The Force has awoken.
The latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, lands in theaters this Friday, and we know fanboys and casual movie-goers alike will have plenty to say about it once the end credits roll. We caught an early screening of the film and can already predict some of the conversations.
(WARNING: Though we don't venture too far into spoiler territory, if you want to go into the movie knowing absolutely nothing, stop reading now.)
WATCH: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Cast Fields Your Fan Questions
1. "That was so much better than the prequels!" Which isn't necessarily a difficult achievement -- The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith are almost unanimously considered to be a, ahem, misstep in the Star Wars pantheon -- but we're happy to report that The Force Awakens easily clears that low-set bar. Is it better than the original? Could it ever be? Still, though the latest installment can be a bit corny and heavy-handed at times, the action is awe-inspiring, the effects are otherworldly, and it packs so much heart.
2. "They ruined my childhood." Obviously, there will be a certain subset of die-hard fans who hated it before they saw it and will hate it after seeing it. Maybe they will complain that it hews too closely to A New Hope. (In a lot of ways, it's basically the same movie.) Maybe they'll hate some of the retconning done to characters like Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess-turned-General Leia (Carrie Fisher). To those fans we say, see it again. We have a feeling you'll be less critical -- and more emotional -- the second time around.
3. "Did the other movies have that many jokes?" Not exactly. The Force Awakens leans heavily into the humor -- the first third of the film is basically slapstick and we're pretty sure one of those Stormtrooper gags is straight out of a Family Guy episode-- but most of it works. Oscar Isaac, in particular, is endlessly delightful as Poe Dameron, quipping in the face of the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), "Are you talking first? Or am I? Who's supposed to talk first?"
And forget whatever controversy exists over whether John Boyega's Finn becomes the first black Jedi --despite Samuel L. Jackson having already done just that -- the real question is, could Finn become the first bro Jedi? Do they serve Natty Light at the cantina?
4."I LOVE BB-8." R2-D2, who? We all fell in love with the circular little droid as soon as we laid eyes on him, and you will not be let down by his presence in the film. BB-8 steals literally every scene he's in. We could -- and would gladly -- watch a whole spinoff of him interacting with C-3PO.
Speaking of, even if you don't really *get* The Force, come for the adorable aliens! You'll be absolutely charmed by Lupita Nyong'o's Maz Kanata, who's a bit like the Yoda of The Force Awakens. More of her too, LucasFilms people.
5. "[Insert excited rambling about Han Solo.]" Or any of the characters from the original trilogy. There are so many callbacks to the OG Star Wars -- maybe too many -- with Leia, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the droids and the ships, and what seems like everything in between getting prime placement. None more so than Han Solo and Chewbacca, though. In the theater we saw it, every time a familiar face was re-introduced -- always in an epically dramatic fashion -- it was accompanied by crazed applause from the audience.
6. "Women actually spoke!" Princess Leia has always been a badass, but Star Wars, the franchise, hasn't always been progressive when it comes to female roles. Basically, there haven't been any. Thankfully, The Force Awakens makes up for lost time. There's General Leia, still badass after all these years. There's Captain Phasma -- and can we just say, for this having been the year of Gwendoline Christie, damn if she hasn't been seriously underused.
And then there's Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, who might be the most badass of all. A favorite moment? When Finn grabs her hand to run at one point and she shouts, "I know how to run! I don't need you to hold my hand!" So does the film pass the Bechdel test? Ehhh, we're not positive. Does Rey talking to a CGI female alien count?
7. "When does Episode VIII come out?!" We knew The Force Awakens would set up a new trilogy of films, but two moments -- both involving the mysterious Rey -- will have fans clamoring for that sequel. Thankfully, they will have plenty to theorize about over the next few years, because all those questions you had about the new additions to the galaxy far, far away? They are not answered. But to answer this question: May 26, 2017.
8. "Did [SPOILER] really [SPOILER]?!" Alas, we can say no more. It would ruin it!
Now, if you're worried about Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers, don't worry. J.J. Abrams tells ET, "You haven't seen anything!"
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