At the Star Wars: The Force Awakens showing I attended, people clapped and cheered when Han Solo (Harrison Ford) appeared on screen -- along with Chewbacca. As an avid Star Wars fan, I couldn’t help joining in. Although the film was very watchable up to that point, “the rapscallion of the universe” (as George Lucas calls this character) livened things up considerably with his humor and special charisma. Ford has been doing a lot of that in recent movies. For example, he practically stole the show in 42 and The Age of Adeline. Clearly, the new Star Wars team faces stiff competition from this veteran actor.
Members of that team include Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, and John Boyego. Among the Evildoers are Adam Driver and Domhnall Gleeson. Isaac gets the story underway as an expert pilot on a dangerous mission who meets up with an AWOL stormtrooper (Boyego) and a scavenger (Ridley) travelling with an important droid. These three may have different motivations for fighting Evil, but they soon begin working together in a common cause that includes finding Jedi Luke Skywalker. All these actors give energetic performances -- most notably Ridley -- but Gleeson surprised me the most with his portrayal of a Nazi-like general who shouts orders to his underlings. I had just seen him as the rather subdued programmer in Ex Machina and now realize his impressive acting range. Driver also excels as a mysterious, powerful Sith.
The Force is with filmmaker J.J. Abrams, who makes sure this seventh Star Wars adventure contains thrilling action scenes, exciting special effects, and colorful characters. Thankfully, composer John Williams stayed on to provide another stirring score. My only complaints involve the length of the movie and its disturbing ending.
Does the plot (screenplay by Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt) matter here? Yes -- but if I write much more about it, the spoiler police might be after me. My poem below will have to suffice.
Galaxy warfare once again?
New stars arrive to draw us in.
And Han Solo joins in the fray --
reluctantly, as is his way.
The Force seems strong for one new star
whose bravery glows from afar.
Light sabers shine in fast-paced fights.
Creatures abound. Oh my, such sights!
Chewbacca’s back and he fights too.
Plus fun robots, both old and new.
Leia needs help to find her son.
How will she feel when all is done?
Good against Evil is the theme.
Of course we cheer for Good’s fresh team.
For Star Wars fans, this film is great.
Now we can all go celebrate.
(Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and rated “PG-13” for sci-fi action violence.)
For more information about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.