ST. LOUIS — For “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” film critics had to request an invitation and wait to be invited — that’s how under wraps the private critics’ preview was handled.
Normally, when the studios want film critics to review their movies, we get an email a week or two before the screening that tells us when and where it will take place and we usually can invite a guest. I only remember one other time in the past year when we couldn’t invite a guest — the second time was with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
We were told that under no circumstances were we to bring a guest, boss or co-worker. In fact, we were not even given the location of the theater until the night before the screening. We were told that we were to leave our phones in the car or they would be confiscated at the door. When we arrived, a guard at the door ran a wand up and down our bodies to make sure we didn’t bring in phones or other recording devices. I felt like I was going to fly somewhere or meet the President the security was so tight. And true to form, once seated, we were on our way to a galaxy far, far away…
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is touted as a continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set 30 years after “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.” Actually, I felt I was watching the original “Star Wars” movie until Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) appeared on the screen. Holy crap, they were so bloody old! They all had masses of wrinkles, sagging necks, and piles of gray hair! When did they get so old?
But the senior citizens are joined by a younger set of actors. Rey played by Daisy Ridley, Poe Dameron by Oscar Isaac and Finn by John Boyega add excitement and youth to the film. These are three good-looking, talented actors to watch in the future.
There always has to be a bad guy. There was no shortage of those in this movie. Adam Driver plays Kylo Ren, a bad boy in the Darth Vader tradition. Of course a “Star Wars” movie wouldn’t be complete without our old friends Chewbacca, R2D2 and C-3PO. They are joined by a cute new little droid that rolls instead of walking.
The cinematography is magnificent. The sets are amazing. The costuming and make-up should garner Academy Award nominations. The make-up is just fabulous. And then, there is the music by John Williams. I don’t have the words to describe how wonderful his scores are. I love the music. When the movie opens to the “Star Wars” theme, you really are in a galaxy far, far away.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams and Academy Award-winner Michael Arndt based on characters by George Lucas. J.J. Abrams also directed.
I enjoyed the film and the funny quips by Han Solo brought levity to the film. It reminded me of the first “Star Wars” movie. As I have said, lots of things about this movie reminded me of the first “Star Wars,” which is a place well-worth returning.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens Friday at AMC Eastgate Showplace 6, AMC Showplace Edwardsville 12 and Kerasotes Jerseyville Stadium and may the force be with you.
The Telegraph’s contributing movie critic Mary Cox lives in Wood River and is a member of the St. Louis Film Critics Association, who also occasionally writes about film-related topics, studied film at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked in L.A. with various directors and industry professionals. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Mary’s website at www.mlcwriter.com.