Director: J.J Abrams
Cast: Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Doomhall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew
Released: December 17th 2015
For the first time in ten years the force is awoken once more for fans the world over. Continuing on where George Lucas left off, J.J. Abrams aims to breathe new life into a cinematic franchise once thought closed off forever (as he did with Star Trek).
Taking place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the fate of the galaxy is once again in turmoil with The First Order having risen from the ashes of the empire to battle against The Resistance. The MacGuffin driving the plot is information involving Luke Skywalker stored inside the droid BB-8. This oddball droid brings together a new generation of heroes from different walks of life to take up arms in the fight against the Dark Side alongside some familiar faces.
After the completion of the Prequels the overall story of the saga revolving around the Skywalkers had seemed like it had finally had its closure. Then with the announcement of a new movie, it had everyone thinking “what more is there to tell?!” Some thoughts lead to the Star Wars expanded universe which has been going on for years, continuing the adventures of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. It would have been very easy to translate one of the very many appealing storylines into film but what the writers Lawrence Kasadan, Michael Ardnt and director J.J. Abrams did was far more interesting. By creating a fresh storyline involving a new generation of heroes you bypass the kind of literary microscope that series like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones have been put under by fans. Kasadan, a Star Wars veteran (having written Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi), does well to give fans their due by creating the same fresh feeling of A New Hope whilst also planting easter eggs and familiar elements of the saga throughout. For those new to the franchise the structure of the story, by following the new heroes as they discover the greater world beyond themselves, helps instils the same wondrous otherworldly adventures that have become synonymous with Star Wars.
The battle between the light and dark side of the force has been raging on for six movies, with each one developing new ways to present the battle in every film. There are the usual lightsaber clashes, which in this film aren’t as good as say Revenge of the Sith, but that has more to do with portrayed skill level of the characters involved than the actual choreography itself. Amazing aerial skirmishes are aplenty, including a humorous getaway in a TIE fighter and an interesting continuous shot involving an X-Wing seen through the eyes of one the main characters on the ground. The display of force prowess is another element that has been upgraded, such as a “force vision” (a kind of dream-like hallucination into the future). Last time it was used in Revenge of The Sith it was a tunnel-like viewing into what would happen; this time it is seen from the character’s perspective, sort of stumbling through this apparition appearing before them. Those familiar with the previous films will hear some recognizable voices speaking words of wisdom in the background. The sound is another element used in exhibiting one’s force power: in one scene involving Kylo Ren and another hero, the sound of a kind of vibrational wave gives the audience a sense of a push and pull in the internal battle of force and wits, and adds something new to the experience.
The Force Awakens is brought together by people that have respected what has come before whilst wanting to embrace a new direction. If any of the following strikes your fancy: adventurous aerial chases, a well paced emotionally moving story, cleverly placed humour, grand displays of over-the-top diabolical destruction or a budding bromance to rival those of Sherlock/Watson, Steve Rogers/Tony Stark or Magneto/Professor X, this film will deliver it in spades. 4 ½ Stars