As we will soon investigate in our Sequelthon, one of the huge traps for movie sequels, prequels, and reboots is maintaining the energy and spirit of the original without being locked into lackluster storylines. One of the reasons the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy failed so amazingly was its inability to form a narrative push unrelated to the original trilogy. The plotpoints that weren’t nonsensical felt inevitable and forced. If The Force Awakens has any chance of reinvigorating the Star Wars name it would need to chart its own path free from the six movies that precede it.
Luckily for all of us, this seventh film in the franchise perfectly balances the need to respect and build on the earlier films. Our new cast, led by the trio of Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) all feel the ripples of events from the original trilogy (some more directly than others) but their arcs aren’t trapped into trajectories set by the Original Trilogy like the Prequel trio of Anakin, Padme, and Obi Wan. Instead they flex free will in a landscape shaped by the OT but not dictated by it.
The characters from the OT all find themselves struggling with issues developing after the events of Return of the Jedi. Some of these stories intersect with our new crew but they still develop on their own (another difference with the Prequels which seem content to allow coincidence to drive characters together). In the end the fundamental issue in The Force Awaken is legacy. The OT characters strive to come to grips with their post-Return of the Jedi actions. Kylo, Rey, and Finn all feel the effects of events that come before them and look ahead to shape their own destinies. And at a higher level JJ Abrams embraces the legacy of the preceding films while charting a new direction for the franchise.
Bottom-line: The Force Awakens comes as close as possible to living up to its massive hype and shouldn’t be missed.
Thanks for reading,
Damien from Flashback/Backslide