Star Wars: The Force Awakens

From the moment that familiar yellow print begins slowly scrolling into the far distance, we know we are in familiar territory. In the jammed theater we held our collective breaths as we were quickly enveloped in a running firefight with familiar war-craft flitting across the screen.

Director J.J. Abrams ("Star Trek") working from a PG-13 script he wrote with Lawrence Kasden and Michael Arndt, never overlooks any icon that might touch our hearts and trigger fond memories. We are watching a battle in which The First Order is trying to annihilate The Force once and for all. The rebels need the last Jedi, but he is lost in the mists of time: Luke Skywalker is considered no more than a myth to the young Resistance fighters involved in today's struggles.

A small part of an enormous cast includes:
  • Daisy Ridley ("Mr. Selfridge") is Rey, a scavenger who steals the Millennium Falcon. She is trying to protect a little droid called BB-8 which supposedly has a map that reveals the whereabouts of the mythical Luke Skywalker.
  • John Boyega ("Half of a Yellow Sun") Stormtrooper FN-2187/Finn is sickened by the slaughter of innocent citizens by The First Order so he goes AWOL. When it is assumed he is part of the Resistance, he goes along with it.
  • Oscar Isaac ("The Two Faces of January") Poe Dameron is the hotshot Resistance pilot who rescues Finn as he flees The First Order.
  • Harrison Ford ("The Age of Adeline") Han Solo is trying to locate The Millennium Falcon, which had been stolen. He and his sidekick Chewbacca board her just as our scavenger/thief takes her up in an attempt to elude officers who are trying to arrest her.
  • Carrie Fisher ("Maps to the Stars") Princess (now General!) Leia leads the Resistance. She and Han have a bittersweet reunion and together they worry about the new leader of "The First Order," which formed after they defeated the Galactic Empire three decades ago.
  • Adam Driver ("This is Where I Leave You") That new leader of "The First Order" is Kylo Ren, who seems inspired by his predecessor Darth Vader, complete with black mask and altered speaking voice.
  • Mark Hamill ("The Flash") shows up right at the end as the all-too-real Luke Skywalker. Rey brings him his light saber!
References to previous situations (trash compactor, anyone?) and familiar locations (remember that bar?) brought murmurs of recognition from the audience. Our packed house was totally focused on their beloved icons with their unique traits and against-all-odds challenges. We welcomed each character as soon as we recognized him or her. Harrison Ford in particular has many of the best lines (or at least he makes the most of them!). He and Carrie Fisher were particularly welcome, although R2D2 generated an audible response, as did C-3PO.

It appears that some of these young whippersnappers are ready to step up to the plate and continue this saga. If so, they need some new controversies. We enjoyed the film -- gunfire, blowie uppie stuff and all -- but I hope this Episode VII has closed some old traditions and Episode VIII, which is filming now, will launch some new ones.
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Check for familiar faces:
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