The following article includes potential spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Read at your own risk.
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.…” The Star Wars opening crawl is one of the most famous and distinctive pieces of cinema in recent history, and for the first time in ten years, it returned to the big screen to preface “The Force Awakens” on Dec. 18 and mark the start of another Star Wars trilogy — one that has had a promising beginning.
The film features a brand-new ensemble of actors, whose plot arc adheres closely to that of the original trilogy heroes. Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) are all interesting and charismatic characters, who help to make the film not only epic in scope, but also dynamic and personal.
Beyond the normal tension drawn from the heroes’ attempt to destroy the now-cliché superweapon, the knowledge of the villain’s identity as the son of two of the most beloved original trilogy heroes adds a further component of uncertainty to the fate of a much-loved character.
One of the greatest criticisms of the prequel trilogy and the re-released Special Editions of the original trilogy was their overabundance of CGI effects, used extensively even when practical effects would have sufficed. For “The Force Awakens,” director J.J. Abrams used practical effects whenever possible, resulting in a movie that feels both very tangible and very reminiscent of the original trilogy. The obligatory mid-movie “cantina scene” in particular is a good example of these effects and feels like it would not have been out of place in the original “Star Wars” (1977).
The plot of the film is highly reminiscent of “A New Hope,” down to the presence of a fatally-vulnerable superweapon, albeit with greater destructive capabilities this time around. It serves to establish animosity between the new Force-user, Rey, and the villain, Kylo Ren (alias Ben Solo), and provides numerous different plot threads to be to pursued in the next two movies.
As a whole, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a truly epic space opera in the pattern of its predecessors. It features numerous callbacks to the original trilogy and feels like a true Star Wars movie and a worthy successor to the franchise. It sets up the trilogy in a promising fashion, and I, for one, look forward to seeing how it concludes.