Now Showing: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

As someone who grew up watching VHS tapes of “Star Wars,” my biggest fear going into “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was that it would disappoint me and leave a sour taste in my mouth for the entire series. However, as the lights in the theater dimmed, and the words “In a galaxy far, far away…” appeared, I realized that there was no way I could dislike a “Star Wars” movie.

I thought that its part of the “Star Wars” saga was its selling point, but by the time the final credits rolled around, I found that the movie was much more than the thrilling idea of experiencing another “Star Wars” film. It features cinematic grandeur, terrific performances, and well-written script that breathe life back into the intergalactic universe.

There is very little to be said about the plot of the movie without spoiling it. The story is set thirty years after the fall of the Galactic Empire, and the galaxy is now under attack by an evil Sith, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who is part of the First Order. Finn (John Boyega), a rebellious storm trooper, finds himself on a desert planet where he meets he meets a scrappy scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), whose droid, BB-8, contains a top-secret map that locates Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi Knights. The duo joins forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to locate Skywalker before the First Order does.

I must admit, I did not realize how nostalgic I would become while watching the movie. But, what a wave of nostalgia for the earlier films swept over me upon hearing the chatter of the droids and the Imperial March; watching lightsabers slashing against one another or the deteriorating mask of my beloved Vader; and that old Solo smirk. This movie awoke within me a forgotten love for space adventures across the galaxy that so defined my childhood.

I doubt that I can speak for those who have not worshipped the epic saga as I have, yet I believe the film stands on its own. Don’t get me wrong: the movie remains faithful to the canon, with occasional nods to “Return of the Jedi” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” However, because of the new characters, it seemed that everyone was on the same boat while watching the film. It did not seem to be exclusive to those who had watched all six of the preceding movies.

I give props to director J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek”) for mixing the old and new characters so smoothly. Instead of making the series weird or unfamiliar in any way, these characters only made them more exciting. In any case, the characters are far too affable to dislike.

Finn is sweet and courageous, but protects himself in a way that truly humanizes him. Rey is adventurous and adept, and is almost the spitting image of Han Solo, while Kylo Ren is complex and dark, just like Vader. While the plot seemed a tad repetitive of “A New Hope,” in that it features a young main character embarking on a space adventure against a group of Siths, these similarities did not feel unoriginal to me. On the contrary, they actually reminded me of its precedents, but slightly more modernized. For me, this made it easier to accept the new characters.

The young cast of this film proved to be worthy of their roles. While Carrie Fisher (back as Princess Leia) and Ford retained their palpable on-screen relationships, Ridley seemed to have delivered the best facial acting that the “Star Wars” universe has seen; she fits her character in every way. Meanwhile, Driver is the perfect malevolent villain, with a Vader-like mask to complete the look. However, his true nature is best seen in his scenes without a mask, where he perfectly portrays his misled, young character.

The film also moves at an engaging pace. There is not a boring moment in the movie, despite it being over two hours long. The film is not filled with pointless lightsaber battles either (though there are plenty of those), but with rather features moments that are heart-wrenchingly emotional, comedic, and heart-warming.

Cinematically, the film is gorgeous. It captures the very essence of “Star Wars” space and uses it perfectly. The film uses the perfect amount of CGI, so no scene is overwhelmingly visually complex. However, despite the fact that the aesthetics of the film are good quality, I do wish Abrams had used the space setting to his advantage to create a prettier backdrop. Perhaps this would have been a little distracting from the plot, but it was a shame that Abrams did not milk this opportunity.

Overall, though, “The Force Awakens” is beautiful. I cannot imagine anyone disliking it. It is a glimmering new star in the “Star Wars” galaxy, and paves way for even more exciting adventures with the Skywalkers and Solos.