In 1977 the cinematic universe changed forever with the release of Star Wars IV: A New Hope. The brand expanded with two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). The films were all instant classics, combining the wow factor of lightsaber duels and thrilling space battles, and classic themes of family and good versus evil.
In 1999 the first prequel was released, launching a new trilogy attempting to provide a back story of Anakin Skywalker’s path that led him to the dark side where he became Darth Vader. The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were generally regarded as complete letdowns, and Revenge of the Sith turned out mediocre.
Fortunately, George Lucas has redeemed his prequel mishaps by launching the first sequel to the original trilogy, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the same man who directed the new Star Trek films, the new Star Wars has already shattered box office records due to its large fan following.
Starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, the sequel brings in a new generation of heroes while keeping the old timers around for both nostalgia and practical plot reasons. The most notable of characters from the original trilogy is Han Solo, spectacularly reprised by Harrison Ford. He’s not quite as agile as he was in his younger days, but his pretentious wit is still there. Oh yeah, and so is Chewbacca.
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega shine as Rey and Finn, who go on an intergalactic quest to get some precious information to The Resistance. The Resistance is the new association of freedom fighters rebelling against the tyrannical First Order, bearing a remarkable resemblance to Nazi Germany, led by Kylo Ren. Kylo Ren, masterfully played by Adam Driver, imitates the intimidation factor of Darth Vader but shows weakness in controlling his anger. In my opinion, he’s a nice addition to the Sith Lords of the Star Wars universe.
Overall, The Force Awakens is a fantastic sequel. The original three cannot be beaten, but the latest installment far outshines the prequels. What it does so beautifully is combine the old with the new. There’s enough similarities to the original trilogy to keep the same overarching themes, but it’s different enough to be its own movie. BB-8 displays the same youthful zaniness as young R2D2, but R2 seems to have aged with the passing of time, providing a nice contrast. Han and Leia’s love interest is still there, but it’s obvious that they’ve been through a lot since Return of the Jedi. The parallels between Episode 4 and Episode 7 are obvious, but Episode 7 seems to have the potential to head in a different direction.
And don’t worry. The Millennium Falcon is back in all its glory. When it first showed up on screen I grabbed my buddy’s arm in a mix of excitement and youthful wonder. No spoiler alert here: this is a movie worth seeing.