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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (SPOILERS!!)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise. It’s the first film of the newest trilogy, and the first truly great Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (Return of the Jedi was a glorified toy commercial and a bit of a letdown. It’s still better than the prequel trilogy though). J.J. Abrams takes over the director’s chair and breaths fresh life into the series. There are new characters, new planets, new aliens, but with enough nostalgia to bring a smile to the most cynical of Star Wars fans. If you don’t like this film, you don’t like Star Wars and I feel bad for you. You have no sense of fun or adventure and you bring everyone down around you.

I didn’t have the chance to see The Force Awakens on opening night. I finally got to see it yesterday. It was worth the wait. I almost teared up as the introductory text crawl appeared onscreen. It’s been a long time since we visited Luke Skywalker and friends. To find out he was missing was surprising. Instantly you wonder what lies ahead. The first action sequence was overwhelming and you knew that you got your money’s worth right away.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot. I don’t think the plot is all that important. Star Wars was always more about the characters. If you don’t care about the characters, you won’t care about what happens to them. John Boyega plays Finn, a stormtrooper that quickly finds his conscious and joins the resistance. You can see his reluctance to kill before you ever see his face. Daisy Ridley play Rey, a fierce and tough scavenger who is thrust into an adventure she never planned for but is completely capable of handling. The most important new character is arguably BB-8, the droid that dominated the Christmas toy market. He is a robot that beeps and boops like R2-D2 and seems like a mechanical puppy a lot of the time. If you don’t buy him, you won’t like the film. He’s like Wall-E. He’s a mechanical object that has more emotions than a fourteen-year-old girl.

The new characters aren’t all good guys either. You have to have some bad guys for them to fight against. The Force Awakens has bad guys in spades. There’s Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, a masked villain who inevitably reminds you of Darth Vader, yet is still relatable. It helps that he takes his mask off and you find out his backstory in this film as opposed to waiting a few years for the sequel to discover who he is. He reminds me of Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the Marvel cinematic universe. Andy Serkis portrays Supreme Leader Snoke, the mysterious master of the dark side who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. We have a lot more to learn about him. Domhnall Gleeson plays General Hux, the Grand Moff Tarkin of the new trilogy. He’s a bad guy, but he’s a bureaucrat as opposed to an evil Jedi.

I haven’t even started talking about the returning characters. Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew returning as Han Solo and Chewbacca was worth the price of admission alone. They had a much bigger part than I thought they would. I was expecting a glorified cameo. It was anything but. They drove the plot forward. Carrie Fisher returned as Leia Organa. She’s a general as opposed to a princess now. Anthony Daniels returns as C-3PO, although he’s almost unrecognizable with his new red arm. You also see a lot of former background characters reappear. I won’t lie, it was awesome seeing Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb again. I didn’t know that I missed them. I did.

The best thing about The Force Awakens is that it feels like a new Star Wars film. You get to catch up with old characters but the focus is on the new characters and nothing feels forced about it (enjoy that pun). There’s a passing of the torch. It’s not about Luke, Leia, and Han anymore. That’s a good thing. You don’t want to live in the past. Well, maybe you do but you shouldn’t.

You need to see this movie and it’s best to see it with other Star Wars nerds. It’s much more enjoyable to share a look and a comment with a friend when you both catch an obscure reference. It’s not a perfect movie, but no movies are. It’s still exciting and it hooks you in and leaves you breathless until the end. There are only a few characters and scenes that seem out of place but it all seems like is building up to something in the sequels. I will testify that we sat in the theater when the film ended and talked about everything we witnessed as the credits rolled. It’s not often that you want to immediately go back and watch what you just saw. That’s a testament to how satisfying The Force Awakens was. I could write a lot more about this movie. I’m going to drink a beer instead.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Star Wars Episode II Cereal

Star Wars Episode II Cereal was a promotional cereal released by General Mills. It’s probably my favorite cereal of all time, and I only had it for a few glorious weeks before it vanished from store shelves. It was sweetened corn puffs with marshmallows shaped like clone troopers, little Yodas, space ships, little R2-D2s, and lightsabers… it was basically Kix with marshmallows. And it was Star Wars related, which makes it exponentially better. It was so good that they rehashed it for Episode III. The only difference is that the Episode III Cereal included R2-D2, C-3PO, and lightsaber-shaped marshmallows. I remember going into a Big Lots in December of 2002 and seeing a whole aisle of discounted boxes of Episode II Cereal for 99¢ each. I bought fifty boxes and finished my Christmas shopping at the same time. I wish there was a way of knowing you’re in the good old days before you left them. I miss that cereal.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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R2-D2 and C-3P0

R2-D2 and C-3P0 are the lovable droids in the Star Wars films. They were faithfully serving the Rebellion in the original trilogy, and they were doing whatever they did in the prequel trilogy. In the ‘70s and ‘80s the two robots were the epitome of technology. But now, in whatever year this is, you see how outdated they are. First off, you’re living in the past if your iPhone is more than 12 months old. C-3P0 was built by a ten-year old Anakin Skywalker and somehow was still working and serving Skywalkers at the end of Return of the Jedi. It’s cool that he’s still working but he’s at least thirty years old. It might be time for a new protocol droid.

R2-D2 is just inefficient. He communicates through bleeps and bloops and has a hell of a time handling stairs. He might be the worst designed robot of all time. Siri can talk to you. R2-D2 doesn’t even have text display capability. He is terribly designed and looks like an inefficient vacuum cleaner without a hose.

The creepiest thing about them is that they are intelligent. They can trick and manipulate people. They can scheme and plan things out and improvise when things go wrong. They are Skynet without the evil. And even though it would be a simple upgrade to get R2 to talk, they don’t ever do it.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Star Wars

Star Wars is one of the best movies of all time. It might have been officially renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but it will always be Star Wars. George Lucas was a genius once, and this was his directorial highlight. Some people will say Empire Strikes Back is better, and I will tell them that Irvin Kershner directed Episode V, and that maybe they should shut the fuck up and let the real nerds talk about Star Wars.

There are three types of people in the world. People who have seen Star Wars and love it, people who have seen Star Wars and hate it, and people who have never seen Star Wars. The people who either love or hate Star Wars can agree on one thing: you are a freak if you haven’t seen Star Wars. I don’t even know how it’s possible to have not seen Star Wars at this point. It practically is pop culture.

Even if you haven’t seen Star Wars you know that Luke Skywalker has some sort of beef with Darth Vader. You know that Han Solo has a man-dog friend named Chewbacca. And you know that Princess Leia has cinnamon buns for hair. You also know the basic plot: a boy must grow up and face his destiny and embarks on the classic hero’s quest. There’s the everyman, the rogue shifty ally, the damsel in distress, the old wizard/mentor, and the villain with a powerful weapon. There are swords, knights, honor/chivalry, and space ships, robots, and aliens. And don’t forget about the fucking lightsabers, bro.

Star Wars was supposed to be a flop. The idea was so ambitious and the technology was so limited, it didn’t seem like it could possibly be a success. But the story and characters resonated with the audience. John Williams created music as iconic as the visuals on the screen. The world was changed. This was the first true sci-fi blockbuster. Movies are supposed to be an escape. Star Wars took you to a whole new universe and the movie stays with you long after you see it. Some people devote their lives to Star Wars. I can’t blame them because reality bites but Star Wars is awesome.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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