Wheeler’s Spoiler-Free Review of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

By Dave Wheeler (@wheelerj28)

There’s a great line in Kevin Smith’s 1999 flick “Dogma,” wherein the movie’s heroine is having a moral issue with her faith in the Catholic Church. Liz, her work colleague, broke it down to her like this:

Faith is like a glass of water: when you’re young, the glass is small and it doesn’t take a lot of water to fill it up. As you grow older, your glass gets bigger and the same amount of water won’t fill it up, so periodically the glass needs to be filled.

“A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of The Jedi” — my cup runneth over. “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of The Clones,” “Revenge of The Sith” — my glass was half empty.

Which is why I went into “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with mixed emotions. Excited for sure, but guarded with my feelings, afraid that my cup would be left half empty again. Just to be sure that I wasn’t going to be disappointed, I stayed away from anything Star Wars (which was next to impossible) for a week leading up the premiere, just so I could have a fresh set of eyes to watch with. I was even nervous if J.J. Abrams would change the iconic opening crawl and pan down from the stars. I cringed with anticipation when the Lucas Films logo came on the screen.

What happened over the next two hours of my life was a journey through space and time. I was ripped from my seat and sent back to my childhood, pulling at my memories and drumming up feelings. Every new environment, every new alien, every new planet had me smiling curious. Every trumpet from John Williams’ baton chilled my spine and brought up the hair on my arms. Each time a lightsaber fired up, or a blaster was fired, my heart skipped a beat. The scream of the TIE fighters and X-Wings dodging each other in dogfights — I had only imagined these scenarios in my dreams.

The movie is designed to bridge the gap between generations, not only the old cast and the new, but between baby boomers and Generation X to millennials and Generation Z. Kylo Ren is as menacing as Darth Vader and as engaging as Luke Skywalker. Even the more minor characters steal the screen as they move the plot along for the major characters. Mind you, some of the major characters in this arc aren’t seen as much as expected. The Falcon is a living breathing entity in this story. Every twist, turn and bad motivator is welcomed with open arms as the Millennium Falcon finally gets its day in the sun.

This movie had everything my childhood was clamouring for, and everything my 36-year-old self needed to fill its cup with renewed faith and wonderment in the universe that I’ve come to know and love. As a minor complaint, it did not need the PG-13 it was given, and I would even recommend bringing the whole family along. How bad can it be to teach the kids about the ins and outs of a historic intergalactic civil war from a galaxy far far away?

Final score: 4 ½ clams out of 5.