After coming out of my local theater on December 17, I was suddenly floored with the realization of the daunting task ahead of me — writing a review for one of the most anticipated movies of, perhaps, all time. There was just so much I wanted to say about The Force Awakens, and why it’s the most epic movie I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Sadly, a lot of what I had to say just didn’t fit with the point I was trying to make, which is, of course, that Episode VII was incredible.
But it’s now been two whole weeks since the movie was released, and, having seen it five times, there are still things that must be said. With that in mind, here are my top moments that make The Force Awakens amazing. There are MAJOR SPOILERS ahead, so tread lightly if you still haven’t seen the film.
Any scene with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega
First and foremost, the performances by the new cast, especially from Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, are outstanding. They greatly outshine even the returning cast members, and don’t even bring that “new character” feeling to the screen. Within mere moments, you feel like you’ve known Rey and Finn for your whole life, even though you know next to nothing about them.
Ridley steals the show as Rey. She is so relatable, and Ridley makes the character feel so authentic and so real that it’s easy to forget that The Force Awakens is just a movie. It’s easy to root for the good guys, but Ridley takes it further. You aren’t just rooting for her; you’re on the edge of your seat, praying for her success and survival.
Any time Boyega and/or Ridley are on screen, it’s almost electrifying. And since the two of them make up nearly every scene in the movie, their greatness can’t be avoided.
Lightsabers don’t just chop off extremities anymore
The Force Awakens is full of classic Star Wars nostalgia. From Han and Chewy in the Millennium Falcon, the opening title crawl, and, “I have a bad feeling about this,” the references and allusions to previous movies are almost endless.
That being said, one Star Wars cliche that I am glad didn’t make it into the movie is the series’ penchant of chopping off limbs with lightsabers. There are only so many times that we can see someone lose an arm or a hand and still actually care about it. So in Episode VII, seeing both Finn and Kylo Ren get injured from lightsaber wounds, but not maimed or decapitated, is a glorious thing. It is, honestly, a bit anticlimactic when a fight ends in a lost limb, so this new style of lightsaber combat is a welcome change.
Rey uses the Force to pull on Luke’s lightsaber
After previously leaving Luke’s lightsaber in the hands of the wise Maz Kanata, and saying that she wants nothing to do with it, Rey Force pulls the lightsaber towards herself in the final battle, overpowering Kylo Ren’s Force abilities for the second time. This is a huge turning point in the movie, and its shiver-inducing quality make it my favorite scene in the movie.
The music here is great, but the implications are even greater: At this point, Rey accepts her role as a Jedi. And not just any Jedi. Really, she is the first major female Jedi we have ever seen. Who Rey is, exactly, still remains a mystery. But we will all be watching with anticipation to see her future play out.
Another brilliant score for John Williams
Let’s be clear right off the mark: The Force Awakens is not John Williams’ best score. One of the biggest omissions from the movie’s music is any kind of “Duel of the Fates” or “Imperial March”-like epic theme. But, throughout the quieter moments of the movie, Williams still offers up some amazing score pieces. In particular, Rey’s Theme, The Jedi Steps, and even the more upbeat March of the Resistance stand out as some of the best musical moments from the film.
The score also makes great use of Williams’ other masterful scores, often repeating The Force Theme, Han and Leia’s Theme, and even the main Star Wars Theme. Williams’ new score might even contain potential spoilers, hinting that Supreme Leader Snoke is Darth Plagueis, the Sith Lord who trained Palpatine and created Anakin, and that Luke has perhaps turned towards the Dark Side.
The Force Awakens may be the last Star Wars film that Williams will score, and although a worthy successor would be appointed should that be the case, we’ll be sad to see him go.
Han Solo’s death
One of my biggest fears going into The Force Awakens was that, being Disney property, it would have the Marvel effect: It’s fun and awesome in the moment, but three months down the road, you have almost entirely forgotten about it. But all my fears were washed away the moment that Han Solo was killed by Kylo Ren.
There’s something so final and so memorable about the death of a beloved character, and that’s something that Disney’s Marvel movies rarely experiment with. Sure, Quicksilver died in Age of Ultron, but he was only a good guy for like twenty minutes, so who really cared?
But Episode VII had the balls to kill off one of the most widely recognized Star Wars characters of all time, and maybe even one of the most famous characters in cinema history. Doing so leaves a major emotional impact, ensures that the movie will remain in our minds long after we’ve seen it, and will have us coming back to rewatch it again and again.