Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a 2015 American epic space opera film directed, co-produced, and co-written by J. J. Abrams. The seventh installment in the main Star Wars film series, it stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow. Produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and distributed worldwide by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, The Force Awakens is set approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi (1983), and follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron’s fight with the Resistance, led by veterans of the Rebel Alliance, against Kylo Ren and the First Order, descended from the Galactic Empire.
The Force Awakens is the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy announced after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012. The film is produced by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Abrams, and his long-time collaborator Bryan Burk. Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of the original trilogy films The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi, and Abrams rewrote an initial script by Michael Arndt. John Williams, composer for the previous six films, returned to compose its score. Star Wars creator George Lucas served as creative consultant during the film’s early production stages. Filming began in April 2014 in Abu Dhabi and Iceland, with principal photography also taking place in Ireland and Pinewood Studios in England.
The Force Awakens premiered in Los Angeles on December 14, 2015, and was released on December 18, 2015, in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D, more than 10 years after the release of the franchise’s last major installment, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). Disney backed the film with an extensive marketing campaign, and it is expected to generate huge revenues at the box office. Critics compared it favorably to the original trilogy, praising its action sequences, characters, acting, and emotional drama, but drew some criticisms as being derivative of the original Star Wars. The film’s opening weekend broke box office records in North America making $238 million with a worldwide total of $517 million making it the second biggest opening ever. Two sequels are scheduled for release in 2017 and 2019, respectively.
Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the remains of the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate Luke and the Republic. The Resistance, a military force backed by the Republic and led by Luke’s sister, Leia Organa, opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.
Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meets with village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. Stormtroopers under the command of Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe. His droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and comes across a scavenger named Rey at a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe and learns that BB-8 has the map. Stormtrooper FN-2187, repulsed by First Order cruelty, frees Poe and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku and Finn appears to be the only survivor. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. The three flee the planet in a stolen, rundown ship, the Millennium Falcon.
The Falcon breaks down in space, leaving them stranded. They are found by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who reclaim their former ship, taking it aboard their freighter. Han explains that Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order, but disappeared after a student—Ren—turned to the dark side, destroying all that Luke had built; feeling responsible, Luke went into exile. They are boarded by criminal gangs but manage to escape. However the criminals informs the First Order of Han’s involvement.
The Falcon crew arrive at the planet Takodana and meet Maz Kanata, who can help BB-8 reach the Resistance, but Finn wants to flee on his own. Rey is drawn to a vault and finds the lightsaber that belonged to Luke and his father before him. She experiences a mysterious vision and recoils in horror, fleeing into the woods.
At the First Order’s Starkiller Base, a planet converted to a superweapon powered by draining a star capable of destroying star systems, Supreme Leader Snoke orders General Hux to use it for the first time. Snoke also tells Ren that to overcome the call of the light side of the Force, Ren must kill his father, Han Solo. The base destroys the Hosnian star system, seat of the Galactic Senate.
The First Order attacks and Han, Chewbacca, and Finn, who takes the lightsaber and uses it in the fight, are saved by a squadron of Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, but Rey is captured and taken to Starkiller Base. Ren interrogates Rey, but she resists his mind reading. She later escapes her cell with a Jedi mind trick.
Han, Chewbacca, Finn and BB-8 arrive at the Resistance base on D’Qar, where they meet Leia and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2, who has been inactive since Luke’s disappearance. As Starkiller Base prepares to fire on D’Qar, the Resistance devises a plan to lower the planetary shield so their fighters can attack. Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca and Finn infiltrate the base. They lower the shield, find Rey, set explosives and encounter Ren. Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name “Ben”, and implores him to abandon the dark side. Ren appears conflicted, but kills Han. Chewbacca shoots Ren in retaliation before setting off the planted explosives. The Resistance X-wing fighters attack the weakened weapon, starting a chain reaction that will destroy Starkiller Base.
The injured Ren chases Finn and Rey to the surface, where Finn battles him using Luke’s lightsaber. When Finn is wounded, Rey takes the lightsaber and fights Ren. She overpowers him with the Force and wounds him before they are separated by a fissure. Snoke orders General Hux to evacuate the base and bring Ren to him. The heroes escape in the Falcon. On D’Qar, the Resistance celebrates their victory while Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han’s death.
R2-D2 awakens and reveals the rest of the map. With R2-D2 and Chewbacca, Rey follows the map to an island on a distant planet. She finds Luke and offers his father’s lightsaber to him.