DIR: J.J. Abrams • WRI: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt • PRO: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Kathleen Kennedy, Tommy Gormley, Lawrence Kasdan • DOP: Dan Mindel • ED: Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey • MUS: John Williams • CAST: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Issac
We’ve been seeing the Disney machine pumping out every kind of Star Wars merchandise for months but now at last we can see the film. The first thing you’ll be wanting to know is is this: it is not another Phantom Menace.
The Force Awakens is a very good film with an excellent storyline and plenty of action. It starts some years after the events of Return of the Jedi and sees the old heroes from that hooking up with a new band from the next generation. The light side of the force is threatened again. There is a new power growing on the dark side. There is another compelling father-son storyline.
The new stars to the series all play good characters. Daisy Ridley plays Rey, who is living a subsistence lifestyle on a desert planet when events catapult her into the fight for the Galaxy. John Boyega plays Finn, a Stormtrooper who can’t stand his evil job any longer. Adam Driver is Kylo Ren, the new apprentice to the dark side and he is eager to fill Darth Vader’s shoes.
The Force Awakens was always going to make millions upon millions from ticket sales and merchandise but thankfully they made sure to get the story right. If they had messed up this time like they did with the prequels, the series may never have recovered. It pays homage to the original in parts while creating its own memorable moments. It has another massive Star Wars twist and a heart-breaking moment which will cause gasps and that I’m not sure some fans will ever recover from.
Harrison Ford returns as an aged but still inscrutable Han Solo. This time around he plays a father figure to the younger characters guiding them through battle and he slides into this role well. The film also stars the always good Oscar Issac as a pilot fighting against the Darkside. Although this isn’t the biggest role in the film, he plays it well and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his character play more of a part in the remaining two films of the trilogy.
Boyega is endearing in the role of Finn. He is funny and has a deer in the headlights look for some time before growing in courage through the film as he continues to annoy those he once worked for. If it weren’t for the new robot BB8, he’d be the most likeable character in the film.
If R2D2 and a football had a baby, it’d be BB8. It’s hard to say anything steals the show in The Force Awakens, but BB8 comes closest. His beeps and mannerisms will have audiences laughing out loud all over the world and he will quickly become a beloved Star Wars icon. The familiar favourites of Chewbacca, C3P0 and R2D2 all return.
One of the criticisms of the prequels was that they were boring with long sequences of dialogue that didn’t add much to the plot. The Force Awakens avoids this. Nobody wants Star Wars to be just another CGI film with nothing much to it but animations blowing up. But the series is also called Star Wars. You want lasers flying, lightsabers smashing into each other and spaceships crashing into bigger spaceships. You get plenty of it.
At the end of the film major events have happened, heroes have been made or are on their way to being made, hatreds have been deepened and it’s set up well to continue for another two films. Bring on 2017 and the second instalment.
135 minutes (See IFCO for details)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released 18th December 2015