Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Road to IX

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens features the long-awaited return of fan favorites while introducing us to a new generation of characters.

Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) are back but Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has gone missing.  The Resistance has a new band of heroes leading the way for a younger generation.  Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and BB-8 are certain to take Star Wars into the future.  Of course, Finn has the unlikeliest of backgrounds with coming over from the First Order.  He wouldn’t be the first to see the light–I’m looking at you, Agent Kallus.

Taking Luke Skywalker out of the film was a bold decision on the part of the filmmakers.  We saw this in the marketing–aside from the cameo with R2-D2 in Rey’s vision, he was nowhere.  However, the decision to do so gives us a reason to focus on Rey’s awakening with the Force.  But this film isn’t so much Luke’s story in as much as it is getting to know Rey and Dark Side counterpart Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).  If you’ve seen the film, you know how Ren fits into the original trilogy.  Honestly, it didn’t come as a surprise.  Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) clues us in when Kylo Ren interrogates him early on in the film.

I love how the Millennium Falcon is first introduced in the film.  “Garbage.”  Yet that garbage is Rey and Finn’s only hope to getting off the planet!  You can’t help but appreciate the moment of nostalgia.  It made for a great segue to Han and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) coming home again.  The fact that Han isn’t with Leia anymore is rather saddening to say the least.  It seems as if he and Chewie have reverted back to their old ways.

The Star Wars universe grows bigger with adventures taking us to new sets of planets, including Jakku.  It’s on Jakku where we first meet Rey for the first time.  As we came to know over the course of the anthology series, Rey is among a number of strong independent women with similar characteristics.  When I look at Rey, I see a lot of young Skywalker.  The only difference is that she’s yearning for her family while Luke wanted off his planet.  Will we ever find her family?  The future seems cloudy here.

When the Force awakens for Rey, it allows for a number of blink-and-miss it vocal cameos.  Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Emperor Palpatine, and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader among them.  Old friends, long gone.  Still, what a joy it was to find out what happened to a long-missing lightsaber.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens more than makes up for the sour taste of the prequel trilogy.

DIRECTOR:  J.J. Abrams
SCREENWRITERS:  Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt
CAST:  Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow

Lucasfilm opened Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters on December 18, 2015. Grade: 4.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.