Star Wars: The Force AwakensEntertainment News, Movie Review, Section 4A Thursday, December 24th, 2015
Possibly the most hyped movie in a generation, the seventh film in the space opera franchise that began in 1977 is the first without George Lucas’ creative control, as he sold the rights to Disney for $4 billion. And thank God. The Force Awakens, a spectacularly enjoyable thrill ride, is both a true sequel to 1983’s Return of the Jedi – taking place 30 years later — and a reboot of the entire franchise that had gone stale after Lucas’ lackluster prequel trilogy. It brings back the original trilogy’s stars Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fischer as Princess now General Leia and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. But they are partly just there to introduce us to new heroes Rey (Daisy Ridley), Fin (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac), and to masked and villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
It’s somewhat sacrilegious to criticize Lucas’ original characters, but these four, created by director J.J. Abrams and his cowriters Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, are, to put it bluntly, better. Rey, a seemingly orphaned scavenger and preternaturally capable, is one of the best action hero creations in ages. Boyega’s Fin is a guilt-ridden storm trooper who joins the good guys, and Kylo Ren is evil on Darth Vader’s scale. The complexity of their paths in The Force Awakens is simply shocking in a franchise that was always heavy on plot and light on enduring emotion.
Star Wars was famously inspired by the writings of Joseph Campbell, who discussed the archetypal story of the hero’s journey. Archetypes are by definition constantly repeated, and Abrams has created a new hero on a familiar journey. There are numerous homages in The Force Awakens to Lucas’ original film, and there are key departures. The themes of Star Wars, however, are always the same: The hero must face a father and a trial and self-doubt to become victorious. The journey begins anew in The Force Awakens, and you will want to go along for the ride.
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