star wars the force awakensDisney/Lucasfilm

“This is the ship that made the Kessel Run in fourteen parsecs!”

So, here we are, the beginning of the new year, and a handful of weeks out from when the new Star Wars movie in ten years was released to theaters, much to the collective joygasm of fanboys and fangirls everywhere. I was included in that bunch: I managed to catch a 9:15 am showing at one of the theaters the morning it was officially released to theaters (I don’t do Midnight Showings). Then another showing at the same theater at 1pm.

So, why did it take me so long to write a review for this movie? Believe me, it wasn’t easy holding back about something I wanted to immediately go on for pages and pages, gushing like a giddy school boy. But, I promised myself I would spend the rest of the month of December 2015 on holiday from writing and posting stuff; and doing so would give me ample time to sweep my thoughts together into a nice manageable pile of brain droppings. That, and by this time, there should be no further excuses for those who have not seen the movie. I can’t promise that I won’t let slip with a spoiler or two as I write this; I’m going to make this as spoiler free as possible, but if by the rare off-chance that you haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet, well…you’ve been warned.

By now, you should have heard the reports that this Seventh Episode has done the impossible, that being having washed the bad taste of all of the Prequels out of the memories of all who have watched it. This, I am happy to say, is true. I went in cautiously optimistic: George Lucas was no longer fully in charge with the movies, and Disney has had some rather good track records with other previously-owned properties given the shiny makeover they sorely needed. Also, J. J. Abrams had already shown he could make a Star Wars movie by doing so twice already. Sure, it went under the name “Star Trek”, but let’s face it, he made those like he wanted to get his grubby mitts on the Star Wars franchise to begin with.

And it works. We now have a Star Wars that’s fun again. That’s what was missing from the Prequel Trilogy–fun. In The Force Awakens, we have an action-packed story that builds upon the world that was made before, and does so masterfully. I dig on the new designs of the ships, being iconic but also slightly tweaked to show some progress over the decades that have passed between Return Of The Jedi and now. The interaction between the characters are fantastic, and the actors are much more fluid. And yes, there were the callbacks and characters from the original trilogy, but they’re introduced in a way that benefits the story, and not just ham-fisted into there for fan service wankery.

Mind you, The Force Awakens isn’t a perfect movie. If we’re honest with ourselves, none of the originals were perfect as well. And I don’t really think that’s a bad thing; this is, after all, a movie, a means of entertainment for a couple of hours. That said, there were a couple of times where the CGI noticeably clashed with the mostly practical effects used. I won’t point out where; let’s just say, I understand why they were used, but still. Kinda jarring. And, as were pointed out with the rest of the Exalted Geeks over lunch in-between showings, there were more than a couple of plot holes that may stretch one’s ability to suspend disbelief.

And so, finally, I end this belated review with this: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is every much the fantastic movie going experience that the hype built it up to be. It’s once again a fun space western that not only will bring back that sense of wonder to those who have been a fan from way back in the day, but it will continue to make all-new fans for this generation to enjoy along with us old geezers. Try and watch it on the big screen while you still can.