The Force Awakens demonstrates the correct way to launch a new Star Wars trilogy.
Although it possibly takes more knocks than it deserves, the second Star Wars trilogy that began with The Phantom Menace missed the boat on a lot of things. Overall it didn’t engage fans the way it should have.
The Force Awakens avoids those missteps. It’s a canny blend of modernity and nostalgia that hits the sweet spot for Star Wars fans. It uses a sheen of what fans loved about the original trilogy as an entry point for an engaging new saga.
Characters were always the bedrock of Star Wars. The second trilogy often missed that boat. The Force Awakens crafts a strong slate of fresh characters played by an excellent group of young actors. The new creations feel three-dimensional, with complications and complexities that give them depth. The young cast embraces the Star Wars ethos with obvious relish and play well off against the returning favorites from the original trilogy. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as central characters Rey and Finn are especially good. They seem like big stars in the making.
You can’t have a Star Wars movie without droids. Old favorites C-3PO and R2-D2 turn up and those are great moments. But there’s a reason every young kid on the planet will be hoping for BB-8 on Christmas morning. BB-8 is an adorable, engaging creation that The Force Awakens deploys almost flawlessly.
Even though the second trilogy was a prequel that led into the events of the original Star Wars movies, they always felt disconnected in some ways. The Force Awakens feels far more grounded in the original trilogy. Many stars are back and plot points can grow organically from the original story. The Force Awakens makes all sorts of callbacks to the originals, in settings, characters, dialogue, visual motifs and themes. But it never feels like a retread or pandering for nostalgia. The production finds clever, interesting ways to work connections to the original movies that grounds them in what fans love but allows the new trilogy to stand on its own and go its own way.
The Millennium Falcon turns up. There are a variety of colorful, imaginative aliens. Including the requisite scene set in an exotic alien bar.
The Force Awakens plays with the mythology of the original trilogy in interesting ways. It sets up plenty of mysteries, only some of which this installment resolves. The final scene will have fans eager to see what comes next.
The movie is bold. The Force Awakens isn’t afraid to take some chances. Fans will love some of it and be devastated by some of it. It will all feel like it matters.
The Force Awakens is breaking box office records for a reason. It’s smart, creative and exactly what fans want from a Star Wars continuation.
The Force is strong with this one.
Come on, I had to say it.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on December 21, 2015.