Like the bullseye of a womp rat with a T-16 back home, director J.J. Abrams has masterfully answered the galactic call to deliver a sequel that’s better than the episodes that most recently proceeded it (Episodes I, II and III). Episode VII isn’t simply better; it’s galaxies beyond those lethargically, limp-noodled installments. Arguably (wait – no, not arguably…factually), the most anticipated movie to hit theaters in our lifetime – The Force Awakens should forcefully deliver for fanboys/girls and newbies alike... From the bone chilling moment those theater lights dim, it’s an enthusiastically energetic and monumentally engaging cinematic affair. A spirited sci-fi fantasy powder keg of laughs, thrills, chills and wonderment. Seamlessly blending a host of new characters, planets and motives with its rustically rooted, rah-rah nostalgia – this film fires-and-hums with a handsomely slick, serpentine-like confidence all its own. It may occasionally lean on the sentiment of yesteryear’s original but it’s all in the service of story. While familiar faces are breathlessly given new dimensions (Harrison Ford, in particular, is having a blast), the batch of newly-introduced characters are fleshed-out, incentivized and allow us to know them before they ask us to love them…and love them you will. Newcomers Boyega, Isaac and (especially) Driver and Ridley all bring a distinct sense of enlightened exuberance to each of their roles. There’s a cinematic courtship here that feels organic, that feels earned. …and any minor quibbles are quickly jettisoned in lieu of this terrific acting, the efficiently effective direction, the eye-popping building of worlds, the dazzling special effects, the intelligent, whip-smart script and the fierce, goose bump-inducing, John Williams score. As questions are answered and secrets revealed, there is a new, three-movie path laid before us that exists on much sturdier ground – and if the first step is any indication, this is a new journey I look forward to sharing with my family for years to come. Effortlessly designed to please all ages, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an exhilarating, heart-and-humor-laced, crowd-pleasing thrill-ride – and it takes this series to refreshingly new yet comfortably familiar heights! The Force is, indeed, strong in this one!
Starring: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Domhnall Gleeson, Peter Mayhew, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis and Mark Hamill
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible 3 and Super 8)
Running time: 2hr. 16min.
Story: A continuation of the Star Wars saga, set approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi (Episode VI)Website: www.starwars.com