with Alan Mehanna - 2016-01-05

"In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way."


The Force truly awakened with the triumphant return of the Star Wars franchise with J.J. Abrams in the Millennium Falcon’s pilot seat. When news first hit the stands and the cyber realm about Abrams taking on the world of Star Wars fans were polarized. Some feared the Abrams-flare would populate the frame inside the new films, while others like myself knew that we would be in for a treat. 

The more we crept closer to the film’s release, the more excited and united the fans became in their opinion of Abrams at the helm. Having now garnered $524.9 million globally in just four days, numbers can be found on boxofficemojo, it has never been clearer how large and loyal Star Wars fans are and how well received the films have been by critics and audiences alike. 

Tonight, I finally got to see the film and what a masterpiece! 

From the moment the legendary phrase in blue “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” popped up on the screen, I could hear the small excited gasps of the many audience members with me and my family in the room. Then those silent moments before the epic brass notes echo throughout the room and applause and cheers joined. 

The new episode in the Star Wars saga had begun. 

Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan brought forth such a compelling, humorous, heart-breaking, mysterious new story with a great cast of new characters alongside the legacy characters of the Original Trilogy. From beginning to end, this film proved successful in every aspect and it is clear how much passion and respect the cast and crew had for what came before.

The screenplay hits all the right marks with fantastic dialogue that never gets too cheesy, incredible action sequences, and plot twists that had us all throwing our hands in the air and gasping in disbelief. I, personally, loved the film’s protagonists but what I enjoyed more was the film’s desperate and lost antagonist, Kylo Ren, my new favorite character of the Star Wars Saga - aside from BB-8. The complexity of the character reminds me of one character that lost his way and became the galaxy’s most feared dark lord.

The echoes of Star Wars continue into Episode VII. Even my sister who is not a big Star Wars fan at one point looked over and said, “Isn’t that similar to the original film?” in the penultimate scene between two major characters in Starkiller base. I am happy that Abrams didn’t shift away from the idea of the echoes, even though it is clearly a Star Wars for a new age. For more on the echoes check out the following link:

Everything in the film felt grounded in the Wars’s reality, and nothing felt out of place even though this was a very new film. The story flowed and kept our interest, never once wavering or heading down a wrong path. 


The title of this review does state that it is a semi-spoiler free review and the scene I am about to talk about is a must. The death of the major legacy character in the film, though expected to certain degree, was still a jaw-dropping, heart-breaking moment. Fan favorite, Han Solo, was killed in a heinous act at the hand of his son Kylo Ren, a.k.a Ben. Many fans had claimed that Solo would be the one to die but there were many others that speculated Chewbacca, or Luke would. 

For me, I though this worked perfectly. Not only did it continue the echo of a mentor dying in the first film of every trilogy, Ben in A New Hope, Qui-Gon in The Phantom Menace, it also did something else much deeper. It gave us the Dark Side moment of the end of Return of the Jedi

Luke was faced with a very similar decision during the final duel between him and Darth Vader, Luke’s father. Although, Luke came very close to killing him, he ultimately spares him and chooses the Light Side. In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren was close to letting go of the Dark Side and heading home with his father, until he commits this brutal act. This not only makes Ren a much more intriguing character, it also locks him as the series’ antagonist. 

Now about Solo’s death. Anyone who is a well researched Star Wars fan knows that Harrison Ford wanted Solo to die at the end of Empire Strikes Back, and George Lucas had to push him to come back in Return of the Jedi. Solo’s death, though heart-breaking, is Ford’s plan for Solo becoming a reality. But it also helps pave the way for the newcomers (Rey, Fin, and Poe) to take the reigns and flourish in their story. I said this before and I will say it again, this twist is one of the film’s best moments. 


There are so many more memorable moments in this film, so many great character moments, and I will probably post another review soon, seeing as to how I am probably going to watch it again. But for now, I am beyond satisfied and pleased with this new chapter of the Star Wars Saga.

Alan Mehanna

Instructor, Faculty of Information & Communication