First look review: ‘The Force Awakens’

Posted on 16 Dec 2015 at 7:38am

Some of the newcomers in ‘The Force Awakens.’

Our teaser review of Star Wars. The full review — and reviews of a half-dozen more holiday films — will be in this week’s Hollywood Issue, out Friday.

The last time director J.J. Abrams got his paws on a sci-fi franchise — Star Trek —he did a sly bit of tap dancing to make the original characters relevant again, with an out-right reboot that nonetheless clung to the past by purporting to follow a separate timeline. He couldn’t get away with such underhandedness with Star Wars (George Lucas, unlike Gene Roddenberry, is still around), so he did the next best thing: He took the finest elements from Episodes IV through VI, shuffled them around a bit, and cooked up a soufflé of the new and the familiar, of old friends and new leaders.

The plot is right out of a Saturday morning serial: A map to the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, the last surviving Jedi, has been placed in a droid found by Rey (Daisy Ridley), an orphaned scavenger on a remote desert planet. She teams up with a pilot, Finn (John Boyega), the first-ever stormtrooper with a conscience, to escort the droid to the Rebellion leadership, and defeat the First Order, Nazi-like descendants of the Dark Side of the Force. They escape in a rat-trap cargo vessel called you-know-what, whose former pilot (Harriso…. C’mon!) and first-mate track ’em down.

There are more than a few plot holes. But stop asking those questions! This is action-adventure with a soul, the ultimate marriage of chick-flick and nergasm that provides a love story (just try not choking up when Han and Leia reunite) and parent-child dynamics that delves into something primal. Star Wars was the defining pop culture touchstone of my generation; it feels like The Force Awakens could be the same for post-millennials. The Force Awakens is everything it promises to be — everything you want it to be… and more.

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