making any progress in destroying the weapon, Han says they can’t leave and they head to the firing oscillator, where Han and Chewie begin planting explosives inside. When Ren shows up inside the facility, Han goes to confront him, calling him by his real name, Ben. Ren seems to feel remorse and moves to hand over his lightsaber but as the star’s energy is finally drained, Ren stabs Han in the chest with his lightsaber. Han lovingly touches Ren’s face before falling down the shaft and Chewie roars in anger and loss before shooting Ren in the side, then detonating the explosives. Seeing the opening caused by the explosives, Poe has the remaining members of his team cover him as he flies inside, destroying the power cells from the inside and causing the weapon to explode. As Finn and Rey make their way back to the Falcon, they are confronted by Ren, who uses the Force to shove Rey into a tree, stunning her. Finn uses Luke’s lightsaber to attack Ren but Ren is able to overpower him and slashes Finn in the back. Ren then attempts to summons Luke’s lightsaber to his hand but it instead flies into Rey’s hand, who begins fighting with Ren. Ren starts to overpower her and says he can show her the ways of the Force but when she hears that, Rey calms down and is able to channel the Force to help her, eventually defeating Ren and slashing him across the face, leaving a scar. Before she can finish him off, the planet starts breaking apart due to the stored energy from the star and a chasm separates the two of them. Rey goes to Finn’s body just as Chewie shows up with the Falcon and they load him on board and leave the planet before it explodes, while Snoke orders Hux to bring Ren to him to complete his training. At the Resistance base, Finn is placed in a medical tank while Leia and Rey hug over the loss of Han. R2 reactivates and displays a map, with BB-8’s portion of the map showing the way to reach Luke. Rey leaves with Chewie and R2 and heads to the planet located on the map, where she finds Luke and hands him back his lightsaber.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens met with high praise from the critics, holding a 93% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.” In a tragic story of life imitating art, Mark Hamill and John Boyega lobbied director J.J. Abrams and Disney to allow Daniel Fleetwood, a Star Wars fan diagnosed with terminal cancer, to see the film early as he was not expected to live to see the movie released in theaters; which was similar to the plot of the movie Fanboys, where some friends attempted to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace before it hit theaters so their sick friend could see it. The Force Awakens was a box office juggernaut, earning $2.068 Billion off of a $306 million budget, making it the highest grossing installment in the franchise (unadjusted for inflation), the highest grossing film in North America, and the third highest grossing film of all time.

 I have to admit, Disney did a good job with this one. The acting was pretty good, with the new stars of Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), and Oscar Isaac (Poe) doing great jobs in their roles and taking up the reigns for a new generation. I like the glimpses we were given of Snoke and look forward to his development as the main bad guy but I was a little undecided about Adam Driver (Ren) but I think the emo, temper tantrum throwing portrayal was actually doing a halfway decent job in showing the struggle he was going between staying on the path to the Dark Side with Snoke or going back to the Light Side as he was taught by Luke and his family. Harrison Ford (Han), Peter Mayhew (Chewie), and Carrie Fisher (Leia) did good jobs reprising their roles but I wished they at least stated whether or not Han and Leia had gotten married. The story was good, but I have to admit that the similarities between this movie and A New Hope were too many to make it seem like this wasn’t more than a remake, which did hurt it some. The special effects were definitely top notch and were everything you would expect from a Star Wars movie. I also liked how rough and unpolished the lightsaber fights were, as even though Ren had some training, he is still struggling with his conflicting emotions (indicated by his tantrums and wildly slashing at objects), while Rey and Finn had no training so they would just wildly swing at Ren when they fought him. A really good movie but there is room for improvement with their storytelling in the future.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
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