Really, that is the one word that seems to perfectly encapsulate what I am feeling, having just walked out of the theater 15 minutes ago after an amazing and powerful, visual and visceral, roller coaster ride of emotions. And now I have to tell you all about it, without telling you anything about it. How do you describe a film that is so very close to perfection? How do you describe a rainbow to someone that was born without sight? How do you describe Mozart to someone that was born without the ability to hear? I feel that those are equal to the task of trying to describe Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to someone who has not seen it, without revealing any spoilers. That, however, is the Herculean task that lay before me as I sit here staring at my screen.
I am a Star Wars guy. I was six years old what I saw the first film in the theaters in 1977-78. I had all the toys, read many of the early books and comics. I am a proud member of the 501st Legion , which means (for those of you that don’t know) I dress up in plastic spaceman armor for charity. So how do I describe this film to you without ruining it? I suppose one could describe how it all makes you feel. I can talk about the emotions that it brings about or the impact that it had on me. For this film, I can talk about the emotional beats in the story telling and how it all feels right. I can talk about how surreal it was for me, as a fan from the generation that saw the first Star Wars film in our childhood and who grew up along with the Original Trilogy, to be sitting in the theater watching something so new and unknown to me, and yet at the same time to be transported back to A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far, Away in a manner that the prequels were never were able to do. JJ Abrams, who is only a couple years older than I am, is connected to the original movies in the same way that so many of our generation are. He sat in that theater, at the age of 10 or 11, and watched the story unfold with the same wonder as so many others of his and my generation, and when the film was over he told his father that that was what he was going to do for the rest of his life: Make movies. So when it came time for a new generation, our generation, to tell the next chapter, he was ready. Oh man, was he ready. This may well be the film that he was born to make, his Citizen Kane if you will. This is the film that every movie he makes for the rest of his life is going to be compared to. And well it should be. As he has done his job.
And what more can I say, without giving too much away, about this film? I honestly don’t want to spoil anything for you. This is a film that everyone deserves to see for the first time without knowing what’s coming. There are so many moments let make this film special, that make it Star Wars. Han and Chewie, Leia, Luke, R2 and C-3PO, all of them are here, some not as much as I would like, and not just to say they were there. Every moment, every word, serves the furthering of a story that fits this galaxy we love. It is of this place, this vast Galaxy, that George Lucas created and so many others have contributed to. There are several moments, plot turns, and reveals in this film that truly meet the standards set by “No, I am your father”, and that once people are talking about them openly, will be the stuff of discussions that people have for decades to come. The story beats seems to mirror and echo the films of the original trilogy, especially the first two. This film creates a whole new Galaxy far, far, away, one that is 30 years removed from the last one that we knew, and that is just as it should be. When we do see the characters that we know and love from the past they don’t feel shoehorned in, like they were just brought in to be able to say, “here they are!” but more so that they have been around all this time and here we are just bumping into them again, because that’s just how this galaxy works out. So much happens in this film and I am still trying to process it all. I have never left the theater more excited to see what happens next then I have tonight. I have to quote Patton Oswalt who said, “And without spoiling it, I can say that #StarWarsForceAwakens has the BEST final shot of any Star Wars film. Wow.” I mean, really. Seriously, is it 2017 yet?
There’s one spoiler that I can put out there that I don’t think anyone will be upset about. Lens flare. We all know that that is a staple of movies directed by JJ Abrams and you can find a YouTube video of all his lens flare cut together into one giant “Lens Flare SuperCut” to prove it. We saw it in one of the trailers for this movie, and here’s the spoiler: JJ was trolling us. I don’t think I saw a single moment of noticeable lens flare in this entire film. So there’s that.
What I can tell you, is that Finn was a First Order Stormtrooper and then he wasn’t, that Rey was a lonely scavenger on the desert world of Jakku, and then she wasn’t, that Han Solo was a scoundrel and then he… well okay, he’ll always be a scoundrel in our hearts. But underneath that façade has always beat the heart of a hero, and with his stalwart companion, and walking carpet of a conscience, Chewbacca at his side. Is there anything in that galaxy or any other that can’t be overcome? What are the questions of Leia and Luke? Many will be answered, but many more will be raised. I can tell you that almost every single speculation and fan theory that I’ve read in the last couple of years leading up to tonight has been dead wrong. A couple them were closer to correct than I care to admit, at least here in print. I’m not going to make it any clearer for you, so you’re going to just have to go out and buy a ticket like the rest of us and go lose yourself in a place, A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far, Away, that none of us has been in 32 years, and every filmmaker that is going to make a Star Wars film, every year, for the rest of our lives, has a lot to live up to.
I give this film 5 <SPOILERS> out of 5!