Like the prequel trilogy before it, continuing from the original "Star Wars" trilogy of "A New Hope," "Empire Strikes Back," and "Return of the Jedi" is a huge task because the story has to compete with decades of conversations and theories fans of the saga have had.
But with "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" director J.J. Adrams successfully delivers a story that is loaded with nostalgic moments of the previous episodes as well as building a foundation of the next story line we are to embark on.
The main focus is Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), two outsiders who come together for a unlikely journey.
Finn is a stormtrooper who has gone rogue. Not made out to be the killer he was bred to be, he ends up on a dessert planet as he tries to escape the First Order (which is what the Empire is called now).
Rey is a scavenger who spends her days getting little money from stripping parts from destroyed star destroyers, X-wings, and TIE fighters that crashed on her planet ages ago when the Empire fell thanks to the now mythical heroes like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.
Finn and Rey connect through the droid BB-8, which is the property of hot shot rebel pilot Poe Dameron Oscar Isaac).
Getting into why BB-8 is important would be opening the floodgates to a rush of spoilers, so what's best to say is the lovable droid (who would think a big ball could be so adorable) is the key for why Finn and Rey enter into the world of the Rebellion, where they cross paths with Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and General Leia (Carrie Fisher).
"The Force Awakens" is chock-full of battles (both in the sky and with the lightsaber), but what Abrams and fellow screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt have made strides in creating strong dialogue and emotion from the characters.
As George Lucas was always criticized for filling the earlier episodes with cold, stringent performances (especially in the prequels), the characters in "The Force Awakens" are passionate, joking, and give performances that don't feel forced.
This is evident with the new members to the saga. The struggle of Boyega's Fin to be a stormtrooper gives the first signal that this is going deeper than what we've seen in the franchise.
Adam Driver as the villain Kylo Ren is the perfect mixture of intimidation and conflicting. Wanting desperately to be the second-coming of Darth Vader, he is filled with doubts if he has enough of the dark side in him (by the end of the movie we realize he does). However, he also comes off as a spoiled brat at times as he uses his lightsaber to throw temper tantrums. It plays well for some comedy, just barely.
Then there's Ridley 's Rey, who gives a performance that gets better as the movie progresses and is a blueprint of how women in action movies should be portrayed here on out. Rey is a no-nonsense hero that doesn't need any assistance to do anything.
She insists numerous times for Finn to let go of her hand while they run from danger. She flies the Millennium Falcon. She wields a lightsaber. Whether it was intentional or not, Abrams has announced that in his galaxy far, far away women don't just kick butt, they are the focus of the story. I can't wait to see what else is in store for Rey.
"The Force Awakens" is an epic story for an epic franchise that has set the table for an intriguing new chapter.