The Magic is Back – Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review (No Spoilers)

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Yesterday I had the indescribable, humbling experience of sitting in a quiet theater to see a special advance screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 3 days before its release. I sat with fellow media personalities and representatives – from newspaper reporters and journalists to familiar faces we all know from TV and radio (like Jason and Alexis!). We all had to agree not to post any spoilers or anything about this movie screening, plus we had to wait to post our reviews until a specific date (today for online reviews). It was hard to not go all giddy on Facebook about being one of only a handful of people to see the movie before the official release…but I controlled myself. Until now, that is.

And now I get to tell you about how awesome this movie is.

Don’t worry – you won’t get any spoilers from me. I won’t ruin the movie for you (I know some fellow die-hard Star Wars fans who won’t talk to me ever again if I did). But I will say this – Incredible. Magical. Familiar. And GIRL POWER.

I went in not knowing really anything about the movie or who was in it – other than the famous trio, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, who return as themselves, aged yet robust in their original character roles.

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Of the six previous Star Wars movies, my favorites, like for many, are the original three…episodes 4, 5 & 6, which now lead us into the new Star Wars movie, episode 7. I enjoyed when they updated the original three with the vastly improved computer technology and brought back to the big screen in the late 1990s, and I was entertained when episodes 1, 2 and 3 were released.

I wasn’t as impressed with 1, 2, and 3 as I had hoped to be…and I know I’m in good company. They were visually stunning, but, I felt, more forgettable, and a bit excessive in the CG (computer-generated) enhancements, which seemed to be given more priority than the plot. And I felt Jar Jar Binks was a bit out of place and more for the appeal of and marketing to children, just like the Ewoks were in episode 6. I like the fun factor, but I craved everything that the original three Star Wars films had given us.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens, had a lot to live up to, and it delivered. Directed by J. J. Abrams, a lifelong Star Wars fan himself, brought back what we were all craving…the cinematography and excitement of the original trilogy, without any excess. For example, the new character, BB-8, is a cute, functional droid with an important job who loyally rolls around in the desert after Rey, the movie’s protagonist, but doesn’t get in the way of the story. Rey, a scavenger, is played by Daisy Ridley, new to most of us. One of the movie’s three main characters, along with John Boyega’s Finn, and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, Rey is a desert scavenger with many of Luke’s traits. She alone is reason enough to see the movie, as many of her moments will pull you in so deep that you’ll forget you’re not in the middle of the action with her.

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Han Solo and Chewie are back, and the familiar Princess Leia is now a General and leader of the resistance – though now weary and always concerned for all those she defends. Darth Vader may have been gone 30 years, but the dark side is now the First Order, led by the new Dark Lord Kylo Ren who bears a burdensome secret and is prone to temper tantrums. All the personalities had appeal and leave you wanting to know more about each character. Where did Rey come from? How did Kylo Ren become the Dark Lord? What do we not know about what happened between Han Solo and Princess Leia all these years?

There’s everything you expect from a Star Wars movie…all the emotions you felt when you first saw a Star Wars movie in the theater will come back, but this time with even more depth, beauty and “wow.”

Is this the best of the Star Wars movies so far? Maybe. Some will think so, because anything that was lacking in the other Star Wars movies, isn’t in this one. It’s simply everything you’ve been waiting for.

For families, rest assured that though the PG-13 rating means “parents strongly cautioned,” it’s for the usual Star Wars violence – some blood and definitely intense fighting and killing, but no gore, nudity or profanity (that I noticed, anyway). During the killing and fighting, the camera shows just enough so you know what’s going on, but don’t see everything. It’s not as dark as some other Star Wars movies – if anything, it’s more filled with life and exposes the weakness and humanity behind the darkness. Young kids, say, 5 and under, should not see it. I won’t be bringing my 5-year-old son (at his age, he wouldn’t understand a lot of it). But I would probably bring my almost 8-year-old daughter (if she wants to go)…largely because, I will say, for the awesome “GIRL POWER!” factor of the movie.

Now, I’ve convinced you to go, right? (As if you need convincing.) Well, let me give you some tips.

1) Try not to eat or drink much during the movie. I ate and made sure I made my pit stop before seeing the movie, and I’m VERY glad I did. I couldn’t bear to have missed a second of this movie, and neither will you!

2) Don’t let anyone give you any spoilers, and if you see it early, keep your mouth shut around people who haven’t seen it! I know many people are planning to wait until after Christmas to see it, when the crowds hopefully die down a little, but if you can enjoy the movie without knowing too much, you’ll be all the better. Read the spoiler-free reviews, but that’s it.

3) SEE IT. Okay, nothing earth-shattering there, but seriously, you NEED to see this on the big screen. It’s incredible. Period. And if you’re female, you especially should see it, because it’s empowering.

4) If you haven’t seen them already (where have you been?), see the original Star Wars movies so you know where they left off.

5) While you’re waiting to see it, have fun with these FREE Star Wars: The Force Awakens printables, and check out this trailer:

-Lisa Baker, twincities.webtrisdigital.com and TwinCitiesFrugalMom.com

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STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS arrives in theaters everywhere on December 18th!

 

(Disclosure: I saw this movie at a special complimentary advance screening. No compensation was received and all opinions are 100% mine.)