Review: 'Star Wars' is back in full 'Force'

December 16, 2015 8:01 AM

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Review: 'Star Wars' is back in full 'Force'

Set aside worries about the second coming of The Phantom Menace. With a cast of entertaining new characters, heartfelt scenes, huge planetary battles and no qualms about being very funny or very dark at times, director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens (**** out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters Friday, with preview screenings Thursday night) returns the iconic sci-fi franchise to a glorious place that hasn’t been seen since Ewoks danced off into victory in Return of the Jedi 32 years ago.

The galaxy far, far away has taken a downturn since the Galactic Empire was defeated. The last three decades have not been kind to Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess — now General — Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). And with the First Order, a genocidal outfit that’s rise...

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