By: Nick Gambino
Having just watched what amounts to a re-capturing of the magic only delivered in the original Star Wars trilogy, I’m faced with the dilemma of delivering a spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
With the amount of plot development and twists and turns that occur it seems my review, to avoid spoilers, would have to begin and end with, “This is a solid piece of cinema that deserves the title of Star Wars.”
But alas the editor wouldn’t accept that 14-word review so let’s see what we can do to expand this.
The 7th entry in the Star Wars saga begins with the familiar title crawl which sets up exactly where we are in the movie universe and what’s happening much like the beginning of every prior installment. Right from the familiar opening, questions are answered.
The title crawl is not the only thing that hits the nostalgic button. Familiar theme music, practical effects, non-CGI “aliens” all play a part in selling the magic. Fans will be pleased with numerous references to the expansive Star Wars universe while newcomers won’t feel like they’re late to an exclusive party they should have never been invited to.
J.J. Abrams and writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt masterfully jockey varying levels of audience expectations.
Beyond plot, what the movie does better than any of the prequels is character development. From Finn, the runaway Storm Trooper to Rey, the scavenger, they all play a vital part in the plot. Each has his or her flaws as well as strengths while following a well thought out character arc.
Kylo Ren, a mystery since the announcement of the character and the release of several trailers, is easily one of the most fascinating spectacles of the film. Whenever he’s on screen you’d be hard-pressed to take your eyes off him. Adam Driver delivers what’s easily his best performance to date.
The original cast like Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca pick up right where they left off. Watching Han Solo being so…Han Solo-ish feels so right. He’s still the wise-cracking, cocky pilot we came to love back in the day.
Carrie Fisher as Princess…sorry, General Leia, turns in a decent performance though she doesn’t receive as much screen time as Han. And just in case you were hoping to see certain unnamed droids, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
All in all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens delivers exactly what you would want in a sequel to a series of films near and dear to many. It ups the stakes, delivers the action on a huge scale, develops the nuances of characters to make it feel grounded and doesn’t lose itself in the past or its own ego.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.