Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens_lowres


Star Wars creator George Lucas was asked recently what he thought of the newest installment in the film franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

  "I think the fans are going to love it," Lucas said. "It's very much the kind of movie they've been looking for."

  As most fans already know, Lucas had nothing to do with the new film — he sold the rights to Disney for $4 billion. Disney signed J.J. Abrams to write and direct a new series of films beginning with The Force Awakens.

  Abrams' film is the follow-up movie fans have awaited for 32 years. It's gorgeous to watch, has a great story and is an homage to the original series, while at the same time setting the stage for future films.

  It's the perfect sequel to A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

  During the pre-release hype for The Force Awakens, a lot was made about the absence of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) from teasers and trailers (except for a quick shot of his robotic hand). The Skywalker question is answered quickly in the film's scrolling title card. It's been 30 years since the events of Jedi — the death of Darth Vader, the father of Luke and Princess Leia, who is now a general with the Resistance. We learn the new force of evil in the galaxy is the First Order, a very Empire-like organization complete with Storm Troopers and an ominous figure in a black mask and cloak known as Kylo Ren and played by Adam Driver (Girls).

  Ren, Skywalker's former pupil, channels the dark side of the force under the direction of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis, The Lord of the Rings' Gollum) and is searching for Skywalker, who has disappeared, in order to destroy the last Jedi Knight. The Resistance wants Skywalker to aid in the fight against the First Order.

  What this film returns to the franchise is the fun, humor and fantasy that Lucas sucked out of it with his three horrible prequels, which took themselves too seriously. Abrams doesn't make that mistake. The script, penned by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, is full of humor. It takes itself just seriously enough to make the action and drama seem believable and plays up sci-fi action without being melodramatic and ridiculous. The action sequences are exhilarating.

  Like its three predecessors, this story is character-based. The old guard is here and does a solid job — Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Leia and Hamill as Skywalker — but the real stars are the new players. Ridley's Rey is strong, vulnerable and unapologetic, and the first female villain, Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), is a Storm Trooper in kick-ass platinum armor. On the Dark Side, Driver is riveting as Ren, who is very bad and very evil.

  The main plot is a band of Resistance soldiers fight a group of bad guys who have built a weapon capable of wiping out whole galaxies. Star Wars has always been a story of good vs. evil; a story of seeking redemption and finding out who we really are, even at the risk of destroying the world.