10 Reasons To Get Excited For Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A minute and a half is all it took for the next Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, to supplant The Avengers: Age of Ultron as the most anticipated movie of 2015. It’s incredible that a brief teaser trailer can generate so much excitement but given that Star Wars is one of the biggest, most lucrative franchises in history, it makes sense. That being said, the brand recognition of Star Wars alone would not have elevated the J.J. Abrams-directed film to the top of 2015’s movie list. There is a lot of pessimism and cynicism clouding the franchise after the prequel trilogy crushed an entire generation of fans in the early 2000s. Getting over that kind of betrayal is a difficult proposition but against all odds, The Force Awakens is shaping up the film that returns Star Wars to the light side.  These are the 10 reasons to get excited for The Force Awakens.

10. The Millennium Falcon is Back

While the initial teaser trailer for The Force Awakens is pretty light on detail, one thing that it does feature prominently is the return of the Millennium Falcon, the most iconic spaceship in Star Wars history.  Abrams made a wise choice in making the brief trailer’s longest scene a tracking shot of the Falcon flying over the familiar deserts of fictional planet Tattooine. Accompanied by John William’s legendary score, this shot appeals to every fan’s nostalgic love for the Star Wars of old. It’s a seemingly small addition but the return of the falcon is a gesture of goodwill calculated to sell the movie to disenfranchised viewers – and if the enormous buzz surrounding the trailer is any indication, it is a ploy that most definitely is working.

9. Return of the Old Cast

One could go on all day about why the original trilogy is vastly superior to the prequels but one of the most obvious examples is in the character department. The prequels had 2 dimensional characters with no emotional depth (heck, it’s not even clear who the protagonist of these films was!) but Lucas’s original trilogy had characters with real depth and feeling that became some of the most popular pop culture heroes of all time. Luckily, the principle cast is set to return for The Force Awakens – Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are all returning in their iconic roles. It’s still unknown how their characters will fit in or how significant a role they will play, but their inclusion alone shows how serious Disney is in making this a Star Wars that can stand alongside the originals.

8. New Up-and-Comers

One of the most exciting prospects of The Force Awakens is that a whole new cast of characters will be introduced, as the film takes place about 30 years after the last chronological film in the franchise, 1983’s The Return of the Jedi. Even better, the cast for the new film is filled with talented up-and-comers. Oscar Isaac, strongly believed to be playing the lead character, is a talented actor who has an impressive resume so far, including the title character in the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). Joining Isaac are the likes of Adam Driver (Girls), John Boyega (Attack the Block) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave). It’s refreshing to see a major studio film hire actors who are not quite household names and judging by the level of talent on hand, The Force Awakens will benefit greatly from its younger cast members.

Photo by Broadimage/REX

7. Return of Practical Effects

One of the main reasons Star Wars is such an influential film is that it revolutionized special effects, making the technical wizards at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) one of the leading effects companies in the industry. The Star Wars prequels, particularly Episodes II and III, relied predominately on CGI and a lot less on practical effects like models and elaborate sets. Unfortunately, computer effects technology advances at such a rapid rate that those films look dated now, only a decade later. Recognizing the need for both schools of effects, Abrams made a point when discussing the film in interviews to emphasize his commitment to shooting with models, costumes, and sets wherever possible in order to make the film feel more natural and believable. Many fans have embraced this decision and it is hoped that the re-emphasis on practical effects will make The Force Awakens feel more like the older, better films.

6. Embraces What Is Good in Star Wars

The majority of Star Wars fans recognize that the original film trilogy is vastly superior to the prequel trilogy. Clearly the powers-that-be behind The Force Awakens recognize this fact as well and have made sure to emphasize that the new film will embrace everything that is good about Star Wars – the majority of which can be found in those original 3 movies. There seems to be a renewed emphasis on character and story, as well as establishing a look and feel that embraces what came before, while leaving room for new, creative content. By deliberately avoiding the mistakes of the prequels, The Force Awakens is already on track to being a far superior film.

5. J.J. Abrams is a Fan First

While it remains to be seen whether the decision to hire on J.J. Abrams as director will pay off, it is easy to see why he was given the job and why it’s a safe bet that, at the very least, The Force Awakens will be a competent film that feels distinctly like a Star Wars film. Abrams has done little to hide his absolute love for the material; like many modern filmmakers, Star Wars had an enormous impact on his decision to become a filmmaker. Critics point to his Star Trek films, which have been good but not great, as evidence that he won’t deliver with Star Wars. Another side to that argument might be to consider the 2 Star Trek films Abrams directed as a tryout for landing the director’s job for Star Wars, as those Trek films felt more like Star Wars than Star Trek.

Photo by Broadimage/REX

4. Much of it is Still a Mystery

The teaser trailer for The Force Awakens made a point of building excitement for the film while revealing very little about the plot or characters. While longer trailers are due for release next year and will surely give away a lot more details, it’s exciting at this stage that very little has been revealed about the film, only a year away from its release. There has been a veil of secrecy surrounding the project ever since it was announced in late 2012, which rather than inspiring fear that the film would be a disaster, has actually helped build excitement and confidence in Disney’s ability to deliver a good film. More than ever, film marketing campaigns seemed determined to spoil everything about every upcoming blockbuster. While this will likely be the case for The Force Awakens as its release date approaches, the ignorance of the present leaves speculation and imaginations wide open as to what the finished product will look like.

3. A Fresh Start

The Star Wars prequels are simply wretched films and their collective failures tarnished the Star Wars brand profoundly, to the point where the announcement of even more new movies was met with a collective eye roll from jaded fans. Recognizing the tainted nature of modern Star Wars, Disney made the bold choice of wiping the slate clean by removing all of the extended universe content made in the decades since the original trilogy’s release (novels, comics, games etc.) from the canon, with The Force Awakens set to be the definitive canon set after Return of the Jedi. While some fans of this expanded content were upset by this move, many others see it as an act of goodwill and confirmation that the new film, and the franchise as a whole, are being taken very seriously by Disney and is ultimately in good hands.

2. George Lucas is Not Involved

To be clear: modern filmmaking owes an immeasurable debt to the foresight and talent of George Lucas, who created one of the most important and influential films of all time with 1977’s Star Wars. That being said, his lack of involvement in The Force Awakens is a blessing and help’s the film’s credibility immensely. Lucas, for whatever reason, lost sight of what made Star Wars so great in the beginning and seemingly went out of his way to destroy the franchise he created through shoddy filmmaking and questionable decisions. Lucas will always remain an influential and significant filmmaker, but given his track record over the last few decades, his lack of involvement in the next phase of Star Wars is a seal of quality in itself.

Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

1. Cross-Generational Appeal

One of the greatest things about Star Wars is that it is a franchise that truly appeals to all ages.  The Force Awakens is set to take this level of appeal one step further by (hopefully) inspiring a whole new generation of kids who weren’t around to have their minds blown by the original 1977 film, as well as a showcase that older parents can use to show their kids why Star Wars is so great. The prequels failed to deliver in both of these areas and while it’s still too early to tell if The Force Awakens will be able to pull of such a feat, no other film is as well situated as this one to deliver the same cross-generational appeal that the original trilogy provided.

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Nick S

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