Back in 2005 we thought that was it. No more Star Wars films. The disappointing prequel trilogy had left a sour taste in the mouth, with an over-reliance on CGI, annoying characters and a promising cast reduced to wooden, flat performances. Even the lightsaber fights don’t hold up to much scrutiny. One of the biggest problems however was that we already knew how things had to end. The details were a mystery to us, but ultimately some had to die, some had to hide, and some had to be encased in armour.
Disney have since taken over the reins from George Lucas and promptly deleted the expanded universe of books, comics and video games that have detailed events post Return of the Jedi. So now we’re now finding out what actually happened to Luke, Han, Leia, and the rest of these beloved characters. Not in some other medium that won’t reach everyone; in real Star Wars films. That’s extremely exciting, but also intimidating and scary. How could it ever live up to what has built up in our minds since the Ewoks and Yub Nub?
Well thank the maker! The Force Awakens is a extremely entertaining film that whilst far from perfect, is the first film to feel truly ‘Star Wars’ in over thirty years.
Quickly introducing new, younger heroes in the shape of Finn (Boyega), Rey (Ridley) and Poe (Isacc), the first half of the film moves along at a fantastic pace, perfectly judging when to speed up and when to let scenes breathe. Any worries about these younger actors not being to carry themselves are firmly laid to rest. They’re funny, tough, and don’t always make the best decisions, perfect for great character moments. The camaraderie that builds between them is reminiscent of the original three main cast members.
The older cast all feel right, with Harrison’s Ford Solo getting the biggest chunk of time. The decisions they’ve made and the positions we find them in make complete sense, especially as we learn roughly what happened to them in the preceding thirty years. I say roughly as the story is pretty light on details that I was extremely interested in knowing. It’s so busy being a great adventure that sometimes it skims over details that left me scratching my head. I want to know the intricacies so to watch over two hours of Star Wars and in some respects know nothing more than I did before was frustrating.
If you’ve been following the film at all in the lead up to release you’ll have seen BB-8. If you think he’s awesome now, wait until you’ve seen little guy through the entire film. This real life creation is full of vim, his motions conveying his emotions so clearly that I can’t see how you couldn’t fall in love with him. He’s adorable, and proof that creating real things that can interact with their surroundings and the actors can’t be replicated. Perhaps this sums him up best; he is the complete opposite of Jar Jar.
But what about the villain? Adam Driver is brilliant as Kylo Ren, his odd tone of voice and angry outbursts fitting perfectly with his power and background to create an extremely interesting character that is suitably different from those that have come before. Many judge the quality of a story by it’s antagonist, and he is a particularly intriguing one.
I’ve concentrated a lot on the story and characters, which should give you some idea as to how much importance they’ve been given in the film itself. There isn’t much to say about the action, especially without giving anything away. Suffice to say the set pieces are extremely entertaining, providing thrills and spills whilst giving us more of a look into each character. They aren’t there purely because it’s been ten minutes without an explosion.
The second half of the film does lose the focus of the first, with some threads dropped and forgotten. It does concern me that there may be too much being held back for sequels when it could have been given to us now and made the film clearer, but there is so much going on that perhaps it is best to give some characters more time later.
There is a clear reverence to the original trilogy, with the story taking more than a few cues from A New Hope in particular. That’s no bad thing considering my love of that film, but I do hope that moving forward the films will branch out further and make their own mark on the series without relying so heavily on nostalgia. Awakens is a great reintroduction back into a galaxy far far away, and has given Episodes VIII and IX a great starting point to build from.
J.J. Abrams has proven himself a worthy custodian of this beloved franchise. After years of George Lucas tinkering away, seemingly hell bent on ruining what he created, The Force Awakens is a return to form. It doesn’t make all the right choices, though we’ll only know for sure once the trilogy is complete. It just feels so Star Wars, that I can look past any niggles. In fact it’s quite odd. This is a Star Wars film that feels as well made as other recent blockbusters and not some oddity that we’ll put up with because of past successes. You might roll your eyes, but I’ve got to say it.
The force is strong with this one.