Star Wars: A Future That Works

Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the largest opening weekend in North America. The highly-anticipated seventh installment in the beloved sci-fi franchise had already scored $57 million during preview shows on Thursday, December 17, and a whopping $238 million over the weekend, while playing at 4,134 theaters across the country.

The sequel, directed by J.J. Abrams, is set thirty years after the events that took place in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, and features a wonderfully diverse new cast, as well as some familiar faces. The stars of the original trilogy – Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher reprise their roles as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia, respectively. The film centers on a strong female heroine – Rey (Daisy Ridley), a talented and tough scavenger strong with the Force.

The Galaxy is facing a new threat in the form of the First Order, an organization that can be traced back to the remnants of Darth Vader’s empire. General Leia Organa Solo has founded the Resistance movement, in order to destroy the First Order’s new weapon capable of obliterating entire star systems. On the desert planet Jakku, Rey discovers a BB-8 droid that contains an important clue to the whereabouts of the missing Jedi Luke Skywalker. Rey, along with former Stormtrooper Finn, embark on a perilous mission to deliver BB-8 to Resistance headquarters, whilst being pursued by the evil Kylo Ren from the First Order.

Abrams leans toward an older era of filmmaking in The Force Awakens. He is less dependent on computer generated imagery than on concrete sets, contributing to the authentic feel of the film. Many of the scenes were shot on location in Abu Dhabi, heightening the viewer’s feeling of experiencing the action firsthand. “I wanted to feel that thing I’d felt when I was a kid watching this movie, which was that this was actually happening.” Abrams told Time. “So the decision was made very early on to build as much as we can and actually film it.”

With rave reviews and a hardcore fanbase, it comes as no surprise that The Force Awakens is such a success. The film calls to mind all of the glorious moments from the original trilogy, while breathing in new energy and giving it a modern update. Much to the delight of fans everywhere, Disney has unveiled plans to release two more Star Wars films, one in 2017 and the other in 2019.

“Abrams breathes life into Lucas’ epochal creations in a manner that deftly looks back to the future,” says Mark Kermode, film critic for The Guardian. “And it’s a future that works.”