And so, the wait is over. Star Wars fans around the world have rushed into theaters, taking with them their excitement and dozens of theories and emerged with all new ones, finally letting out one great sigh of relief. At last, Star Wars feels like Star Wars again. Directed by J.J. Abrams, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” continues the tale of a galaxy far, far away, thirty years after the conclusion of the original trilogy. Peace in the Republic is now being threatened by the evil First Order, led by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke and his apprentice, Kylo Ren.
The film follows two new characters-an ex- Stormtrooper named Finn, played by John Boyega, and Rey, a scavenger from the desert planet Jakku, played by Daisey Ridley. They attempt to thwart the First Order’s search for Luke Skywalker, who as we are toldby a very nostalgic opening crawl, has disappeared. Despite his absence, fan favorites Han Solo, Princess Leia and even Chewbacca make their long awaited return to the big screen as characters old and new struggle to defeat the First Order and find their place in the galaxy.
From begining to end, “The Force Awakens” is everything a Star Wars film should be, a fun, swashbuckling adventure with a genuine sense of wonder and emotion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the film’s strongest attribute: the characters. Whether they were nostalgic favorites like Han Solo or new comers like daring X-Wing pilot, Poe Dameron, every character made a lasting, visceral connection with eachother, the story and the audience. This is due in part to the slew of acting talent contained in the Force Awakens cast. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher returned masterfully to their roles as the suave Han Solo and Princess Leia, lending the film the weight of their veteran talents. John Boyega brings his infectious charm to his performance as Finn and Daisy Ridley perfectly conveys Rey’s shining good nature as well as her character’s inherent mystery and lonliness.
But the stand out performance of the Force Awakens ultimately belongs to Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren. Driver instills Kylo Ren with a humanity that has never been seen in a villian from the Star Wars universe. His struggle between the dark and light is made all the more compelling by Driver’s ability to craft a character that is both threatning and suprisingly vulerable. It is truly amazing that through the talents of one actor, a single character managed to have more humanity than any of the Star Wars prequels. With the failures of the prequels in mind, Abrams seemed determined to recapture the essence of the original trilogy.
The return to practical special effects, the familiar themes of the iconic John Williams and the familiar locations all seem to be a welcome return, but some fans remain unconvinced. Many criticize “The Force Awakens” as an unabashed remake of “Episode IV: A New Hope”, because it borrows heavily from familiar Star Wars imagery and plot lines. However, it was essential for Abrams to harken back to the orignal trilogy to prove that another Star Wars film could be made that, unlike the prequels, actually looked and felt like Star Wars. With that being said, audiences around the world have already willingly accepted the greatest new attribute of the Star Wars films: diversity.
A total gross of over a billon dollars at the box office proves that audiences have accepted a female as the main chracter, and Nigerian as a charming hero, and Latin actor, Oscar Issac man as the best pilot in the galaxy. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the first in a saga that is brimming with potential, the first step on the franchise’s road to recovery, a massive leap for diversity in Hollywood and an all around excellent film.