The Force comes on strong in this seventh episode of Star Wars directed by J. J. Abrams. Expectations are high among hard-core fans, and they’re not likely to be disappointed. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher reprise their roles (with Leia now a general), grieving for their son who may have gone to the Dark Side. Also reappearing are Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and, briefly, R2-D2 and C-3PO. The special effects are just as spectacular as always, and although bits of story are inserted here and there, the battle scenes constitute most of the picture.
New characters include Rey (Ridley) and Finn (Boyega) who meet for the first time when he rescues her from a dire situation. She is a scavenger with powers she is unaware of so far and he is a former First Order Stormtrooper who abandons his post out of conscience; he regards the First Order (Dark Side) as immoral. Another new character is Poe (Isaac) who works for the resistance and has been trusted with part of the map that will lead to the missing Luke Skywalker. Captain Phasma (Christie) is a female on the dark side. This version of Star Wars has tried to incorporate more strong female roles, e.g., Rey and Phasma, and these two show their strengths appealingly. Dombnall Gleeson as General Hux (for the dark side) is appropriately unlikeable and efficient. Andy Serkis as the Supreme Leader Snoke is appropriately terrifying and ominous. A refreshing new robot, BB-8, originally sketched out by Abrams, is a light-humored, tender addition to the cast.
The spirit and excitement hearkening back to the previous Star Wars has been preserved by Abrams with his writer Lawrence Kasden and composer John Williams; and just enough new material and characters have been added to sustain interest in the series. So it appeals to both ends of the spectrum, nostalgia for the past and suspense for what will come next in the continuing saga. This is the first of a concluding trilogy.
The intriguing ending is enough to keep viewers engaged for the next episode.
Disney Pictures, which bought LucasFilms, has achieved production values equal to the original series. The technical and visual effects are as breathtaking as we would expect in terms of production and art design, set, and costumes.
Rely on The Force.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland