Monday, July 16 , 2018, 12:53 am | Fair 66º


Cinema in Focus: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

3 Stars — Engaging

Having been there on my birthday when Stars Wars first showed, on May 25, 1977, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh chapter, is filled with familiar and nostalgic images, actors and storyline.

From the battle between good and evil, to the desert, ice and tropical settings, to the force being awakened in the unsuspecting, to a dark master that is larger than life and who has a masked disciple, J.J. Abrams brings home the wandering tale.

In this seventh film, evil has now entered its third iteration. Moving from the Sith of films one through three, to the Evil Empire of films four through six, we now have an allusion to the biblical prophecy of a First Order that is not just trying to take over the world, but the universe.

The familiar faces on screen have now aged 30 years. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) are still struggling with their relationship, while Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has vanished to places unknown because of his failure as a Jedi instructor.

Having abandoned her royal title, Leia is now a general in the Republic, fighting against the agitation and clear threat of the First Order and its dark lord.

Supreme in this threat is Snoke (Andy Serkis), only seen so far as a projected image reminiscent of both the wizard in The Wizard of Oz and Voldemort of Harry Potter fame. Snoke’s young disciple, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), continues the theme of the seduction of the dark side as Kylo struggles with father issues and the ever-present, though demonized, Oedipus complex.

Coming up against this troubled disciple is the unsuspecting Rey (Daisy Ridley), who has been abandoned on a desert planet to fend for herself. Resilient and fearless, she soon becomes a part of the galactic struggle when she frees a droid carrying a secret map that could lead to the location of Luke Skywalker.

Implying that Skywalker is the only Jedi who could end the struggle, both sides of the conflict want to find him first.

Also introduced is the first Storm Trooper with a conscience named Finn (John Boyega). Helping the “greatest pilot in the fleet” of the Republic, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), escape from the First Order, Finn soon is embroiled in the conflict against his former Storm Trooper mates.

Although the tale is familiar and many of the elements repeated, it is just this nostalgic journey that we were all anticipating. Back on track, we look forward to seeing how this saga ultimately ends in the films to come.

We have no doubt that it will continue to be filled with creative creatures, smugglers, rebels, light sabers and weapons of unbelievable destruction. It could be nothing less and still be named Star Wars.


» The familiar faces of many of the leaders of the previous films goes beyond of that of Han Solo or Princess Leia. From Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), we once more care about these special people and droids. How did you experience the return of these beloved characters?

» The ending of the film implies a relationship that will undoubtedly be the center of the next film. What do you think that relationship is? How do you think this union will affect each of them?

» The size of the weapon now at First Order’s disposal was many times that of the death star of 30 years earlier. Yet the technology seemed to be based on the same physics. What do you think will be the next step in the evolution of this weapon?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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