Star Wars: The Force Awakens will feel familiar and satisfying like seeing an old friend.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), my mom took me to The Care Bears Movie instead of Return of the Jedi. I don’t hold it against her. I eventually was able to watch the entire trilogy at a neighbour’s house, and the rest is history.
Speaking of history, the newest addition to the Star Wars canon (Episode 7) had a monstrous weekend, smashing many box office records with a worldwide opening of $517 million – enough for Disney to purchase their own operational Death Star for world domination.
J.J. Abrams managed to erase 16 years of prequel hell in just two hours and 30 minutes. This new film feels a lot like 1977’s A New Hope, in fact I’m pretty sure that was the point. You’ll recognize the same story patterns and beats as you’re introduced to some new characters and reacquainted with some old friends.
Over the last three decades, some of us have gotten a little older – and apparently so did Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). You can also add C3PO, R2D2, and Chewbacca to the full on nostalgia orgy.
As for new characters, we meet Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger whose parents abandoned her on the planet Jukku; Finn (John Boyega), an AWOL stormtrooper; and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), a fast talking pilot who will remind some of you of a young Han Solo.
Remember, Darth Vader is dead, the Emperor was thrown down a dark hole, but don’t fret, the dark side has been resurrected with all new baddies. We get a new Supreme Leader named Donald Trump, er, I mean Snoke (Andy Serkis) who is this giant hologram of evil. He rules through the First Order, which emerges from the ruins of the previous Empire but far more Nazi’ish.
Stormtroopers are no longer clones but bred as warriors with numbers for names and still really bad shots. They also have a space station that seems to be far more ingenious than the original Death Star – the tech is better but clearly they used the same drunk architect.
Snoke of course has a villainous Sith or protégée named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who has a weird fascination with Vader’s old and mangled helmet. There are similarities between Kylo Ren and Lord Vader but Driver gives this new evil entity an edgier and more emo aura.
There’s no way I’m going to embrace the hate and risk being Force-choked by giving away too many plot points here. I know there are many who are waiting to see this film without spoilers – just stay the hell off of social media! Some people have no class or etiquette when it comes to divulging some of the twists and secrets that have come out of this film, and trust me, there are a couple of doozies.
The action sequences are bad ass, from lightsaber battles to X-wing dogfights with TIE Fighters. One of the highlights was seeing the piece of junk we call the Millennium Falcon back in action.
There are also some great comedic moments courtesy of Finn, Han Solo, and the new droid BB8. However, the film really shines due to the shear magnetic power of Harrison Ford. This is his movie, and if you were dying for a healthy dose of Solo you get it.
Not to be outdone, Daisy Ridley is going to become an instant superstar and she does a marvellous job of bringing Rey to life as a hero you instantly connect with. It’s an absolute pleasure to have a strong female lead anchoring this new franchise and she knocks it out of the park.
Abrams makes no apologies, he’s a fanboy and he gives us fanboys and fangirls exactly what we want. Some may say he plays it safe and relies too heavily on the previous films for familiar narrative. No, what he does is brings us back to the Universe we have so desperately missed and have wanted to return to. With this new Star Wars film there is a level of trust that needed to be made with the fanbase first.
I could sit here and overanalyze this film and pick it apart, but the same could be said for the original trilogy that so many of us hold in great reverence. They aren’t perfect films, but what they are is this crazy thing called “fun.”
The Force Awakens hits all the right notes as an adventure film and brings us back home. There will be some critics who will enjoy sounding pompous and some hardcore fans that will never be satisfied, but ignore them. Most of all don’t let the negativity and hype lead you to the dark side. Make your mind up for yourself.
The film doesn’t feel like 150 minutes and when it’s over it leaves you wanting more. It puts us back into the Millennium Falcon so we can feel comfortable that this trilogy is in good hands. Now it’s time to hit warp speed and get us on to Episode 8.
Cinema Factoid: There are 13 cameos in this film. Although it might be hard to pick all of them out, Daniel Craig and Simon Pegg both show up. Not to mention a couple of actors from Game of Thrones. See how many you can spot and check out this list afterwards.
I have no problems giving Star Wars: The Force Awakens 4 out of 5 raindrops. If you’re going to hit the theatre over the holidays and drop the cash down, what you’re going to get with this new Star Wars film is pure entertainment of the highest Jedi order.