When I was a kid; growing up watching the classic “Star Wars” movies, if you had told me then that “Episode 7” would be coming out over 3 decades later, I would have thought you were either crazy or a time traveler. After many groans of disappointment consumed George Lucas much mangled prequels, J.J. Abrams has taken on the most impossible task conceivable for any director: continue the story of “Star Wars.” With the beloved franchise in Disney’s gloved hands, it was only a matter of time before the Mouse House made progress with its latest acquisition. Has the “Star Wars” name finally returned to its former, nostalgia fueled glory? Grab your light sabers and step aboard the Milleniun Falcon as we find out.
Taking place 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has been missing for years and both the Resistance, and leftover remnants of the Galactic Empire (now called the First Order) are hunting for him everywhere. A single droid contains the clues to finding the last Jedi knight, and it winds up in the hands of a scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and an ex-storm trooper (John Boyega). Now the pair must enlist the help of old friends to get the droid to the Resistance and stop the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) from expanding the Order’s destructive reach. Sometimes avoiding hype is impossible, and with an announcement of a new “Star Wars” film continuing the story along with original stars Ford, Fisher and Hamill, even non-Star Wars fans would have astronomically high expectations.
Thankfully, Abrams apparently was the right man for the job because this film is a truly wonderful breath of fresh, fantastic life into a series that was already beloved and iconic. “The Force Awakens” is, in many ways, a freshened up flash back to the look, feel (and even some of the more memorable moments/elements) of the original trilogy. This advances the story with the best parts and feels from its predecessors, while also presenting brand new characters and visuals that advance the story in its own unique way. It’s amazing how powerful the feelings of nostalgia were in this film. You could almost way it’s a part of the film’s narrative; merging the story and characters into a brand new story that feels and sounds just like the original films in a lifetime, far, far away. Ford truly becomes Han Solo once more. You don’t see him as an aging Harrison Ford, you see Han Solo aged and withered; exactly like you think he would be after all this time.
What really sold me on this film was its leading dynamic duo: Ridley and Boyega. Two relatively unknown/fresh faces who were absolutely perfect leading characters. Their chemistry was natural and inescapably charming. I cared about these characters, I wanted to see them go on and continue their adventures, just as I did when Luke and Han worked together to rescue Princess Leia. The action sequences went above and beyond what I was hoping for. From the daring escape in the Millennium Falcon through a downed Star Destroyer, to the searing intensity of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber duel with both Ridley and Boyega. The humor was clever, on point and felt natural; especially when Ford makes his grand entrance (Hell, every line Ford has is sharp and snicker inducing.)
I honestly can’t think of any criticism I could point out without forcing it. Abrams has reinvigorated the “Star Wars” name with a worthy entry in its legacy. This respects the original films, honors them and makes excellent use of its returning cast. The new characters and cast are instantly etched into our hearts and minds as new lovable additions to the “Wars” universe, and the script and scope of the film balances fans of every size, shape, age and status: from the die-hards to the newbs. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” did not disappoint a single element, actor, expectation, visual effect, musical score or nostalgic connection. This is everything I love about “Star Wars” original trilogy and more and I expect to see this multiple times; each time ending the same way my first screening did: with thunderous applause.