18th Dec2015

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Review #2 [Spoiler-Free]

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill | Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt | Directed by J.J. Abrams

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens blasts into theaters this Friday, December 18 with more fanfare and anticipation than any other film in the last 20 years.  The Force Awakens arrives ten years after the prequels left even the die-hard fans with disappointment and in short, The Force Awakens will redeem your faith in the Star Wars universe.

The Force Awakens is set approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire have now become the Resistance and the First Order, respectively.  Director and co-writer J. J. Abrams transports the audience to a universe we have grown up with but also has created something truly new and amazing to awe.  Abrams does an amazing job of weaving the classic characters and the new characters into a film that doesn’t feel forced (no pun intended) and the film does not suffer from the amount of characters involved in the story.  I credit a lot of this to Abrams but original trilogy writer Lawrence Kasdan, who was brought on board to keep the original trilogy tone, keeps the film flowing and gives the characters depth and overall likability.

In short, and spoiler free, the film stars relative unknown actress Daisy Ridley as Rey, a mysterious scavenger on the desert planet Jakku, as she teams up with Finn, played by John Boyega (Attack the Block), and along with the original cast including Carrie Fisher playing the no longer a princess but now General Leia and Harrison Ford as the older but still roguish Han Solo to take down the new cast of the First Order led by Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver (Girls).  That’s all you are going to get as far as the plot because this film does not need to be spoiled more than what was shown in the trailers.  This is a rare film where the less said about it is a good thing.  The film will feel very familiar to Star Wars fans but there is enough mystery, twists and new ideas to make the film feel like a fresh take and a new launch pad for the franchise.

The Good:

-The cast. Ridley and Boyega step into a difficult situation, new characters in a beloved franchise, and do a fine job.  Immediately they fit right in without missing a beat with the older characters and the audience will feel right away Ridley and Boyega belong in this franchise.  Harrison Ford and the rest of the original cast look like they are happy to be back and for the opportunity to revisit these great characters and we are lucky to have them back in this franchise.

-The tempo and “feel” of the movie.  J.J. Abrams and the production crew hit everything right in making the feel of this film more like the original trilogy and not the “we shall never speak of again” prequel films.  It might be the old school way of creating costumes and sets instead of the CGI explosion of effects found in the prequels but for some reason, this film just seems to fit in with the original trilogy that the prequels never could.  Disney could not pick a more perfect director or writer to reboot the franchise than they did in J.J. Abrams.

-It’s fun.  Remember the fun you had when you watched the original trilogy?  The Force Awakens does that again for its audience.  After lumbering through the prequels, the fans are rewarded with a film that not only is fun but feels fresh too.  The cast looks like they are having a great time and seem to realize they are in a special film franchise that is loved by millions.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just an entertaining and well written film that the majority of the audience will see it again and again.

The Bad:

-Nothing. This is the Star Wars film fanboys and the general viewing public has wanted for decades.

The Middling:

-The hype.  Yes, the one issue I have with this film is not the film itself but the hype and promotion leading up to the film.  People, not just fans, could not go ANYWHERE without some sort of Star Wars marketing product, from R2-D2 coffee creamer to car commercials to toys, oh goodness the toys, in their faces.  After three months of marketing, the hype around the film will surely cause fans to be disappointed in the film and not due to the film itself but the amount of attention leading up to the release date.

-Nostalgia.  As great as it was to see Han, Leia, Chewie and others on the big screen, the filmmakers may have spent just a little too much time with our old friends. I understand they filmmakers needed to “pass the torch” to the new generation and this might be nitpicking but a little more time with the new generation and just a little less time with the old generation would have helped the audiences move past the original trilogy a little more easier.

Final Grade: A-

The cast and crew should be applauded for creating a whole new Star Wars universe but still able to keep the aura and nostalgia from the original trilogy.  The film makes the audience feel like a kid again watching the original Star Wars film and overall that is what films should be about for the audience.  This weekend, grab your family, try to find a theater that isn’t sold out, and sit back and enjoy a truly amazing experience that is The Force Awakens.

**You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, every Wednesday here on Nerdly, or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps**

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