Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Gist: Three decades after Luke Skywalker and Co. defeated the Galactic Empire, a new threat, perhaps even greater, has arisen: the First Order. Luke is absent, but Princess Leia is still with the resistance. They will be rejoined by Han Solo and Chewbacca thanks to a couple new freedom fighters, Rey and former Stormtrooper Finn. Kylo Ren is their main enemy, but a bigger threat hides behind him.

A long time ago, in our galaxy, George Lucas, famous for his desire to keep full control over the Star Wars universe, made the ill-conceived decision to self-direct three prequels to his wildly successful and deeply loved original trilogy.

He certainly had the financial resources to do it, and given that his Lucasfilm is always at the vanguard of visual effects development, he also had that advantage. The prequels were visually stunning, but were built on the flimsliest of screenplays, written by Lucas himself.

It was a really sad story. A giant presence in the world of cinema, thanks to the universe he had concocted in his mind, he simply couldn't accept to have other people mingle with his creation and potentially inject ideas of their own. As a result, the prequels made a ton of money for him but disappointed the fans. The films were widely panned and derided for their lack of depth and soul.

Subsequently, Lucas swore he'd never go back to the Star Wars universe for more chapters; but just when we thought all hope was lost, he decided to accept $4 billion from Disney to sell them Lucasfilm and every property connected to it, which included ownership of all the existing Star Wars movies plus the rights to make more.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the first movie produced by Disney and thanks to their decision to hand the reins of the Star Wars reboot to J.J. Abrams, the same guy who so successfully revived the Star Trek universe, it was a big success.

Abrams, very wisely, stuck close to the original trilogy in terms of the overall look and feel of The Force Awakens; perhaps a bit too close. One doesn't have to look too closely to notice similarities in the landscapes, the battle scenes, and the main characters.

Being able to get Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to reprise their roles was a masterstroke, bringing a powerful aura of nostalgia to the whole proceedings. Mark Hamill donned his Jedi robes for a brief cameo too.

The new heroes introduced, however, are an excellent addition: John Boyega's Finn is funny and protective, while Daisy Ridley's Rey is strong enough to stand up to Adam Driver's Kylo Ren.

The Bottom Line: If you were pining to go back to a galaxy far, far away, then pain no longer. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a worthy successor to the original Star Wars trilogy and will make you quickly forget the prequels ever existed. In addition, the well written script introduces many new characters that will undoubtedly keep us coming back for years to come. May the Force be with the new showrunners!!

Grade: 8

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