STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Author: Rick Shew (Follow @SHEWRICK)
Date: December 22, 2015

SYNOPSIS: The STAR WARS saga continues with THE FORCE AWAKENS. A new trilogy begins set 30 years after the events of RETURN OF THE JEDI. J.J. Abrams directs from a script by J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt.

The FORCE awakens!

Context…I LOVE STAR WARS.

I saw the original film in the theater in the 1979 re-release (when it was actually deemed, EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE) and every film thereafter. This includes the 2 sequels, the special editions, all 3 prequels and the new film, EPISODE VII, which I have seen, as of this writing, three times.

Many reviews touch upon how the franchise is “BACK!” – or how the film "learned its lesson after the much maligned prequels!" Blah, blah, blah.

For me, the saga never left.

I like the prequels. In fact, I think that ATTACK OF THE CLONES is the most underrated film of the series, and I still think that REVENGE OF THE SITH remains one of the finest chapters in our beloved space opera.

THE PHANTOM MENACE? Yeah, let’s discuss that one over beers, shall we?

I will say this, the Jedi Council scenes and the battle between our two heroic Jedis and Darth Maul is STILL the most exhilarating light saber duel in the franchise – but I digress.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK remains the most compelling chapter of the series; and the original film is movie magic that will never be recaptured. RETURN OF THE JEDI is the quintessential last chapter in an almost flawless series of films.

So, what makes the JJ Abrams' 7th Chapter so damn interesting? Well…

Because it is the first film with no Lucas involvement? Because it is the first film post the Disney acquisition? Because, for the first time in 30 years, we are seeing the original cast return? Or, because the special effects are more grounded and tangible, rather than the heavy green screen & CGI like the prequels were?

Actually, none of the above.

What makes it so interesting that is yet another damn good STAR WARS movie.

The most consistent complaint that I am seeing from critics is that this film pays a little too much homage to the original trilogy – particularly the first 2 films. I disagree. I think that while this is definitely a love letter from JJ Abrams to the fans, I think the most compelling aspects of TFA isn’t Han and Chewie, but rather the new characters.

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are so incredible in their new respective roles, that I almost didn’t care if familiar faces were not on the screen. Think about it, especially in the case of Daisy Ridley’s Rey – if that character did not work, this new film would have been a complete mess. And make no mistake, Rey IS the star of the film. A bright, shiny, marvelous star.

Adam Driver gives us the most intricate villain in STAR WARS history (Darth Maul still remains the villain with the most bad assery, though) and the scene between he and his father (yes, THAT scene) is the most well-acted scene in the history of the franchise.

Still, it was great to see old friends, too. Carrie Fisher’s performance has actually grown on me with multiple viewings. Harrison Ford was simply perfect and it is always great to see R2 and 3PO. Even though, and I hate to say this, but BB8 is now my favorite droid. I want one for Christmas!


just because...

The only somewhat disappointing aspect is the score. John Williams is a genius, and the STAR WARS theme song is the most exhilarating score in cinematic history. But in terms of the new music, nothing really stood out in the way that the prequel’s “Duel of the Fates” did. A minor quibble, and Williams is still a god, so, take that for what it is.

Speaking of the prequels, I also love that those films were not ignored. There was mention of the Sith (never spoken in the original 3), The Clone Army, The Jedi Temple and, most impressively, we now know that young Obi Wan himself, Ewan McGregor, has a lovely voice over in the film, as well.

In the end, EPISODE VII is a damn fine addition to one of the greatest film franchises in film history. It has adventure, action, humor, heart, excitement and it ties in its six predecessors without a wink of self-awareness. It also has the best closing scene, to date, of any of the films.

I won’t reveal the details – we will leave it there and wait patiently for EPISODE VIII (which I am very excited for!).

And that really should be the point of this new STAR WARS film…to make us crave the next one.

Right? YES.

Mission accomplished! - Rick Shew

Rick Shew is a lifelong Batman fanatic.

His love for Batman traces back to the ripe age of 5 when he became obsessed with the 1960’s TV show and later a diehard Batman bomic book reader (THE KILLING JOKE remains his all time favorite).

As an actor, Rick has appeared in numerous films, local & national commercials and over a dozen theatrical productions. However, his favorite gig of all time was playing Superman, alongside Batman, Batgirl, The Green Lantern & Wonder Woman in the "DC Comics Live" show at Six Flags San Antonio, TX.

Although Rick attended The University of North Texas, he is a diehard Texas Longhorns football fan. He is a HUGE fan of THE Dallas Cowboys as well (#DezCaughtIt).

Other likes include cooking, reading and hosting his left leaning political page LeftShewPolitics.

Rick resides in Dallas with his 3 beautiful women (his wife and their 2 daughters), his kitty cat and his dog, Cooper.

Even though Rick has a full-time job with a hospitality/software company based out of San Francisco, he also helped conceptualize a bar in Dallas (where he also sits as a financial investor), NICKEL AND RYE. So, when in Dallas, please come have a bite and a drink!

Follow Rick on Twitter @SHEWRICK.


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