starwarsThe Falcon Rides Again
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Stars: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow, Kenny Baker, Tim Rose, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and Mark Hamill
Director: J. J. Abrams
Scriptwriters: Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt
Composer: John Williams
Cinematography: Dan Mindel
Walt Disney Pictures
Rating: PG 13 with war violence
Running Length: 135 Minutes
The Force is still here. It grabbed me years ago when the first “Star Wars’ came to my town. I saved babysitting money to go to a matinee, liked it so much I turned around and went back for a second showing.  Didn't have enough money. The cashier was the brother of a friend and let me in.  Little did he know that this was one of those moments that defines being a film critic. You just have to start writing about it.
Director/Co-Scriptwriter J. J. Abrams (“Lost” and “Star Trek”) has done it, really done it. As with the "Star Trek" movie of 2009, he has given new bounce to a series. This time he tied the loose ends of 30 years ago, gives us a few surprises and still has a live cast (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Mark Hamill and composer John Williams) to bring a reality to this film. The Resistance fighters, plus a new enemy, The First Order (achtung) are now in place, and that galaxy far, far away by now should be looking to its skies for a flyover by one of our small, space voyagers. Wouldn't that be a surprise? Given a purpose, movie fans can do just about anything.
The beginning of the film centers around the adventures of a scavenger on a desert planet, Rey (newcomer Daisy Ridley) and a gone-AWOL Stormtrooper, Finn (newcomer John Boyega) who meet, keep rescuing each other and find they are on the same side---against The First Order. Finn is looking for his lost friend, Poe (Oscar Isaac.) The search is on for Luke Skywalker, who vanished 30 years ago and is thought a myth by the next generation. A new red/white circular robot (first cousin to R2D2) has information on Luke, and the chase is on. The First Order wants it and so does the Resistance, namely General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher.) 
Along the way, enters the Millennium Falcon, thought unflyable--until---the nimble fingers of Rey brings it to life in an escape, and guess who they find?  That’s right, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his buddy Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). They eventually meet bad guy #2, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who hates Finn and Rey.  Ren’s boss is bad guy #1 Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) who resembles a very tall Gollum.
There are familiar scenes and new material. The audience won't get lost, whether this is your first “Star Wars” movie or the next,  in an almost 40-year span of friendship, it’s all there before you. The pieces are set on the chess board and the game begins. Can the First Order’s ships get any larger?  (yes) Is the Falcon the dream of everyone to own? (yes, forget about that Corvette.)
Here is a galaxy that goes from one war to another.  One villain to another, and the armaments just keep getting nastier. People must have their place in society, and scavengers like Rey, are at the bottom of the heap. Sound familiar? People are separated from their loved ones, not by miles or even countries, but worlds. Love is there, though it is sometimes suppressed. Black is the color of the villain and always a long coat, everyone else is dressed in brown or grey.  The wardrobe budget on this film wasn't extravagant.
There are supposed to be more “Star Wars” films in years to come, including one about a young Han Solo. I would hope it shows how the Millennium Falcon was put together. Fans should be satisfied with this movie. It is entertainment, adventure, storyline, acting, a touch of romance and a direction. The Force moves it along.
Oh, yes, for trivia fans---in one scene with Harrison Ford, this critic caught a nod to “Indiana Jones.” See if you can find it, too.
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner