Star Wars Review: Spoiler Free
It’s nice to say this; after 32 years, Star Wars is back.
Yes, I know there were those three little movies last decade that showed us how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader and fathered Luke and Leia, etc. But let’s be honest – somewhere along the way, George Lucas did not recapture the magic from the original trilogy.
However, J.J. Abrams has done a masterful job at resurrecting the saga under the Disney watch. Perhaps his best move was to hire Lawrence Kasdan to co-write the screenplay. Kasdan was a primary writer for both the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and his bast work is still penning Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let’s put it to you this way – he came through again.
Star Wars – The Force Awakens does a great job of blending the new with the old, or should I say the nostalgic. There’s a reason why episodes IV, V and VI were so popular – the character development of Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca was fantastic. The gang is all back, though in different roles and places than when we last saw them on the forest moon of Endor partying with the Ewoks. This film is set 30 years after.
The Empire is long gone, but has been replaced with “The First Order,” which has a World War II feel to it. The bad guy this time is Kylo Ren, who has a few skeletons in his closet as a Darth Vader wanna-be.
Han and Chewie are really the main course that fans are looking for, and Kasdan and Abrams wrote a script that does just that – they have large roles in the film. Everyone has been commenting how Luke is not featured in any of the marketing, and with good reason. His role is revealed to viewers of the film and it should be that way.
The best news is that Abrams has developed three very good characters to take this franchise deep into the next trilogy, and even better actors to portray them. Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) have gotten a lion’s share of the marketing, as fans have already gotten a taste of what they are all about. They do not disappoint. But perhaps the best surprise in the movie is Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, as a new hero that can best be described as a combination of Han Solo and an episode IV version of Luke – he’s young, confident, and has as strong screen presence. He’s very good. And we are introduced to a new droid: BB-8, who has a lot of personality and is a fun addition.
One of the best things about The Empire Strikes Back is that it was written as a chapter in the story that knew it had another following it. The original Star Wars was not written this way, for Lucas had no idea if it would be successful enough to make more films. The Force Awakens was written as the first act of a three-film trilogy, giving Abrams and Kasdan a more creative canvas to introduce new characters, begin telling their stories, and leave much to be discovered and answered in the next two films.
Where does this film rank among others in the saga? Good question. I’m going to reserve my ranking until I’ve seen it again and given it time to settle in. It’s very good though, entertaining, and definitely better than any of the prequels.
One thing is for sure – this movie is going to make a lot of dough. They’re getting my share; I went to a 10 pm screening on Thursday night and get to turn around and take my eight-year-old Friday with some of his friends for his birthday. That’s fitting actually; I was eight when I first saw Star Wars in 1977 and now my son gets his first taste of the franchise in the theater at the same age.
And Han and Chewie are a common denominator. What’s not to like?