A short time ago at a computer desk far, far away….I promised I would publish a review. This epic space opera was released on December 18th, 2015, following three long years of tremendous amounts of hype, controversy, and speculation. It has since broken numerous box office records and is projected to make over $2 billion worldwide, and won rave reviews from critics and fans alike. Don’t worry. This review is completely spoiler-free of any major plot points for those who haven’t seen it yet. However, I will post a spoiler discussion shortly after this. I suppose the best way to do this would be to talk about what we already knew from the trailers and promos. So Finn is a brand new Stormtrooper who renounces the First Order after witnessing their first-hand cruelty. He escapes and meets Rey, a lonely scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku, who is longing for the return of her family. They both come across the much-hyped droid BB-8 and now have to run from the First Order who are being led by the mysterious Dark Side figure, Kylo Ren. Most of the cast members from the original trilogy return, which was initially a concern of mine, because it felt like they were being shoehorned into the film for the sake of nostalgia. But all of them, particularly Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as General Leia and Han Solo, perfectly remember how to play their iconic roles. I’m going to tell you right now that all of the new stars, especially John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, have very bright future careers ahead of them. Then again, there are a number of other big and small name actors who appear in the film but only briefly. I think most of them did it for the sake of saying that they were involved the Star Wars Saga. For example, Max Von Sydow’s character, although involved in the central plot, was only in one scene and felt more like a cameo. And some of the new characters I liked, but were not given enough screen time. I’m telling you right now that the awesome, chrome-plated Stormtrooper Captain Phasma did precisely jackshit. And General Hux was exactly who I expected him to be: a young and cruel officer of the First Order. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the new central main characters are all genuine and relatable. And I’ll delve more into their individual story arcs in the spoiler discussion. The Star Wars franchise has been a mixed when it comes to visual effects. However in this latest installment, there is a beautiful blend between practical and computer-generated imagery, effectively bridging the prequels and the originals in terms of visuals. Speaking of the originals, the most common point of criticism for The Force Awakens is the fact that it relies perhaps too heavily on nostalgia from A New Hope. That is especially apparent in the final act of the movie, where it just feels like a major case of deja vou. That’s not to say that the film isn’t rich with it’s content in terms of story, characters, and themes. One of my favorite parts about the film was the lighsaber fight that everyone knew was coming. But unlike the prequels, it’s not highly choreographed and sophisticated. It’s actually really dirty and destructive. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, as it really feels like some serious consequences are going to happen to either participant. It has been my belief for many a year that John Williams was and always will be the greatest film composer of all time. And he continues to prove that statement with probably his best score since E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Although, this time, the music isn’t as exciting or blood-pumping as some other iconic tracks from the franchise, including Duels of Fate and The Imperial March. Instead, like the rest of the film, the soundtrack is more based on emotions and raising goosebumps. It really lends itself well during some of the more emotional moments. And one of the strongest emotions in The Force Awakens is it’s humor. It’s easily the funniest entry in the Star Wars series to date, no thanks to J.J. Abrams Star Trek-esque direction, the co-written screenplay with Lawrence Kasdan, and the chemistry of the cast. John Boyega, in particular, has a clever and surprisingly honed timing for comedic moments. In truth, some of the more purist Sat Wars fanatics will jump at the opportunity to hate the movie because J.J. Abrams is directing, Disney is funding/marketing the whole thing, or simply because it has nothing to do with the Expanded Universe. Despite it’s derivative structure in plot, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is still an emotional, character-driven, and supremely entertaining entry in the Star Wars Saga. It stands as one of the absolute best movies of the year, and actually gets better every time you watch it. In the end, it’s simply one of the best science fiction movies of the new decade. NOW GO SEE IT!!!