An Honest (Spoiler Free) Review of Star Wars : The Force Awakens
It honestly doesn’t matter if you, like me, grew up seeing the original Star Wars trilogy in the theater (all of them), and then was forced to sit through the disappointment that was the Prequels (also in the theaters). Young and old alike are all Star Wars fans right now as we enter into a new era of the saga with the Abrams’ directed ‘The Force Awakens’ that opened to bombastic sales this week. That’s right, I might be a slobbering fan from years and years ago who once owned an extensive and expensive Star Wars collection I’ve since sold off, and I might be one of a smaller percentage who has waited far too long for an answer to what happened to our heroes after the final Ewok drum beats of ‘Return of the Jedi’, and I might even have been a little too overly excited to actually get tickets to the opening day of ‘TFA’ on Friday. Sure, I might have been all of those things, but it’s truly because Star Wars has been such a massive part of my life since I was 3-years old.
I grew up under the shadow of these film’s playthings and showings and cereals and bed sheets and lunch boxes. I grew up bringing toys to show and tell in class and dressing up as its characters for Halloween and toting around my plush Chewbacca. Star Wars, more than just about anything else, encompassed my life from early on until this very moment. I’ve been saddened, joyous, ecstatic, and horrified. But most of all, I have always been deeply in love with a space opera George Lucas first brought to the screen so many years ago.
But what of ‘The Force Awakens’? Did J.J. Abrams not only keep his hefty promises, but also deliver above and beyond all expectations? Was this new film –as a new beginning as it were- worth all the nail biting and pacing? In a word; Yes. In three; Thank you, J.J.
From the powerful opening John Williams Star Wars ‘note’, I once again had chills; I once again returned to my childhood when I first heard that explosive score that would forever be etched into my subconscious. And then it began, and it was everything we were hoping for with so, so much more. I said to myself, “My God, the first fifteen minutes alone were better than the entirety of the truly lousy Prequels.” Oh, and that’s the last I’ll mention those. They’ve had their due.
As I watched it became more and more apparent that Abrams did something that I wasn’t sure should have ever been done, yet he did it so perfectly that it almost happened without me even realizing it. In all actuality he remade ‘A New Hope’ and tossed in what was pertinent from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and a little smidge of ‘Return of the Jedi’. It’s true.
Abrams took the story –the basic layout of a loner on a distant, dead planet aided by a ‘rogue’ running from his past assisted by a cute little droid doing their damnedest to battle something far bigger than themselves while fighting off inner demons and turmoil. Oh sure, in the backdrop there were old favorites, missed friends, special aliens, and amazing galactic skirmishes… but overall the formula that made the original so enduring and endearing was back with (sorry) full Force. And I was so much more okay with that then I ever realized.
Abrams knew that what wasn’t broke shouldn’t need to be fixed in the first place. And it wasn’t. Daisy Ridley as Rey was absolutely exquisite. John Boyega as Finn was amazing. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren was stunning. The cast as a whole just exuded such humanity (humanity that was sorely lacking from that –ahem- other trilogy) and we all felt it. There was honesty, real humor, deep feelings, and an overall sense of… well, wanting to be in such a well-written movie that it was palpable. This was finally the Star Wars that we all wanted, and moreover, all deserved.
Were there problems? Um… that’s a tough one. I suppose, as with all epic films, there were parts that were, maybe, slower than others. But I can’t admit to them being problematic. Nothing stood out as a scene that I felt could have been shot or acted any differently or better. All the characters seemed perfectly hammered out and amazingly well performed. I guess I can say there were maybe two or three parts I shrugged my shoulders about, but this is just being nitpicky for the sake of it.
There are revelations and surprises that absolutely nobody saw coming and to say otherwise would be an outright lie. But trust me, I won’t spoil anything other than to say, you will gasp and likely shed a tear. But that, reader, is what this whole Star Wars thing is supposed to be about, anyway. We’ve all felt it before, and you will sure as heck feel it now.
Star Wars is back with meaning and purpose. Abrams gave us a solemn promise and I’ll be damned if he didn’t hand it to us gift wrapped and covered in platinum paper. This, friends, is what those of us who have held onto hope that what we loved as children would someday be back to share with a new generation. This is what Star Wars should always and forever be.