‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega
4 (out of 5) Globes
The good news comes early: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens with an ascending text crawl setting up a story that actually sounds fun. Back in 1999 “The Phantom Menace” began with the words “the taxation of trade routes.” All J.J. Abrams’ 30-years-later fan fiction had to do was not start like a C-SPAN transcript. It goes one, two, maybe three better. The text reveals Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has vanished a la Paul Atreides at the end of “Dune Messiah.” He’s sought by warring factions known as “The First Order” and “The Resistance,” and we might not realize at first are actually the old, evil Empire and the old “Rebel Alliance,” renamed and repurposed but basically, after all these decades, the same thing.
The same goes for “The Force Awakens.” It does what the dreaded prequels refused to do: It gives us what we want. And what we want is more of the same. The story is essentially a loose repeat of the original “Star Wars.” (We refuse to call it “A New Hope” on principle.) There’s another everyperson/maybe-savior — this time Daisy Ridley’s resilient scavenger Rey — living on a desert planet. She (rather than a he) happens upon another intel-hoarding, bleep-bloopy robot: the mega-super-duper-holy-crap-adorable rollerball BB-8. Nostalgic classics like the Millennium Falcon, beloved characters, another multicultural cantina, that John Williams score, those screen wipes, the Wilhelm Scream — all get dusted off and soldiered out for our delectation. Everything old is basically what it was before, only either aged or with different faces.