Nutshell: J.J. Abrams keeps the themes so beloved from Episodes IV-VI while keeping things fresh and compelling. Action, suspense, dread, hope…it’s all here. An excellent addition to the Star Wars universe, and a must-see this awards season. Grade: A
Okay. So I don’t want to ruin things for you. But I do want to tell you about the film. So how about a round of Q&A, hmm? Hit it!
Q: I read your nutshell. I need more. Why do you think this is a good movie?
A: Because at two hours and fifteen minutes, there’s not a single frame wasted. Not a scene that drags on too long. No dialogue that needed a trim. Everything is USDA Grade A Lean storytelling. I wanted to watch it again immediately. If they’d kept it on loop and allowed us to stay all day, I’d still be there.
Q: Okay, so you’re a nerd. More, please.
A: The cinematography is damn near perfect. Yes, A New Hope is gloriously gritty, but The Force Awakens is made for today’s HD world. And Daniel Mindel does amazing work here; it’s crystal-clear and vibrant. Bright desert scenes aren’t washed out or blinding, and night scenes are focused and lit well enough to keep the eyes on the characters and the action, rather than swamping it all in darkness. Oh, and with screenwriters Kasdan, Abrams and Arndt, the banter is back, baby!
Q: What about the score?
A: I’m betting that John Williams will nab an Oscar for his work here. This score is absolutely perfect. Not because I’m a music nerd (I am), but because it fits ever scene, every frame. It’s a masterwork of timing, power and emotion.
Q: Does Andy Serkis bring the coolness?
A: Yes. Yes he does.
Q: What can you tell us about Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata?
A: I love Maz’s glasses. [semi-SPOILER: I hope to see more of Maz. I really do.]
Q: What about parentage, family and background stuff for characters like Kylo Ren, Captan Phasma, Poe Dameron, Finn and Rey?
A: Do you WANT me to ruin the experience for you? Because I’m not gonna. Let’s just say there’s just enough exposition to make them intriguing, but I’m betting we’ll get more as this new trilogy unfolds.
Q: So, no backstory?
A: Didn’t say that…
Q: Are there any characters we’ll recognize from the original trilogy? Y’know, besides the obvious?
A: You’ll see a few, including Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb. I’ve said too much…but then you know Leia is in the hizzy, so there’s that. There may be more, keep your eye out.
Q: So the band’s back together?
A: More like a supergroup full of beloved favorites and young turks. And the chemistry between characters is amazing. From the ol’ gang to the new friends, enemies and in-between, the entire cast works well together. As if by some powerful force.
Q: So, I should head out to see this, yes?
Q: 3D or 2D?
A: Doesn’t matter. If you’re into Star Wars, you’ll be seeing this more than once. Pick one, then the other, if you like. But you’ll want to see it on the biggest screen you can get to if at all possible.
Q: One spoiler. One teensy, wafer-thin spoiler. Please?
A: Fine. [SPOILER, obviously: there’s a scene where a character is standing, head hung low, in front of a grave marker with no-one buried underneath. Wrecked me.]
Q: Sum it up for us?
A: With echoes of the past mirrored in the new, The Force Awakens is familiar, yet new and engaging. These mythic themes feel like an old friend, with a twist that shows us we’re not on Endor anymore. Force will keep you on the edge of your seat, laughing, gasping, and clutching your heartstrings from all the tugging. New challenges, new foes, but a perfect fit with the ol’ trilogy we know and love.
Now go buy those tickets. What are you waiting for, a Wookie to do it for you? Chewie don’t play that.