Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Cinema Review)


12A – 136mins – 2015 – 3D


THE SAGA STRIKES BACK

Mild Spoiler Alert: I will not give away any of the STUPENDOUS story spoilers here – mainly because a vindictive twitter troll ruined them for me and I would not wish such needless twattery upon any other fan – but there may be a few tidbits I allude to or touch upon which you may prefer not to know, pre-viewing.

You have been warned.

As I sit here on the morning of December 17th mulling over the myriad of thoughts, feelings and opinions podracing through my mind post-midnight screening, one question looms supreme: did this  return to a galaxy far, far away live up to the gargantuan, all-consuming, unavoidable hype…?

Simply put: YES. Jaw-droppingly so.

I have been a Star Wars fans since the Special Edition theatrical re-releases in 1997. I’m not a prequel-basher. If anything, in the lead up to Disney’s first theatrical bow into the quintessential franchise, I was anxious about whether I could fully accept the continuation of George Lucas’s expansive universe without George Lucas’s involvement.

In all honesty, that is a niggle which will never go away – especially not knowing that Disney essentially binned George’s treatment – but this is Star Wars going forward, and thankfully J.J. Abrams and crew have been nothing but respectful to what has come before, and Episode VII does feel like classic Star Wars.

The landscapes are colourful (even if sand and snow are familiar terrains), the aliens weird-yet-endearing, the action thrilling and fast-paced, and – Jar Jar haters will be relieved to hear – the humour hits home, even at points where it could be conceived as bordering on cutesy. The new characters – in particular Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and orb of delight BB8 – quickly bed themselves in, to the point where you don’t mind them taking screen time away from more familiar faces.

Of the old school heroes, growling Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) is hard to get wrong, chirpy C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) is the right side of irritating and gruff Han Solo (Harrison Ford) has been nailed exceptionally well. I still struggle to see 2015 Carrie Fisher as the same Leia Organa, but tired and worn are character traits woven into the now-General’s backstory. And as for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)? Well, that would be telling…

The Force Awakens is highly comparable to another recent mega-franchise kick-start, Jurassic World, insofar as the plot and themes closely parallel what has come before, while cleverly continuing the story rather than feeling merely like a lazy re-tread. There are nods and sly call-backs aplenty (parsecs, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”, trash compactors – even the prequel trilogy’s clone troopers get a mention, which made me smile), while specific plot points – and new characters – feel quelled from (or should that be inspired by), in particular, 1977’s A New Hope.

And we all know how George liked to echo and mirror his trilogies.

In the interest of a balanced analysis, if I were to pick holes it would be that chrome trooper Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) is entirely superfluous, while the First Order’s lead antagonist Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is a little too familiar when masked, and too unimposing when he lifts it. Personally, my biggest gripe is that Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) – due to how he is presented – looks like he would feel more at home in The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy than Star Wars. But that opinion could change with multiple viewings.

And there will be multiple viewings.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 5 stars

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