Star Wars delivers again

The following includes details of the new Star Wars installment The Force Awakens, Read with caution!


“This will begin to make things right”, is the first line of spoken dialogue in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS and the first line many Star Wars fans will utter as they leave the movie.  J.J. Abrams delivered as promised, and Disney has taken the first step in returning the Star Wars saga to the upper echelon of cinematography.

The anticipated scroll of yellow text accompanied by the familiar John Williams score reveals that Luke Skywalker vanished shortly after the victory at Endor, and that the fallen Empire was replaced by a new galactic government, the First Order and Rebel Alliance has been replaced by the Resistance.  The silhouette of a Star Destroyer slices across a planet reminiscent of the original Star Wars film in 1977, and just like the epic space saga is back.

The seventh film of the franchise takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi.  It is directed by J.J. Abrams, and reunites original stars Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) with new heroes Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron).

Much like the original trilogy, the film pulls you into a galaxy far far away, and places you side by side with the heroes on your own personal space adventure.  There are moments of drama and excitement coupled around the nostalgia of our heroes from the 70’s.  The new heroes are cut from the same cloth as the originals; Rey is a young scavenger from a faraway planet Jakku, a slight nod to our favorite moisture farmer on Tattoine.  Finn is a renegade Stormtrooper from the First Order who has a change of heart and goes AWOL to help Rey on her quest.  Both are brave and funny in their unique ways.  Rey is independent and acts quickly while Finn wants to be known as a freedom fighter, but he is unsure of himself.  Add Poe Dameron to the group, the Resistance’s best pilot, a dashing, swashbuckler in the mold of Han Solo, and the recipe is eerily similar to a New Hope.

Leia and Luke are both present, more for story continuity and feel than plot development, while Han and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) play central roles.  Harrison Ford’s aged Han Solo is battered and a bit broken yet wise and still full of bravado.  As in the original trilogy it is Han who utters the perfect lines at the perfect times that brings a seamless togetherness to the team of both young and old.  Add some interesting characters like Lupita Nyong’o as the aged space pirate Maz Kanta, and the team closely resembles the rag-tag group that blew up the first death star.

The First Order is anchored by some menacing performances. Captain Plasma (Gwendoline Christie) the silver armored stormtrooper has her moments but the character fails in comparison to the evil General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson).  Andy Serkis voices Supreme Leader Snoke, (the new Emperor Palpatine) a soul swallowing evil engulfed in the dark side of the force. However, it is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his devotion to Darth Vaders legend that viewers will most closely identify.

The Force Awakens has multiple directions and story arcs which hold your attention and keeps viewers guessing. It’s thick with nostalgia yet the storytelling is fresh.  The story basically revolves around a four-person tale (Rey, Finn, Han and Kylo Ren) yet the mixture of Ren’s hot temper and aggressive outbursts, Han’s wisdom and swashbuckling one liners, and the young determined innocence of Rey and Finn keeps the story moving at the perfect pace.

Although there are no “I am your father” moments, the anticipation and shock is there in a lesser sense.  Abrams jammed in plenty of eagerness, mind racing and a few jaw dropping moments that are both surprising and sad.  Without getting into spoilers, the best scene in the movie is the climactic lightsaber scene within the fozen trees.  By far the most exciting scene since Yoda lit up his saber and went fliptastic on Count Dooku.

This movie definitely begins to make things right. Like the original trilogy it concludes with us wanting more.  An in the mold of Empire Strikes Back, we all know what the next chapter holds and we can’t wait to get back to the theatre to see it.