Star Wars: The Force Awakens for a New Generation
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: “PG-13” (135 Minutes)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Returning to the future
Thirty years from “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” wunderkind director/producer J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible) brings us back to a richly-intricate, much beloved universe populated with iconic characters long thought abandoned to the silver screen. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. To be sure, that universe and those characters have always been there in comicbooks, prose novels, videogames, toys and board games, but now that they have (finally returned to the big screen, all of fandom has felt their collective pulse jump. For months now we have been teased with trailers and rumors of what will (or will potentially) appear when the film finally makes it into the theaters on December 18th. Now that time is here.
To cut right to the chase, while the film isn’t quite the reuniting of the Beatles that we all wanted (but never got) it really is a worthy successor to the original Star Wars trilogy. And yes, Abrams did a most excellent job directing this massive re-launch of this series (reuniting most of the (surviving) original cast). As stated at the onset, this film takes place some 30 years after the end of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. As we come to learn, Luke Skywalker (Hamell) attempted to build a new order of Jedis only to have one of their number turn on them, precipitating a tragic event which caused Luke to abandon both his friends and the Republic, retreating to parts unknown in the galaxy. The plot of the film is essentially the search for Luke.
The new heroes
As the film opens, we learn that the First Order is the current power base that has arisen out of the collapse of the Galactic Empire. The First Order — essentially populated with holdouts from the fallen Empire — is currently combing the galaxy in order to discover the whereabouts of the missing Skywalker. Meanwhile the Resistance, the military force that is backed by the Old Republic, and led by Luke’s sister (and Han Solo’s estranged wife) General Leia Organa (Fisher). Meanwhile Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the Resistance's best pilot, is sent to retrieve a legendary map purported to reveal the location of the missing Master Jedi. Unfortunately, before he can turn it over to the Resistance forces, the remote village on the planet Jakku where he acquired the map is raided, and razed by The First Order.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)
The Search for Luke Skywalker is on!
The raid, led by, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Sith Lord Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) manage to not only capture Poe but wipe out the village. Fortunately, Poe manages to pass the device containing the digital map to his droid, BB-8, which manages to escape, eventually finding its way to a junkyard settlement and befriending the scavenger Rey (Ridley). The captured Poe is brought shipboard where he is interrogated by Ren until he is freed by a recalcitrant Stormtrooper, Finn (Boyega), who is eager to toss off the restraints of the oppressive First Order. This all sets off the rest of film’s story — which essentially becomes the search for Luke Skywalker — and yes Solo (Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), along with the Millennium Falcon also appear.
Pick your favorite Star Wars Film
Which of the seven Star Wars films is your favorite?
The Force Awakens
Remembering what came before
As for the film itself, Abrams (as stated) has managed to deliver a worthy successor that manages to replicate the thrill and excitement of the original film (A New Hope) without simply mirroring the actions of that script. With Rey, Finn, and the others we now have a new group of (multicultural) heroes around which to rally. To his credit, Abrams manages to not only side-step the (oft-cited) “inappropriate” perceived ethnicity of the cast of characters from The Phantom Menace, but he also left out speeder chase through the woods/pod race scene that we personally always felt was simply fill. In its place are a some very vivid chase and battle sequences that are every bit as thrilling and exciting as anything those of us that were there in 1977 ever encountered.
Excitement on the horizon
What Abrams did right
As with the original trilogy, the film starts with the now mandatory expository screen crawl that sets up what is to follow, next we are thrown into the action of the story which takes off like a rocket, fully engaging our senses as it winds its way through the tale, as it not only introduces us to the new cast, but reintroduces us to our old friends; and yes, even though it has been 32 years since we’ve seen them, and time has very clearly taken its toll (on both the actors and characters) it somehow seems as if it was only just a few months ago, rather than just over three decades. Also, Abrams clearly has an affinity and appreciation for the original and understands what an important franchise with which he has been gifted.
Going Old School with the new film
Thus the camera wipes from scene-to-scene evoke A New Hope, plus, he has (very wisely) chosen to go Old School with the effects, opting for the rugged, haphazard look of models and puppets rather than the sleek, computerized CGI look of the second trilogy. (He has also, thankfully, chosen to ignore all talk of Midi-Chlorians in this outing.) As the film wound its way through the Hero’s journey of this new, space-age Dynamic Duo — it successfully manages to hit all the proper beats — both highs and low along the way. There are plenty of serious, dramatic moments as well as the light-hearted, silly moments that populated the first film, reminding us of why we loved these characters so much and made their story so much our own.
An epic conclusion
These are truly human characters (yes, even the funny-looking aliens), who react in truly human ways (again, yes, even the aliens) thus delivering to us yet another epic space odyssey that has injected new life (and new blood) into a timeless classic. One that is bound to bring the same kind of excitement to a new generation of fans.
© 2015 Robert J Sodaro