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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac

Written By: Lawrence Kasdan, JJ Abrams, Michael Arndt Directed By: JJ Abrams

The Shot

The Star Wars saga returns to the big screen for the first time since George Lucas turned the reins over to Disney, and the results are everything that longtime fans were hoping for and more.  The lightsaber has been worthily passed with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

CHEDDAR SPREAD.

The good stuff on a cracker.


Pairs Well With...

GOLDSCHLAGER.

Feel the Force flow through you!

“Chewie… We’re home.”


It seems like it really was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when those three words capped off the first full trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Or maybe Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens; but I’m going with what the posters say).  Adults from all over the world and from every walk of life found themselves reduced to tears as they watched Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew reprise a classic still pose from the original Star Wars film, and their children looked up with wonder at the possibilities of a universe that had captured countless imaginations since 1977.

And so began the official countdown to the release of the most highly anticipated film of the 21st Century thus far.

As for the rest… oh, come on.  You know the rest.  On the night advance tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens were made available, the Internet “broke” under the strain.  Less than a month into release and it’s already knocked off every box office record in its path; it’s just a matter of days before it takes everything else.  Cynics and trolls will snark about marketing, cash, and hype (they do so love to point out the bags of Star Wars oranges at the grocery store), but they’re being drowned out by millions proclaiming that the “hype” is something more akin to a joyous communion of kindred spirits; or, put another way, that it’s pure movie magic.

I won’t pretend that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a perfect film.  Like the two trilogies that came before it – yes, both of them – it does have its flaws.  But (and this is the trick with art) it strikes such a powerful chord with its intended audience – the millions upon millions of fans representing every generation for whom Star Wars has been the single largest pop culture influence on their lives – that the flaws don’t matter.

Even as he expressed pangs of regret over selling the rights to the franchise he created, George Lucas himself pointed out the primary fundamental truth about The Force Awakens:  it’s a movie made specifically for the fans.  That’s not as obvious a thing as it sounds on the surface; just ask those who delight in hating on Lucas’ own prequel trilogy.  To the jaded (or to those who honestly have never cared about Star Wars as a cultural icon), this is cause for derision, but for those of us who in our hearts and imaginations stepped into that galaxy far, far away a long time ago and never looked back, it’s exactly what we’d been longing for.  Even when the moments come that inevitably tear out of a piece of those just-mentioned hearts – you either already know exactly what moments I’m referring to or I’m bloody well not going to spoil them for you – they feel right.  Though told with an unmistakably modernized voice and perspective shift, The Force Awakens faithfully continues the story that has inspired so many for so long.

One might say that the world the story inhabits has grown up, just as we have, while still welcoming those newcomers we want to introduce to our dear old cinematic friends, and inviting us to meet new ones.

And so we can barely contain ourselves when the words “A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…” appear on the screen.

And so we take great delight in making the acquaintance of the undeniably adorable BB-8, while also appreciating the fact that there’s so much more to the little droid than cuteness.  And the galaxy’s best thumbs-up.

And so we take in the breath of fresh air that is Rey (Daisy Ridley), one the most wonderful, fully-realized female leads to hit the screen in ages, and eagerly join her on an adventure she never saw coming.

And so we also welcome Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), male leads not afraid to step away from stereotypes.

And so our eyes well as Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) come home to the Millennium Falcon.

And so we thrill to sight of Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) stepping off a transport.  (And in the parts of our brains still grounded in the real world, we nod appreciatively at the fact that someone in Hollywood finally had the good sense to allow a woman to show her age on camera without shame.)

And so we shudder with glee at the sight and sound of a kickass new lightsaber wielded by our newest Dark Side villain, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

And so we totally dig it when we see a fairly matched duel involving a dude with a lightsaber and a Stormtrooper with a riot baton.

And so we “oh” and “ah” at the chrome Stormtrooper armor of Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie).

And so those of us with a certain additional fandom appreciate the appearance of Trooper JB-007.

And so all of us hang at the edge of our seats with bated breath at the final scene, mercilessly cut off by the resounding end title music of John Williams.

And so, and so, and so.

And so I couldn’t care less about whatever flaws might be present in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The great legacy is nurtured.  Our childhoods are not betrayed.  Our imaginations are given new but comfortably familiar worlds to wander.  Our culture is given new heroes worthy of the term.

The saber has been passed, and its new wielder is worthy.

May the Force Be With You… Always.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, January, 2016


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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