By Wes Overvold EBS Videographer

On Dec. 17, pale blue text appeared on screens of sold-out theaters across the country, followed by John Williams’ epic orchestral hit and the familiar introductory scroll of one of the film industry’s most successful franchises.

With the debut of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” director J.J. Abrams subjected himself to the scrutiny of a dedicated and faithful fan base hoping he would restore “Star Wars” to its former glory.

Since the 1977 release of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” the franchise has been cemented in American pop culture, despite a bumpy journey at times. Between the poor use of computer-generated imagery and lack of quality writing in Episodes I-III, and some curious alterations in the digitally remastered versions of Episodes IV-VI, fans look to “The Force Awakens” to take them back to the glory days of the original trilogy.

With outlandish theories and astronomical expectations, movie-goers wasted no time finding out for themselves how their beloved space opera was going to continue in part one of the new Star Wars trilogy. “The Force Awakens” set a box office record by earning more than $248 million during its opening weekend in theaters.

The film met all of this reviewer’s expectations, and more.

Abrams masterfully combined the appearance and nostalgia of the original trilogy with the latest advancements in cinematography, sound design and special effects. But he didn’t ignore what made the originals so great: hand-made sets, costumes, and physical models of spacecraft – instead of relying heavily on CGI. Every prop, set and character came alive to the point that I truly felt I’d re-entered that “galaxy far, far away.”

Throughout the newest installment of the “Star Wars” saga, Abrams weaves in the continuing stories of the memorable original cast, along with lively new characters in their ongoing struggle for balance within the Force. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher return in “The Force Awakens” and pass the torch – or should I say lightsaber – to Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac, as they breathe new life in this treasured space epic.

The evil Galactic Empire from Episode VI has since been reorganized into the First Order, with a vast army of upgraded stormtroopers and a lightsaber-wielding commander at its disposal. As this new evil force gains power, the Resistance rallies together to save the galaxy from the First Order’s enormous new weapon called the Starkiller Base.

As “The Force Awakens” reignites the battle between the light and dark sides of the Force, our own planet is bracing for the beginning of a new golden age of Star Wars fandom, with a whole new generation falling in love with this timeless story.

So, with a customary Jedi hand wave and mind control, I’ll finish with: “You will go see this movie.” And you’ll enjoy every single moment of it.