“The Force Awakens” is not your father’s “Star Wars,” but the experience J.J. Abrams provides audiences is something all together familiar, yet fresh for a new generation of fans.
First, the familiar. Seeing Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) back on the screen and interacting with one another tugs strongly on a nostalgic chord many fans longed for, but never got from the recent prequels. They are older, perhaps with more responsibilities than they had when we first met them when we were all kids. But, for the sake of the story, they’re not ready for retirement, yet.
The new: Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Issac) comprise a new wave of protagonists with characteristics that smash away old stereotypes and tired storylines that once called for the hero to save the princess from evil. Out of respect to the many fans out there who have yet to see the movie, details of the plot will not be revealed here. However, off of what has already been shared in teasers, we see Rey and Finn playing major roles within the plot line. Finn is involved more than Mace Windu and Lando Calrissian, sadly, the only two characters played by African-Americans in the previous installments. When introduced to Rey, gamers may draw comparisons to the iconic Laura Croft from Tomb Raider. She is a powerful protagonist for any gender to look up to – Smart, crafty and able to hold her own in a fight.
Abrams is a talented artist. Writer and produced of television’s “Lost,” with his name also tied to other successful entities like “Mission: Impossible,” “Armageddon,” and, yes, “Star Trek.” Millions followed “Lost,” more for the head games from the complex plot twists each week, than the action. His ability to take the reins to Disney’s $4.05 billion stallion was never questioned. It was, however, left for speculation whether or not he was going to go too far.
Abrams does a fantastic job of controlling the energy fueled from an extensive library of characters and technology George Lucas started four decades ago. Since then, there have been countless of contributors to the story, from books to comics, television shows to fan-made vignettes. Everyone has an opinion as to who, what, where and how things should unfold in the upcoming films, and there will be more. Oh, so many more. But, in Awakens, Abrams paints with a subtle brush, allowing movie-goers to ease themselves back into the characters they’ve missed for 30 years, and to introduce themselves to the new kids who will take the torch from here.
Personally, I’ve been an apologist of the prequels for years. To be frank, Episodes I, II and III were just as bad as the “original three” when it came to whining protagonists and misplaced comic-relief, whether that be from Jar Jar or Ewoks. As time passes, fans are learning to appreciate the prequels and accept their place in the bigger picture. Where Awakens falls into it all, is up for you to decide.
Those reading this review are of two camps: One that has seen the film and looking for another’s opinion; the other camp involves those who can’t wait to watch the film. You already know what you’re going to do. You made that decision when Disney bought the rights in 2012. I will say, as I shared with a friend who was waiting to see it, you won’t be disappointed.