Star Wars: The Force Awakens Continues the Legacy (spoiler-free review)

Everything you’ve heard about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is true…which is very little.  A veil of secrecy has been thrown over the movie like a blanket over a lamp, but for good reason.  Going into the movie knowing as little as possible is the best way to see it.  The original Star Wars trilogy was known for its earth-shattering revelations and this movie is no different.  Do you remember how you felt when you learned that Vader was Luke’s father?  Or that Leia and Luke were brother and sister?  If you had a friend who ruined it for you, then you know how much that takes away from the fun.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Han Solo (Harrison Ford)..Ph: Film Frame. Copyright 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd.; TM. All Right Reserved..
Star Wars: The Force Awakens..Han Solo (Harrison Ford)..Ph: Film Frame. Copyright 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd.; TM. All Right Reserved..

As you can imagine with 30+ years of suspense, there are a LOT of questions.  Besides asking, “What happened after Return of the Jedi?” the trailers for the new movie have raised other questions.  Why isn’t Han with Leia? Where is Luke? And how do the new characters tie into everything else?  Many questions are answered after seeing The Force Awakens…and many more are created.  But the most pressing question people have wondered is not about any specific aspect of the film, but how well this new movie fits into the Star Wars universe.  And the answer to that is “perfectly.”  J.J. Abrams has done an amazing job of continuing storylines in a way that stays true to the original trilogy while still telling its own unique tale.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: BB-8 on Jakku. Ph: Film Frame. Copyright 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd; TM. All Right Reserved..
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: BB-8 on Jakku. Ph: Film Frame. Copyright 2014 Lucasfilm Ltd; TM. All Right Reserved.

The biggest compliment I could give it is this: It feels like Star Wars.  The ships, the armor, the characters all have that ephemeral quality that makes Star Wars the franchise that it is.  Although Abrams has added to it, made parts of it shiny and new, it still has that echo or ring to it that makes it special. X-wings are sleeker, Star Destroyers are deadlier, Stormtroopers are more menacing, but they all are familiar.  BB-8, the newest droid introduced into the Star Wars universe, feels like R2’s little brother. He is funny, sweet, clever, and cute and he fits right in with the rest of the group.  Of all the returning characters, Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Han Solo is the biggest standout.  Even after more than three decades, he brings a style, a charm, and a panache to the character much as he did when both he and Han were younger.  He doesn’t miss a beat.

L to R: Poe, Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All photos courtesy of Disney
L to R: Poe, Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All photos courtesy of Disney

Most amazing of all were the new actors who stepped into their roles for the first time.  Somehow they were able to find a group of talented actors who could make as big a difference as Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford did when they first arrived on the scene.  Daisy Ridley played Rey as a tough, confident, intelligent, resourceful woman who can easily handle herself well.  John Boyega made Finn charming and chivalrous, even when unasked for.  And Oscar Isaac portrayed Poe as a quick-thinking, sharp pilot capable of leading others and a guy you’d look to in a pinch of trouble.  Adam Driver did a great job playing a complicated character like Kylo Ren adding depth and complications to Ren’s troubled soul.  Perhaps most amazing of all was Lupita Nyong’o’s portrayal of Maz Kanata.  Abrams gave high praise to her abilities and portrayal of this fully CGI character and all of it well-deserved.  While she is only in a segment of the film, her character lights up the screen every time she is there.

Run don’t walk to see this movie.  Now excuse me as I buy tickets to see it again.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens officially opens in theaters on Friday the 18th. 

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