[Warning: This story contains plot details from Star Wars: The Force Awakens that could be considered spoilers.]
The unenviable task of bringing to life the latest sequel of the most beloved film franchise in movie history, writer-director J.J. Abrams, reawakens the space saga using optimism, revealing new and old characters with a reverential nod to the original trilogy.
Critics have given Abrams a tough time, making remarks on how some aspects of the plot were given away too easily, like where Luke was all along, in the third act. But the overall excitement, the feeling of being a kid and going to the movies to see the most anticipated film of all time makes up for any part of the exposition that may have been handed over to the audiences, perhaps too casually.
The introduction of new leading characters—Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a desert scavenger and skilled pilot and Fin, a trained slave-servant for the First Order that rebels and becomes a resistance fighter eventually together with Rey— both lead roles, female and black male, proved the most forward and refreshing aspects to the 2015 chapter.
Our loving old friends—Carrie Fisher’s Leia and Harrison Ford’s, Hans Solo along with R2-D2, C-3PO and a brief cameo from Luke himself— are back and it feels like 30 years have gone by and they’ve been up there in the galaxy star-trooping all along. The balance of nostalgia and forward-looking character and story development create just the right tension to what feels appropriate for this addition to the timeless classics.
A warmer Hans Solo appears optimistic and hopeful, with his “been around the block” banter. He seals in some clarification for fans, when he proclaims, “It’s true, it’s all true. The Dark Side. The Jedi. It’s all true.” His love for Leia is also apparent and matured and he truly aims to bring back their son [avoiding details here for truly unfair spoiler] when he ultimately falls to his death.
Perhaps the biggest question left unanswered revolves around Rey, and who she was related to, which is kept a mystery and perhaps ample material for the 2017 VIII production. Was she Hans’ and Leia’s daughter? Was she related to Luke, or was she a sole rider, with unknown ancestry? But the mystery feels good to have leaving the theater, because to leave with the feeling that it’s all solved and over would not be as satisfying. The Force must continue and the story must grow on to be told. So a cliff hanger is expected here and there, as Abrams aims to pass the baton to future writer-director Rian Johnson who very well may attempt to close the franchise forever with episode I, Rogue One, scheduled for theater release in 2017.
There will always be fans that criticize, because that is what they do, especially with any attempt to rejuvenate an episode belonging to the Star Wars fan saga. However, in a humble viewer opinion, Abrams kept it on the side of fresh and respectful to the original trilogy, and I believe he wins points for that in our book.
There may have been disturbances made to the Force, but once again the galaxy is at peace, for now, as the Light wins over the Dark Side every time. It’s a quantum theme, perhaps the greatest theme of all time, that can be borrowed and applied to every day situations.
Walk in the Light and be strong. May the Force be with you all.