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Dan's Review: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is everything you hoped it would be, and more

Dec 16, 2015 12:10AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens- © 2015 Lucasfilm

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney)

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.

Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow, Kenny Baker, Tim Rose, Mike Quinn, Gwendoline Christie.

Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.

Directed by J.J. Abrams.



Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock in a galaxy far, far away, you already know that Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens this weekend. It’s perhaps the most anticipated film sequel ever, starring the main cast of the original trilogy (let’s pretend that prequel thingy doesn’t exist, for now). Before rushing into my review like a T.I.E. fighter pursuing the Millennium Falcon (which happens early and often in the movie), allow me to first dispense with a few ground rules.

First, I will do all I can to make this a spoiler-free review. It will be difficult, since there are a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of surprises in store for well-known characters like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (who does indeed appear in the movie, despite a cryptic absence from the movie poster and trailers – more on that later).

Second, I feel compelled to reveal that I am “all-in” as a Star Wars geek/fan. I was introduced the original film when it came out in 1977, and it inspired a whole new level of creativity and love of cinema in me ever since.

Here goes.

The movie begins some 30 years after the events of Episode VI (Return of the Jedi). We enter the story in the middle of a struggle between the First Order (a remnant of the Empire once headed by Emperor Palpatine), now under the control of a mysterious dark leader (no spoilers, but it’s a CGI/motion capture performer who plays this character) and The Resistance (formerly known as “The Rebellion”). As these forces collide near the desert planet of Jakku (NOT Tatooine), where a young scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) survives by her wits and resourcefulness. As the plot unfolds, a Resistance pilot named Poe (Oscar Isaac) is pursuing a secret on the planet when he’s attacked by First Order forces, under the command of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a powerful young man who commands the dark side of the Force. Poe is captured, meets a conflicted storm trooper named Finn (John Boyega) who helps him escape.

Eventually, Finn meets Rey, they both meet Han Solo, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Leia as they go through a bunch of adventures that lead them to a confrontation with Ren and other “dark side” folks.

Seriously, anything else I write about the plot would be a major spoiler, so I’ll leave it at that.

As for the movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is everything I’d hoped it would be and more. Incredible chemistry between the characters (old and new) is the natural result of a script that feels like real conversation, instead of that ill-placed technical intellectualism we all experienced from George Lucas.  Thank you, thank you J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, who were able to tap into what makes Star Wars so COOL without once using terms like “delusions of grandeur.”

The special effects are so good you hardly notice they are CGI, while the action keeps you locked onto the screen.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens relies on a lot more drama than action, with some heart-wrenching results. I have been known to cry in movies, but not usually science fiction ones. Watching this film is like going through all the emotional highs and lows you get from being in a great (yet complicated) family.

As for Luke Skywalker, you will get to see him (perhaps not as much as most would like), and appreciate what he represents in the battle between the light and the dark.

Go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

You will find a whole new love for that galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer