by Cynthia Chow
Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.
Rest assured.Star Wars: The Force Awakens was made for those of us who loved the original Star Wars Trilogy but prefer to pretend the Prequels never existed. Almost more of a soft reboot than a continuation (which it is, taking place thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi), J.J. Abrams plays homage to everything we loved about the first movies without hitting us over the head with the references (as he frequently did in Star Trek Into the Darkness).
As we’re told in the instantly recognizable opening scrawl, Luke Skywalker is missing, the First Order is using the Dark Side of the Force to challenge the ruling Republic, and General Leia is leading the Resistance to battle against the First Order and locate Luke. To be honest, that all doesn’t really matter and it gets a bit confusing figuring out all of the politics. What is important is that Resistance pilot Poe Dameron hid the information leading to Luke in droid BB-8, who is found by scavenger Rey, who rescues runaway Stormtrooper Finn. And they are all being hunted down by Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, a Darth Vader-idolizing wannabe whose temper tantrums must cost the First Order a fortune in damages.
Harrison Ford returns for a surprisingly large amount of screen time, reprising his role as the rogue Han Solo but with an added layer of weariness and experience. A second viewing of the film allowed me to better appreciate the humor of Chewbacca, as well as grow more accustomed to Carrie Fisher’s tight-lipped performance as Leia.
The real purpose of The Force Awakens though, is to establish the three characters who may carry the next two films in the new trilogy. Although Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron pretty much disappears for most of the film, his humor quickly sets the tone and reassures audiences that this is going to be a fun ride. John Boyega, known mostly for his alien-fighting role in the low-budget Attack the Block, is so charismatic and adorable as Finn that audiences will completely accept his immediate bonding with Poe and the non-creepy crush on Rey. It is Daisy Ridley as Rey who is a standout hero for girls – and women – by rescuing Finn repeatedly, impressing Han with her mechanical skills, and not to mention…spoilers.As someone who grew up with the first Star Wars movies and has seen them too many times to count, this was a movie made for me. Not only does it have humor, engaging characters, and snappy dialogue, it is an amazingly beautiful movie. The scenes on the dessert wasteland planet Jakku are cinematically gorgeous, as are the frozen landscapes that never feel too CGI. I was not bored for one minute of this two hour and fifteen minute movie, but it is not a film that bears too much scrutiny once the credits roll. There are a lot of questions left unanswered, and many incidents will have you going, “wait, what?”
However, my second viewing was far more enjoyable than the first, and I was able to ignore those tangents and instead focus on the elements I loved or missed the first time around. I went into this film worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but found that they were actually exceeded. Nostalgia plays a huge part, but what can’t be overlooked is that this is simply a very fun film, beautifully shot, and very well-acted. I would have no problem spending additional hours with any of these new characters, and with 2016’s Rogue One being a standalone Star Wars film, it will be a long wait until 2017’s Star Wars Episode VIII.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website. Platinum Theaters Dinuba 6 now proudly presents digital quality films in 2-D and 3-D with 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound to maximize your movie experience.