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Finally saw THE FORCE AWAKENS. Liked it, didn’t love it.

Comments with minimal spoilers ahead. If you don’t want any spoilers at all, stop here; but I’ve avoided specifics as much as possible.

It’s as well-made a movie as you can get. Sets, costumes, sound, special effects, editing, cinematography, storytelling of all kinds: It just plain works.

In particular, all of the acting was on point, from the young leads to the old hands. (The movie reminded me, among other things, how good an actress Carrie Fisher can be.) And BB-8 was even more believable and rich in personality than R2-D2, the gold standard of non-humanoid robots.

But the movie has no center. The original SW had a lot going on, but it was at its core the story of Luke Skywalker and how a boy becomes a man.

THE FORCE AWAKENS, though — well, to avoid spoilers, I’ll say only that its story doesn’t focus so closely on the development of one main protagonist or on one main relationship. Those things are in the movie, but the movie isn’t all about them. So it feels diffuse to me.

What’s more, nothing in the movie made me think, “I’ve never seen anything like that before” as, say, THE MATRIX or the 1977 STAR WARS did. It’s a triumph of moviemaking craftsmanship, but not originality, creativity or imagination.

Part of the problem is that some scenes and sequences — to avoid spoilers, I won’t detail them — resembled scenes from the original trilogy too closely for me. The filmmakers presented them superbly, almost always better than the originals. But they were still only new versions, not new ideas.

And so it went with other aspects of the movie. The music, such a highlight of the original trilogy, was of a high standard in THE FORCE AWAKENS. John Williams’ new themes serve the movie perfectly. But they don’t stand out for me the way his first-trilogy melodies did.

And say what you will about George Lucas’ leaden dialogue, but I can’t find much in this movie as memorable as “May the force be with you” or even “Let the Wookie win.”

Despite my misgivings, THE FORCE AWAKENS lays a great foundation for more STAR WARS movies. Some of them will have better stories and fresher approaches. I look forward to seeing them.

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