Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens

Thank you George Lucas! Thank you for selling Star Wars to people who care about it and who understand what makes it great. Thank you for realizing that you no longer had the perspective to see that greatness and those around you couldn’t tell you that. You are a genius; you created something brilliant; others will take it from here.
All that angst and wailing that occurred when Lucas sold the rights turns out to be for nothing. I, myself, was optimistic. J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy could hardly do worse than that prequel trilogy. They did in fact do a great deal better. The Force Awakens compares favorably with the movies in the original trilogy.
In this, Episode VII of the great saga, it is thirty years after the events in Return of the Jedi. The Jedi left again when the training program that Luke Skywalker created for young Jedis was destroyed by a pupil who went to the dark side and killed all his classmates. Now, the events of the rebellion against the Empire are shaded in myth and a sinister power called The First Order has arisen and is starting to conquer systems. So the Rebel forces are regathering to fight the new menace. Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher, is now a general in the resistance. She sends one of her best pilots Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, to find Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill. Luke has gone missing after the betrayal and no one has seen him for a number of years.
The trail leads to the planet Jakku, where a troop of nomads has a map that leads to Skywalker. Poe gets the map but the nomad’s camp is attacked by First Order storm troopers. Before he’s captured, Poe puts the map, which is in some kind of data recording device, into his astromech droid BB-8. The droid escapes into the desert and encounters scavenger Rey, played by Daisy Ridley.
Meanwhile on the star destroyer, Poe is being interrogated by Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, a masked villain, who is powerful with the Force and worships the memory of Darth Vader. Poe escapes with the help of Finn, played by John Boyega, a storm trooper whose conscience bothers him after the massacre of the nomads on Jakku. They make it to the surface but crash, each believing the other is dead. Finn finds Rey and after another storm trooper attack they escape the planet by stealing a ship that happens to be the Millennium Falcon.
That’s probably about as much as I can tell you without getting into serious spoilers.
As I’ve said in this blog before, I am more of a Star Trek guy, although I do love Star Wars as well. But I can’t tell you how powerful my emotions were when that music came up and the text started scrolling on the screen. Even that, however, paled when I reached that point in the movie, where I thought to myself, “this is really good!” That’s a terrific moment in any positive artistic experience but in one that is so important to your youth…there aren’t any words to describe it.
I’m sure there are flaws in this film but I was too excited to see them. So let’s just focus on the positive. The script by Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt is great. The dialog is terrific and the plot is self-contained but obviously part of the greater arc of this trilogy. The settings and characters are very reminiscent of Lucas’ original vision. J.J. Abrams is by now an old hand at directing effects heavy high profile movies and this one is smooth. It doesn’t drag anywhere nor does it seem hurried. The acting is as good as it needs to be. This isn’t Shakespeare, people. And of course all the technical elements are perfect and beautiful. They were wise to rely more on practical effects than digital ones.
My only problem is that I’m going to have to wait two years to see the next installment. This is intolerable.


4 Responses to “Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens”

  1. 1 Mark Anderson December 20, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    1. As I read this review I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the enthusiasm expressed therein, but the last sentence you wrote injected complete, unquestionable authenticity into everything that had gone before it. You really do Believe.

    2. Sometime in the very recent past, your blog became the first result returned by Google for the search terms “The Other Ebert”, finally passing its last competitor, Roger Ebert’s review of “The Other”. I prophesy the day is not far distant when readers will look at the title of your blog and say in puzzlement, “The ‘Other’ Ebert? There is another?”

  2. 2 theotherebert December 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Mark, thanks for the kind words. I remember the time you borrowed my copy of the novelization of the first movie. You claimed you could read it in one day and still fulfill your duties as a volunteer at COSI. At the end of the day we were on the bus going east on Broad Street. At the Maplewood stop which was one stop before mine, you only had a few pages to go but I was worried that you weren’t going to make it. So I leaned over and said “They blow it up.” To which you replied, “Wauuugh!”
    You did finish the book though.

  3. 3 Mark Anderson December 21, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    I had managed to keep that memory repressed for the last thirty years or so. Thanks, pal.

  4. 4 theotherebert December 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Actually, it’s closer to forty years. And you didn’t really think that there was a chance that they wouldn’t blow it up did you? These things have never been stunningly original in their plotting.

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