By: Grant Vance ~Managing Editor~
After ten years without a new entry into the “Star Wars” franchise, fans waited with much anticipation for the release of the first film in a brand new trilogy, “The Force Awakens.”
The stakes were high for director J.J. Abrams, as this was not only the first “Star Wars” film in ten years, but the first “Star Wars” film continuing the original story established by “A New Hope” since “Return of the Jedi” in 1983. Abrams delivered against all odds, reminding audiences of old and introducing audiences of new to the magic that is the celebrated galaxy far, far away.
“The Force Awakens” is a huge success, from its classic scrolling text opening to its snow-flurried climax. Following a near-identical story structure to “A New Hope,” “The Force Awakens” sets an atmosphere that feels lived in. All the mythology and common tropes are the same, but told through the experiences of a new generation of characters.
Though “The Force Awakens” has been critiqued for being too similar to its trilogy-initiating predecessor, it’s this blending of old and new that made this so much fun. The new central characters, Finn, Rey and Kylo Ren, are very much their own, even if they follow similar trajectories as characters before them. It’s seeing them integrated into a familiar universe that drives the fresh, nostalgia-filled experience.
One of the most rewarding aspects of “The Force Awakens” is that it is not only a good “Star Wars” film, but also a good film in general. This is a movie-going experience that reminds people of the joys of seeing a film in theaters. Between the beautiful cinematography, superb acting from newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley and veterans Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer, exhilarating action and well-executed comedic beats, “The Force Awakens” is a full cinematic meal. Even without the hype this could stand on its own as a successful introduction to a new trilogy.
Despite the general anxiety of fans disappointed by the prequel trilogy, Abrams has proven that the integrity of the original trilogy is far from forgotten. By telling a familiar story in order to set the stage for an entirely new generation, “The Force Awakens” provides one of the most rewarding movie-going experiences in recent memory.
“Episode VIII” is set for 2017, with the first “Star Wars Anthology” film, “Rogue One,” set for later this year.