There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? Star Wars fans around the galaxy have been eagerly anticipating the upcoming Friday release of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Will it match up to the hype? Our guess is that reactions will be decidedly mixed.
There’s billions of dollars at the box office to be had, that much is certain. But it might not be the perfect continuation of the saga that everyone might be anticipating. It all depends on what kind of interest you have in the franchise.
Dedicated fans, it would seem, will perhaps be most content while more casual-interest viewers might find the film a touch on the tedious side. But, really, who cares about the casual viewers? The same sentiments can also be applied to the original trilogy films. Us? We found ourselves thoroughly engrossed and will definitely be THOSE kinds of fans who will go to see the film more than once. Disney/LucasFilm has crafted a gold mine.
JJ Abrams and crew have brought to life a fresh new approach to that galaxy far, far away giving it modern day relevance while at the same time keeping it super old school with much lauded practical approach to the film-making including less reliance on full CG takeovers and actually shooting the movie on Kodak Film.
Sure, there’s more than a handful of (artfully-handled) homages to the original films (including a great re-introduction to the Millennium Falcon). There’s several blink-and-miss them references but they thankfully never feel sentimentally forced or awkwardly tongue-in-cheek.
Without getting into any major spoilers (except for one giant one at the end of the article) the story is not-so-surprisingly centered most squarely on the adventures of the new crew. But that does not leave Han Solo, Princess (now General) Leia, and the marketing-shy Luke Skywalker by the wayside. The new adventures here are directly related to the original trilogy’s heroes and the paths their lives have taken since the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI.
In this new world, set approximately 20-30 years after Episode 6, we find that the history of original trilogy has fallen to forgotten memories and a lot of the triumphs and pitfalls have essentially been turned into mythical re-tellings by elders. And so we find the age-old adage that those who do not learn from history will be forever doomed to repeat it…
Enter THE DARK SIDE.
The new foe Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is an ominous force. He is powerful but a novice yet. He is part of new First Order of the former galactic Empire helping pick up the pieces of their fragmented past with the same goals of ultimately ruling the galaxy. He’s also full of fear, anger, and hate–always a good combination for those that are strong in the ways of the Force. He intends to finish what was started by the ultimate Dark One, Darth Vader.
But in his way is the new Resistance. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a star pilot and he finds himself entangled with socially-awkward Finn (John Boyega), tough-as-nails survivalist Rey (Daisy Ridley), and ever-pivotal (and so freaking adorable) BB8. Their mission takes them across the galaxy in search of the solution that could put an end to the First Order and restore the shaky balance to the Force. Sagely Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) is able to offer some guidance and also holds an important key to helping restore that balance.
Daisy Ridley stands out as the strongest of the new bunch. She packs a punch figuratively and literally. She continues the franchise trend of strong female characters and is a majorly impressive new character. John Boyega brings a light goofy charm to the cast but with an unquestionably strong moral compass. Oscar Isaac brings to life a character that hints at the roguish charm of Han Solo but is hardly a carbon copy as the brave leader and ace-pilot of the Resistance.
This new approach to the Star Wars franchise feels ripe with optimism. It thankfully bears little resemblance to the hotly maligned Episodes 1, 2 and 3 but it also does not entirely feel like the original trilogy of Episodes 4, 5, and 6. And yet the film definitely doesn’t feel, as many might have feared, like a re-tread of Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, or any number of other sci-fi-fantasy flicks of late.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS feels like its born of the same DNA of the original films while naturally and organically evolving the story into one completely suitable for today’s audiences.
Additionally, it’s clear that the new direction for the trilogies is going to take much bigger focus on its newest heroes and that was handled so delicately well. This bodes well for moving the franchise forward without feeling bogged down by its own past. Han, Luke and Leia had their time in the spotlight and this new direction seems to pay respect by not trying to recapture that glory and forcing them into relevance for a new generation. Instead, they work completely naturally into the story as supporting cast yet are completely and perfectly engrained with specific purpose into the storyline. It’s handled remarkably well.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is going to make a ton of money and we cannot wait to give it a few repeat viewings to fully appreciate the new world, characters, and direction.
Oh and before we forget…
GIANT SPOILER ALERT: As promised, we have a giant spoiler to share. In case you missed it, we posted it to Twitter right after we saw the film:
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS lands in theaters December 18, 2015.