Return of the Jedi was released both exciting and depressing the world with what was thought to be the last Star Wars movie. Thirty years later, and through three questionable prequels, we’re finally treated to the film extension we’ve dreamed of. Albeit not from the creator we always imagined would helm it. Nope, we got a sequel directed by J.J. Abrams of lens flare fame. Oh yeah, and it's licensed by Disney. Who would have seen that coming in the 80’s? All that aside, the trailers and commercial evidence raised hopes for a fan driven return to the look and feel of the Star Wars universe we knew and loved.
So did Jar Jar Abrams deliver?
The real question is, can I fully answer that without spoiling it for you? I hope so, but before we move on know that part of the fun of this film is the adventure of not knowing. I myself had one of the surprises spoiled for me, but there’s more than one surprise in store for you. Still, I recommend living under a rock until you see this film.
Still with me? Good, then here’s an attempt at a spoiler free commentary of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Did you like Star Wars: A New Hope? Yeah? Excellent, then you’ll love The Force Awakens. Abrams has learned from his trial and error experience in Star Trek to deliver a Star Wars movie that feels and breaths like the original yet has new personality and life to it. Perhaps giving Star Wars to a new director was the best thing that could have happened for the franchise? After all The Empire Strikes Back, arguably the best of the series, was not directed by Lucas. Abrams does a real fan service in this film masterfully mixing a retelling of A New Hope with an introduction of new heroes and villains.
That retelling is interestingly enough this movie’s greatest strength and weakness. It’s a new A New Hope. Like a symphonic cover, The Force Awakens hits note after note of the original that sparked it all. It has a similar plot. It has reluctant heroes who find their motivation to stand up to evil. It has similar spaceship battles. It has cute droids ...
Stop there! BB-8 is pure genius. It’s amazing how they make a bucket of bolts into such a heartwarming character.
While the cookie cutter repetition of A New Hope is a bit of a turn off, it’s done so well with it’s mix of new characters who are appeasing and relatable. It took maybe ten minutes into the movie before Rey and Finn had me on the edge of my seat rooting for them. The Force Awakens also has a modern tone to it that helped stand out alongside it’s accomplished feel of a canon Star Wars film. I have a funny feeling that Abrams used this retelling strategy to comfort and win us fans over to trusting him as he begins to take us down a new and dark path into the Star Wars universe.