I was among the ranks of the Sci-Fi watching public who viewed every trailer over the last year. Disney studio rationed out previews like treats before rabid dogs at a feeding frenzy. During the months leading up to its release the actors, production crew and anyone even remotely connected with the film were sworn to absolute secrecy. But it was worth the wait.

As the story goes...It is 30 years since the destruction of the Death Star and Luke Skywalker the last Jedi, has vanished. A new empire called the First Order has risen from the ashes  – one that seeks to destroy Luke and the residue of the Republic for Galactic domination. Leading the charge is Commander Kylo Ren, a protégé of Supreme Leader Snoke. In conjunction with this, a strong opposition has made its stand led by General Leia Organa. And that’s just the back story folks.

The story revolves around a Rey a scavenger, who inadvertently crosses paths with an escaped droid BB8, who has landed on the Junkyard Settlement planet where she ekes out a precarious living selling scraps. Unknown to her is that the mini droid is carrying the only map leading to Skywalker’s whereabouts and the First Order is determined to find the droid and use the map to discover Luke and destroy him. Enter Stormtrooper FN-2187 AKA Fin. Fin deserted his post as a stormtrooper after realizing he lacks the stomach for senseless killing. He escapes to the same settlement where he encounters Rey along with the droid. The three team up to avoid an attack by the oncoming Sith command who are in pursuit of the droid. They steal what appears to be a rusty bucket of an abandoned ship called the Millennium Falcon. 

British actor, 23 year old Daisy Ridley stars in the career trajectory role of Rey. She has unintentionally landed in the middle of a galactic fight of the new empire’s making. But she’s a born survivor who catches on quickly when she realizes the stakes, and sweeps the audience along on a journey of adventure and personal discovery. Ridley played the part admirably considering that the resurrection of an entire film franchise rested on her newcomer shoulders. She demonstrated creditable acting talent and emotional depth as she struggled with forces far beyond her comprehension. The young scavenger rises to the challenge embracing the momentum propelling her towards an unforeseen destiny wedged between two powerful forces. 

Fin, played by John Boyega earns a sizable target on his back when he joins with the droid and Rey who are harboring the coveted map to Skywalker's whereabouts. Boyega, another Brit was plucked out of near obscurity to play this leading part in the long-awaited juggernaut franchise. In the aftermath of his desertion, Fin seeks a new path to follow - preferably one that leads away from his Sith background. He finds it when he chooses to focus his energies against the Order that he once served. Fin is well played by Boyega who gave us a noble hero for the cause and teammate for Rey.

The film was a nostalgic journey - a seamless blending of the original films and the new one. Harrison Ford returned as the inimitable Han Solo accompanied by the biggest furry comrade in arms ever - Chewbacca. All his charm and humor of the original films was in tack. I admit that I could hardly wait for him to appear on screen, and when he did my joy was complete. Ford was the tonic needed to bridge the gap between original feel of the story and the continuation. The two had me chuckling as much as ever as they warmly sparred for preeminence in battle scenes.

Carrie Fisher reprised the role of Lei who has exchanged the princess robes for the uniform of a general. Leia is now older, wiser and battle-weary from years of resisting the evil empire. Yet, she holds on to the hope that her brother has survived and will one day return and restore justice. Mark Hamill played Luke again...but I can't say anymore without giving away spoilers; except to say that he did not have enough screen time for my liking. It is interesting to note that in spite of a lack of screen time his presence still dominated the film.

Of course what Star Wars film would be complete without the perquisite masked villain? In the original films it was Darth Vader, in the last trilogy it was Darth Maul, and in this film it was Kylo Ren played marvelously by Adam Driver. Ren's mission was to destroy the last obstacle to total power - Luke Skywalker. Driver was a beaut' as the dark master with mind control powers and a rocked-out mask on a par with Vader's. Not only that; his character had something to prove and he was willing to go to any lengths to accomplish it. 

J.J. Abrams, director of the Star Trek reboot was the perfect choice to sit in the directorial seat. In Peter-Jackson-type-style he made the movie with a reverence for the original script, while straddling the generations in the Force AwakensThe film was a rip-rollicking space ride packed with plenty of fun, fabulous flying scenes, edgy fight scenes and the alien get-ups we've come to expect from the genre. The old characters nudged us along memory lane, and the new ones introduced another whole generation to the space story of the ages as conceived by the mind of George Lucas.

Disney purchased the franchise from Lucas for $4 billion in 2012 after an 18 month pursuit of the empire. Lucas got 40 million Disney shares from the deal making him the 2nd largest non-institutional shareholder of Disney. Lucas said "It is now time to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers." However, it is Disney that is singing Zip-a-dee-doo-dah all the way to the bank. To date the film which opened less than a month ago has taken in 1.7 billion worldwide with no end in sight.

Disney has plans to hit us with the Empire again in two more films. No problem. This is one (and I mean one) time when the sequel idea sits okay with me, and I can hardly wait to see where the story goes. I can almost hear the Imperial armies marching...


Popular Posts