STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS — Review by Susan Granger

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Writer/director J.J. Abrams has successfully revived George Lucas’s original sci-fi concept, a space Western that captivated global audiences some 30+ years ago, bringing back Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). Read on…

It opens with John Williams’ familiar musical fanfare, along with that rolling scroll, explaining that Luke Skywalker has disappeared and the evil First Order has taken power.

Enter Stormtroopers, led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), whose black mask and cape make him look just like Darth Vader. They’re searching for a map that can lead them to where Luke is hiding; it’s is hidden within spherical droid BB-8 that belongs to hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).

When conscience-stricken Stormtrooper FN-3182, nicknamed Finn (John Boyega), defects, he joins up with Poe and Rey (Daisy Ridley), the feisty Jakku desert ‘scavenger’ who is protecting BB-8, as they steal an aged freighter, the Millennium Falcon, belonging to legendary smuggler Han Solo.

“Are you really Han Solo?”

“I used to be,” he answers gruffly, obviously preferring the company of his Wookiee co-pilot, Chewbacca.

So they’re off to find the Resistance, led by now-General Leia – and more than that I don’t want to tell you.

As the narrative unfolds, new characters are seamlessly melded with old ones, particularly wizened, goggles-wearing, bar-owner Maz Kanata (motion-captured by Lupita Nyong’o), evoking memories of Jedi Yoda, and a hologram of the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke (motion-captured by Andy Serkis).

Working with co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, J.J. Abrams continues Lucas’s thematic, Joseph Campbell-inspired mythology, adding fast-paced twists and tragic turns, along with startling character revelations, amplified by exciting battle sequences and visual effects.

FYI: George Lucas sold his franchise for $4 billion to the Walt Disney Company in 2012. And Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd (TV’s “Scream Queens”), does a cameo as Leia’s lieutenant.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a thrilling 10, marking a rebirth in exciting galactic entertainment!

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.