A ToddAndrewBarnett.com Spoiler-Filled Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

[Disclaimer: if you haven’t seen the movie at the movie theaters, on Blu-Ray, on DVD, or on Digital HD yet and don’t want to be exposed to any spoilers, read no further, please? Thank you. – TAB]

Pre-Preview Revelations

On a clear Monday afternoon, on December 21, 2015, my mom and I went to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens which started at 12:30 p.m. EST at the Emagine Macomb Theatre. Considering Mom and I agreed that she would reimburse me the money for the two tickets for the movie, I used my PayPal MasterCard debit card to pay for the tickets.

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens at Emagine Macomb Theatre Tickets Clipping - 10-20-2015

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens at Emagine Macomb Theatre Tickets Part 2 Clipping - 10-20-2015

My mom and I got to the theater about 10 minutes before the movie started to show on the big screen. Knowing in advance that the tickets for the 3D EMAX IN DOLBY ATMOS SOUND showing of the film, I went to the concession stand and purchased a Star Wars popcorn tin for $25, even though I thought it was 25₵ on top of the $7.75 for a large bowl of popcorn, which is what I thought I was gonna be charged. When I was at the counter and the gentleman behind the counter filled up my tin, I know I saw a sign that seemed like it said “Collect All Four for 25₵!” (My vision must be that bad if it said $25.) When I got to the cashier line, my total, along with my popcorn, candy, my large drink (which was a Cherry Coke Zero) and my mom’s small drink (which was a Cherry ICEE), my total came to $39. I was like, “WTF!” The female cashier said, “The [Star Wars] pop corn is $25.” If you collect all four of these tins, you’d be spending upwards of $100 total.

The popcorn tin is now selling as the following:

Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens at Emagine Macomb Theatre - Collective Popcorn Tin Clipping - 12-30-2015

Anyway, after my mom filled up her drink and I filled up mine, we walked to the doors of the Auditorium 8 inside the complex. We go to our seats designated D9 aornd D10. We spoke with a fellow gentleman who is, or whom Mom and I perceive to be, a Star Wars fan.  We spoke for a few minutes, thinking that we were going to have some gentle, fun small talk. And that’s what happened just prior to the actual movie showing, considering it was still showcasing TV ads and movie trailers.

By the way, the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War was airing at the theater. It was pretty sweet. I can’t wait for it when it is finally released to all theaters nationwide.


Spoiler-Filled Review of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The J.J. Abrahms-directed film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens certainly brings out the Force in all of its die-hard, purist fans and admirers, returning back to a time when movie serials dominated the theaters in the 1930s and when the original Star Wars (later repackaged as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) had its long-awaited premiere on May 25, 1977. When the first film, which was later reclassified as the fourth episode of the entire saga, was released, no one had any idea that the movie would change the film industry as we know it. Indeed it has done exactly that.

The new story picks up 30 years after the heralded events of Episode VI, in which the Second Death Star was destroyed and 34 years after Episode IV in which the First Death Star was pulverized. Much has changed within the last 30 years. The Empire disintegrated into ashes, and arising in its place is the First Order. The Rebellion reformed as the Resistance.

Here’s the text of the movie’s opening crawl:

Episode VII
Luke Skywalker has vanished.
In his absence, the sinister
FIRST ORDER has risen from
the ashes of the Empire
and will not rest until
Skywalker, the last Jedi,
has been destroyed.

With the support of the
REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa
leads a brave RESISTANCE.
She is desperate to find her
brother Luke and gain his 
help in restoring peace
and justice to the galaxy.

Leia has sent her most daring
pilot on a secret mission
to Jakku, where an old ally
has discovered a clue to
Luke's whereabouts....



Resistance fighter Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) arrives on the planet Jakku to meet a village elder and retired adventurer named Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) who carries a map of Luke Skywalker’s current location. Dameron’s directive is to attain this map and bring it back to General Leia and the entire Resistance. Immediately, without warning, a squadron of stormtroopers under the command of a new dark lord of the Sith named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) attack and destroy the village, decimating everyone except Poe whom Ren and his First Order forces capture. Poe’s new droid BB-8 is installed with the map and flees with it and, upon first encounter, meets a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who drives a newly-designed speeder bike which she obviously built with spare parts taken from other ships, which she finds in a junkyard settlement.

Ren tortures Poe and, using his evil Sith powers, learns of BB-8. Therefore, he makes it his mission to find that droid before the Resistance gets wind of it. Meanwhile, Stormtrooper FN-1287, after refusing to kill for the First Order, frees Poe from the Order’s clutches, and they escape from a Star Destroyer in a TIE fighter. Dameron names FN-1287 “Finn,”  and the two crash land on Jakku after having been shot down. Finn appears to be the sole survivor of the crash. Finn finally locates Rey and BB-8 claiming to be a Resistance soldier, and the First Order locate and attack them from the sky. The Millennium Falcon is discovered by the three, and they start it up, outpacing the TIE fighters on the run and escape from the planet.

Unexpectedly the Falcon breaks down and becomes captured by a much larger ship piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who both reclaim their old former vessel. Different squads of gangs pursue them to reclaim their debts with Solo aboard the ship and attack; thus, the five escape in the ship in one piece. What happens next? The gangs contact the First Order and inform it of Solo’s involvement. On the First Order’s Starkiller Base, (a Super-Death Star that was converted from a planet to a weapon capable of obliterating other star systems), Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to employ the weapon for the first time. Snoke also inquires Ren as to Solo’s involvement means to him, but Kylo immediately dismisses him, saying he means nothing to him.

The Falcon crew examine BB-8’s map and rapidly determine that it is incomplete. Han tells Finn and Rey the story of what happened to General Leia’s brother and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker – the fact that Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order but disappeared by going into exile after his apprentice Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side and had toppled all that Luke built. From that point on in the movie, they venture all the way to the planet Takodana and meet with cantina proprietor Maz Kanata who says that she can help BB-8 reach the Resistance, but Finn wants to go his own way. Rey finds herself drawn to a vault containing the lightsaber that belonged to Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin Skywalker before him. Suddenly she experiences deep disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz hands over the lightsaber to Finn for safekeeping.

Starkiller Base uses its weapon to destroy the Republic capital and fleet, which leads to the First Order attacking Takodana with the objective of searching for BB-8. Poe, who had been thought by Finn to have been dead, arrives, saving him, Han, and Chewie with the help of Resistance X-wing fighters, revealing that he had survived the TIE fighter crash. Leia then arrives at Takodana with C-3PO (who has a red arm) and reunites with Han and Chewie and meets Finn. Unfortunately, Ren captures Rey and takes her to Starkiller Base. She becomes interrogated by him about the map, but she surprises him by resisting his mind reading. She immediately discovers that she is strong with the Force, using it to escape her cell with a Jedi mind trick.

BB-8 discovers an inactive R2-D2 at the Resistance base on D’Qars. R2 has been out of commission since Luke’s disappearance. The Resistance devises a plan to annihilate the looming Starkiller Base (which is preparing to fire upon it) by deploying an attack upon a critical facility. Leia meets with Han, urging him to bring back their son Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo alive. Han, Chewie, and Finn board the Falcon and head for the base. Once they infiltrate it, they manage to lower its shield, locate Rey, place explosives, and instantly discover Ren. Han finally confronts his son, calling him by his birth name and imploring him to turn from the Dark Side. Although it appears that Ren a.k.a. Ben is conflicted with his feelings, he kills Han, setting off an enraged Chewie who sets off the explosives. Obviously this allows the Resistance X-wing fighters to attack the base and launch a chain reaction by destroying the generator results in the destruction of the Starkiller Base.

Ren, who is injured by what happened on the base, pursues Rey and Finn to the surface. Ren and Finn battle each other with lightsabers, but  Finn becomes overpowered and severely wounded. Rey takes hold of the lightsaber and begins her fight with Ren, thus overpowering him with the Force before they are separated by a fissure on the ground. Snoke orders Hux to evacuate the Starkiller Base and bring Ren to him. As that transpires, Rey and  Chewbie escape the base with Finn in the Falcon. The Resistance celebrates the First Order’s defeat as well as the destruction of the Starkiller Base on D’Qar, while Leia, Chewie, and Rey grieve over Han’s death. Then suddenly R2-D2 awakens and begins to reveal the rest of the map, which sends Rey, R2, and Chewie to an island on a distant planet. When she climbs to the top of the mountain on the island, she finds Luke Skywalker and reaches out with his lightsaber, presenting it to him. Luke looks it, wondering whether he should take it or not. She awaits his decision, hoping he’ll take his weapon.


The movie is filled with lots of exciting special and visual effects, taking Star Wars to a new level of which no has seen before or even heard. It is an infectious treat for the masses with lots of excitement, packing it with lots of memories of the original trilogy, and launching a new trilogy that creates a story line that is reminiscent of the original Star Wars, but at the same time it leaves the audiences begging for more. New excitements and wonders bring about a world for the consuming moviegoers who embrace the mythology of the stories, the characters, and the Force and the concepts that weave it all together.

There is nothing tawdry about the storytelling that brings this script to life as well as the characters in the movie, new and old. It is a delightful confection for one to taste and enjoy at the cinemas for the night, letting one’s imagination go wild with great inspiration, aspiration, and fantasy. George Lucas’s playground is constantly played upon with great reason – because the ideas of Star Wars represent the ideas of justice, individual liberty, freedom, and morality. It’s a morality tale filled with an immutable wisdom of the ages – the idea that power can still corrupt, even if that power has been obliterated. If not obliterated, at least it can be contained. But once the genie is out of the bottle, all the misery and defeat lay at our feet, and eternal vigilance is the price that we must pay to keep such an awesome power under check. And we must thank J.J. Abrahms for bringing this latest tale to the screen to complete the franchise’s surreal, allegorical purpose of attaining that check once and for all.

If Star Wars Episode VII is so delicious, I wonder what’s in store for Episodes VIII and IX? I wonder with glory and amusement. I truly do indeed.

Grade: A

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