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'Star Wars' awakens with new film
What's in with Justin
While Star Wars: The Force Awakens brings back many of the original characters, it also introduces new ones, including a fierce female scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley). - photo by Studio poster

After years of anticipation and with all the massive hype surrounding it, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has finally arrived in theaters and there’s only one question that needs to be answered: Is the movie any good? Well, to quote one of the most iconic lines in the history of the series: The Force is strong with this one.

In the face of ridiculously unbelievable expectations, J.J. Abrams and his cast and crew deliver a film that is simultaneously respectful of the “Star Wars” mythology while making its own path.

I know there’s been a lot of talk regarding spoilers and a real sense of secrecy with the plot, but I won’t be giving away anything whatsoever. However, please pay attention because there will be a test on this at the end.

We pick up the story 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi” and are introduced to several new characters, including an ex-Stormtrooper named Finn (John Boyega); a fierce female scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) and a fighter pilot named Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Together, the three of them are a part of the Resistance which is the new name for the Rebellion. The Empire is now known as the First Order.

At first, it seems like all hope is lost against their insurmountable odds until a couple of old friends show up. They just happen to be Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca. Also returning for the fight is Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) who has been promoted from princess to general.

All the while, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has gone M.I.A., and the Resistance has to do battle with the likes of a dark warrior named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who looks, sounds and dresses like Darth Vader made over with his cross-like lightsaber.

Like the original trilogy, “The Force Awakens” is heavy-handed on giving us what we loved so much about the original trilogy and will nearly eradicate all painful memories fans have of the prequels. There’s no Jar Jar Binks or Ewoks raining on this film’s parade.

It’s certainly great to see the likes of Ford, Hamill and Fisher reprising their roles. From the first moment they emerged on screen, I couldn’t help but smile enormously. That also went for the likes of C-3P0 and R2-D2. The dialogue is just as we remember it, and the charisma and chemistry of these characters prove they haven’t lost a step.

At times, Abrams does have a tendency to indulge in the nostalgia factor, but that’s really a minor quibble compared to all of the spectacular action, the mind-blowing and powerful revelations (a couple of moments made my jaw literally drop). The final sequences of “The Force Awakens” succeed in both returning to George Lucas’ original trilogy as well as laying down the groundwork of greater things to come.

Grade: A

(Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.)

Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.

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