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The New Star Wars Movie (Reviewed by a Woman Almost as Old as Harrison Ford)

The force awakens two of my grandsons

Published in ChicagoNow, December 28, 2015

Spoiler alert. RIP Han Solo… or maybe not? Actually, I’m not sure this is an official spoiler because I can never be certain if someone is truly finished off in a movie or television series. I still have not given up on Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Regardless of outcome, if Harrison Ford at age 73 can be a leading man in The Force Awakens, then I at age 70 can write this review to share that I loved the movie.

First, I must confess that Han Solo still looks good to me. Yes, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega are hotties, and Daisy Ridley is awesome, but come on – they are much younger than my kids. Ridley and Boyega are closer to my older grandkids’ age. That realization is a bit of a downer. And my nine-year-old granddaughter wants to be Rey for Halloween, so that tells me something.

Yet imagine my delight to see good old Han Solo still ripping off those funny quips and battling the bad guys. He can even pilot the Millennium Falcon without glasses. In my mind, he is the heart of this movie. He provides the humor to keep the tale from being taken too seriously. The Force Awakens is good old-fashioned fun.

Some new things that were appropriate and much-needed changes to bring the tale up to 2015 standards: The main character is a young woman named Rey, and she is great. There are also a Yoda-like woman and female storm troopers. That makes sense. Women can be very wise and powerfully evil.

But the essence and spirit of the original series created in the late seventies and early eighties are still there. The Force can be used for good or evil. The droids are clever and cute. There are some noble folks and some very evil folks (some of which on both sides are women). And there are two guys who will likely be vying for the affections of the girl in the sequel.

Curiously, many members of the audience were Boomers, most likely as nostalgic as I was for the era in which they first saw Star Wars. I remember taking our kids to see the original three episodes, several times for each movie. In those days you could not see it any other way. You had to go to the movies.

That meant standing on line for ages just to get in. No Fandango back then. But I think that was part of the charm. Waiting with lots of other excited families and hoping there would still be tickets when it was your turn – all part of the experience. In 1977 when our son was six, he became obsessed with Star Wars and saw it many times. By the time the other movies came out (The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983), his younger sisters were also in line.

My kids spent hours playing with the small Star Wars figures. I often found Han Solo or Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia frozen in small Dixie cups or in the ice cube trays in my freezer. Star Wars was an important part of their formative years.

When the words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” scrolled across the screen and the sound track blasted out that familiar music in the theater where I saw The Force Awakens, I was ready for some fun mixed with a heavy dose of nostalgia. And I wasn’t disappointed. When I see my grandkids dressed like Rey or Kylo Ren and playing with light sabers, it makes me happy to know they will enjoy the movies (I’m sure there will be more to come) as much as their parents did.

Not being a devotee that takes all of the plot points too seriously, I can say that for sheer entertainment, The Force Awakens is a wonderful family film. Take your kids or grandkids to see it and enjoy the ride. May the force be with you.


by Laurie Levy
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