Quite often in life the anticipation for any given thing is more fun and enjoyable then when we actual get we’ve wanted for so very long…this happens often, but not always. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is officially the movie that we’ve been waiting for as it takes the next step in this universe with care, love and absolute aplomb.
It’s been thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi and that hasn’t quite wrapped up the struggle of the Resistance as the fall of the Empire has brought to the rise of The First Order to wreak havoc on the free universe. Events converge on the planet of Jakku as hot shot resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) gets captured by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) and the First Order who are on the hunt for a piece of a map that will lead them to the location of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who has gone missing in the rise of this new threat. The piece of the map is now with BB-8 on the run from these evil forces that ends up enlisting the help of mysterious scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) a former Stormtrooper with a crisis of conscience. While on the run they encounter a couple of like minded scoundrels who can confirm everything that they have been hearing as they both get guided into a fight that it seems they have both been born for.
While it borrows a few too many beats from A New Hope to genuinely hit home, The Force Awakens is a damn near masterstroke in storytelling and progression as nothing ever feels unnatural and forced which makes for this 2.5 hour movie feel like an effortless watch that you’ll want to immediately get back in line and see.
Taking the center seat for the franchise, J.J. Abrams leads us into what could have been potentially murky waters with a fair bit of ease as he takes just enough familiar elements from Episodes 4-6 and shakes them in with the fresh bits to keep us engaged and downright riveted. You won’t be able to overlook the familiar bits and really we aren’t supposed to because Abrams uses them in just the right amount to put us at ease. With his recent Star Trek reboot we were supposed to be on edge as it was a variation on the familiar universe, but here he slyly just drops us back into these worlds like we’ve never left and it is a beautiful thing. He worked on the script with series veteran Lawrence Kasdan and it plays like a warm bath that envelopes us everywhere in comfort because while the actions of The First Order play a little darker and actually a little more cult like then an organized army, it never for one minute feels overwhelming or out of place.
The action set pieces are incredibly solid and never feel like they are being overdone with CGI, embracing the practical that aided in making the original films such a winner. While that obvious Lucas-ian feel is gone, the magic is there as Abrams and company have given us two new heroes that will make us hopeful the remaining episodes.
Both leads have been plucked from relative obscurity but much like their predecessors back in the day, that’s why we immediately accept their place in this universe. Daisy Ridley has a very solid on screen presence and she makes for wonderful female icon in fantasy/science-fiction. She’s sensitive and can’t at first glance handle the stresses that are put upon her, but the more her confidence grows the more she is at home fighting on the side of what is good and right. John Boyega as Finn is going along a very similar journey as her and we see them beginning to lean on each other and their new friends as they discover the gravitas of what is happening around them. Old favorites like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher return as we flesh out the story and while Luke does make an appearance it is more in aid of episode 8 than anything else.
While on the flipside of all this both Adam Driver and Domnhall Gleeson get to have a little bit of fun exploring the dark side as their characters Kylo Ren and General Hux as they both report to the mysterious supreme leader Snoke who has yet to be seen.
Thankfully the words “Jar Jar” or “Medichlorian” never show up in The Force Awakens and really it’s not like they have any place in this world to begin with because this the natural evolution of the Star Wars the millions and dare I say billions of us have grown up with. Just get ready to fall in love with this world once again, and lineup as early and as often as you possibly can.
Cineplex here in Canada has upped their screen total by 50% for this upcoming weekend so don’t think that you will be shut out as there are still plenty of tickets available to catch the movie event of the year.