The Force has awoken at last! The most anticipated film of the decade has been unleashed and the time has now come to discover exactly what became of Han, Luke, Leia and the Empire after the events of Return Of The Jedi.
Let’s just get this very important information out of the way first: It’s good. Very, very good in fact, so rest easy fellow geeks. The Force Awakens can sit proudly side-by-side with the OT (Original Trilogy) while the PT (Prequel Trilogy) can be sent to the spice mines on Kessel and smashed into who knows what.
With George Lucas firmly out of the picture - his story outlines and proposals were rejected by Disney after their acquisition of Lucasfilm– and the long-established Expanded Universe (the countless novels, comics and games that continued the story beyond ROTJ) now declared obsolete, original TESB writer Lawrence Kasden was brought on board to help director J.J. Abrams flesh out Star Wars for the new generation. The film reunites cast members of old alongside newcomers to the Star Wars universe.
So just what has gone on during the 30 years after the Battle Of Endor? The Empire may have been defeated, but risen from their ashes are the equally terrifying First Order. The Rebel Alliance – now known as the Resistance – continues their fight to restore justice to the Galaxy once more. The Force Awakens follows the story threads of several characters as their lives slowly become intertwined. First we have Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper who decides to desert the First Order. Then there’s Rey (Daisy Ridley), a lonely scavenger who does what she can to survive on the desert planet Jakku. Representing the Resistance is Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), a hot-shot X-wing pilot. He’s accompanied by loveable droid BB-8 (a very impressive practical effect). Also thrown into the mix is the mysterious Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who harbours an unhealthy obsession with Darth Vader. Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is the shiny chrome First Order Stormtrooper we saw in the trailers. Then of course, we have the returning cast – Mark Hamill is Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher is General Leia, Harrison Ford is Han Solo, Peter Mayhew is Chewie, and even Anthony Daniels returns as Threepio.
Plot wise (and I’ll be very brief) we’re back in familiar Star Wars territory. There are battles, chases, humour, lightsaber fights, twists, and - most importantly - a sense of fun and adventure that was sorely missing from the prequels. The Force Awakens thankfully presents that familiar, grubby, ‘lived-in’ universe that we’re all familiar with. The pacing is surprisingly fast but a joy to take in. The new characters are engaging and a welcome addition to the Star Wars universe. The standout is Kylo Ren, and Adam Driver does a marvellous job of bringing to screen a different type of villain to those previously seen in Star Wars movies.
J.J. Abram’s direction is sublime, with each and every shot beautifully framed. Kasden’s script is delightful, filled with knowing nods aplenty to the OT. The film successfully manages to pull of its multi-functional purposes – it of course serves as the starting point for a new era, it explains just enough to satisfy questions of what happened after ROTJ whilst also leaving plenty of room to expand on the missing blanks, it works as a stand-alone entry but leaves the audience yearning for Episode VIII.
The Force Awakens wonderfully harks back to the magic of the OT. Gone are the gimmicky green-screen backgrounds of the PT and its many over-the-top CGI characters. Abrams has delivered on his promise of a more stripped-down Star Wars, with puppets and animatronics used whenever possible.
The Force Awakens is everything a fan could hope for in a Star Wars movie plus more. For a more detailed review (including spoilers) click HERE.
The Force is definitely strong with this one, and Star Wars seems to thankfully be in the right hands with Disney.