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 its over-reliance on CGI, annoying characters and amazing to ability to make brilliant actors appear wooden. Even the lightsaber fights don’t hold up to much scrutiny. The biggest problem however, is that we already knew the ending. Some had to die, some had to hide, and some had to be encased in armour.
Disney have since taken over the reins and promptly relegated the convoluted ‘Expanded Universe’ to non-canon, clearing the decks for their new, more cohesive universe. What happens from here on is what what actually happened to Luke, Han, Leia, and the rest of these beloved characters. 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 manages to be both a great, if somewhat safe, reintroduction for us older heads and a fresh introduction for newer generations.
Quickly introducing a new trio of heroes in Rey, Finn and Poe, the first half of the film moves along at a fantastic pace. Any concerns that these younger actors can’t carry themselves are firmly laid to rest as they’re funny, tough, and don’t always make the best decisions; perfect for great character moments. New droid BB-8 is in some ways the star of the show. 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. Utterly adorable and proof that creating real things to interact with can’t be replicated. He’s the complete opposite of Jar Jar Binks.
The older cast all feel right, with Harrison Ford’s Solo getting the biggest chunk of time. We’re not told a lot about what has happened over the past thirty years, but it does all make sense. TFA is so busy being a great adventure that sometimes it skims over details, leaving me scratching my head. I love the minutiae, and I know there are books, comics and the rest to fill it out, but two hours of Star Wars without finding out some juicy details about our original trio is a bit frustrating.
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
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 its 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.
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.
There was a lot riding on reintroducing Star Wars to the masses, and J.J. Abrams has proven himself a safe pair of hands. 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. But 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.