It’s times like this where I really miss my old ‘Box Office Rewind’ column where I use to write about the numbers. Truth is, most people don’t pay attention to the box office, but it’s hard to ignore the impact “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has had on it and Hollywood. Nearly everywhere you look, this film has left its mark and the recent DVD release is obviously another indication of it. Figure the film earned just under $936 million domestically and over $2 billion worldwide in less than 16 weeks according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, which is absolutely ridiculous. It might not have gone ahead of “Avatar” and “Titantic” worldwide, but it certainly came close helping to predict what will happen with its DVD sales. Then again, what’s another record broken for the new domestic box office champ? All I know is, it’s worth it no matter where or how you watch it, which is precisely why it fell back into the fold as the DVD pick this month.
Picking up some thirty years after the fall of the Death Star, a second time, we find a galaxy without identity. Sure, Leia (Carrie Fisher) is leading a charge to hopefully find her brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), but has often come up empty. Even the First Order has failed to locate the great Jedi, all be it for different reasons. So you kind of understand why a small piece of intelligence with info. on Luke’s whereabouts could be so important to either First Order leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) or Leia and the Republic. This intelligence you ask is none other than a map, which resistance x-wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has obtained. Only problem is, before he could get it back to Lei, he is attacked leaving him to hide this info. in his droid BB-8. While he is captured, his droid manages to get away and eventually Poe is broken out by a rogue First Order storm trooper FN-2187 (John Boyega). Shortly thereafter all hell broke loose when their escape ship crashed and FN-2187 (dubbed Finn) runs into scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and BB-8. Realizing they were being tracked somehow by the First Order and Kylo Ren, they jump into the nearest rundown ship (Millennium Falcon) lying around to escape. It was then this story turned upside down as finding that ship was just the beginning of a whole series of answers they couldn’t get to fast enough leading to a conclusion that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Anyone paying attention already knows the return of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. And while each provided their own excitement and intrigue, the real stars of this film were the ones we have never seen before. I don’t know how he does it, but J.J. Abrams manages to always put together the right cast for his films. Rarely will you watch one of his films and think someone was wrong for their part. And here leading that charge was Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, two actors I guarantee you have never seen before. What a combination and the best part was how each developed separately as well as together. Especially Ridley, who as the primary lead really was able to hold her own against heavyweights like Harrison Ford. I was impressed with her and can’t wait to see her grow in this role. As for Boyega, he kind of grows on you and after a while, you almost look forward to whatever ridiculous thing he will say next. You need that with this films and I like that Abrams allowed his young stars to shine in a film clearly bigger than anything they could have ever imagined. That includes Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac, who both took charge each and every time they were on screen. I think that was important for not only this film, but for what comes next so kudos to Abrams for managing to fit in all these pieces the right way.
As easy as it might has looked, I would bet there are few directors that could have pulled off what J.J. Abrams just did. I mean, you almost can’t say enough about this guy, which I know can be a bit annoying, but I just can’t help it given where this series was 10 years ago. I mean, I would give Abrams an award now just for the impossible task he was given. To factor in the past, the present and future in making this film is not easy, but he did it and did it well. The story was right and he was able to do some things we have never seen from this series before, like with the action sequences. I knew going in we might see some cool stuff given he knows his way around space, but to watch action from the ground where X-Wing fighters were flying in and out of focus was truly amazing. It all just felt new and like we have never seen it before, even though we had in some shape of form. That’s huge and really why this film succeeded overall. To be able to find that magic which made “Star Wars” or “The Empire Strikes Back” so special is something you just can’t prepare for. Granted that was the hope originally, but to sit there and actually experience that feeling all over again, every single time you watch it, is still so unexpected and incredible at the same time.