‘The Force Awakens’ is a promising start

star wars

If you haven’t seen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” yet, do not read this post! Because, yes, it’s filled to the brim with spoilers.

I saw “The Force Awakens” last weekend, and I’m totally smitten with this film. It is–dare I say it–the best of the franchise, solely because J.J. Abrams listened to nearly 15 years of criticism about the lambasted second trilogy. He took all the protests and created something contemporary and vintage at the same time.

The best parts of “The Force Awakens” hearken back to the original–the different planets, relationships, jokes, scene setups and even a similar plot–giving it the feel of a re-imagining rather than a flat-out sequel. Much of this should be credited to Lawrence Kasdan, the original writer for “The Empire Strikes Back,” who helped Abrams develop the new script. The astounding writing creates new worlds that look like the old–Jakku, for example, looks like Tattooine– and new characters that are instantly likeable, despite the omnipresent cast of the original trilogy.

It’s on Jakku that we meet our heroine, Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), a junkyard scavenger with a plucky can-do attitude that, frankly, reminded me how whiny Luke was in “A New Hope.” She is complimented by Finn (played by John Boyega), an on-the-run ex-Stormtrooper who has inherited a droid that carries something very precious. Ridley and Boyega are so perfect in their respective roles. They have incredible on-screen chemistry, are funny as hell and showcase such range!

Even the baddies are so good, it hurts. Kylo Ren is a samurai-esque version of Darth Vader, mask and heavy breathing down pat. When he’s revealed to be actor Adam Driver, I almost laughed out loud in the theater because I’m used to him in Lena Dunham’s HBO show “Girls.” He only become terrifying when he’s revealed to have an explosive temper and very few qualms. In a scene so deeply reminiscent of the original trilogy, Kylo Ren kills his father who happens to be…Han Solo. Kylo Ren is Han Solo and Leia Organa’s son, Ben Solo, who attended Luke Skywalker’s Jedi academy and was seduced by the Dark Side. Hey, what would Star Wars be without a little family drama?

There are plenty of wonderful throwbacks in this movie for the diehards too: Rey chilling on a fallen Imperial Walker and then subsequently calling the Millenium Falcon “garbage”; a lightsaber battle in the snow; and a much nicer cantina scene. But overall, the reason I really enjoyed this movie, is that it doesn’t necessarily feel like you need to know everything about the original canon and the EU (extended universe) to enjoy this film. There are lots of little Easter eggs for those who Love Star Wars, but there are also some great jokes that land and make for a fun experience for the less experienced viewer.

“The Force Awakens” is in theaters now, and I believe is showing in IMAX and 3D and maybe 3D IMAX, too?! Regardless, it’s a great movie for the family if you don’t mind a little space violence.

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