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Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

No matter what your upbringing, you have a warm and fuzzy attachment to Star Wars. With its universal themes and likable characters (whether they be human, droid, otherworldly creature, or whatever hybrid animal Chewbacca is..heck, even malevolent Darth Vader redeemed himself), George Lucas’ space (soap) opera has something for everyone. And yes, we would all like to pretend that the three prequel films (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, respectively) never existed. Even the most hardcore Star Wars fanboy shudders when you mention little Ani, Hayden Christensen’s rat tail, or the massacre of the “younglings”. Regardless of your level of fandom, however, we are delighted (and relieved, quite honestly) to inform you that there is something for everyone to enjoy in the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

We promise not to spoil anything so here’s our very much spoiler-free plot summation. As you may have already deduced from the trailers and poster, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has gone missing. Though the Empire was defeated by the Rebellion over three decades earlier, a far more powerful (and overtly fascist) regime has formed, naming themselves the First Order. Ruled over by the ominous Vader disciple Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), he and the tyrannical General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) receive orders from the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (a motion capture Andy Serkis) to do their utmost to locate Luke, the final Jedi.

Meanwhile, General Leia (Carrie Fisher) has mobilized a new Rebellion cavalry to ensure that they unearth her brother first and restore order to the Force. Along for the ride are Rey (Daisy Ridley), a resourceful orphan with cryptic lineage, Finn (John Boyega), a defected Stormtrooper with a knack for weaponry and loyal to his core, charismatic elite pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and fan favorites Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (played by Peter Mayhew), C-3PO (played by Anthony Daniels), and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). Ah yes, and lest we forget new adorable droid BB8, companion to Poe Dameron.

Ample pressure and expectations were surmounted by director J.J. Abrams when he took on the difficult task of rebooting and reinvigorating the Star Trek film franchise in 2009. In that particular film, (and in its follow-up Star Trek Into Darkness), Abrams capably gave Trekkies exactly what they passionately wanted from the films-sentimental value and nostalgia-while also creating an action film that was accessible for those unfamiliar with the series. In The Force Awakens, he and returning screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (who co-wrote the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) adroitly manage to do the very same for Star Wars fans. They also leave many plot questions left unanswered, leaving director Rian Johnson a world of possibilities to explore in the next Star Wars film.

Technical details (including set design, costumes, and cinematography) are all top notch but the true star and an enthralling force to be reckoned with is lead actress Daisy Ridley. In a year on film that includes many powerful and empowering roles for women (see Furiosa, Katniss, each of Alicia Vikander’s varied characters are just a few examples), relative newcomer Ridley’s Rey is the one people will be excitedly chatting about long after John Williams’ timeless score in the end credits has played.  

[star v=4]

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.