Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Starring: Harrison Ford (42), John Boyega (Attack the Block) and Daisy Ridley

Director: J.J. Abrams (Super 8)

U.S. Release: December 18th, 2015 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Action

Runtime: 135 minutes

Back in 2012 when Disney acquired the rights to George Lucas' Star Wars saga, fanboys and lovers of the iconic franchise knew they'd be given a fresh voice and perspective. And since most loyal fans were rather disappointed by Lucas' less than memorable trio of prequels, perhaps a new vision was exactly what Star Wars needed. Then, in stepped writer, director and producer, J.J. Abrams, the same man who recently revived a lifeless Star Trek franchise back in 2009. Abrams assured a respectful loyalty to the original source material and kindly disregarded George Lucas' parting suggestions, all in order to leave his own singular imprint on the treasured saga. And believe me, we should all be grateful that he did.

Following the fall of the Empire decades earlier, a new threat has arisen called The First Order. With a powerful villainous leader, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), embarking on a warpath to take over the galaxy and discover the whereabouts of hidden Jedi, Luke Skywalker, an unlikely pair of heroes, Finn and Rey (John Boyega and Daisy Ridley), must return a missing droid possessing valuable information to General Leia Organa and the Resistance forces. As these opposing armies prepare to collide in an epic battle, "the force" reemerges and creates a balance to the galaxy.

I'm nowhere near the first to announce the news, but beloved fans of Star Wars can breathe a sigh of relief with J.J. Abrams' triumphant return to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The Force Awakens re-energizes its franchise with a near-perfect blend of devotion to the original trilogy and a fresh perspective built through a winning collection of brand new characters. Newcomers Finn and Rey graciously accept the proverbial torch that's passed to them as unknown acting talents, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, burst onto the scene as instant icons. Abrams and fellow credited writers, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, craft an action-packed an entertaining story that continually develops each of these new center-stage characters. The Force Awakens consumes your undivided attention from start to finish and its tasteful nostalgia will make you feel like a kid again.

It's an indescribable feeling listening to another emotionally charged score from Oscar-winning composer, John Williams, and witnessing the big-screen return of franchise-founding icons, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, C3P0, R2D2 and Luke Skywalker. Abrams paces the story perfectly and unveils his heavy-hitters periodically throughout the film. It's a wise play that helps ease the audience along and frequently reaffirms that we're in a place of familiarity. And although The Force Awakens suffers minimally in both the dialogue department and Carrie Fisher's sadly inadequate reprisal of her Princess Leia role, well-timed humor, up-tempo action sequences and a fantastic collection of brand new characters form a durable foundation from which the franchise can build.

Skeptics can rest easy and die-hard fanboys can give a sigh of relief. J.J. Abrams has reintroduced us to a lively and exciting new chapter in the Star Wars saga. The seamless transition comes at the hands of a hefty role from Harrison Ford who offers his finest work since 1977's original film. You can add me to the long list of critics and movie lovers who claim that The Force Awakens doesn't disappoint. Now, all you have to do is travel out to your nearest theater and enjoy the must-see big-screen experience for yourself.

Stars: 3 stars out of 4

Grade: B+

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