star 7


Jeri Jacquin

This is going to be a review filled with twists, turns and lots of evasion as director J.J. Abrams, LucasFilms and Walt Disney Studios brings us back to a galaxy far, far away with STAR WARS: The Force Awakens.

It has been thirty years since the destruction of the Death Star. The Empire may have crumbled but from the ruins the First Order has risen and the Resistance is once again looking to stop them.

First Order follower Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) storms a village on Jakku looking for something in the hands of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Attempting to keep safe, Poe tucks it with droid BB8 and tells him to run! What is being protected is a map to the whereabouts of a Jedi who has disappeared.

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As Poe is captured, storm trooper Finn (John Boyeda) wants no part of what is happening all around him. Taking notice is Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) who orders the trooper back to the ship.

Living and struggling on her own in the Jakku desert is Rey (Daisy Ridley). Coming across BB8, she takes the droid under her protection from others who want it. That is where she meets Finn as the First Order is hot on the droids trail!

Escaping in an abandoned ship, Rey and Finn realize they must get the droid to the Resistance. That is when they meet Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew who both know exactly what to do.

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Kylo Ren and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) are furious with the loss of Rey, Finn and the droid. Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) wants the missing Jedi’s location and orders anyone destroyed who stand in the way of that goal.

Han, Rey and Finn are joined by General Leia (Carrie Fisher) to plan an attack on the First Order. Especially since discovering a new weapon that gets its power directly from the sun. When Kylo Ren and Rey come face to face, a battle begins that will test them both.

But only one will find the missing Jedi!

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give STAR WARS: The Force Awakens four tubs of popcorn out of five. Now, let me explain why that is! Keep in mind I have no intention of spoiling anything for anyone so if you want answers from me, you’ll have to use the force!

Let us start with the good stuff – I love, and mean LOVE, that J.J. Abrams did not attempt to reinvent the Jedi-wheel. From the beginning up-scroll and intro music to characters that could easily have been seen in 1977 – this felt like a home coming for me.

The mixture of the original features with new characters, the story isn’t so very far apart.

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That is the best for those like me who were there opening day in 1977. It is also pretty cool that I can now hold a conversation about STAR WARS with my grandkids without having to explain who the original characters are and how they fit in. J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt not only honored my heroes but gave them purpose once again.

Of course I was thrilled with the X-wing fighters, recognizable uniforms, storm troopers, crafts and lightsaber whose distinctive sound is still music to my ears. The costuming is still awesome and there isn’t anything that feels out of place or struggling to hard to make me believe in the “new” STAR WARS story.

Harrison Ford returning as Han Solo brings that memorable humor and friendship with Chewbacca. Jumping in to help Rey and Finn, it brings him back to Leia. When the two meet there is distance but when it comes to the Resistance they are all in. Ford slides into character as if he never left and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see his Solo smirk.

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Carrie Fisher as Leia has no problem with her role as general, even if the word Princess escapes once or twice. She wants to stop the First Order before they find the missing Jedi. She and Solo have unfinished business and it was such a rush to see Leia again.

Boyega as Finn spends too much time out of breath in the first part of the film. The second half of the film he’s had too much coffee or energy drinks. He’s all over the place which I’m hoping he settles in the next film.

Ridley as Rey seems out of place and I’m also hoping that’s part of her characters story waiting to be told. There is so much happening with Rey that there doesn’t seem much time to really get to understand. That being said she certainly has no problem knocking people around when they need it or know her way around a ship!

Driver as Kylo Ren has every intention of being as bad as he wants to be. There is an evil look he has that is going to serve him well – especially if he plans to be the next helmet wearing heavy-breather of the galaxy.

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Gleeson as General Hux has definite anger issues that match Kylo Ren (minus the sword saber). There is a clear rivalry for the attention of the Supreme Leader. After seeing Gleeson in so many ‘sweet’ characters, this was a serious ‘whoa!’ surprise.

Isaac as Poe is the bad boy pilot of the galaxy and has no problem showing it. Christie as Phasma has her own distinctive uniform and it clearly sets her apart.

Let us not forget the droids – BB8 is doing to be this generations R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). Sassy, devoted and stubborn, the only difference is height. C3PO (Anthony Daniels) is still serving Leia and annoying everyone but in a way that still has me rolling my eyes and laughing.

So, am I disappointed? Not in the slightest! There are cheesy moments, twists and turns, jaw drops, laughs, battles, reunions, surprises and the need to remind myself that there will be more to come.

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What is going to happen in a few days will be nothing short of amazing. I remember the lines in 1977 – every weekend for an entire summer here in San Diego (in Mission Valley in fact). Shows selling out consistently and there was no advanced tickets or buying them online in those pre-tech days.

Every weekend brought more and more excitement as people began showing up in costumes – something I had never experienced before. Yet, we were all there to share in the same theatrical experience. When the lights went down and the scroll went up we all cheered because we shared something amazing. How were we to know that in 2015, it is about to happen all over again?

The original STAR WARS brought a sci-fi story steeped in hope, friendship, loyalty and adventure with a battle between good and evil. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens is no different! I expect to see lines for weeks to come because hope, friendship, loyalty and adventure with a battle between good and evil is back once again.

In the end – every generation has a story!