It is pretty risky for an iconic movie series to release a new installment almost a decade after the last episode premiered, especially as its last release was not exactly a fan favorite. The last release in 2005 concluded a three-movie prequel series that was not well-received by fans. However, go see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and any fear or disappointment will evaporate. At movie theaters, fans stand in the lobby in their Chewbacca or Jedi gear, and as the credits roll, roaring cheers and applause give a sense that the film means more to people than most normal flicks do.
Fans intrigued by the excitement surrounding the release of “The Force Awakens” with no background knowledge of “Star Wars” other than “Luke, I am your father” should expect a little confusion at times. There are times when the camera pans to a character that was in previous episodes and those around will cheer and laugh at memories from the older films. However, there is no need to binge watch all six of the previous episodes; the film stands on its own and does not require viewers to understand the series’ history. Watching the other films in the franchise will ensure that you get all you can out of “The Force Awakens,” though.
The movie opens on “Star Wars”’s iconic scrolling text with a quick summary of background information. Not only does the familiar music and instantly recognizable yellow text look cool and nostalgic, it also helps give new viewers an idea of what is going on. After that, viewers are introduced to a war scene, as stormtroopers take over a village and wreak havoc on the people who inhabit it. In the middle of the chaotic scene enters new evil ruler Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who helps run the First Order, a new version of the Dark Side that has replaced the Empire. Like Darth Vader, Kylo Ren is concealed by a black mask that disguises his voice and identity, and we soon learn that he is just as, if not more, intimidating and evil as his predecessor.
Perhaps the reason why the movie is such a success is that the plot is compelling yet simple: Luke Skywalker has gone missing. A plot that intrigues old-time fans as well as new or casual fans, it is easy to understand how Luke’s disappearance is a big deal for the galaxy. Almost every character is trying to find a map that leads to Skywalker’s location and the robot who carries it, BB-8. The little robot, as well as C-3PO and R2-D2, serves to display the studio’s animation skills, but it is also funny, cute, and frantic and gets a lot of screen time.
The First Order has put a hefty reward on BB-8 and is after the robot themselves because Kylo Ren needs the map in order to complete his wish of destroying any Jedi who still remains in The galaxy. However, on the path to return the map to the Resistance, an organization run by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), BB-8 gets lost from his master Poe. Oscar Isaac plays witty pilot Poe, who only appears for a short time but steals the few scenes he is in. The robot then falls into the hands of the intelligent and independent main character Rey (Daisy Ridley), stranded on the planet Jakku waiting for her family who abandoned her long ago.
After Rey befriends the robot, she meets hilarious stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega). Finn is on the run from the First Order because he has realized he wants to leave the Dark Side after being brainwashed to kill.
These two characters have a unique chemistry; they are witty and strong and play off of each other in a comedic way. The two leave Jakku together in the Millennium Falcon with fan favorites Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). The group then attempts to return the map to the Resistance, traveling from desert planets to planets covered in lush green forests and meeting interesting new characters all while avoiding the evil Kylo Ren, his storm trooper army, and anyone who wishes to capture BB-8 to collect Kylo Ren’s reward.
Even if you are a casual fan or have not seen the other six movies, “The Force Awakens” is full of original characters, heartbreak, fear, and plenty of lightsaber battles. The film’s storyline flows smoothly and holds the audience’s attention the entire two hours by avoiding any dull or slow-moving scenes. There is no need to watch all of the previous episodes before seeing the movie because it stands on its own, but after seeing the film you may fall in love with the franchise and wish to watch all the other “Star Wars” films. “The Force Awakens” is an intense, epic and hilarious movie theatre experience complete with killer special effects and battles that will please new fans and diehard ones alike.