Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a spoiler-free review

It is unsurprising that Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two’s record for preview showing ticket sales. The part-science fiction, part-fantasy, part-western phenomenon has held the galaxy enthralled since the premiere of the original Star Wars in 1977, which starred Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fans were delighted when creator George Lucas followed his groundbreaking masterwork with two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). 

The saga continued later on with three prequels, The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005). A number of fans were highly disappointed by the prequel trilogy, and many were apprehensive that The Force Awakens, brainchild of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and acclaimed director J. J. Abrams, would similarly discredit the success of the original trilogy.
A promotional poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Overall, the film appealed to the vast majority of viewers. Though some might say that it was too similar to the 1977 film, but this was merely a return to form that heralds a new era of excellence in the saga. The film stars returning actors Hamill, Fisher, and Ford while introducing new players including Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, and Oscar Isaac as the charming Poe Dameron.

The film opens on the desert world of Jakku, where the villainous Kylo Ren, a leading figure in the sinister First Order (the remnant of the Original Trilogy’s Galactic Empire), leads a mission to capture Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, who carries information vital to the plans of the First Order. Dameron’s droid (a Star Wars term to describe robots), BB-8 escapes with the information and encounters Rey, an orphan scavenging in the desert. With the help of Finn, a defector from the First Order, Poe escapes, leaving Finn stranded on Jakku, where he, Rey, and BB-8 must deliver the information to General Organa (Princess Leia of the originals) at the Resistance Base. 

The best aspect of the film is its screenplay, which is similar in style and tone to the original films. It is likely that this is a result of the presence of Lawrence Kasdan, the writer from both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The script makes excellent use of highs and lows, knowing when to insert airy persiflage and when to commit to high drama. 

The individual performances of the actors were enjoyable overall. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley displayed wonderful chemistry as Finn and Rey. Poe Dameron’s charismatic rogue is the honey that draws the audience inward. However, Ford, Fisher, and Hamill managed to hold their own against the new cast members. Adam Driver’s portrayal of the villainous Kylo Ren was altogether unimpressive. Perhaps it was just the way the character was written, but with the high hopes that every fan of the series had for this villain, he fell sadly short. In the beginning, he seemed promising, using lines that one might expect from Lord Vader himself, but as the film progressed, he seemed almost childish and prone to whining. Although some feared that Kylo Ren would be a Vader reboot, he almost leans toward the angle of being an annoying character; not Jar Jar Binks annoying, but annoying none the less.

Few were surprised at the box office success of The Force Awakens, which at the time of this article, has grossed over $610 million at the box office internationally. Brent Lang, Senior Film and Media Reporter for Variety Magazine, predicts that the film will ultimately generate more than $2 billion, placing the film in the company of James Cameron films Titanic and Avatar

The Force Awakens has, without a doubt, become a smash hit. To the younger generation of Star Wars fans, it brings forth new characters to love or hate. To those who have been watching since 1977, the success of this film means the dawn of a new, golden age of Star Wars films that will eclipse the disappointment of the Prequel Trilogy. And to those who had to suffer and start with the prequels, let’s just say, “Thank heavens for J. J. Abrams!”

--Brendan Massar and David Griffith, Special to

Edited: BP

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