I was first introduced to the original trilogy thanks to a copy on VHS. Like many children, I was enthused but still maybe too young to understand. Until 1983 in Preston, that is, when my parents took me to see what was originally the final instalment, Return of the Jedi. A then-six-year-old understood and wanted more…
Move to 1999 and George Lucas delivered more for the masses… which is another story altogether.
We have been aware of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm since 2012, with the happy prospect of a new generation of sequels. Over the past year we have been teased with trailers and hints, which have only fed the ever hungry public. The events in the Force Awakens take place some 30 years after Return of the Jedi. We are introduced to scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and a Stormtrooper-turned-renegade (gone are the days of the Clone Wars), Finn (John Boyega), teaming up with what is sure to be the “toy to have”, BB8 droid. As all three characters attempt to avoid capture from the First Order, an oppressive galactic force born from the ashes of the Empire, they meet old allies and new along the way.
One thing I kept hearing during the production of the film was that the sets are physical and “real”, which really does show and enhances the films appearance. I am sure Harrison Ford will have other ideas, as his leg was victim to a “real” falling door. At the time of writing I have seen the film in both 2D and IMAX 3D. I have never been one for 3D, but I must advise to see it if you can, as it only adds to the experience. The sight of X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon flying at me brought back memories and lumps to my throat and a tear to the eye.
John Boyega’s Finn and the “greatest pilot in the resistance”, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), bring humour and swagger to The Force Awakens. These characters help bring back the wit that was weaved throughout the original trilogy. For every new hero, there is a new villain too, and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is a bold, yet very human foe. Domhnall’s General Hux, Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma and Andy Serkis’ Supreme Leader Snoke add genuine credibility to the dark side. They’re explored to varying degrees, with some at the forefront of the plot and others clearly being saved for the sequels.
Much of the original trilogy’s cast make a return, with Harrison Ford taking a large amount of screen time… reminding us what we loved about Han Solo. The fact this movie is set about 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and it’s only a little over 30 years since I first saw ’Jedi at the cinema, means the credibility and “realness” of those characters seems genuine and very much plausible (no cheap ageing makeup here thank you).
How does this film hold up against the previous six Star Wars films? What has Hollywood learned since the first time we experienced the scrolling yellow text and the dramatic John Williams’ score in 1977? Well for a start action is great and plot twists are a must. Everyone loves a lightsaber fight or two. Lastly, unusual cutscenes never go amiss. What things to avoid? Too much politics and (bad) romance. Poor casting choices and too much reliance on CGI. Not to mention, the mistake that was Jar Jar Binks. So how does this film fare? Well, for the first 45 minutes I couldn’t stop grinning. There were so many references and recreations of what made the original so good, that the film was a pleasure to behold. The movie spins along at a furious pace that, at times, traded debates with “let’s just get on and do it”. It seemed like a perfect antidote to what held the saga back in 1999.
JJ Abrams has given kudos to the past, satisfying the fanboys, and points to the future. This is not a film just for Star Wars fans… It’s two hours of escapism that leave you satisfied and (most importantly) wanting more. For a brief while I was that 6 year old in Preston…. I BELIEVE AGAIN!
Author – Chris, support office.