By Dan Leach
@dtmleach

Like many of you reading this, Star Wars has been a major part of my life. Maybe, like me, it was your father, who showed you A New Hope (Episode IV), when you were a young child and it opened up your heart and soul and gave you a belief that anything was possible a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

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When I saw those same epic words come up on the screen as Episode VII began, I felt a chill thrill my whole body, knowing that something special was about to happen in front of my eyes and it simply felt like home.

No matter who introduced you to one of the most important and far-reaching cultural juggernauts of modern times, Star Wars is bigger than just a movie, it is truly larger than life. It has made millions of friendships, helped marriages happen, and has given so many of us so much joy. So let me be the first one to try to quell many true Star Wars fans’ biggest fear.

I will take a line from the excellent Star Wars road trip movie Fanboys, “Guys, what if the movie sucks?”

It simply couldn’t be more to the contrary. The Force Awakens is not just one of the best Star Wars movies, it’s one of the best movies I have ever seen.

The first words uttered in Episode VII are “This will make things right,” and Star Wars fans worldwide, many of whom did not feel the prequel trilogies did the franchise justice, can rest assured director J.J. Abrams not only has the franchise back on track, but has it going light speed ahead.

Episode VII takes place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi and there are so many questions to be asked and answered right off the jump. Who is the mysterious Kylo Ren who seems to have Jedi-like powers, but sure doesn’t seem like he is using him for the good.

What has happened to Han Solo, Princess Leah, Chewie, and other beloved characters from the original trilogy? What drives our new heroes? Rey brilliantly played by Daisy Ridley and former Storm Trooper Finn, played with a deep ferocity by John Boyega. The most important question of all though … where is and what happened to Luke Skywalker?

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While I don’t want to give away one of the most important plot points of TFA, I can say this, Luke’s current whereabouts and situation is one you will want answers to right from the start and your heart and mind will want that answer in the worst way. It will want it within seconds of seeing the famous crawl of words at the open of the film.

J.J. Abrams, who in my opinion is one of the great directors of our generation, is masterful in weaving a story across generations, with heroes and villains that we know, and new ones that are just as compelling. Much how Episode III brought together generations of Star Wars fans and tied everything together, TFA does it in its own way by moving is forward while also keeping is rooted in the past.

The sets are awash with vivid imagery, the battles both on land and space are mind-bending, and the acting and more importantly casting decision made by Abrams and his team, couldn’t be more on point.

The movie plays like brilliant painters canvas, constantly being filled in with beautiful colors, with constant nods to the past, but motions towards the future that truly will excite as too all the possibilities. That is why we all fell in love with Star Wars in the first place.

As I watched the film I cried no less than five times, had a smiling beaming across my face for seemingly the entire two hour and sixteen minute running time, and constantly felt like I had to pinch myself as to the sheer beauty and mind bending questions and action I kept seeing take place. If I had to sum up TFA in one word, it would be TRANSCENDENT!

A film that is more then just a film, an experience that can be shared by millions upon millions, showing us all just how beautiful being a dreamer, a human being filled with wonderment, and loving something so much that it hurts, can be.

The final shot of the movie is one of the greatest I have ever seen throughout my cinematic life and will remind fans of both Star Wars and cinema worldwide just why we go to the movies. I can’t wait to be able to share this with my son or daughter one day, the same way my amazing father did.

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Opening up a lifetime of belief that anything is possible, whether it is on Earth or in a galaxy far, far, away!