WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW.
Before telling you about this installment, I think I owe it to you to not assume that you have seen the previous episodes and explain them a bit. I'm doing this from memory so I may get a few small facts wrong, but the gist of it is correct.
In 1977 a movie called Star Wars: A New Hope - Episode 4 was released. It was a coming of age story centered on the fight between good and evil.
In the "Good" category:
·Luke Skywalker, a young man whom his aunt and uncle raised and who wants nothing more than to go to flight school.
·Obi-Wan Kenobi, a mysterious old man with a mysterious power called "the force." He was one of the only two remaining good Jedi Masters.
·Princess Leia Organa who has asked Obi-Wan to help her and the rebels fight against the oppressive rule of the evil empire.
·Han Solo who is a two-bit smuggler and his pal Chewbacca, plus two droids - C3PO and R2D2.
In the "Evil" category:
·The emperor who also has the force and was a former good Jedi. His power is stronger then Obi-Wan's.
·Darth Vader. The emperor's main enforcer. He too is a former Good Jedi with a very strong connection with the force. He makes sure that the emperor's plans are executed.
Star Wars ends with Luke, Leia and the others in a huge space battle in which the evil built and run, Death Star, a space station the size of a planet that can blow up any planet in the galaxy is destroyed and Darth Vader and his space craft are sent swirling into space leaving room for a sequel.
In 1981 Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back is released. The rebel alliance has enjoyed little peace. They are hiding from the evil galactic empire on the ice planet of Hoth. While Leia, with the help of Han Solo, is trying to plan the next move for the alliance, Luke is off to train with Yoda - the last of Good Jedi( in phsyical form) and a Jedi Master who wishes to train Luke to become a Jedi. Yoda and Obi-Wan have determined that Luke has "The Force" just like them and just like Darth Vader. While he is training Leia and Han get into trouble. Bad debts have followed Han and he is captured by a bounty hunter and sold. Meanwhile, Leia is once again in the clutches of Darth Vader. Luke decides to go help Leia, this is risky because he hasn't finished his training, but he must help his friends. He rescues Leia and ends up going toe-toe with Darth Vader. During this battle Luke loses an arm, and gains some disturbing news about his family tree. Now Leia rescues him and they escape. They vow to find Han Solo and help crush the evil empire once and for all.
In 1983 Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is released. Leia has found Han and is trying to rescue him and she, herself is captured. Luke, now the last Jedi in the entire galaxy, in turn rescues them and they go forth with their plans to destroy the evil empire. They land on a planet inhibited by furry little creatures called Ewoks. With the help of the Ewoks, the turn off the shield that protects the new Death Star and the rebel alliance is able to destroy it. Meanwhile, Luke once again faces Darth Vadar, but this time, his skills are stronger and he gets the upper hand. Darth and the Emperor are stopped and the alliance is free.
In 1999 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is released. This movie takes us back in time. It charts the origin of Anakin Skywalker and Queen Padmé Amidala - Luke's parents. It is revealed that the Trade Federation is who began what later became the evil empire. They are led by Darth Sidious, a person that has never been seen, but is clearly in control. We are given hints that it is in fact Senator Palpatine who is Darth Sidious and it is he who becomes the emperor (we met him in early movies, which take place in later years). The unsuspected senators of all of the planets of the galaxy don't know that they are being manipulated and with each passing year they give him more power. Even though a young Obi-Wan is able to defeat Darth Sidious' henchman - Dark Maul, the innocent people of the galaxy are in trouble they just don't know how much yet. Even the discovery of young Anakin Skywalker, who at 8 shows exceptional talent and has a very strong present of the force, can't save them.
In 2002 Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clonesis released. About 10 years have passed and young Anakin (Hayden Christiansen) has grown into a fine young man with a powerful connection to the force. Even his master, Obi-Wan is a bit in awe of Anakin's potential, but first Anakin must learn discipline. Meanwhile, Amidala (Natalie Portman) who is now a senator, has come to the planet to vote on an important matter, while there, two attempts have been made on her life and Jedi masters, Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda (voice by Frank Oz) decide to assign a still smitten Anakin to watch over her. But the important back story is all of the political wheeling and dealing and the growing control Palpatine has over young Anakin. The Galaxy is in peril. It is teeter-tottering on the brink of War, but know one but the "puppet master" knows this. Each and every decision has the consequence of breaking the peace, but they could only know this if they knew everything that was going on.And only one person knows that for certain.
In 2005 Star Wars (Episode III): Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and the Jedi Council know that they are pretty much in a catch 22. They can't defend the entire Republic and so they needhelp from Palpatine and the clones, but they really can't give him that control. They know that someone is pulling the strings behind the scenes. When Palpatine is kidnapped by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) they learn more about the situation. Following Dooku, leads them to General Grievous, a nasty cur, who is causing grief through out the planet system. Something is "hinky".
Meanwhile, Anakin is being pulled one way by the council and the other way by Palpatine, he finds solace in his super secret marriage with Padme (Natalie Portman). A marriage that won't be secret for much longer because Padme has become pregnant (we know that she is carrying Luke and Leia). After learning this Anakin is, of course, happy, but he having a horrible vision that involves Padme and her pregnancy. His vision fuels him to want to learn both sides of the force because he believes this the only way to protect those he loves. This line of thinking also pushes Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) to not trust Anakin and wonder what his motives are.
It is this serious of events that lead to a climactic battle of good vs. evil and introduces us to arguably the most villainous character in recent cinematic history - Darth Vadar.
In 2015 Star Wars The Force Awakens (Episode VII) is released (thank God for Jesus!)
It takes place 25-30 years after the Battle of Endor in which Vader was defeated. We learn that Luke Skywalker has vanished. He tried to train a new generation of Jedi’s and one turned on him and destroyed everything. Luke, blames himself and disappears. The aforementioned Jedi is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).He is to The First Order, what Vader was to the Empire.The Force is strong in Ren and the Supreme Leader Snoke like the Emperor before him, is using this to his advantage. They will stop at nothing to find Luke and crush the good side of The Force for good, if only they can find him….
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) the best pilot in the fleet of pilots for the Resistance has been given a clue to Luke’s whereabouts. He is captured before he can get the clue to Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) He hides the clue in his drone and unbeknownst to Rey (Daisy Ridley) she now has the most sought after information in the Galaxy.Rey is just a young woman who scrapes by, by pillaging the wreckage of various ships that crashed during the last war.She turns in the junk she finds for scraps of food. She happens across the droid (sound familiar?) and understands that he is on confidential mission (sound familiar) and decides to keep him safe.While she is keeping the droid safe, Poe is being helped by a Storm Trooper with a conscious. This Storm Trooper who Poe names Finn (John Boyega) can not stomach the violence and bloodshed. He does not want to kill innocent people so he plots to free Poe.After they crash land, Finn meets Rey and together they vow to get the droid to Princess Leia and The Resistance.
They get some unexpected help from Han Solo and Chewbacca. Rey and Finn learn that Jedi’s are not just a Myth and that the force really exists and Han Solo is not merely a character in a fairytail. All of the past was real and they are headed don that ath again. And during the course of their race to find Luke, Rey begins to blossom, not just as a courageous young woman, but as a fierce warrior and learns as one would say, “The Force is strong in this one”
No seriously, I’m not new to the J.J. bandwagon (Regarding Henry, anyone? Joyride?) not everything he touches is gold, especially on television, BUT that man knows how to rework a franchise/ (Mission Impossible, Star Trek –I wish he’d take over Spiderman) They story that he and Lawrence Kasdan wrote and the story that he directed have completely rescued Stars from that bullshit second trilogy. Mattafact, I’d be okay with him redoing episodes 1,2, and 3.
Star Wars was always a coming of age story about Luke Skywalker. I love how its now a coming of age story about a young woman. One who I believe is his daughter. We’ll see in two years.I love that there is a strong black character in this trilogy. The moral compass of this series is Finn. I love the sensitivity in which both Rey and Finn are drawn. These are two scared young people who have not real ties to their past and no guidance. We are learning about them as they are learning about themselves.
They only character I had trouble getting behind was Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren.I’m not sure he was the right casting choice. Nothing personal. The only time I appreciated him was when he was in scenes with Rey. Any other time it was a big yawn for me. I get that he idolizes Darth, but those were some big shoes to fill and I just didn’t hate him in a way that I hated Darth. He does something that will make the world hate him. But were it not for that, it would be “ho-hum”.It was great seeing some familiar faces maybe Lando will be back in the next one?
Do not hesitate and if you can afford it, catch it on Imax. J.J. Abrams and his crew have restored the shine to our beloved story.The Force is awakened, indeed.