FAR, FAR AWAY — Star Wars is back!
And I’m not saying that in a, “Hey, another Star Wars movie is out,” kind of way either. I’m shouting from the rooftops, “Star Wars is back!” The characters, the themes, the childlike magic — it’s finally returned in a gift-wrapped, glee-inducing box of wonderment.
As always, we’ll avoid spoilers as we chat about the highlights, but note this time we’re being extra cautious. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is definitely a less-you-know-the-better movie, and we’re going to honor that as much as possible.
Still, if you want to know absolutely nothing about the film — a position we respect and support — you may want to come back to this article after you’ve enjoyed your own “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” experience. If you’re still reading however, well, here we go:
Why would you be reading a section with a heading titled “The Premise”? You don’t want to know the premise. All you need to know is “The Force Awakens” takes place approximately 30 years after “Return of the Jedi.” Full stop.
Some of the skepticism surrounding J.J. Abrams’ involvement in the Star Wars universe revolved around his recent relationship with the Star Trek franchise. Star Trek had practically been declared dead by Paramount before Abrams JJ’d up the place.
But whereas Abrams boldly took the Star Trek universe where it had never gone before, with Star Wars, he meticulously pieces together a story within the existing universe created for episodes four, five, and six. Sure, he and “Empire Strikes Back” writer Lawrence Kasdan have built new and exciting elements into “The Force Awakens,” but they’ve done so using elements from the original package.
“The Force Awakens” feels like a Western again. No more senate meetings or Jedi council chambers. No more hyper-polished space ships or big-city planets. This next chapter takes place outdoors where it belongs, with rubbish-ships and impossible odds.
If you’ve listed J.J. Abrams as an item anywhere on your list of concerns, feel free to cross that line out right now.
The original characters
There’s a certain amount of credibility “The Force Awakens” is granted because, well, that’s Han Solo standing next to the Millennium Falcon again, for crying out loud.
Thanks to Kasdan, classic characters act, react and interact like they would with an additional 30 years of experience, which means letting them into your heart again will be a quick and welcome transition. You may even find simply hanging out with these old friends is your favorite thing about this latest episode.
While the new characters go a long way in selling the future of the series, it’s the classic characters that give this chapter its heart.
Usually we pick three or four distinct highlights to chat about, but since we’re staying clear of any details let’s just wrap this up with a very broad swipe of the brush.
John Williams is back — which means the music is exactly perfect. Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac), Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are all worthy and actually interesting additions to the continuing cast of characters. BB-8 is both adorable and strangely practical, and “I have a bad feeling about this” is folded in appropriately and given to the perfect character.
Non-Star Wars fans will be correct when they point out the film’s flaws during your morning joust around the office water cooler, but you’ll also be correct to smile, place your hand on said critics shoulder and start humming William’s main Star Wars theme. “Bum, bum, da da da da da…”
The biggest compliment I can give “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is it feels like it belongs.
People who have insisted on only watching the original trilogy during their annual Star Wars marathons will have no trouble sliding episode seven into the mix. Disney may not be getting everything right these days, but it has pulled off its first entry into a galaxy far, far away with respect. I suspect now, fans will proclaim to the mouse house, “I love you.” And Disney will reply, well, you know the rest.
Originally published for KSL.com.