Spoiler Free Star Wars Review


Cosplayers aboard the The Force on the Ohio riverboat cruise.

While there are few ways to celebrate the new Star Wars in such a distinctly Cincy style, all of us gathered on B.B. Riverboat’s flagship, Belle of Cincinnati, know that this is nothing more than a grand distraction. Gliding down the Ohio River, grazing from a buffet of renamed finger foods (Padawan Pizzas, anyone?), and playing in the special GameStop level where guests compete in Battlefront and Disney Infinity – it’s all a balm to our collective anxiety.

Two hours.

Then we might get the series Lucas promised and failed to deliver. We’ve had lots of teases, very few hints, and a handful of trailers, but we just don’t know. It could be our dreams come true. It could be another disaster. Or it could be mediocre, which might be the worst fate of all.

The waiting is killing us, so we go back to the buffet for another Obi-wan Kababi.


Some sarcastic fan theories speculate that Jar Jar Binks was actually the mastermind behind the fall of the Republic.

At last, we approach Newport, the Levee looms in all its scintillating detail, and it seems like the world is holding its breath for that grand blast of opening credits music. With so many nerds in one place, of course, the silence doesn’t last for long. As we draw towards the dock, we talk about Star Trek, the upcoming Marvel movies, and whether or not anyone is terribly excited for Batman vs. Superman. We debate nearly every recent trailer or upcoming movie except for this one. We do not talk about Star Wars. Except for some Jar Jar bashing, because doubtful as we may be, no one believes J. J. Abrams would be stupid enough to revisit that truly epic mistake. We are confident in our collective resolve about Jar Jar, but no one offers hopes or theories about the movie we’re about to watch. No guesses. Not even gossip.

The boat docks. We march, escorted by Jedi, to the private showing reserved for B. B.’s guests. A line for regular admission writhes around the lowest floor of the Levee AMC complex like Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. When we ascend the escalators, they are less than pleased, but we’re all too high on adrenaline to care about the death glares.

We get to the theater. The seats with the foot-rest-bar – yes! No empty spaces. The screening is sold out. For an hour, we play with our phones, nom on popcorn we magically have room for after the buffet, and try to make small talk with our neighbors.

The lights drop, the movie begins.

Opening night is the best night to see a movie. Everyone there genuinely cares about the series (or are too aware of the hive mind surrounding them to act on their disinterest). Gasps, screams, and even applause erupt in spontaneous pops of emotion shared by the entire room.

There is so much to share…

But we did promise a spoiler-free review.

First of all – don’t be scared. We are not revisiting the agony of the prequels. You may like some parts more than others, and some scenes may not meet your standards. Or you may love the whole thing. Regardless, you can walk into that theatre without fear. This is the Star Wars you know and love. You can pick at the bones, but you won’t leave the meal dissatisfied.

Force Awakens Poster

“The Force Awakens” hands the torch, or rather the lightsaber, to the next generation.

The film strikes a balance between the old and new. We are in transition to the next generation, and that should not surprise you based on the trailers, posters, etc. Last night, theaters were packed full of children of all ages – some too young to relate directly with any of the characters and some old enough to consider the original cast “kids.” Our world has changed, and that galaxy far, far away has kept pace, but it’s still that galaxy, and you will be able to find your bearings, no matter how many years you’ve enjoyed your extended childhood.

While the PG-13 rating should already tell you that this isn’t a great film for the very small members of your crèche, it’s a pretty mild PG-13. If your kids watch the other films, they can probably handle this one.

Although opening night is the big cosplay night at theaters, some of you will probably still attend in costume. Be sure to check theaters for their new cosplay policies – some have specific Star Wars policies about lightsabers, Vader masks, and Maul face-paint.

I want to tell you more, I want to gush, but no spoilers means no spoilers. So go see the movie, make your own opinions, and look forward to more in-depth articles and discussions with The Pandora Society. And, of course, may the Force be with you.

M. Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.

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