Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Movie Monday 1/18: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Big event for my husband and I last week - we actually went to the movie theater to watch a movie on the big screen while it was still new! My husband's group at work has been patiently waiting for him to see the new Star Wars movie, but they said they were only giving him one more week, and then they just had to talk about it during lunch! So, we took advantage of our local theater's $5 movies all day on Tuesday, I rested in the afternoon, and we watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the big screen - it was well worth the wait and the exertion.

Unless you have just moved to our planet, I will assume you know something of the previous Star Wars movies (or at least the original)...but don't worry, no spoilers here!

The new movie takes place about thirty years after the last of the original six ended (chronologically, not when they were released, so I mean Return of the Jedi). As you might recall, the good guys won and the evil Empire, with Dark Vader at its helm, was vanquished. But, evil doesn't stay away for long. In this new story, 30 years later, a new evil power, The First Order, has arisen from the ashes of the old Empire. Don't worry, though, because the Resistance still carries on its noble work of fighting evil.

As the movie opens, one brave Stormtrooper with a conscious, a young man named Finn, played wonderfully by John Boyega, manages to escape from The First Order while on a mission and meets up with a young Resistance fighter named Poe. Meanwhile, a tough young woman named Rey, played to much acclaim by Daisy Ridley, lives on a desert-like planet and tries to earn a living scavenging for scrap metal and parts. Rey discovers a hidden message in a droid she finds that seems to be a partial map for finding the elusive Luke Skywalker, who disappeared and hasn't been seen in decades. Rey and Finn cross paths and help each other to survive, as both get pulled deeper into the affairs of the Resistance and the mystery of what happened to Luke. Then, there's the whole good versus evil thing, blah blah blah - you know how that part goes!

I don't mean to be facetious with that last line because this is a really great movie that manages to do what the original Star Wars did - transport you to another world, into an epic battle of good versus evil, peopled by great characters. It's that same mix of adventure, action, and drama, with a bit of romance and a great sense of humor, too. I thought the new movie was a perfect mix of the old and the new.

It's no spoiler to say that many of the old characters return here, since there were so many promotional photos of them together! I expected the audience to cheer out loud when each appeared on screen - perhaps we had an unusually sedate audience at our theater, but I said, "Yay!" and clapped my hands when Han and Chewbacca walked onto the screen! It was like greeting old friends to see each of the old characters and to hear what they've been doing. The newer characters are just as interesting and charismatic as the old ones (though, as usual, Han Solo gets all the best lines - or maybe that's just Harrison Ford's own charm). Rey and Finn are both amazing characters who I definitely want to see more of. And of course, there is a new villain in charge of The First Order.

The movie also blends the old and the new in terms of plot and cinematics, with Rey's planet looking an awful lot like Tatooine, where Luke grew up, the obvious parallels with the young people finding the hidden data in the old droid, and the opening battle scene with Poe and Finn back to back that reminds you very much of the original. There is plenty that is new here, too, though, and it obviously ends quite open-ended...ready for the next sequel. I heard J.J. Abrams say he will continue making more Star Wars movies for as long as people keep coming to see them, so I suspect this world will be with us for a long time. That's fine with us - my husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed this new saga in the journey. Pure fun that put big smiles on our faces!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now playing in theaters. The DVD release date is tentatively set for May, and it will likely become available for streaming around that time, too. If you can manage a rare outing to the theater, this is a good one to see on the big screen!

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