I have now officially disembarked the hype train and have arrived in actually having seen the film station, where your destination is never guaranteed to be the one you want. The destinations have never been guaranteed for Star Wars fans and, after a few bad trips a decade ago, the Star Wars line has been resurrected and only fervent passengers have clambered aboard in hope that, this time, their destinations will be like the ones of old where all was new and untainted.
With J.J. Abrams in the director’s chair and Lawrence Kasdan (co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and Michael Arndt (writer of Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3) co-writing alongside him, The Force Awakens has become a strange new beast that feeds greatly off the original trilogy.
Now I don’t intend to spoil anything in this review, but one could see The Force Awakens merely as an updated version of A New Hope with a few new characters thrown into the mix and you wouldn’t be wrong. The story is pretty much a copy and paste job with the benefits of nostalgia, glossier graphics and new characters thrown into the mix. Essentially a Photoshop job.
However this doesn’t mean that The Force Awakens has trouble truing to find an identity of its own and, with Abrams at the helm, this Star Wars outing veers away from the more serious tone of the original and the awkwardness of the prequels in favour of a more humourous tone.
It was a bit strange to be laughing as much in a Star Wars movie as much as people did, with jokes being liberally spread through the film but it worked in a way that I didn’t expect it to. It let The Force Awakens shake off the weight of people’s expectations and let them enjoy the film, something that was much needed for the franchise to regain its footing.
But if that doesn’t get you, then just turn to the cinematography as this is a beautiful film. Every shot feels right, from the grand panoramic shots of the desert; to the icy tundras; to the depths of space, everything looks and feels right. The special effects are spot on with everything sounding and acting like it should, with some additions to give the saga an updated feel, as well as an emphasis on the dirty-ness of combat that feels more real than the weird pre-staged fight sequences of the prequels
And even if that doesn’t get you, then the nostalgia factor should be enough. With so many recognisable faces returning to the big screen it is impossible to let the inner fan come out and have a a bit of a gush over this film. But what makes this so much better is that (almost) every character from the prior films serve as purpose for the films plot and is not there to be merely a bit of fan service shoehorned. They are there with a purpose and breathe a bit of new life into old characters, with special mention going to Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew as the new, older, wiser, but still badass Han Solo and Chewbacca.
But even with the nostalgia clinging to this film like a boa constrictor, this film does not let itself be solely about the past and has found room for new characters, on both the sides of light and dark, for us to latch onto for this new trilogy. Let’s be fair, after Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman’s forced awkwardness of a relationship, anything, literally anything, would have been an improvement on it. In contrast to that debacle, The Force Awakens simply exudes character chemistry for pretty much every character.
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, two actors whom I had no idea of their existence until this film, prove once again the wisdom of putting less well-known names in the lead roles as Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were before them. Both did phenomenal jobs, being likable characters that we wanted to route for with their own motives and personalities that weren’t just dry planks of wood that could be said of other actors in this saga.
But if we’re going the new lovable character in the same vein as Han Solo then we have to talk about Oscar Isaac for Poe Dameron. Holy hell, if this guy could, he could easily sweat charisma. He is likable from start to finish and, like Han Solo, lets another character not in tune with the force shine, despite his limited role in the film. I guarantee you he will play a bigger part in the next film and if he doesn’t I will be utterly amazed.
For the villains I have to say I’ll have to wait for the next film to really get into them. Adam Driver was great as Kylo Ren and I look forward to seeing him next time round and how he progresses as a Sith Lord, but other than that there wasn’t much to rave about. Lord Snoke (Andy Serkis) needs more expansion on for me to fear him and Domhnall Gleeson is a serviceable bad guy bit nothing inspiring true reverence or hatred. I’m hoping we get more of them next time and that they are fleshed out more as characters because it would be brilliant to see their stories and get fully formed villains against our heroes.
But then there are also some parts that I loved purely because I was like, oh I know that guy! Greg Grunberg of Heroes fame having a small part as the Resistance X-wing pilot Snap Wexley, Gwendoline Christie as the woefully underused Captain Phasma, also known as Brianne of Tarth from Game of Thrones as well the more difficult to get Simon Pegg as Unkar Plutt and even Daniel Craig as a Stormtrooper, although if you know where he is then you must be Daniel Craig.
I don’t wish to spoil much, and there is so much more to talk about, but I’ll leave you with the thought that Star Wars is back and, although there will definitely need to be a venture into new territory next time around and a script not banking off redoing A New Hope, as well as few tweaks here and there (especially with characters becoming expert at things a bit too quickly at certain points) but I’m feeling optimistic about this new Star Wars venture.
With the possibility of a new story coming with the old remaining to safeguard the film, The Force Awakens is not a perfect film but is definitely a going in the right direction. It’s action packed, humouous and emotion laden with a promising villain in Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the promise of more to come.
Thanks for reading an I hope you enjoyed this or at least enjoyed the film. If you want please follow me here on WordPress as well as my Facebook account and my Twitter. Once again, thanks for reading and May the Force be with you. Sorry, nor sorry, for doing that.
P.S.: Also BB-8 is a new R2-D2 that I could not be more happy to accept into my heart. Love that little droid.