Matt O'Donnell reviews 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Matt O'Donnell Image
Sunday, December 27, 2015


Alright, you get the picture. Let's begin.

The first few moments when I was comfortably sitting in the theater (a Movie Tavern, no less!) and saw the words "A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away" and the Star Wars logo filled the screen and the text to "Episode VII" began, I felt chills throughout my body. It's something that rarely happens in the theater, you know? People around me started cheering. Star Wars is back! Hooray!

Hearing Rey (Daisy Ridley) refer to the Millennium Falcon as "garbage" was hilarious and the moment Han Solo and Chewbacca popped into the junked spacecraft was a nostalgic thrill. The movie was off to an excellent start.

And overall, The Force Awakens is an extremely enjoyable movie. The action, the graphics, the new characters, the one-liners (there are many funny moments in the dialogue) the new villains, the original characters, the homage to the "Cantina", the storyline - wait, the storyline? Haven't I seen this movie before? Twice? More?

There are many, many parallels to what is happening in this new movie and what happened in the original trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). The strange droid showing up on a desert planet, the search for a missing person with the Resistance, the Death Star and its successful destruction, the father-son relationship torn by the Light and Dark Sides of the Force (which ends badly) and the elder Jedi who lives on his own on a distant planet, discouraged by recent events. Wow, there are actually several parallels!

Is that bad? Absolutely not. Was I hoping for a more original story that still paid homage to the older tales? Sure. Is it a dynamite movie? Yeah. Is it the best movie ever made, or even the best in the Star Wars series? Not by a long shot. But was it worth all of the time, money and hype? Without question, yes. I'm glad I went to see it. It was a blast.

I can hear Harrison Ford telling director JJ Abrams "Sure JJ, I'll come back for Star Wars. But you gotta kill me off in your first movie!" I can't say it was shocking to see Kylo Ren murder Han Solo, but that's only because some internet troll spoiled it for me by sending this message to me on Twitter the day of its nationwide release: "Han Solo dies." I'm not lying about this. So much for spoiler avoidance. And it's sad how many people use the internet to just be flat out mean. Anyway...

What might be my favorite part of The Force Awakens is how it ends on a major cliff-hangar (on a cliff, of course!). What has Luke Skywalker been doing all this time? Is he Rey's father? Is he destined for a violent confrontation with Kylo Ren, his former pupil? Will there be "A Newer Hope"?

So many questions and so I am excited to see Episode VIII (not currently titled yet, scheduled for a May 2017 release). And finally, after watching The Force Awakens, I'm glad it definitely solved one puzzling question many of us had - why wasn't Mark Hamill in any of the trailers?

Well, because he didn't speak a single line!

Oh, and one more thing. It is impossible to live up to the hype of the most overly-hyped movie in cinematic history. My rating? 7.3 stars out of 10.


Star Wars is produced by Disney, the parent company of 6abc