One of my happiest birthday memories was seeing the original “Star Wars” in 1977, when I turned 15. I fell in love with science fiction that day.

So when my son, who is a big fan of both the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, turned 14 this month, my birthday gift to him was tickets for the earliest showing I could obtain for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The movie was the perfect present, as the stories behind the film and its making involve the struggles of one generation attempting to pass the torch of its values and ideals to the next. And while I didn’t experience the same “high” after seeing The Force Awakens as I did with A New Hope, in many ways it was nearly as satisfying.

First, a small clip for those few of you who haven’t been exposed to the recent spate of “Star Wars” advertising:

Second, a programming note for Legal Insurrection readers: I do not reveal any information that wasn’t visible in the advertising in my review. However, links within my piece may contain spoilers. Click at your own risk.

JJ Abrams, the new director of “Star Wars” adored the 1977 movie as much as I did. He enthusiastically and creatively went back to filming basics in the sequel: Less reliance on CGI and special effects, more location shots, and terrifically engaging dialog (when it could be heard over blaster shots and explosions).

The Force Awakens has opened up with astronomical ticket sales. If it sustains those numbers, one of the key reasons will be because the new leading actors were solid picks. News reports indicate there was some controversy about the choice of John Boyega, a black actor, being selected for the role of a stormtrooper gone rogue. Also, there were concerns that the role of Rey, a young woman gifted with both “The Force” and a great deal of tool-using ability, was simply an homage to diversity.

Fortunately Abrams and the writing team of A Force Awakens created genuine and interesting characters among “Team Light Side”. Kudos must be given to Daisy Ridley, who had the presence and the talent to put her own mark on the role of Rey. She avoided becoming Princess Leia version 2.0 (minus the iconic gold bikini).

If I had a quibble with the movie, it is on this point: It stretches credulity a bit too often even for sci-fi, especially with Rey’s character. For example, while Rey is a physically adept woman, it takes years to learn weapons-fighting techniques she apparently picked up in 30 seconds.

“The Light Side had really strong, interesting characters,” noted my son. “The villains were not as villainous as they really needed to be. Kylo Ren wasn’t as good as Darth Vader. He was a simply a Sith having a temper tantrum with a light-saber.”

I see my son’s point, though I must admit I enjoyed the character of Kylo Ren much more than he did. I thought Adam Driver did a superb job with the role of a young Darth-Vader-wannabe. I am sure he will soon be a big tween heart-throb, too!

To explain why I was intrigued by Ren’s character so much, I would have reveal more of the movie plot than I care to at the present time. Facebook members have hit the “unfriend” button over spoilers, which clearly shows the hazard of opining in the age of new media. Suffice it to say, it hit close to home.

However, I don’t think Kylo Ren will be replacing Darth Vader in the hearts of “Star Wars” fans anytime soon, either.

The Force Awakens captures the spirit of the original movie very ably. I am looking forward to seeing where JJ Abrams is going to steer the plot over the next two installments very much.

As long as the new storylines do not involve Jar Jar Binks or ewoks, I am sure I will enjoy the ride.

I predict Disney will make so much from its investment in this franchise that Mickey Mouse may be wearing a Darth Vader mask before too long.


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