This review contains no spoilers!!!
Ever since 1983’s Episode VI – Return of the Jedi rounded off the original Star Wars trilogy, the force has been fast asleep. While the genius George Lucas deserves infinite credit and admiration for creating the franchise, it’s an undeniable fact that his poorly executed prequel trilogy failed to release the force from its hibernation as the majority of fans pressed the snooze button.
You’ll be pleased to read that Episode VII rights the wrongs of the prequels as it gives the force the wakeup call it so desperately needed. Breathing new life into a series so beloved is no easy task but director J.J Abrams, who successfully rebooted Star Trek in 2009, proves he’s more than up to the mark.
For the most part, The Force Awakens is a breath-taking blend of the old and the new, which gives us a fresh yet familiar take on the Star Wars legacy.
Nearly every dose of nostalgia Abrams gives us is a delicious treat for the senses. Hearing the iconic tones of John Williams’ score, Chewbacca’s gargling growl and the waving of lightsabres will be music to the ears of fans. Equally, the legendary opening crawl, the Millennium Falcon in flight and Han Solo with a laser gun in hand are beautiful sights to behold. Almost every blast from the past just simply feels good.
Abrams doesn’t just rely on nostalgia to yank the force out of its nap as the fresh faces to the franchise also give the series a gigantic jolt.
Newcomer Daisy Ridley is remarkable as Rey, the spirited scavenger who becomes the central figure of the story.
John Boyega (Attack the Block) is equally brilliant as Finn, a Stormtrooper who decides not to be a pawn of evil anymore.
The two young leads are instantly likeable and their electric chemistry makes them characters you’ll definitely want to spend more time with over the next few years. The lack of leading roles for women and ethnic minorities in Hollywood blockbusters has been a big cause for concern recently and the dynamic duo of Ridley and Boyega will certainly prove that diversity is a good and necessary thing.
Oscar Isaac is also great as hotshot pilot Poe Dameron, who has all the swagger and bravado of a younger Han Solo while Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanada has all the quirky wisdom of Yoda.
Another debuting character sure to impress is the robotic rolling sphere BB-8. Move over R2-D2, there’s a new contender for most adorable droid in town.
As far as the dark side is concerned, the new baddies are intriguing characters too with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren being the standout. While he shares striking similarities with Darth Vader, his hot headed and aggressive nature make him very unique. Driver delivers the menace and threat to make Kylo Ren imposing as well as having the emotional depth to make him a complex and compelling villain.
Kylo Ren’s mysterious master, and head of the Empire-like First Order, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) also leaves a big impression and it looks like he’ll literally be a giant problem for our heroes later down the line.
Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without extraordinary looking characters and Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma certainly has the coolest costume. Unfortunately, the Game of Thrones star’s limited screen time means that her character doesn’t shine as much her chrome suit does. Hopefully we’ll get to see a lot more of her in action in the future films.
Whether they’re on the light or dark side, all the new blood added to the franchise are characters you’ll want no doubt want to see much more of. And best of all there’s no one on Jar Jar Binks level of annoyance. Meesa so happy!
Watching the old guard interact with the fresh meat makes for a sumptuous occasion. Harrison Ford, who has a large role in the story, is obviously a lot older and greyer than the last time we saw him but he still effortlessly exudes the magnetic charm that made him such a popular character back in the day. His bond with Chewie is still as endearing as it was all those years ago.
After three decades, it was also great catching up with Carrie Fisher’s Leia, now a Resistance general.
Don’t expect to see much of a certain Mr Skywalker, but when you do, it’s a gloriously gratifying moment.
Speaking of gratifying moments, The Force Awakens has everything you’d want from a Star Wars film. There’s high octane spaceship battles, fast and furious laser shootouts and tense lightsabre duels to feast on. Abrams throws thrills at the audience left, right and centre and ensures all the action is edge-of-the seat material, which means the 135 minute run time zooms by at light speed.
Time flying by is helped by the emotional stakes and humour in Episode VII, which grab at you attention with a force-like grip. The riveting drama and gritty violence add a grounded tone while the frequent well-placed comedy provides lots of laughs.
If his excellent work on Star Trek made him a padawan apprentice, Abrams becomes be a Jedi master when helming Star Wars. He almost creates a flawless sequel but The Force Awakens' shameless borrowing of the original trilogy’s plotting derails the film from the road to perfection. Several major plot points will give you a sense of déjà vu, which would be fine once or twice, but it happens a few too many times. If Abrams and Episodes V and VI writer Larry Kasdan had crafted a more original story, The Force Awakens would have been a sequel out of this world. Episode VII is an unapologetic and heartfelt love letter from Abrams to the first trilogy. In regards to story though, it’s a little too affectionate.
Despite its unoriginal storytelling, The Force Awakens is a magical, fun-filled space adventure which makes returning to a galaxy far, far away an exhilarating experience. There’s tonnes to enjoy for die-hard Star Wars lovers, casual fans and new viewers alike. Episode VII reinvigorates the franchise in a way that will leave you eagerly anticipating 2017’s Episode VIII and Episode IX two years later. Taking the audience to seventh heaven, Abrams builds a very promising foundation for the new trilogy. It’s safe to say that the force has been fully awakened. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens scores a:
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