Star Wars fans waited a decade to see the first movie in the final trilogy of the saga. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first episode made without George Lucas, and many fans felt anxious about that. The movie came out in December 2015 with a box office above $2 billion worldwide.
This number made The Force Awakens the third most successful release of all time, and as a Star Wars fan, I believe it was deserved. The new trilogy is not perfect, but its opening chapter introduced a compelling set of characters struggling once more to keep the galaxy free from tyranny.
Bottom Line Up Front
The sinister First Order threatens to undo thirty years of progress achieved by the New Republic. Star Wars: The Force Awakens tells the tale of common folk trying to survive who became embroiled in the struggle for control of a fragile galaxy.
Three decades passed after the Battle of Endor. The Rebel Alliance exploited the confusion caused by the death of Emperor Palpatine. Its fighters destroyed the core of imperial forces in a series of battles across the galaxy. As the Empire crumbled, Rebel leaders established the New Galactic Republic on the anniversary of the destruction of the Death Star II.
The first restored Galactic Senate appointed Mon Mothma as the first Chancellor of the New Republic. The fledgling government juggled the task of running a galaxy and fighting imperial remnants, but it survived its first major test.
Thanks to decisive actions and infighting among imperial ranks, the New Republic defeated what was left of the Galactic Empire to become the sole authority in the galaxy.
The New Republic spent its early years cleaning up the chaos caused by years of war. The Military Disarmament Act quickly followed the dissolution of the Empire. The small Republican military shrank even further and became a defensive force, as intended by Chancellor Mothma.
The decision frustrated Leia Organa, who believed the new government needed a powerful military to defend its existence. This rift pushed Organa out of the decision-making structure.
Mon Mothma brought peace and stability to the galaxy not seen since the High Republic. However, the end of her mandate saw chancellors that lacked the same tact and charisma take her place. Imperial sympathizers walked away from the senate and disappeared into the underworld.
The seat of the Galactic Senate moved from Chandrila to Hosnian Prime. The New Republic fell into the same pitfalls that doomed its predecessor. Senators split into two major coalitions. The Centrists wished to bring more power to the Core Worlds.
Populists advocated for more political independence in each system. This gridlock prevented the New Republic from enacting meaningful legislation and allowed shadowy forces to rise.
The First Order became the biggest threat to the New Republic. First Order leaders established an authoritarian government in the Unknown Regions with a powerful military.
While the old Republic could count on the Jedi Order for protection, the new government did not have that option anymore. Jedi Master Luke Skywalker established a new academy to train the first new generation of knights. Once the project failed, Skywalker went into exile.
Senator Leia Organa recognized the threat posed by the First Order, but her concerns fell on deaf ears. A colleague exposed her parentage to the rest of the senate, and the links to Darth Vader ended her political career.
The setback hurt her deeply, but she decided to act. Organa organized a private military force modeled after the Rebel Alliance. The Resistance incorporated New Republic and Rebellion veterans who felt disillusioned by the lukewarm response to the First Order.
Key Characters (Roles and Motivations)
Rey is a young scavenger surviving among the wrecks of Jakku. She grew up without her parents.
Finn is a First Order stormtrooper who deserted after his first combat mission. The First Order abducted thousands of children and raised them as soldiers during Project Resurrection. Finn does not know his real name and previously went only by his designation FN-2187.
Poe Dameron is a New Republic starfighter pilot and special agent serving under Leia Organa. His parents had fought against the Galactic Empire as part of the Rebel Alliance. Poe was on a mission to locate Luke Skywalker.
Leia Organa is a General leading the Resistance, a paramilitary force she founded to fight the First Order. She fought against the Galactic Empire as one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance. Leia was a Galactic Senator and the estranged wife of Han Solo.
Han Solo is a smuggler on the run from his past. He returned to his old life years after the fall of the Galactic Empire at the expense of his marriage with Leia Organa. Solo teams up with his old co-pilot Chewbacca.
Chewbacca is a talented mechanic and Wookiee warrior working as a smuggler with Han Solo after a brief retirement.
Kylo Ren is the apprentice of Supreme Leader Snoke and the leader of the Knights of Ren. He is Force-sensitive and yields a red lightsaber with a cruciform grip.
General Armitage Hux is the senior military commander of the First Order. He is a protégé of Supreme Leader Snoke but competes with Kylo Ren for his favor.
Supreme Leader Snoke
Snoke is a mysterious Force-sensitive man who leads the First Order. He is powerful with the Dark side of the Force and controls his apprentice Kylo Ren.
A Fateful Meeting in Jakku
After experiencing a renaissance following the fall of the Galactic Empire, the Jedi Order left the scene. General Leia Organa dispatched her protégé Poe Dameron to the desert planet of Jakku to help find Luke Skywalker. The Resistance leader believed that enlisting the help of a Jedi was the only way to prevent the growth of the First Order.
Dameron met with elder Lor San Tekka in the spiritual village of Tuanul to retrieve a map leading to Skywalker. Before the Resistance agent could depart, the First Order launched a raid on the settlement. Kylo Ren and his troops were also after Skywalker but wished to kill him. Poe and his informant in Tuanul knew they could not escape, so the agent hid the map data in his BB-8 droid and ordered it to flee.
The First Order stormtroopers systematically destroyed the village and its inhabitants. The brutality traumatized soldier FN-2187, who was on his first combat mission. After a brief struggle, the stormtroopers rounded up surviving villagers.
Kylo Ren executed Tekka after the latter refused to cooperate and ordered his troops to kill the others. FN-2187 failed to fire a single shot during the engagement. Amidst the chaos, BB-8 managed to escape into the desert.
Poe Dameron had attempted to ambush Kylo Ren, but the Dark Side apprentice reacted in time and captured him. The First Order raiding party returned to the destroyer Finalizer without the maps but with an agent to interrogate.
Dameron resisted traditional torture thanks to his training but cracked when Kylo Ren used the Force to read his mind. The First Order enforcer relayed the information to General Hux.
Elsewhere in the ship, FN-2187 struggled with the horrors he had witnessed. The stormtrooper hid in a shuttle and took off his helmet while hyperventilating, but Captain Phasma found him.
The commander reprimanded FN-2187 for breaking uniform protocol and requested that he submit his blaster for inspection. He knew the First Order would punish him for not firing a single shot in Tuanul and decided to desert as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
FN-2187 knew the Resistance prisoner aboard was a pilot and decided to free him as a getaway driver. The stormtrooper escorted Poe Dameron to a TIE/sf fighter in the hangar. The pair boarded the ship and fought their way out of the Finalizer.
When Dameron asked FN-2187 for his name, he replied only with his serial number. The Resistance pilot baptized him “Finn” based on the initials of his designation.
As Poe explained his mission to Finn, a missile from the Finalizer hit their ship and sent it crashing into the surface of Jakku. General Hux realized the pair might be after the maps hidden in BB-8, so he dispatched a search party to scout the crash site for survivors.
Both occupants ejected from the ship but landed far from each other. Finn only found a jacket and assumed Dameron to have perished. The stormtrooper took off his armor and put on the garment, hoping it would disguise him as he searched for a settlement in the desert.
Elsewhere in Jakku, the BB droid unit belonging to Poe Dameron made its way through the desert in search of an outpost. The Resistance operative ran into Rey, a scavenger scrapping wrecks of the Battle of Jakku. She pointed the droid in the right direction, but BB-8 insisted she traveled with it instead.
As they reached the Niima Outpost, a pair of thugs tried to steal the droid. BB-8 spotted Finn and ran to him, but Rey confronted the stranger. The former stormtrooper lied about being in the Resistance.
The pair had to put their differences asides when the First Order tracked the stormtrooper down and attacked the settlement. Rey, Finn, and BB-8 boarded an abandoned Corellian YT-1300 freighter and took off. They used the ship’s armament to destroy pursuing First Order fighters before darting into space. Kylo Ren reprimanded his subordinates for allowing BB-8 and the map to evade capture.
In space, things did not go well aboard the runaway freighter. The ship lost power, forcing its new ad hoc crew to conduct emergency repairs. Things took a surprising turn when a tractor beam arrested the Millennium Falcon. Rey and Finn believed this was the First Order but were surprised to find a human and a Wookiee smuggler duo. Han Solo and Chewbacca confronted the runaways and learned the story of their escape.
The smugglers reclaimed ownership of the Millennium Falcon. They agreed to take Rey, Finn, and BB-8 to the Resistance to help find Luke Skywalker. Their journey was interrupted by gangs boarding the Eravana freighter to collect debts from Solo. The newly minted team successfully escaped into the Millennium Falcon and jumped to hyperspace.
Han Solo set a course to Takodana to consult with his old friend Maz Kanata to find a ship that could not be traced. He explained to Rey and Finn that the New Republic, the Resistance, and First Order hoped to track down Luke Skywalker to help their causes. The Jedi Master had gone into exile out of guilt after one of his Padawans turned to the Dark Side and destroyed the reborn Jedi Order.
A Republic in Demise
Kylo Ren and General Hux had a remote meeting with Supreme Leader Snoke in Starkiller Base. Ilum was once a sacred planet where Jedi knights harvested kyber crystals for their lightsabers. The First Order carved out a massive trench along the planet’s equator to make a long-range superweapon.
Snoke granted General Hux permission to strike the heart of the New Republic. The Supreme Leader informed Kylo Ren that BB-8 and the map to Luke Skywalker were aboard the Millennium Falcon, together with his father, Han Solo. Snoke taunted his enforcer, but Kylo Ren assured him that the Dark Side would prevail. Ren later confided in private that he felt the pull to the light but hoped his link to his grandfather Darth Vader would help him stay within darkness.
At the Takodana Castle, Solo explained his predicament to Kanata, but their arrival attracted lots of attention. Informants for all parties interested in Skywalker contacted their handlers about BB-8’s presence on the planet. Finn came clean to Rey about his origins as a stormtrooper and decided to run away to the Outer Rim despite her pleas.
The scavenger had terrifying visions of the past and future after touching Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, which had stayed with Maz Kanata. The owner of the castle explained to her that she must be Force-sensitive.
A distant explosion suddenly appeared in the skies over Takodana. On the urging of General Hux, Starkiller Base had destroyed the celestial bodies in the Hosnian system, including the capital of the New Republic in Hosnian Prime. The scale of the destruction traumatized Finn, who backtracked on running away.
The First Order then launched an air assault on Takodana Castle. Maz Kanata entrusted Skywalker’s lightsaber to Finn. The former stormtrooper joined Chewbacca and Han Solo to fight the First Order troops, while Rey led BB-8 into a nearby forest. The landing party eventually overpowered the defenders and forced them to surrender until a timely intervention by Resistance starfighters freed them and killed most of the First Order soldiers on the surface.
Kylo Ren tracked down Rey and BB-8 into the woods and overpowered her. He probed her memory to find images of the holographic map contained in the droid. The apprentice felt content with the information and ordered the First Order to retreat, carrying the unconscious scavenger to his ship.
In the aftermath of the battle, a Resistance party with General Leia Organa and Captain Poe Dameron arrived at Takodana. Leia and Han Solo talked for the first time in years, reminiscing on how their son’s fall to the Dark Side drove them apart. Finn and BB-8 were ecstatic to find that Dameron was alive, and the pilot felt the same. After taking stock of the situation, they all left for the Resistance base on the planet of D’Qar.
Raiding Starkiller Base
Han Solo and Chewbacca reunited with protocol droid C-3PO in the Resistance command center. The droid explained that BB-8 only contained a fragment of the map while the rest lay within R2-D2. The astromech droid had been hibernating since Skywalker disappeared.
Finn delivered intelligence on Starkiller Base with its operational principle and vulnerabilities. The weapon in Ilum drew energy from a nearby star, and a thermal oscillator helped contain this energy in a somewhat stable manner.
The Resistance had to act fast, as intelligence indicated the First Order had located the D’Qar base and intended to attack it with the superweapon. Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Finn volunteered to infiltrate the base and disable its shields. This would allow Resistance starfighters to attack and destroy the thermal oscillator. Before departing, Han promised Leia that he would bring their son home with them.
At Starkiller Base, Kylo Ren interrogated Rey to try and find Skywalker. He attempted to probe her mind, but the scavenger fought back. Rey taunted the First Order enforcer about his insecurity next to his grandfather, which made Kylo Ren storm out to speak to Supreme Leader Snoke.
Once she was alone with a single stormtrooper, Rey tried a Jedi mind trick on him and succeeded the third time. The guard freed her and handed over his weapon, allowing her to escape into the inner corridors of Starkiller Base. Kylo Ren was enraged once he found the cell empty.
The Millennium Falcon arrived on Ilum after using lightspeed to get past the shield. Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Finn left the ship and entered Starkiller Base. The Resistance trio captured Captain Phasma and forced her to disable the shields before throwing her into a garbage chute. Rey bumped into the raiding party inside the base and joined them.
Blue and Red Squadrons of the Resistance launched an airstrike against the thermal oscillator, but First Order TIE fighters intercepted them. The operators on the ground attempted to sabotage Starkiller Base from within until Kylo Ren arrived.
The First Order enforcer confronted his father, who called him by his name Ben. The smuggler had an intimate conversation to try and convince his son to abandon Snoke and leave with him. Kylo Ren used this opportunity to mortally stab Solo with his lightsaber instead. Finn, Rey, and Chewbacca witnessed the death of Han Solo. The Wookiee wounded Ren with a bowcaster shot, but the enforcer chased Finn and Rey out of the base.
The scavenger fired at Kylo Ren with her blaster, but he deflected her shots and flung her against a tree. Finn grabbed the lightsaber handed to him at Takodana and dueled Ren, who resented him for betraying the First Order. The former stormtrooper wounded the enforcer in the arm, but Kylo Ren prevailed and slashed his back.
Kylo tried to retrieve the lightsaber that belonged to Anakin Skywalker, but Rey summoned it instead. She ignited its blade and fought aggressively against Ren, who struggled with multiple wounds. Snoke’s apprentice tried to seduce Rey into the Dark Side, but she ignored his talk and continued her attacks.
The scavenger eventually severed her opponent’s lightsaber in two. As she moved to kill him, a trench opened between the two. During their duel, Chewbacca detonated the charges inside the base, which allowed Poe Dameron and his pilots to destroy the thermal oscillator and initiate a chain reaction that ruptured the core of Ilum.
Chewbacca flew in with the Millennium Falcon to pick up Rey and Finn from the forest. The freighter and surviving Resistance ships jumped into hyperspace toward D’Qar. First Order troops chaotically attempted to leave Starkiller Base. Supreme Leader Snoke instructed General Hux to rescue Kylo Ren before departing.
The return to D’Qar was bittersweet for the Resistance. Many members celebrated the destruction of Starkiller Base, but others mourned the death of Han Solo. During the celebration, R2-D2 activated for the first time since Luke Skywalker had left.
The astromech droid approached BB-8, and the two shared their fragments to complete the map leading to the last Jedi Master. Luke was hiding in Ahch-To, an oceanic planet in the Unknown Regions.
Rey, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 boarded the Millennium Falcon and departed in search of Skywalker, while the others stayed in D’Qar. Finn recovered from his injuries in the sick bay. General Leia Organa and Captain Poe Dameron plotted their next moves against the First Order.
The freighter reached Ahch-To and found Luke Skywalker overlooking a cliff on an island. Rey offered the lightsaber that once belonged to Anakin Skywalker, hoping the last Jedi Master would join the Resistance.
My opinion on The Force Awakens depends on whether we take it as an isolated entity or as part of a trilogy.
As a protagonist, Rey was a blank slate. Her struggle to find a mentor figure in her life was endearing. To see Rey lose the first father figure she ever had made the death of Han Solo ache even more than it already did on its own. Despite that, I feel Rey only reached her potential with The Last Jedi. Her journey to become a Jedi and her complicated connection with Kylo Ren brought out one of the best Star Wars protagonists in the saga.
The Force Awakens did a fantastic job with Finn, and I wish the other two movies had followed up. The tale of a stormtrooper overwhelmed by the brutality of the system he grew up in was thrilling. His vulnerability and bravery were some of the movie highlights, and I was sad to see him take a backseat role in further episodes.
When I first watched Episode VII, I was blown away by the direction J. J. Abrams intended for the saga. At that moment, I was the happiest Star Wars fan on Earth. After Rise of Skywalker in 2019, I have to say I still enjoyed the sequels trilogy, but not as much as I wanted to.
The other two movies never captured the magic and infinite possibilities provided by The Force Awakens. The movie was not perfect and drew too much inspiration from the original trilogy. The tale of how plucky underdogs infiltrate the enemy giant base, then ships come and blow it up is not as fresh as it could be, but that is Star Wars.
Question: Is The Force Awakens the last Star Wars movie?
Answer: No. The Force Awakens is the first of three Star Wars movies released between 2015 and 2019.
Question: Who is in The Force Awakens?
Answer: The Force Awakens stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, and Jon Boyega, with many returning actors from the original trilogy.
Question: What is the movie Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens about?
Answer: The Force Awakens tells the story of how the galaxy gave into old habits again, with the authority of the New Republic challenged by the First Order.
Question: Did George Lucas like The Force Awakens?
Answer: George Lucas felt that Episode VII was not original enough. Disney did not use most of the stories suggested by Lucas during the franchise takeover.
The destruction of Starkiller Base was a victory for the Resistance. However, it was only the beginning of the armed conflict against the First Order. The New Republic effectively ceased to exist as a functioning government. Supreme Leader Snoke was in a much better position to exploit the power vacuum left behind.
The First Order had spent years building a military force capable of challenging the New Republic for power over the galaxy. The government in Hosnian Prime had blind faith in diplomatic solutions and lost the ensuing arms race.
Leia Organa and her private Resistance initiative tried to mitigate the problem, but the First Order had a quantitative and qualitative advantage. Finding Luke Skywalker gave the Resistance some hope, but even a Jedi could not defeat the First Order alone. On top of that, Skywalker had yet to accept his sister’s invitation.
Rey felt more confident in her abilities and purpose after defeating Kylo Ren in Ilum. The former scavenger realized the Force was powerful within her, but she also knew this power required training. Rey hoped Luke Skywalker could train her into a Jedi, but she knew the priority was to bring him back to help the Resistance.
For Kylo Ren, the defeat in Ilum was humiliating. He had lost against a novice opponent with no previous experience in lightsaber combat. Kylo became obsessed with Rey. He hoped to draw her into his sphere of influence as an ally and secretly harbored ambitions to overthrow Snoke with her. However, while Rey wished to see a free galaxy, Kylo wanted someone to rule the galaxy with.
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