Let’s imagine in a galaxy far, far away … that “Star Wars” episodes I, II and III never existed. Instead let’s go 32 years later for episode VII also known as “The Force Awakens.” Even though that length of time between films may seem light years away, the franchise finds itself back in time reuniting casts of the old with the newer generation of “Star Wars” characters.
The film last left off from episode VI, “The Return of the Jedi,” with Luke Skywalker
(Mark Hamill) defeating the Empire. Unfortunately, a new regime, The First Order, has taken its place led by General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson), who still have the same drive and ambition of ruling the universe with their latest weapon of terror. In their quest for domination, the order is aided by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), representing the new generation of the dark side.
The film picks up with the order looking for Luke Skywalker along with the Resistance led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), but along the way others get ensnared in this epic battle between good and evil as the Force awakens.
Resistance pilot Poe (Oscar Isaacs) contains a valuable item that may lead the key to finding Skywalker that he leaves with his trusted droid, BB-8, a nice welcome to the lineage of robotics in the film series. This film doesn’t features a character that doesn’t attempt to become a distraction or a side comic relief.
The individuals that have yet to realize their potential include a Storm Trooper, Finn (John Boyega) who has a conscience and begins to questions his identity and loyalty. It also includes a space scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) who’s looking for a way out of her predicament. Helping Finn and Rey includes a always welcome sight with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Han Solo with his partner, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).
J.J. Abrams has made a reputation of himself in revitalizing franchise that were once dormant (see “Mission Impossible,” “Star Trek” and now “Star Wars.”)
Here as the director, Mr. Abrams returns the film to nostalgia with the iconic crawl screen that opens the movie along with the infamous trumpet fanfare. This film represents a transition of the old versus the new.
Ms. Ridley’s character proves the tenacity and toughness that Princess Leia show in the earlier series as her character could be the key to restoring peace amongst the galaxy. The characters of Finn and Kylo Ren could use more exploration and development of their character that could be explored as the series progresses.
The film features exciting flight sequences in space and mauvering whether in attack or escape in which the Resistance squares off against The First Order. It wouldn’t be a “Star Wars” film without a lightsaber duel with its infamous sound effects and sparks flying as characters explore their potentials and limitations. The twist featured in the film, while quite good, isn’t as earth shattering as other truths have come out.
To expect the film to recreate success found in the films of the ‘70s and ‘80s is asking this version of “Star Wars” to do too much. What it does accomplish is in uniting followers of the films and the new generation it attempts to appeal to a commonality of the battle between good and evil as the force awakens in a battle between the light and the dark side.
But it’s seeing the characters of yesteryear that takes the spotlight momentarily as they make their entrance on screen. Other characters in this version of “Star Wars” makes appearance that will entertain and delight as hope is restored in a franchise that was once in the darkness but is beginning to see the light again.
Classification: In theaters
Movie Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars
J.J. Abrams continues to jumpstart a franchise with great success as followers and new generation of “Star Wars” fan rejoice with Daisy Ridley proving her character of Rey is another empowered woman who can bring about peace amongst the galaxy.
Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Rating: PG-13 for science-fiction action violence
Timing: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Director & Writer: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan & Michael Arndt
Characters: George Lucas
Cast: Harrison Ford, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaacs, Domnhall Gleeson, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher with Mark Hamill.