This is spoiler free.
As the days drew nearer to the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was wondering if this new film with a number of the original cast was going to basically wallow in nostalgia. Could they capture the magic that the franchise once had? That magic, by the way, was not there in the prequels, which weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great, either.
The verdict is it does capture the magic and move us forward.
The return of characters like Han Solo, Lei and Luke did give us all a sense of the past when we were back in fifth grade. But the inclusion of these characters was not just about reliving the past, as it was about handing things off to a new generation.
I personally credit J.J. Abrams for this. The director that took on two of the greatest science fiction franchises and revived them for another day. In 2009’s Star Trek, we see the late Leonard Nimoy in the film paired with the new cast. There is a scene in that movie where Nimoy as the old Spock talks to Zachary Quinto’s young Spock. You get the sense that one generation is handing things off to the new kids. That move lent that movie credibility and the freedom to move forward and not be stuck in the past.
That’s what happens in the Force Awakens. It’s been nearly 40 years since the first Star Wars and it’s time to hand things off to a new generation.
The story is good and familiar in many ways if you’ve seen the first movie. My only issue was trying to figure out the geo-political framework of this galaxy far, far away (like, why is there a New Republic and a Resistance)?
If the prequels scared you away, you can come back now. The Force Awakens has acheived balance in the universe.