Quality: This score indicates entertainment value.
0 stars is horrible, while 5 stars is spectacular.
Political: This score addresses political messaging.
0 stars is aggressively anti-Conservative, while 5 stars is highly pro-Conservative. 3 stars is apolitical.
Moral/Religious (M/R): This score addresses moral and religious messaging.
0 stars is either intensely immoral or all-out, needless assault on Christianity. 5 stars is either great moral messaging or highly pro-Christian. 3 stars is inoffensive either way.
Quality – 4.5 stars, Political – 4 stars, M/R – 3 stars
“Master Yoda, we’ve spent half an hour just walking to our auditorium. Could you pick it up the pace?”
“Patience, young Padawan.”
“Master, it’s a couple hundred feet...30 minutes…”
Yoda shook his head. “Impatience. Leads to the Dark Side it does.”
“Here Master, I think you’ll like this. It’s called a ‘Rascal Scooter,’ and it helps your mobility. Just sit right there. Now push this lever…not too hard…how’s that feel?”
As the Rascal pulled forward, Yoda’s eyes bulged out and he giggled with delight. “Mmmm-hm-hm-hm-hmmm!” Yoda bumped into a 5-year-old carrying Twizzlers. “Move you will! Rascal I have!”
The child started crying, prompting his mother to glare at me.
“Okay, this was a bad idea. How do I turn this thing off?”
“Mmmm-hm-hm-hm-hmmm! Cannot be turned off! Runs by the Force it does!”
“No it doesn’t! I just have to find the switch or battery or—will you please keep still?”
“Oh for the love of—Jar Jar, give me a hand with—wait, where’s Jar Jar?”
A theater employee approached me. “Sir, can you please get your friend out of the popcorn popper?”
Jar Jar was spinning around, oil and seeds stuck to his face. “Oweee! Meesa hot! Whassa happenings! Hot, hot, hot, hot, oweeee!!!”
I grabbed Jar Jar’s feet and yanked. “Will you get out of there?! I’ll buy you some popcorn after we get seated!
“Shut up! We have to get Yoda off the Rascal, and—omigosh, where’d he go?”
“Meesa know.” Jar Jar pointed down the hallway.
As a line of people waited for the show, one after another was magically levitated and then lowered as Yoda sped underneath. It looked like a wave at a ballgame.
“Strong in the Force I am! Rascal I have! Mmmm-hm-hm-hm-hmmm!”
Finally, and with much effort, I got the guys seated. Yoda sat quietly, almost meditating. Jar Jar chatted loudly with nearby children—until I quieted him. Then he defiantly slurped his soda—until I quieted him. Then he began texting. At long last, the film began…
…and it was awesome!
Gone were the monotone, political discussions of the three dreadful prequels. Remember those? C-SPAN in the stars? Revived were all the things we’ve missed—compelling characters, shocking plot twists, and high-flying action. Oh, and the humor was terrific; easily the best of the franchise.
The lone drawback? An all too familiar plotline.
“Thissa Episode IV: A New Hope! Meesa sees before!”
“Shhh! Movie you watch!”
But Yoda had to admit, Jar Jar’s point was valid. This storyline seemed a complete rehash. One hero hails from humble origins on a desert planet, an adorable droid (scene-stealing BB-8) carries critical information, a brash young pilot leads daring missions, a Dark Force villain dons black helmet and cape, a mega-powerful space station of evil must be destroyed…
That’s okay. It works. Director JJ Abrams breaks from the rut (if only demographically), casting a white woman and black man as the leads. That’s a start. Rey (wonderfully played by Daisy Ridley) assumes icon status with Jedi traits and mysterious origins. A fantastic heroine, she packs more fun in five minutes than Princess Padme gave in her full, miserable trilogy. But oh, those mysterious origins…
“Family they all are. Kiss they should not!”
True, everyone appears related somehow, and it will no doubt unfold in the next film, “Star Wars: Episode VIII – Return to Arkansas.” But that’s a staple of this hallowed franchise. Dramatic tension is largely built through tracing genealogies, and the characters would be wise to follow Yoda’s advice, perhaps requesting family tree printouts before dating.
Rey’s flirting interest is Finn (also well-played by John Boyega), an ex-Stormtrooper with a conscience. Having abandoned the First Order (which was borne from the Empire’s wreckage) Finn joins the Resistance, adding noble effort and comic timing along the way. You’ll love this guy. Oscar Isaac plays Poe Dameron, the cocky young pilot working for now-General Leia.
Our new villain is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and he’s a delight. Still learning his Dark Side craft, this black-clad baddie is a Darth Vader fanboy, even spending time communing with Vader’s recovered helmet.
“Unstable he is. A life he should get.”
Fair enough, Yoda. But after seeing Darths Sideous, Vader and Maul, I found it refreshing to watch this unsure (and unstable) villain on the rise. He is torn, still needing a clean break from his past before going full Sith. A fine young actor, Adam Driver brought maximum depth to Kylo without maximum screen time. Very impressive.
Added to this new group are our beloved returnees, including Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford in a surprisingly central role), Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, Luke, and everyone’s favorite rust bucket, the Millennium Falcon. The Gang’s all here, and Abrams shows a deft touch weaving nostalgia with new faces.
“Woweeee! Thissa exciting a lot!”
Oh yes. The action. Choreographed with precision and power, this film’s battles produced plenty of crowd-pleasing booms – each of which led Jar Jar to shower food on me and an increasingly irritated Yoda. I didn’t care. Driven by its musical score, “The Force Awakens” was an indulgence for my senses, feasting my eyes on epic clashes amidst stunning scenery. Jar Jar was euphoric. At one moment screaming, the next he’d be howling with laughter, bouncing about while leading nearby kids in cheers. To my right, Yoda just growled beneath a growing mountain of soda-drenched popcorn.
“Yayyyyy! Like movies weesa done, huh?”
“Meesa remembers movies made togethers with Yoda!”
“Hmmph!” Yoda began hitting Jar Jar with his walking stick. “Ruined those movies you did! Expensive they were! Expensive they were!”
The guys quieted down as the ending approached. Though terribly predictable, it was handled with style and grandeur, as Abrams took great care while treading on hallowed ground. Loose plot ends were tied up. New ones were opened. A hero went forth. And of course, things blew up.
Jar Jar cheered. And cheered. And cheered, until Yoda could take no more. Shaking beneath wrinkled brow, he reached out his trembling hand.
“Aaaack!” JarJar was grabbing his neck. “Meesa can’t breathe! Aaaack!!”
“Master Yoda, isn’t this sort of, well, Dark Side-ish?”
“The Dark Side…misunderstood it is!”
Jar Jar was on the floor, gasping. “Mee…sa…dy…dy…dy…”
“Just say it you will!”
“Yeeeeeessss…over it will soon be…yeeeessss…”
Fortunately, Jar Jar survived when Yoda was carried off by Security (if four teenage employees qualify as Security). Kicking and writhing, Yoda was incensed. “Unhand me! Destroy him I will! Mmmm-hm-hm-hm-hmmm! Rascal I have! Destroy! Destroy!”
Thus ended my time seeing “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.” This is a great, great movie—and if you go with the right people, a great experience.
Bring on Episode VIII.