The Force Awakens is my favorite Star Wars movie

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, April 9, 2016

by Lauren Bradshaw

I don’t think I have ever known less about a much-anticipated, blockbuster movie than I did about THE FORCE AWAKENS, and I think that is one reason that this film is my favorite of the franchise.

Yes, dramatically rub your eyes. You just read that right. THE FORCE AWAKENS beats THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK by a Chewie hair in my rank of STAR WARS films.

And not only that, it is easily in my top 3 favorite movies of the past year; maybe even taking the top spot. I hate to build this movie up so much, but then again, this is STAR WARS, so you probably are hyped up already and you are only supposed to be reading this review if you’ve already seen the movie, right? RIGHT?! Just because I don’t trust you, I have tried to be as spoiler-free as humanly possible. Though after you see the movie, you are going to see how hard it was not to scream about two scenes in particular.

Where to begin? I wrote this an hour after seeing the film, so I know I am in prime fangirl freakout mode right now, meaning this review will be more of what I would scream into a pillow than coherent thoughts. However, let’s start his thing off describing the general plot. Following the events of RETURN OF THE JEDI, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) set up a Jedi school to train gifted children in the powers of the force. However, when one powerful student rebels and turns to the dark side, a devastated Luke goes into hiding; no one has seen or heard from him since or are aware of his location.

That is, until skilled pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) recovers a map to Luke’s location. To keep it out of the hands of the dark side’s First Order, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Poe hides the map in his droid, BB-8… kinda like what Leia did with R2-D2 in A NEW HOPE. He tells BB-8 to go as far away from danger as possible and he will come back later to retrieve it. But, of course, it’s never that simple. When it becomes clear that Poe may not return, BB-8 joins with Rey (Daisy Ridley), a young scavenger who trades her findings for food, and later Finn (John Boyega), a reformed Stormtrooper. BB-8 informs his new friends about the critical mission, and the three set off to deliver the map back to the resistance, now led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher). They also join with a few other recognizable characters :wink wink: to face off against the First Order, which is preparing for its latest genocidal mission.

Director J.J. Abrams (STAR TREK, LOST) made a freakin’ fantastic STAR WARS movie. I say that because it totally has that signature STAR WARS feel. I love that Abrams included transition wipes from scene to scene like George Lucas. And there are seriously so many badass dogfights between TIE fighters and X-Wings (perhaps with a certain Millenium Falcon thrown in there, too), as well as dark vs light side power duels and OF COURSE lightsaber vs. lightsaber battles.

I was also really excited to see the original cast reunited for Episode VII. And luckily for us, Han Solo and Chewbacca get some serious screen time. However, this is clearly the start of a franchise reboot, and the heart of this film is pulsating through the incredible new cast. From Daisy Ridley to Adam Driver and John Boyega, there are absolutely no weak links; everyone had a distinct presence in front of the camera and chemistry between each other. And throughout the film, you can tell how much fun the new and old cast members are having running around the practical sets; it’s this energy that makes THE FORCE AWAKENS an incredibly entertaining day at the movies.

But let’s be real, BB-8 has totally stolen the show. BB-8 is easily one of my favorite movie characters in years. He/she is so adorable and expressive! It’s amazing what the puppeteers were able to do with the character. I swore if anything happened to BB-8 I would never go to the movies again, and I will say (for those of you who are still reading without seeing the movie) nothing bad happens! Breathe a sigh of relief.

Next up is Daisy Ridley as Rey. I am in awe of how much THE FORCE AWAKENS allows a girl to lead the film and be the hero! I had a good feeling about Rey’s role in Episode VII from her placement on the poster and screen time in the trailer, but you never know. Sure enough, she is one of the best female characters I have seen on film in a long time and plays the most critical role in the film. Rey is smart, independent and is incredibly powerful with the force, even though she has no training. I promise not to give too much away, but I just have to say/scream… she is the only character that is able to give Kylo a run for his money. Also, I loved that a lot of the time it was Rey saving Finn, or her proving she can take care of herself, as opposed to the other way around.

Speaking of Finn, Boyega and Oscar Isaac (along with Harrison Ford, of course) provide some hilarious comic relief, making sure Episode VII had a bit of the humor we have come to know and love from the franchise… and not the slapstick kind of humor from episodes I-III. Boyega is the epitome of charismatic, and I loved his arc from AWOL Storm Trooper to courageous fighter in the resistance. Well, kinda… more a fighter for Rey than a member of the resistance.

And of course, I have to mention the members of the dark side. Adam Driver certainly takes over for Darth Vader, helmet and all. He is as evil as they come, and especially in one particular scene, which made me scream internally NOOOOO. Like Darth Vader, it’s clear he will be major trouble throughout the rest of the franchise. I wish Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma had a bit more screen time, but I have confidence she will be a critical component of the sequels or even get a movie of her own! After all, she is definitely the Boba Fett of Episode VII.

As you can see, I could talk about this movie for hours. So I will spare your eyes, and my fingers from anymore writing. But seriously, I cannot say this strongly enough. If you didn’t heed my previous warning and are reading this without having seen the film, I hope you purchase the movie. It just hit shelves earlier this week.

My Review: A+

LAUREN BRADSHAW grew up in Courtland, graduated from Southampton Academy and doubled-majored in foreign affairs and history at the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area and can be reached at