While I hesitate to disagree with the esteemed Armond White, I unambiguously loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie restored what was excellent about the original trilogy (especially the first two movies) and obliterated the lingering bad taste from the plodding prequels. In fact, I think it’s best that we all just forget the prequels. Like New Coke, the Matrix sequels, and Christian Laettner’s 1992 shot to beat my beloved Kentucky Wildcats — they just never happened.
While the old stars deliver, it wouldn’t work so well without the young trio of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (Josh Boyega), and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Both Rey and Finn bring a young Luke Skywalker’s sense of wonder and disbelief to the movie. For different reasons and in different ways, they’re having their own awakening, and it’s not drab and somber but rather full of joy and adventure. The villain, Kylo Ren, is excellent. He’s capable of terrifying displays of power, but he’s no Darth Vader — and he knows it.
Simply put, Star Wars is fun again. Aside from isolated moments (the first shot of Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber, most notably) the prequels took everything fun out of the original trilogy and replaced it with a combination of plodding political subplot and sappy daytime TV romance. How could any self-respecting conservative like those Jedi. They weren’t heroic warriors fighting against overwhelming odds. Instead, they were the armed warrior-monks of a glorified intergalactic U.N. Whose glorious idea was it to build an entire story arc where the good guys are actually trying to suppress the right of self-determination? The Old Republic was like the Hotel California. You could check out anytime you liked, but you could never leave.
The new film skips all the political nonsense. There’s a First Order that’s obviously bad, there’s a resistance that’s good, and the Republic itself is hardly a factor. That’s all you need to know to enjoy some of the best sci-fi dogfights and lightsaber duels since the original trilogy. If you can get tickets, I’d urge you to go before the spoilers leak out all over the web. The movie is pure fun, but it’s even better if you don’t know what’s about to happen. So don your Jedi or Sith robes, pick the lightsaber off the mantel, and head to the theater. You won’t regret it.