*Spoilers below *

In the unlikely event no one has seen it yet.

I was disappointed to miss Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theater, and hoping that would be where the disappointment would end. I love the original trilogy. A New Hope was on first viewing a transcendent experience. It marked the beginning of a new era in visual storytelling. From the scrolling words opening to the innovative FX to the characters and their struggles, joys, and triumphs, it was an event as no other movie had been before. Many instant fans didn’t even know it actually had a five word title. It was simply Star Wars, the most exciting movie of its generation, perhaps of all time.

It held up so well that The Force Awakens was able to slide into the mythology, with near perfect segue. The key to this was the inclusion of so many familiar faces, most importantly with their familiar actors, right down to the droids. In particular, the dynamic between Han and Leia made the transition intact. Not many movies can give the veteran viewer a jolt of pure joy, but I felt just that multiple times while watching The Force Awakens. First sight of the Falcon, Han, Chewie, R2-D2 and C3PO…and Leia, then Leia and Han together again at last. Star Wars fans dreamed of that moment, some for decades. It did not disappoint. It thrilled the way movies need to do a lot more often.

The new additions brought their own separate thrills. Tough and remarkable Rey, flawed hero Finn, dashing pilot Poe, and of course adorable droid BB8, all bring out memories of what has come before, even as they blaze new trails that belong to them. Kylo Ren is an admirable foe, bristling with his bitter darkside darkness, yet carrying the vulnerability of a struggling child.

Action is actionier due to 21st century FX, but the core of Star Wars tradition runs through The Force Awakens right down to Han’s shocking apparent death. Apparent? Of course. I have little doubt and lots of hope that the tradition of dead is not as dead as we think will continue throughout the new incarnation of the beloved series.

There’s an unspoken extra bit to the title…Star Wars: The Force Awakens A Newer Hope. This is the kind of storytelling that instantly becomes the stuff of legend, even as it continues the legend at its foundation. It brings a ray of light into the endless parade of franchise reboots and movie remakes. Most importantly of all, it is the Star Wars we love moved into the next millennium. How fitting.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

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