The Force Awakens with a vengeance.

I am a Star Wars fan. My parents raised me on the original series. I longed to see the prequels when they were announced. And, I counted down the days until the Force Awakens was released. That day was today. Before I get too far, I want to be clear that I am committed to not including any spoilers. I plan on simply discussing the movie experience and ‘the big picture’ of the movie. So, without further adieu…

A Journey to the Force Awakens

The story begins a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away when Star Wars universe creator, George Lucas sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Disney. It was a rebirth for the franchise and as we were to find out, a new beginning for the films. In 2013, only two years ago, J.J. Abrams was chosen as the films new helmsman and fans around the world breathed a sigh of relief. Sure, Abrams has a few signature moves (lens flare anyone?) and he will always find a way to sneak them in, but he also appreciates the art form that is Star Wars. Not long after being chosen to direct, Abrams said that it was “key for the film was to return to the roots of the first Star Wars film and be based more on emotion than explanation.” And, it does just that.

When the prequel trilogy was released, I spent many hours speculating and reviewing the footage within the trailer that was released for The Phantom Menace. Star Wars scholars will agree that it was not a good movie although there were some very entertaining parts in it. At the time, it was the excitement, the anticipation of the film’s release that hooked me. As a result, I ruined the experience for myself. I was determined to not do that this time around. I did watch the trailers and felt pulled back into the universe, but I didn’t read theories online or spend time reading hours of interviews. I did my best to stay out of the line of fire until I could see the movie with my own eyes.

Star Wars, A Journey to the Force Awakens

The experience of it was everything I hoped for. We had decided to go to the earliest possible showing – 7PM local time in an IMAX 3D theater. The theater was full of fans. It’s been a long time since the opening credits of a movie brought me to tears, but the truth is when you hear applause with the appearance of the Lucasfilm logo, it’s hard not to get a little emotional. The backstory scrolled up the screen in that glorious yellow type and as the screen panned downward, I knew we were in for a treat.

Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, I knew why it was so special. It was a part of the Star Wars universe. The prequels felt so disjointed and didn’t feel like the same world. This movie does. You will see a fantastic world with new characters, but familiar themes. It’s like the original trilogy just evolved technology-wise. It’s what you would expect to see approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi.

The film’s story (I promised no spoilers) is beautifully written and does, as Abrams suggested, pull at the heart instead of getting tied up in messy explanations. Visually, the film is breathtaking using both digital and real-life sets. The new characters are brilliantly played by the cast and I’m excited to see what comes next from them. BB-8 certainly steals the show and conveys the same amount of emotion as another spunky droid we’re all too familiar with.

From the moment I found out the J.J. Abrams was directing, I said, “He won’t let us down.” And, he did not. The film kept me on the edge of my seat, revealed a few surprises, made me cry a few tears, gave me goosebumps, and left me wanting more. Even if I wasn’t a fan of Star Wars, I would be now.