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‘The Force Awakens’ returns ‘Star Wars’ fans to the fun, familiar galaxy of the original films

It’s been 10 years since the last proper, live-action “Star Wars” movie, “Revenge of the Sith,” was released. One of the prequels, “Revenge” was a promising sign that maybe good things could come from new movies in the series. But since that was the final installment in the prequel trilogy, there was no way of knowing if the trend would continue.

Ten years is a long, long time, which is why it feels so surreal, but also is such a relief, to say that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a more-than-a worthy installment in the franchise.

The film picks up 30 years after “Return of the Jedi.” Luke Skywalker has disappeared, and the Empire has been replaced by the dreaded First Order. Led by the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke, this new military organization is trying to finish what the Empire started. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is an agent of fear who idolizes Darth Vader, but underneath his black mask he is not the scarred remains of an honorable Jedi but, nothing more than an immature child.

We begin on the desert planet of Jakku, where elite rebel pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) is hiding. He hides a portion of a map of Skywalker’s location in a droid named BB-8, but before he can escape, Poe is captured and the fate of the droid is unknown.

Meanwhile, a sympathetic Storm Trooper (John Boyega) leaving the planet sees the perfect opportunity for a different kind of escape. He takes Poe to a Tie fighter to leave the First Order and get Poe to safety. After crash-landing on Jakku, and losing Poe, the Storm Trooper, now called Finn, encounters a skilled pilot and scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), who has found the BB-8 droid. They then find a run-down freighter once called the Millennium Falcon, and leave the desert planet for good.

As the quest to find Luke Skywalker continues, our heroes meet Han Solo (Harrison Ford), have several run-ins with the First Order, and duel the dark, conflicted warrior, Kylo Ren.

The characters work very well together, and have great chemistry. You feel what they feel, which is important for some of the more emotional events that occur. Everyone is very relatable, understandable, and believable.

The returning characters play a large part in the story and actually do things that, in some cases, let you learn more about them, in addition to moving the plot forward. The new additions to the cast are great, as well. Finn, Rey and Poe are all people who are easy to root for, and simple characters without being two dimensional.

Kylo Ren is, other than Luke, the only known Jedi in the galaxy. He worships Darth Vader, and tries very hard to attain the same influence and respect that Vader had. On the inside, Kylo acts like he commands the same authority as Vader, but in reality, he knows he can’t live up to the success of his idol. His inferiors don’t want to deal with him, and he is in denial about his role as an expendable tool for Snoke.

The plot seems very familiar but mixes up some elements to let the foundation for this new trilogy stand out among other stories in the franchise. Many elements still feel rehashed, but the story itself is solid, fun and enjoyable without feeling too simple.

In addition, the film’s pacing is handled very well. This movie is very character-driven, which is established by the sequence of events, as every moment is either plot or character development with very little bland exposition.

In conclusion, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” feels far, far more like “Star Wars” than any of the prequels did. Its level of detail and commitment to the source material should be held in high regard. It is, overall, the perfect “Star Wars” movie that fans of the series can not possibly ignore.

Quinn Zack is a freshman at Hamburg High School.