Star Wars: The Force Awakens – was it worth the wait?

I was one of the lucky ones who got to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 17, a day before the official release date.  Like millions of us, I’d waited patiently, and anticipation was high when I walked into the theater and made my way to my leather recliner seat with a soda in one hand and popcorn in the other.  The murmuring around me was intense. There were wookies and jedi in the audience, along with a Princess Leia and a young Anikan Skywalker. There were cloaked figures, and one man who kept telling everyone he wasn’t the droid we were looking for.  The theater personnel was nice enough to start the film after almost everyone had left the concession stands and were seated in five of the eight theaters showing the film.  My version was in 3D, which, both sad and wonderful to say, was my first 3D movie I’d ever seen.

I thought it was great that there were no previews. Not a one.  The lights dimmed, the music started playing, the film started rolling amidst wild, crazy clapping and whistling … and then it stopped. In the beginning of the text scrolling as if floating in space, the screen went black, as if snuffed out by the dark side.  Of course the boos began and someone pulled out a light saber and shouted to the dude in the ‘film box’ “You can do it! Let the force be with you!” This, of course, solicited laughter, and in a matter of seconds, the movie began again.

“In a galaxy far, far away…”

I gotta tell you folks. I got the chills.  Star Wars 6 – Return of the Jedi released in 1983.  32 years I’ve waited for the saga to continue, and no, I did not think Episodes 1, 2 and 3 counted. They were afterthoughts, fillers, and did little to quell the hunger for a real Star Wars movie.  I mean, how does one top Hans Solo?

But it’s been 32 years. Hans, Princess Leia and Luke are getting old. Darth Vader, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Yoda are dead (I think they’re actually in Jedi heaven, but whatev). Who could possibly step in to fill their shoes?

Well, we have the next best pilot in the galaxy, Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Issac ), and damn is he good!!  See photo here

The beautiful, scrappy, Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), who discovers she’s not only a junk collector, but also a kick-ass female Gandalf. I mean, the chick can wield a staff!  See photo here,

Finn (played by John Boyega), the best stormtrooper ever! I mean, this dude rocks his part, and the brief scene between him and Kylo Ren on the planet Jakku (which reminds me a lot of Tatooine minus an extra sun) was spine-tingling. see photo here,

and last but not least,

the amazing villain, Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver).  see photo here. Ahh!  Heart be still.  Darth Vader would be proud, young Kylo.

(NOTE:  I’m not posting pics here due to copyright issues. Don’t want to get in trouble with the big guys, know what I mean?)

In my opinion, these new characters ARE the next Hans, Leia and Luke. I fell in love with them right away. The old, snarky humor of the original movies is there, and the new, young actors pull it off well.  Of course we see our favorite characters from long ago: Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), as well as Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2. We are also introduced to a great new little bot named BB8.  You will fall in love with this little rolling double-ball of circuitry, make no mistake.

I do have some issues with the film such as plotting and explanation.  There are too many unanswered questions for those of us who never read a Star Wars book ever, such as Who is Rey? Who is Poe Dameron? Where did they come from? Who are they related to, if anyone? How did Kylo Ren become who he is and who in the hell is that big, I mean massively huge alien dude in the chair who thinks he’s all that?

I thought the film was predictable, but it’s Star Wars. It wouldn’t be the story we have all come to know and love without X-wing fighters, blasters, light sabers and the force.  Still I think there should have been a bit more revelation. And I wish the ending had been different. I wanted a follow through on a decisive moment, but it never came. Everyone in the theater was yelling, “Do it! Take it!”  Let me tell you, I wasn’t the only one who let out a “You’ve got to be kidding me! No freaking way!” comment. Argh!! I still want to ‘fix it’.

Overall, I was pleased with the film. I’m glad J.J. Abrams went back to the old-style Star Wars and not regurgitate another pathetic piece like the films my kids grew up with. I hope the trend continues with the next installment in the saga.

If you’ve seen the film, I would love to hear your thoughts, but please, no spoilers. Peeps have waited a long time to see this film so please don’t ruin it for them. If you haven’t seen it, I would love to hear what you’re excited to see and what you expect. Until then…

always be kind, tell those close to you that you love them, and may the force be with you.

Bonus Video – the making of Star Wars