JJ Abrams got it right.
You can forever banish the prequels from your mind. It’s awfully hard to tell you how good this is without spoilers, so let me just say if you have any worries, you can leave them outside.
Yes, the screen pops when Han Solo arrives, but our two new leads — Daisy Ridley and John Boyega — are more than capable of carrying this film and earning our love to stand beside the iconic characters of the Original Trilogy. The plot moves fast, the writing is sharp, the dialog is snappy, and not a moment is wasted from start to finish. Star Wars The Force Awakens is the real deal.
As to plot twists, no, I’m not going to spoil any of them for you, because everyone should have the same gasp experience as those of us at the world premiere and the press screenings.
The big question is this: Is The Force Awakens as good as the first Star Wars? I’m talking about Episode IV, of course, but there’s a generation of us for whom the “fourth” installment in the series is forever known simply as “Star Wars,” that movie we all experienced for the first time in 1977, our eyes wide with wonder and excitement.
The answer is no, but for this reason only: When the first Star Wars hit the screen, it was new and fresh, and none of us had ever seen that universe before.
Now we have, so The Force Awakens can’t wow us for the first time again, it can only take us back to a world that already exists for us. But it does it in such great style, with such aplomb, that it almost feels like the first time. Almost.
My only critique is that this isn’t a film for Star Wars virgins. If you’ve not kept up with the franchise or aren’t familiar with the story, you will miss the callbacks and emotional touchstones. It will likely be just another sci-fi action movie for you. But for the rest of us, it’s nearly perfect with all its reverberating moments. The mirrored callbacks to Episode IV’s cantina scene, for instance, fill us with glee.
I really like the fact that JJ showed us the original characters aging in this world. Where George Lucas gave his original universe a “lived in” look, JJ gives our iconic characters the same “lived in” feel. Han and Leia have had entire lives, and you can see them on their faces, all lined with love, care, and heartbreak.
Oh, by the way, the final shot of The Force Awakens will stand as one of the greatest in the entire franchise. It’s a perfect ending and a wonderful moment that leaves us breathless and waiting for the next chapter.
Star Wars is back. See it on the big screen as many times as you can.