New "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" lets women take the lead

Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:47am EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The male-centric universe of the original "Star Wars" gives way to a woman warrior and a female version of Yoda in the much-ballyhooed "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" that will inevitably take the planet - this one - by storm as it opens this week.

The timing is probably right for a new female superhero, now that Jennifer Lawrence has wound up her stint as the archer Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games" movies.

Enter little known British actress Daisy Ridley as the loner Rey, ekeing out a subsistence living as a scavenger of spaceship parts on the planet Jakku.

An invasion by a squad of Stormtroopers, loyal to the militaristic "New Order" that has replaced the Empire of yore, suddenly puts her on a new career path: getting off the planet as fast as possible.

She does this in tandem with fellow British actor John Boyega, who plays Finn, a Stormtrooper who deserts when he is sickened by the carnage of the film's opening military assault on a desert village.

They are two of the three new main characters. The other one is a new Darth Vader-esque masked villain named Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver.

The torch is thus passed to a younger generation in a new trilogy of the franchise that started in 1977 with George Lucas's first "Star Wars" and which the Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote) acquired in 2012 for $4 billion.

But loyal fans also are going to love this for everything that is not new, from the return of Harrison Ford as Han Solo, his sidekick the Wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), the robots C-3PO and R2-D2, plus a cute new roly-poly one called BB-8, familiar spaceships and the plot line that sets up yet another Oedipal conflict between father and son.   Continued...

Lupita Nyong'o.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni