Star Wars fans have had a rough go for the past 15 years. The Prequel Trilogy was over all a disappointment to the fans. The Phantom Menace put many off Star Wars with the whiny kid Anakin, trade blockades, Jar Jar Binks and Darth Maul, a villain that seemed so bad assed and poised to be the face of evil for the films, barely gets used and dies at the end of the movie. The next two movies were better, but fell short of redeeming the series. It would take a CGI animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (not to be confused with the Clone Wars mini cartoons that aired in the years between Eps 2 and 3) to get Star Wars back on track and make us like the Force again. They even tried to make Jar Jar likable but they are not miracle workers. The Clone Wars make Star Wars cool to a new generation. But there was a disturbance in that Force when Disney bought Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise. A million voices cried out when they cancelled Clone Wars. They started a new cartoon, Star Wars: Rebels, which some see as inferior to The Clone Wars (they’re wrong, by the way. It gets good.) And they announced a new movie, the first live action Star Wars film in over 10 Years, continuing the story from after Return of the Jedi. 30 years of stories, from novels to video games to comic books are suddenly non-canon to give the writers a blank slate to craft the next saga of the Star Wars universe.
Of course with a movie like this, built up in the minds of fans for over 30 years. Much like the Prequel Trilogy, the new trilogy will have a hard time meeting the fans expectations. The post-Jedi novels had Han and Leia marry and have three kids. A New Republic takes over in place of the Empire. Imperial factions consolidate in the outer reaches of their territory. Dark Jedi emerge from hiding in the Outer Rim. Finally Luke Skywalker establishes a new Jedi Temple and begins to train the next generation of Jedi alongside his wife, Mara Jade, and son. All of this, and much, much more, have been cast aside as the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, establishes a new history for the Republic and the Empire.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is Episode 7 of the Star Wars series and the first of a new Trilogy, set thirty years after the events of Episode 6: Return of the Jedi. The movie mostly follows the story of two characters; Finn (John Boyega), a storm trooper in the First Order (the reformed Empire) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) a human female living as a scavenger on the war scarred planet of Jakku. When Finn starts to question the methods of the First Order he decides to escape. Freeing a Resistance pilot who was captured on Jakku, Poe Dameron, they set out to escape the Star Destoyer. Instead of leaving the star system, Poe intended to return to Jakku to pick up his droid, BB-8, who holds a partial map to the location of Luke Skywalker, which the First Orderand one of its generals, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) seek. They escape, but crash land on Jakku and Finn is separated from Poe. Meanwhile, Rey rescued the BB-8 Droid form a scavenger and allows it to follow her to the nearest town to await its master’s return. When Finn reaches the same town, he see Rey being attacked by the local thugs and moves in to help. Rey defeats the attackers on her own and chases Finn down as BB-8 identified the jacket he is wearing and belonging to its master. Finn lies and says that he is Resistance and agrees to help Rey return the BB-8 to the Resistance. With the First Order hot on their trail, they quickly look for a spaceship to escape in. Settling on a abandoned Corellian YT-1300 light space freighter (look it up,) they took out several Tie Fighters and escaped into hyperspace. Fortunately for them, the ship’s old owner was looking for that ship…
The movie continues on re-introducing the viewers to key concepts like the Jedi, the Republic and the Empire. Familiar faces from the original trilogy pop up, too. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know that our heroes encounter Han Solo and Chewbacca. You also see Leia Organa, now called General, as she leads the Resistance against the Frist Order. Kylo Ren is also given screen time as you learn his motivation for finding Luke and why he reveres Darth Vader so much. You also get to glimpse the real power behind the First Order, the Supreme Leader Snoke, a scarred alien of unknown origin who leads the First Order and the Knights of Ren. Much like with the Emperor, we do not see much of him, but he has a larger role in this film than the Emperor had in his first appearance, The Empire Strikes Back. And, of course, you see one of the main characters begin the journey to becoming a Jedi that will play out over the new few films.
I really liked the movie. I do not want to post spoilers or anything, but I felt that Finn and Rey are likable characters that can carry the new trilogy. Kylo Ren and the First Order are great antagonist and seem far more competent and fanatical than the Empire was. Kylo is a menacing enough villain for the movie, but he is much less so menacing and a bit more whiny when the helmet comes off (maybe it’s genetic?). He is more emotional when disappointed than Darth Vader ever was, but he is a lot less homicidal than Vader, thrashing a console rather than killing the lackey who brought him the bad news. Like all the new blood in this series, he has time to develop into a more menacing character, as Rey and Finn become more competent heroes.
I can truthfully say that I am not disappointed with this film. It is a great Star Wars film. Star Wars fans who can let go of their hate and the Expanded Universe continuity will enjoy this return to a galaxy far, far away. J.J Abrams did a great job capturing the spirit of the original trilogy and moving the series forward. Truthfully I had concerns over his involvement in this film (and not just because of his overuse of lens flare), with his Star Trek reboot, while pretty good, had some (what I consider) chronological and logical errors that detracted from my enjoyment (asked me about my nu-Star Trek/Muppet Babies argument, in which I compare Kirk and Chekov to Baby Kermit and tadpole nephew Robin. And, honestly, I am not a Trekkie). With the new Star Wars Trilogy being a continuation rather than a reboot, there shouldn’t be any rewrites to already established (i.e. in the movies) continuity. And best of all, there is no Jar Jar Binks, and that should be enough to get Star Wars fans excited again.
5/5. Because I like Star Wars.