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Spoiler-Free Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens official poster Image: © Disney

Star Wars: The Force Awakens official poster
Image: © Disney

Before I get into the (lean) meat of my review, let me give you some background. I’m too young to have seen the Original Trilogy in theaters, but my parents introduced it to me when I was so young I don’t remember a world without them in it. I watched all of the Special Edition rereleases in the theater, and all the prequels. Each successive release or new change hurt a little bit (George, why?), but I kept going back, hopeful that “my” Star Wars would still be there somewhere. And parts of it were, bits and pieces here and there. But not much. I had been disappointed so many times that my mantra going into TFA was simply: “Please don’t be awful!”

Reader? It wasn’t awful. It wasn’t even bad. It was actually…a really good Star Wars movie. During our marathon of the original trilogy prior to seeing TFA, I said to my husband that Star Wars is full of clichés and is totally predictable, but the execution and presentation are what make it work. TFA fulfills that promise and more. The settings and cinematography are pure original trilogy, the callbacks are quick and amusing, but it’s in the new characters that the movie really shines. Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) in particular are fleshed-out, three-dimensional engaging characters. And the dialogue is realistic. No more hackneyed speeches that strain believability; these people seem REAL.

The older characters are incorporated seamlessly as well. I admit, I cried every time an old familiar face appeared for the first time onscreen. Part of that is due to John Williams’ brilliant scoring, of course. And they don’t intrude, they are part of the story without overwhelming the story.

Speaking of story, I won’t say much here except that it was engaging, interesting, and leaves just enough to set up the rest of the trilogy without too many maddening loose ends. In its bones, this is a Star Wars movie and the best one of its kind in decades. I’d put it slightly above Return of the Jedi, in fact, and I can’t wait to go see it again. And again.

One more note: the only tickets I was able to secure were for a 3D showing, which I think adds only a little bit to the experience (mostly depth of landscape on planets and slight motion sickness in space battles) except for one part: the opening crawl. It was pretty neat to see those familiar (and unfamiliar) words scrolling away from me in three dimensions.
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