BY SCOTT PETERSON
It only took close to 33 years but I guess it’s better late than never. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we finally have ourselves a REAL Star Wars film. In a span of just over two hours, my overall disdain for anything and everything related to the George Lucas Star Wars prequels simply vanished like they never even existed. Like a bad relationship or life altering event, those damn prequels just stuck with me. They were always just there, lingering, trying to dilute my love for the original Star Wars trilogy. My biggest fear going into Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a Phantom Menace redux. Years of build up ,hype and expectation met with a colossal, underachieving thud. Thank you J.J Abrams. Everyone can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Gone are the distracting CGI effects and wooden acting. Talks of treaties and Midi-chlorians are nowhere to be found. No more annoying, misplaced characters ( I’m talking to you Jar Jar Binks) inserted to sell merchandise to giggling children. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams has finally replaced that bad, bitter taste in our mouths.
Disney has been tight-lipped about Star Wars: The Force Awakens and for good reason. My advice to everyone is to stay away from spoilers and reviews that delve and divulge. This is the event film of all event films and if you go in blindfolded and with a crowd, you will assuredly be rewarded. I’ve never been to a screening in which supposedly objective critics broke out in spontaneous applause throughout the film. To avoid all spoilers, I will be as evasive as possible and let you put the puzzle pieces together on your own. At it’s base, Star Wars: The Force Awaken is your old fashioned good vs evil story and in this case, it’s the good Resistance going up against the evil First Order. The Resistance’s top fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and his spherical android BB-8 are in possession of a map that will give the Resistance the upper-hand over the First Order. Unfortunately, the First Order, led by the towering,Darth Vader admiring Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is after the same map. Along the way we meet the scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), a Stormtrooper named Finn (John Boyega) who is starting to question his allegiance to the First Order, and we catch up with our old friends Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). That’s it. Those are the only beans I shall spill.
Much like last month’s Creed, Star Wars: The Force Awakens does a flawless job of tugging on our nostalgic heartstrings while simultaneously infusing the series with fresh,exuberant,young characters. Abrams isn’t just content with giving us a trip down memory lane,he’s also planting seeds for future installments and here, he does it to perfection. The performances in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are all top notch. Harrison Ford’s back and forth banter with Chewy is priceless. John Boyega is funny and fantastic as Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron is charismatic and heroic. But for me, Daisy Ridley as Rey absolutely steals the show. She gives the Star Wars universe a female heroine that not only kicks ass, but looks and feels like a character that future Star Wars installments can build around. Ridley is a revelation.
While it’s virtually impossible for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to live up to the unreasonable expectations built by the media and fan hype machine, credit Abrams for making the biggest franchise in the history of cinema relevant again. The Force Awakens isn’t just one of the best films in the Star Wars series, it’s also one of the best films of the year. This weekend a new generation of kids will experience that lightning in a bottle magic and sense of wonderment the 1977 film provided for us old folks. But more importantly, this weekend, us old folks get to be kids again.