The movie everybody has been waiting for has arrived. So three decades have passed since the events in Return of the Jedi. A new faction has risen up from the ashes of the Empire, calling themselves the First Order. It is up to a ragtag group to rediscover the ways of the Force and fight for good. If you think the plot of this sounds familiar, you just stumbled on the number one criticism The Force Awakens has been facing: this is more-or-less a remake of A New Hope. I’m not going to dismiss that, as it is a valid critique, but honestly, after the bad taste the prequels left in everybody’s mouth, getting back to basics is exactly what this series needed.
New cast, throwback story.
The ultimate reason on why this has been so successful is that it is a whole lot of fun and it has lots of rewatchability. It’s an event movie, and you don’t want to be the one that is left out. Almost everybody that I know that is not a traditional fan of the series took the time to watch this, some even multiple times. I’ve seen it twice now, but the first time I saw it, I had to sit in the front row and crane my neck, so I kind of had to see it again, if only to get the full scope of it. Keep in mind that this was at noon on a Saturday on the third week of its initial release, and I had no other choice but to view this about 10 feet away from the gigantic screen because every other seat was taken. It that doesn’t give you some sort of indication on how wildly popular this, I don’t know what will. J.J. Abrams is the guy that you get when you want to reboot your series, and make no mistake: while this is another chapter in the series, this is a reboot as well. Too many missteps were made with the prequels, so something drastic had to be done.
I teared up a little the first time I saw the Millennium Falcon is back in action.
The best side effect of The Force Awakens is that for the first time in decades, I’m excited about where they plan on taking Star Wars next. You’ve got a great cast of characters that the mantle is being passed to. Oscar Isaac continues to impress in everything he stars in, and at this point, I think it’s safe to say he’s destined for greatness. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley share a great chemistry together, and it’s easy to see that they had a blast working together. I like the character of Rey a whole lot, and even from the beginning, it is clear to see that she already has tons more to do than Princess Leia; it may be an less than popular opinion, but Leia’s main purpose in those original movies was to sit around and get rescued. It is nice to see a well-rounded female character with abilities. The old mixes well with the new, and they give characters from the original series just the right amount of screentime that will satisfy the die hard fans, but still distance itself enough to be its own thing. Does The Force Awakens get by on its nostalgia factor? Perhaps, but it does so in one of the most entertaining ways possible.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015? See for yourself here.