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Directed by: JJ Abrams
Starring: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, adam Driver

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens twice in the theater now, once in IMAX 3D and again in a standard theater. I love the film very much. JJ Abrams and his team did a lot of great things right. The most important thing this film does right is it brings the passion and heart back to the franchise. You can feel the love everyone involved has for the franchise in every second of the film and that’s so refreshing to the franchise. I’m not saying that George Lucas didn’t love the franchise when he created the prequels, you just couldn’t feel it. That overwhelming love for the franchise could be the thing that bothers me a bit now that he excitement of a good Star Wars film has settled.

I just didn’t get exactly what I wanted. Many people got exactly what they wanted and that’s great but now that I think about it, I didn’t. I got somethings I wanted for sure. I wanted the film to feel like it belongs within the world of the original trilogy and this one does even moreso than the prequels. I wanted to see some of the original cast one more time and I did. The big thing I wanted though was a truly new adventure within this universe. I wanted Abrams to show us that star Wars isn’t a one trick pony. Unfortunately Abrams went the route of Superman Returns, but in a successful way. Brian Singer was so enamored with the Richard Donner film from the 70’s that he put more energy into re-creating that character and world than in telling a good story. In the end The Force Awakens is JJ Abrams version of the first star Wars film.

at its core The Force Awakens is a retelling of the Luke Skywalker story all the way down to our main character being mysteriously left on a desert planet! The Death star is back because the bad guys can’t do anything else and Kylo Ren must be redeemed. Some people, including writers for this site, feel the entire trilogy will be the redemption of Kylo in the same way that the original trilogy was about Darth Vader’s redemption. Many fans are just fine with that, not me. The star Wars universe offers so many opportunities for something new. Why not take these characters in truly unexpected directions?

You could argue that the spin-off films will provide that something new to the franchise and I believe that will be the case. Since we have these spin-off movies does that make it ok that the primary trilogy just follow the same character beats as the original films? I don’t think so. I think it’s lazy writing to just try to one up what has already been done within the same franchise. Sure The Force Awakens tells the story of A New Hope better than the original film did in many ways. A New Hope is one of the most influential and innovative films of the medium which makes The Force Awakens feel a little like a me too film. I didn’t need The Force Awakens to break ground the way the original Star Wars did. If innovation became the focus we’d have just gotten another installment of the prequels or an Avatar most likely. I just needed the film to take us to new places within the story. This film is literally so formula to the franchise you can predict it beat for beat.

There is potential for the formula of this first film to be ok though. If this film is meant to be a pallet refresher for the next to film’s to take us into new and different territory I’ll look back on the Force Awakens as just that, and I’ll appreciate it in that way. If the next film rehashes Empire Strikes Back I’ll be disappointed in a way I can’t yet put into words. So the next film will really determine how I feel about The Force Awakens and that’s a feeling, an experience I haven’t often had in this medium. I loved a lot about Star Wars: The Force Awakens so I’m hoping those great elements are taken into future films in some really unique and exciting ways. I love our new main character and BB-8, Fin, and even Kylo (depending on what happens with him next). Also, the future films better make the magically appearing light saber in The Force Awakens make sense, just sayin’.

At this point I give Star Wars: the Force Awakens an 8/10

That number could go higher in the future, we’ll see….