ByJack Carr, writer at
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.
Jack Carr

This article contains spoilers. Not huge spoilers, but plot-linear ones. Details you otherwise wouldn't learn from the trailers or from spoiler-free reviews, like who's been hiding where and which characters have leading roles in Episode 7: The Force Awakens, and who's on the sidelines.

And, just in case you're the type of person whose eyes gloss right over spoiler warnings, here's one you can't miss.

Ready? Alright, good. Let's talk The Force Awakens.

The brilliance - the sheer, unbridled genius - of the marketing campaign for Star Wars 7 lies not in what it did show us (a new generation of heroes, an aged but still handsome Han Solo, a resplendent Leia, a bunch of new villains - you know the drill) but what it didn't. Or rather, who it didn't.

To weave a mystery around the absence of Luke Skywalker from almost all promo materials was a move of utter genius because it whipped up an extra layer of hype and dumped it on top of the already-monstrous hype train.

And as the reviews pour in (almost universally great, currently at a fantastic 83 on Metacritic) and the film opens, we're finally able to piece together exactly what the crux of the movie entails.

Here's the trailer again, just in case...

And this is how the The Force Awakens plays out (again, a few mild spoilers, but nothing specific about Luke Skywalker's whereabouts)...

We begin with Poe Dameron, the Resistance pilot, in danger on the planet Jakku, where he's about to be captured by Kylo Ren. In Dameron's possession is something particularly precious to the Resistance: a map. To keep the map safe, he hides it inside the rolling droid BB-8.

Returning to Jakku later with Finn to retrieve the map, the two men are separated, and it's here that Finn meets Rey. It's not until mid-way through the movie that Han Solo appears, teaming up with Finn and Rey to descend on Maz Kanata's castle on the treasure island of Takodana.

From this point on, Han is essentially the third lead alongside Finn and Rey, his role in the narrative as crucial as theirs, so anybody who was worried about their favourite rogue being shunted to the sidelines can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Han is older and greyer, but not mellowed
Han is older and greyer, but not mellowed

That being said, Leia Organa - now upgraded from Princess to General - is not a key player in the film. She has a kind of extended cameo which is guaranteed to elicit rapturous applause among audiences at every screening, but for many it won't be enough.

And, whilst Adam Driver's electrifying performance as Kylo Ren is a complete winner, other villains like Captain Phasma are kept on the back-burner, with the door very much open for an increased role in Episode VIII.

Tonally, there's both darkness and comedy, but whilst Abrams' Star Trek films failed to the balance of earlier films in that franchise, Star Wars 7 gets it right. There are plenty of nods to the past, brilliant practical and visual effects, and, maybe most surprisingly, an adventure caper tone that feels a lot like Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies in places. It's refreshingly un-modern.

General Leia: Not many costume changes
General Leia: Not many costume changes

To say much more about what happens beyond the group's descent on Takodana would be to reveal too much about that big Skywalker mystery, but rest assured that Luke does have his moment, and even when absent he feels like the glue holding every aspect of this long-overdue return to form together.

Without Luke, The Force Awakens simply wouldn't exist. It's a Skywalker story, told through the eyes of two young adventurers and Han Solo. Go see it, revel in how good it feels to be back in this world, and then raise a glass to J. J. Abrams for delivering the most epic Christmas present of all.


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