Growing up with Star Wars, I’ve been through all the motions: Loving it as a kid, being made fun of as a teen for not letting go, and holding out for a new hope that that particular joy of space battles and lightsabers would someday be repeated. Like many other fans I thought that day would come in 1999 with the release of “The Phantom Menace”, sadly the magic was not recaptured, instead it became a joke, so once again with the ridiculing for loving something so childish, but still refusing to let go.
After the Star Trek reboot, everyone wanted to see if director J.J. Abrams could also reinvigorate the once great Star Wars franchise. Plus if you look at it, ’09’s “Star Trek” it essentially followed a Star Wars formula. Now the time has come and there is a new film “Episode VII: The Force Awakens”. There is the old characters, like Han Solo, Princess Leia (now General), Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker. Plus a new young generation joining the fold, a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), a Stormtrooper turned traitor called Finn (John Boyega), and rogue X-wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). The adventure continues 30 years after the original trilogy as all these characters meet for a similar goal against a common enemy that rose out of the ashes of the Empire, a group called The First Order, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and a mysterious red lightsaber-wielding figure named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who are in search of a Maguffin (a object used to set the plot in motion) akin to the DeathStar plans from the original ’77 version.
Director Abrams does this by the numbers, not to appease fans who were burned by the prequels, but much like the original intention of George Lucas when he made the prequels. As something for a new generation that wish to journey to that galaxy far far away. Written by “Empire Strikes Back” scribe Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt along with Abrams, the film feels like it was written by a two different generations. You got the nostalgia for the 30 plus year fans, and a fresh voice mixed in to keep it modern, so you get a lot of jumping back and forth between them both. It is balanced pretty good, and the characters are great, and most of the humor is spot on. The only thing lacking is some of the beats didn’t quite land, or make that big of an impact even though they are huge moments in the story. Still intact is the fun, the action, and the sense of spectacle that every great adventure needs.
Knowing that this is once again the beginning of a Star Wars series with both sequels and stand-alones for the next six to seven years, I am glad that my kids and I will have multiple opportunities to play in this world together and experience new adventures with the old and new characters. Mostly I am glad that this is what Star Wars is now, because “The Force Awakens” more closely resembles the Star Wars I remember and, now more than ever, I am glad that I never let go.
–Robert L. Castillo