The Force Awakens isn’t the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, but the difference between the two movies is hardly a problem. The Force Awakens was never going to be a remake of the first episode. Instead, it blazes its own trail, going in a separate direction while still incorporating many elements from the original trilogy. For the older generation of Star Wars fans, no movie will approach A New Hope. For the next generation, Star Wars is back and better than ever.
Since plans of the new Star Wars trilogy was announced, tremendous pressure was put on director J.J. Abrams to come through with a treasure and he delivered. Following unprecedented hype and weeks of anticipation, The Force Awakens opened on Dec. 18 and was met with an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both critics and viewers.
Set thirty years after the original Star Wars trilogy, the evil First Order holds control of the galaxy with sights set on destroying the Resistance and finding the missing Luke Skywalker. The two protagonists, Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), stumble into the conflict when they find a BB-8 droid containing a map to Skywalker. From there, Finn, Rey, and BB-8 set off on a thrilling adventure across the galaxy.
While staying clear of graphic violence, The Force Awakens is darker than the originals. To portray the First Order as ruthless, the violence is shown rather than implied (the main reason for the PG-13 rating). The storm troopers are no longer the brainless idiots from the original trilogy. They’re intelligent, malevolent killing machines that pose a sizeable threat to the Resistance. The new villain, Kylo Ren, is equally chilling.
Though it follows a different story, The Force Awakens harkens back to its predecessors. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) play important roles and are joined by favorites Chewbacca, R2-D2, C3PO, and others. Like Ford and Fisher in the original, Boyega and Ridley are stellar in their first starring roles. The storytelling style is similar to The New Hope, giving the story a classic feel. Though lacking a signature line, the dialogue is certainly an improvement and adds the element of humor.
While connecting to the older generation, the combination of The Force Awakens and today’s audiences is a perfect match thanks to technology. The special effects are, as expected, amazing, especially during the daring escapes. Aside from those scenes, the effects are subtle and greatly enhance the film.
The force is strong in this movie. The excellence of The Force Awakens signals a smooth transition for the franchise from the 20th to 21st century, a rare and impressive feat. Viewers worldwide were disappointed in the prequel trilogy, which took a step backward chronologically and figuratively. In contrast, The Force Awakens takes a definite step forward and succeeds the originals as the best film of the Star Wars saga.