Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens the best Star Wars movie ever?
That's a big question and, surely, we'll all have different feelings about it, but let's talk about it. Be warned, this does mean major spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens follow. If you haven't yet watched Episode VII, which is now playing, don't read any further. Come back after watching and we'll share opinions later.
If you're still here, we'll continue, but seriously. Anything about Episode VII is fair game going forward.
So, was it the best Star Wars movie ever? We'll all likely agree it was definitely the best Star Wars movie in the past 30 years, far surpassing any of the prequels (although arguments can be - and have been - made for Sith to be at least in the conversation). But what about Episodes IV, V, and VI? Did it surpass all three of those, too?
Star Wars in a cross-generational phenomenon, now. However, much of the new, younger generation like myself, don't have those memories of walking into their local movie theater in 1977 to watch A New Hope on the big screen and witness what would be a revolutionary moment in cinema. This may be the biggest disadvantage for The Force Awakens and its the same thing Age of Ultron ran into earlier this year. Though Episode VII is, in my opinion, a better movie than the Avengers sequel, the point is that unless Age of Ultron really, really, really blew audiences away, it didn't have a chance of earning favoritism over 2012's The Avengers because of the magic it created by putting several of our favorite super heroes on the same screen for very first time.
While Episode VII follows episode IV's format in a big way in several aspects, it is still the start of something new, and for me, still felt refreshing. J.J. Abrams gifted us three new focal characters while still providing the same genuine feeling we only get when watching a Star Wars movie. That feeling came not only from the inclusion of the original cast but also in the style in which The Force Awakens was shot. As soon as Poe Dameron looked to Kylo Ren and said, "Who talks first? Do I talk first or do you talk first?" we're engulfed into the Star Wars galaxy. The look of the world, the choice of not using CGI for the aliens and creatures, the lightsaber fights - it all matched the portrayal in the original trilogy but still saw marginal benefit from the advances in cinematic technologies while never crossing into an all-out effects driven explosion.
A New Hope, even today, is one of the most acclaimed films and re-watched by fans every single day. How could following the format of such a thing ever be looked at as a negative? It's been 38 years since A New Hope was released. This isn't some parody or wanna-be movie coming along and mimicking Episode IV but, rather, it's Episode VII re-creating the magic with a brand new adventure.
Also, give credit to Disney and J.J. Abrams for having the brass ones necessary to kill off such an iconic character. Seriously, it's Han freakin' Solo. Every person on the planet knows who Han Solo is and Episode VII killed him. It was as shocking a moment as any offered in previous Star Wars films. "Luke, I am your father," may have a slight edge for those who experienced it without having grown up knowing the line was coming, or maybe Han being frozen back in 1980 can compete, but the feeling of disbelief stemming from Han getting a light saber through his abdomen and falling an apparent infinite distance had me as shocked as I've been during a movie as I can ever remember.
For me, what gives Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the go-ahead run is J.J. Abrams. It's no secret Abrams can craft characters and question marks. The latter can be fairly nerve-racking going into a movie needing to be so epic to satisfy us but he left us with an appropriate amount (see: ridiculous amount) of questions for the future while also telling Episode VII's story in its entirety. Sure, we want to know just what Luke has been up to and how Kylo Ren will be stopped, but our characters' journeys were satisfyingly told start to finish and we're going to ecstatically welcome them back into our theaters in 2017 - in just about 18 months, in fact.
The Force Awakens is, as George Lucas said, the movie Star Wars fans wanted. It took everything the original films did right and built upon them for a bright future and breathtaking welcome back.
In conclusion, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars movie to date.