“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is probably the most review-proof movie ever released. The reality is it is more of a cultural phenomenon than an actual movie.
Whether these movies are any good or not really doesn’t matter. George Lucas proved this by releasing a trilogy of prequels set in this beloved universe and they still made tons and tons and tons of money in spite of the fact the movies themselves were generally agreed to be mediocre at best.
But now, Lucas has stepped aside, releasing this juggernaut of a brainchild into the ready and willing hands of Disney and director J.J. Abrams.
So, on to the big question. Is this new movie — the one you are absolutely going to see no matter what I, or anyone else, says — any good? The answer is yes, it’s actually kind of perfect.
Now, I don’t mean it is a perfect movie. It has its share of plot contrivances and draggy bits and probably relies a little too heavily on the original story structure. But then, regardless of what countless comic-book-store arguments would lead you to believe, none of the original trilogy “Star Wars” movies were perfect, either.
What I mean by perfect is “The Force Awakens” is exactly what it needs to be. Once you fight past all of the hype and anticipation you are left with a movie that delivers the bedrock of new mythology while paying appropriate deference to what has gone before it.
Set 30 years after “Return of the Jedi,” we meet lots of likable, compelling new characters. There is reformed Storm Trooper Finn (John Boyega), bold and capable scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), daring X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and the cruel and conflicted student of the Dark Side, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). There’s even a new droid named BB-8, who looks to claim the adorable robot championship belt from R2-D2.
Of course, what we’re really interested in is seeing our beloved, familiar friends back in action. There’s Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew)! And General (nee Princess) Leia (Carrie Fisher)!! And Han freakin’ Solo (Harrison Ford, at his grizzled, wily best)!!!
Whither Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)? That is the mystery that drives the film and if you think I’m giving that away, you’re crazier than a womp rat. I’ve come too far in life to have it ended on the streets at the hands of angry fanboys wielding plastic lightsabers.
What “The Force Awakens” gets right where the prequels failed is sure it’s visually spectacular (with more practical sets than green screens this time around), but more importantly, it’s fun.
There are jokes that actually land and a true sense of adventure, discovery, and wonder that permeates the entire film. Abrams wrote a script with “Star Wars” vet Lawrence Kasdan (and an assist from Michael Arndt) that zips lightly on its toes (no plodding talk of trade federations here).
Since this is the beginning of a trilogy, there is a lot of stage setting, but unlike the Marvel movies which mostly feel like steppingstones to the next movie, “The Force Awakens” stands on its own, making you want to experience it again instead of instantly yearning to rush off to the next installment.
So go out, get your ticket and join in all the hullabaloo; confident this time you won’t get Jar-Jar-ed.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.