Like most of you, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I stepped out of the theater. The Force Awakens is actually really good. It’s great, actually. It’s a worthy addition to the series and the first Star Wars film in a very long time that lives up to its name. So let’s take a moment to appreciate it:
Rey – It’s an amazing thing to behold a star being born. Daisy Ridley is a name we should get used to hearing, one that will outlive us all. She commands our attention and respect as Rey, a strong and uncompromising hero who will be an inspiration to girls and boys alike. We admire her toughness but relate to her struggles and doubts. In the end, it is her courage and heart that carry her through. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
Han – Harrison Ford doesn’t miss a beat stepping back into the skin of Han Solo. The cocky grin, wisecracks and perfect timing are all still there, and the smuggler has fallen back into his old ways. A scoundrel will always be a scoundrel, I suppose. Part of the magic of the film is how it unravels the mystery of what’s been going on for the past 30 or so years, and it hasn’t been an easy ride. Han has emerged older and wiser, and his progression plays out perfectly for the guy who shot first.
Grit – The Star Wars universe once again feels gritty and dirty, the way it’s supposed to. Jakku is essentially a planet-sized landfill, and Rey is consistently getting short-changed there by Simon Pegg’s corrupt Unkar Plutt. We get to explore another hive of scum at villainy at Maz Kanata’s. Han even encounters bounty hunters after his head. And yes, the Millennium Falcon is still barely holding together. The sets look real and worn throughout just like the Star Wars we know and love.
Pacing – The Force Awakens almost never lets you catch your breath. The movie flies by faster than an X-Wing. Like Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi before it, our heroes find themselves escaping one scrape only to find themselves landing in another situation that’s even worse. Tight editing combines with another terrific John Williams score to power us along a relentless ride that never lets up.
J.J. Abrams – We can be forever thankful to the Jedi Master who shepherded us into this new Star Wars era by recapturing what we love about the original series and still delivering an experience that feels fresh. Critics and naysayers will nitpick and debate The Force Awakens for years, but no one can deny that Mr. Abrams has crafted a grand and fun adventure that allows us to once again escape into a galaxy far, far away. Thank you, sir. We are forever in your debt.
Of course, we also love Finn, Poe and Chewie. No end of internet fun has been made of Kylo Ren, but he is a frightening new villain. And didn’t seeing Luke give you chills? I can’t wait to see the movie again and again and again. It’s a great time to be a nerd. Thoughts?