As Yoda would put it: “Suck, The Force Awakens, does not.” In fact, the newest chapter in the saga isn’t just a refreshing palate cleanser for the sour taste of the prequel trilogy, it’s the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. Set thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi, all is still not well in a galaxy far, far away. Gone are the Empire and the Rebellion, but as the iconic intro crawl explains, the battle between good and evil still rages between the ominous (and enormous) First Order and the meager Resistance, led by Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa. It’d be easy enough for director J.J. Abrams to mine the nostalgia of the original trilogy all the way to the bank, but that’s not his style: He’s immensely respectful of the source material and his craft. The new characters in The Force Awakens speak in the same reverence of the characters in the original trilogy that most fans do. But no one is as enthusiastic as Abrams is behind the camera. Along with cinematographer Dan Mindel, Abrams has given a lush, expansive, and gorgeous new makeover to the Star Wars universe, with sweeping, painterly landscapes of new planets. Where The Force Awakens stumbles is in its rushed third act, which seems to be more focused on setting up the sequels than it is with landing on its feet (135 min.).
Director: J.J. Abrams
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin
Cast: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Ken Leung, Greg Grunberg, Kenny Baker, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Cecep Rahman and Tim Rose