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Overall Rating

Worth A Look39.62%
Average: 5.66%
Pretty Bad: 3.77%
Total Crap: 11.32%

4 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
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by Erik Childress

"A Joyous Event From A Galaxy Not So Far Away"
5 stars

It took 16 years for fans of the holy trilogy to get their wish of a return to the galaxy far, far away and for their master, George Lucas, to fill in the gaps he promised after delivering the middle portion of his grand opus. That did not work out for a number of people who got older and now refer to Episodes One through Three like the deadbeat dad that abandoned his family for another. However one wants to dismiss any of the positives that exist in the prequels, dare we say there is another to bring a new hope to the childhood memories of one generation and launch a whole fresh batch of them for a new one. The wait has been ten years and the last three have been excruciating once the project was confirmed by the modern reboot king himself, J.J. Abrams. Whatever you may have thought of his Mission Impossible and Star Trek films, The Force Awakens is like the warm bath after a hard life that will have fans of all ages smiling with joy and maybe even redefining what a reboot actually is.

Those who know Episode IV forward and backward will be quick to recognize some glaring lens-flare-like similiarities. A stormtrooper attack on a group of resistance sympathizers opens the story. A dark-masked figure named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is searching for information that pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has placed into his trusty droid. This BB8 unit will travel across the desert landscape of Jakku into the hands of Rey (Daisy Ridley) a scavenger who sells scrap metal for food. She has heard the stories of the old rebellion and is aware of the new fight against the First Order. So upon meeting Finn (John Boyega), a stormtrooper immediately disillusioned on his first mission, she believes his story about being a part of the resistance and joins him on a journey to get BB8 into the right hands. Oh, and along the way, they run into a rogueish smuggler named Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his trusty sidekick, Chewbacca.

This might sound suspiciously like the definition of a reboot, but Abrams and co-writers Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan (who co-authored The Empire Strikes Back) know what makes this universe tick. It is not the overall mission, nor the laser battles or even the special effects which were once revolutionary and now commonplace. It is the characters. When we think of Star Wars our first instinct is not to mention lightsaber duels or Death Stars. We remember Luke, Leia and Han. We know C3-PO, R2-D2 and Yoda. Heck, we even remember the names of the ships and all the secondary creatures thanks to the toyline. Some of the old favorites are back and there is even a cameo or two, but The Force Awakens will live or die on the strength of its own new generation. And it is here where Abrams & Co. succeed.

The diversity angle that they have opened up in the humans does not feel like simple pandering to a long overdue criticism. These are interesting characters even more fully realized by their perfect casting. Oscar Isaac in a way is fulfilling the Han Solo spot, resilient and sardonic but a pilot ready to stand by his cause. The way he first confronts Kylo Ren is just the first of many truly solid laughs in the screenplay. John Boyega impressed fans of Attack the Block and would impress the ones who got to see him in Sundance film Imperial Dreams (which remains unreleased) even more. But this is starmaking material right here as he gives Finn an everyman quality that has loads of arc potential throughout the trilogy as we hopefully learn more about his background and the expanse of his friendship with Rey.

Which brings us to Daisy Ridley who is about to experience the kind of fan mail that forced Ringo Starr to say "please no more." A lot will be said, and justifiably so, about a female being plunged front and center into what is basically the Luke Skywalker role, but she earns our attention, respect and ultimate praise. Pay very close attention to moments in-between the running and fighting as she develops relationships with her newfound comrades-in-arms. Commanding looks of strength and vulnerability and little recognitions of joy makes this a real performance and not just a seat-filler. Thanks to Boyega and Ridley these are now two of the strongest characters in this galaxy.

Getting back to our returning heroes though we certainly do not want to spoil too much. Everyone so busy trying to determine why Luke Skywalker did not appear in the trailer should have quite the chuckle after reading the opening line of the film's signature scrawl. Carrie Fisher's return as General Leia initially brings a smile to our nostalgic faces but shares a few lovely scenes with Harrison Ford. Clearly loving Han more than he may have led on over the years, Ford actually receives top billing over his younger co-stars in the final credits and earns it as a respectful nod for his commitment to one of the most iconic characters in movie history. Even in his last outing as Indiana Jones he did not feel this loose and does some wonderful work in a pair of very different confrontations with people very close to him.

The Force Awakens indeed feels like a step forward in the series that is very much in tune with the tone and development of the original trilogy. John Williams' score blends seamlessly as always even if he is yet to unleash one of his more memorable character or battle themes. There are momentary hints at the religiosity of the Force and not-so-subtle imagery of the First Order. Between their color scheme, Nazi-like rally and Domnhall Gleeson's scenery-chewing work as General Hux we are just a nipple-shaving away from Bob Geldof telling everyone to take it down a notch. Abrams wisely does not saturate BB8 in mere cuteness or make it seem like every creature cameo is just a Toys-R-Us trip in waiting. This movie clearly comes from a special place and while he may have been a little trepidacious about tampering with the formula, an Episode IV for a new generation is only as good as the reminder to the old of why they fell in love with these movies to begin with. As we await Rian Johnson to take on the unenviable task of paying off the film's beautiful climax and giving this new trilogy its Empire Strikes Back, it is clear that the torch has been passed successfully and is likely to burn brightly for generations to come.

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originally posted: 12/16/15 11:27:24
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User Comments

5/11/18 Suzanne Ridley and Ford make this movie - music great as usual 4 stars
9/09/17 morris campbell good but wont make u forget a new hope 3 stars
12/21/16 Chris A complete insult to A New Hope - almost a cheap money spinning remake. 1 stars
6/02/16 Chelsie Entertaining, Desirable taste, but could be even more delicious with new original flavors. 4 stars
5/20/16 Jason Interesting new characters! 5 stars
5/13/16 Chelsie Entertaining, Desirable taste, but could be even more delicious with new original flavors. 5 stars
4/05/16 J herman Basically boring. Really really boring. Except that Ridley is fun to watch,. 2 stars
1/15/16 Charles Tatum Gets back to the spirit of the orig trilogy 5 stars
1/08/16 Loopy Despite some bullshit moments and Jar Jar Abrams tendacies it was an enjoyable time 4 stars
1/08/16 John Loved the new characters! Rushed, sometimes clunky, but still very fun and classic SW 4 stars
1/03/16 PAUL SHORTT I wish Carrie Fisher had showed her bum, otherwise a great movie. 5 stars
1/02/16 Boobie Fett This is one film I will gladly see again in the theatre 5 stars
1/02/16 Jack The worst of all the Star Wars films. Abrams is a hack. 1 stars
12/30/15 Paul Saw it twice, can't wait to go to more viewings! 5 stars
12/29/15 Brightblade My Brain screamed WTF? was that- had to rewatch originals 10 x to clear it. Shameful criti 1 stars
12/28/15 KingNeutron Lots of shoutouts to the 1st (original) movies, really liked it 4 stars
12/28/15 mr.mike I wish this had actually been filmed in Ultra Panavision 70. 5 stars
12/27/15 Michael B Enjoyable as a family outing, but proof that J.J. Abrams is the P. Diddy of movie industry 4 stars
12/27/15 Bob Dog Too much action, too litte character - I was flat out bored. 1 stars
12/26/15 M De javu much?? Still an amazing film, goosebumps of traditional cinema, score is incredible 4 stars
12/26/15 Tony Brubaker I want to bugger Carrie Fisher 5 stars
12/23/15 mr.mike Starts well then fades with some unconvincing detours. 3 stars
12/23/15 zenny Didn't I see this already in 1977 when it was just called "Star Wars"? 3 stars
12/22/15 Koitus Like others said - more of a "reboot," like Jurassic World. Still good, though. 4 stars
12/22/15 gcc This is not a sequel. Its a reboot of the original star wars.. 1 stars
12/19/15 KRS too much remake episode IV rehashed 1 stars
12/18/15 Benji OMG SOOO AWESOME!!!!!1!! 5 stars
12/18/15 Bob Dog Just a remake of the best of IV & V - - zzzzzzz... 2 stars
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  18-Dec-2015 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Apr-2016

  17-Dec-2015 (12A)

  DVD: 05-Apr-2016

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