Menu

‘Star Wars’ Just The Way You Like It

Chewbacca-Harrison Ford-Hans Solo-680          I have seen
the future of Star Wars, and I am
relieved to discover that it closely resembles the past. By emulating the look
and feel of the original 1977 George Lucas megamovie, director J.J. Abrams has
delivered comfort food for a starving (and eager) audience. Is it revolutionary
or life-altering? No. Is it enjoyable? Yes…and that’s what matters most.

         The events of
this story (by Abrams, Michael Arndt, and series veteran Lawrence Kasdan) take
place some thirty years after the events of Return
of the Jedi
. That enables Abrams to bring back Han Solo, Princess (now
General) Leia, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3PO, and Chewbacca, who are most
welcome and who, it must be said, have grown older gracefully. At the screening
I attended, even familiar props and settings inspired bursts of applause.

         As for the new
characters, Daisy Ridley is a standout as the resourceful scavenger Rey, an
instantly likable, take-charge character who becomes a de facto heroine. John
Boyega’s character—a Storm Trooper-turned-resistance fighter—isn’t fleshed out
quite yet, and an underutilized Oscar Isaac seems primed to step into Han
Solo’s shoes, since he adopts that iconic character’s cocky, wiseguy attitude.

BB-8 and Daisy Ridley - Rey - 680

         But this
film’s trump card is the original Han Solo, Harrison Ford. He effortlessly
slips back into the role that made him famous and dominates the screen every
time he turns up. He is the very personification of a movie star,  fully engaged yet still able to toss off a
barbed line of dialogue with the greatest of ease. Some of his swagger is
tempered by wistfulness after all these years, especially when he sees Leia for
the first time.

The actor’s commitment to this
character (and our history with him) makes up for a somewhat routine storyline.
There are the requisite chase scenes and battles, and an offbeat villain in the
person of Adam Driver, but the movie has a Teflon quality to it: nothing much sticks
with me except the delight of seeing Ford back in action. I also enjoyed the
newest droid on the block, the cute, globular BB-8, and the Yoda-like Maz
Kanata (enacted and voiced by Lupita Nyong’o).

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) with Stormtroopers..Ph: David James..©Lucasfilm 2015

But it’s the underlying mythology
that George Lucas created almost forty years ago that propels this new
installment, not the visual effects or rejuvenation in the casting. The
presence of John Williams’ majestic score is a tangible reminder of what
captured the world’s imagination in 1977. Will this Star Wars, with its hints of changes to come, blaze a path for a
new generation of fans, or will the momentum of the original carry this reboot
to its pre-sold fans around the world? It will be interesting to see as the new
saga unfolds.

Incidentally, I saw the movie in
3-D (not in IMAX) and while it was fun I don’t know if it added significantly
to my enjoyment of the picture. 

12 comments

  1. Norm says:

    May the ticket sales be with you…I’ll wait for the DVD, fifth version in ultra-spectrum illumination with super duper hi-flopperdupity equano sound distribution…Give my regards to Harrison…

  2. TomH says:

    Thanks for sharing! I always enjoyed keeping track of your new star ratings for each entry in the franchise. I was very sad to learn that 2015 would be the last edition of your Movie Guide.

    What star rating would you give "Force Awakens"? Or will there be some new venue when we can see new star ratings from you?

  3. CC says:

    It not only resembles the original – It IS the original. It is the SAME story, (Swap Rey with Luke, BB8 with R2D2, Finn with Han, Ren with Vader)
    It’ is a complete rehash.

  4. NickyDowning says:

    A hybrid of sequel, remake and reboot in which J.J.Abrams (a hero of mine) plays the tricks he’s shown us in "Star Trek" and "Star Trek Into Darkness". But this time they don’t work : the original actors a are there, and there’s too much "dejà vu".
    It’s too bad Lucas’s treatments for the new trilogy were scrapped, and those complaining for the expanded universe not being taken into consideration have got a point. The cash awakens, the audience snores, and money never sleeps. The downfall of one of the best producers of her generation : Kathleen Kennedy. Try again, J.J….

  5. Norm says:

    After Abrams sent Star Trek into the tank one would have to see the same warning signs especially if Lucas had "NEW" ideas that were junked.The "Creator" as he likes to call himself sold out along time ago, and for anyone to expect more would be ambitious.

  6. scott says:

    I was 9 in 1977.Star wars fans do not get any bigger than me.I do not hate the prequels to me they are comic book escapism.I absolutely loved the new film.

  7. Michael De Lazzer says:

    I thought Daisy Ridley was my biggest takeaway. Her first confrontation with Adam Driver was a terrific piece of acting where little was said, but so much was conveyed. Kudos for JJ Abrams for bringing back the charm of the original trilogy, particularly by creating a droid that’s even more expressive than R2D2, and allowing the movie to have some humor. The basic storyline worked for me. I really like generational stories like this one. The few things I didn’t care for (trying to tiptoe around spoilers here) the space station and comparison scene to the Death Star (needed a more creative idea– it felt like a retread). The ending– could have done without the last 6 minutes or so– leave it for the next episode, please. The movie didn’t really take me anywhere new. Familiarity is a good thing, but I would have liked to have seen a little more "wow" factor– one thing Episode 1 did quite well (though Darth Maul trended into the ridiculous and let’s just forget JarJar altogether). I saw the movie in good old fashioned 2D and didn’t feel like I missed anything.

  8. Van Roberts says:

    Did I miss your star rating?

  9. Adrian F. says:

    I’m not sure I agree. I believe the new cast did more than enough to rejuvenate the series. The story line falters a bit for me I have to admit, and the bigger Death Star seemed like pure laziness on the part of the writers. It was better than it was bad, and in a way for such a large series that could be considered a failure I suppose. I’ll have to give it another go.

  10. Marla Thornton says:

    How many stars would you give this Leonard, three?

  11. Jim DePalma says:

    Lenny, you may want to preface your future reviews with the caveat of either "An honest evaluation of a piece of cinema"
    or "Movies to watch in lieu of re-runs on TV". The truth is Episode VII will take its rightful place in the annals of
    filmmaking for biggest box office, but also as having the least amount of value to the art form. I agree with George’s initial perspective on this addition to his legacy, and I would guess Walt has started spinning again at what is being associated with his life’s work. The term "enjoyable" is relative and I did not think your review reflected the proper balance of your readers.

  12. mike schlesinger says:

    Finally caught up with it yesterday. The 3-D was very good, but more important was the IMAX. I schlepped up to Universal City to see it on an original IMAX screen, and for the "theft" of the Millennium Falcon, the screen opened up to its full 1.44 ratio for a sequence shot with IMAX cameras. It was–and this is a word I never use–awesome. Well worth the extra dough just for those few minutes.

Leave a Reply

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Ad

PODCAST

 photo MALTIN_ON_NOVIES_AD2_zpsboz6pvfm.png

PAST MALTIN ON MOVIES PODCASTS

APPEARANCES/BOOKING

 photo MALTIN_APPEARANCESON_NOVIES_AD_v2_zpscy41sntv.png

Ad

CALENDAR

October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031