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The 'Force' Delivers

But it has no beginning, or end

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THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL But the heater in the theater is delightful. Of course you're going to see the new 'Star Wars.'
  • THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL But the heater in the theater is delightful. Of course you're going to see the new 'Star Wars.'

Darth Vader's iron dream lives on more than 30 years later in a new helmeted menace called Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). The interesting angle of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that there's a Napoleon streak to this Ren. In quiet moments, he prays to the half-melted helmet of Lord Vader. He has doubts about his power.

The plunge into the politics of the Old Republic was part of the lethally boring side of the last three Star Wars films, as was George Lucas' disinterest in women. But the emphasis on girl power is a new development. The brave Rey (Daisy Ridley) makes this movie, more than the battalions of animators, more than the glorious 65mm locations in Ireland, Iceland and Abu Dhabi.

Rey is a scavenger, circumstantially marooned on the dune planet Jakku, where she encounters an Imperial army deserter named "Finn" (John Boyega). Finn is on the run after he helped a rebel pilot (Oscar Isaac) escape; a secret important to the rebellion is hidden aboard a droid they both know.

So much in this movie is stuff we've seen before, from the X-wing dogfights to the rebels lined up as if for a group snapshot at the end, to a predictable catwalk duel. But one reprise is tender: a meeting between General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and the grizzled but still game Han Solo (Harrison Ford). The dialogue is lame, but the exchange of glances says it all between them.

The way the film is built, it can have neither ending nor beginning. It's leading from a sequel and heading to another one; a temporary victory over the planet-blasting fascists of the First Order leads to new adventures. Though the new characters acquit themselves with fierceness, I had more eyes for the old Bogartian hustler Solo and his gray-haired Wookie, still scheming in the troubled waters of a galactic civil war.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is playing in wide North Bay release and galaxies far, far away.

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