Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12a)
Running time 2hr 15mins
IT’S not so easy to write a review of a film that’s critic proof. Star Wars is the biggest film franchise in the world – every single one
of those fans will see it and form their own opinion regardless of what the critics say. And if responses so far are anything to go by, the vast majority of those opinions will be positive. But, let’s face it – this sequel, which comes a full 32 years after the close of the original saga, didn’t have a particularly rigid barometer against which to be measured. With the three prequels universally detested, there was really only one way reviews were going to go.
A franchise close to the hearts of so many, it seems fitting that any follow-up should pay homage to the original beloved trilogy, and The Force Awakens is packed with references to the past, as well as being dotted with a smattering of familiar faces.
We pick up the story 30 or so years on from the conclusion of the events of Return of the Jedi. The Jedi are now all but a myth – as they were at the start of A New Hope – and a new generation is intrigued by tales of the Rebellion and the past. When a scavenger girl by the name of Rey(Daisy Ridley) gets mixed up with a little orange-and-white droid and a fugitive named Finn (John Boyega), they become the galaxy’s most wanted. To survive, they must team up with faces old and new and help the Resistance track down legendary Jedi master, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), to help battle a dangerous new threat.
Star Trek helmer JJ Abrams takes on directing duties for this first in the new Disney-owned franchise and does a sterling job with a screenplay written by Michael Arndt and adapted by himself and legendary Star Wars writer/producer Lawrence Kasdan.
A self-confessed Star Wars fan, Abrams’ love for the saga manifests itself in his sensitive treatment. This sequel, with its careful attention to tone and scale to match the original trilogy and plentiful references to the original story, gives the fans what they want. Abrams has made loyalty to the saga paramount, ahead of pleasing the marketing team’s intangible audience, ticking boxes on a spreadsheet or appeasing investors.
The plot and structure follow a similar path as A New Hope – but a sense of familiarity is key for audiences worldwide who hated
prequels that bore little resemblance to George Lucas’s original films. The humour that was unwisely sucked out of the prequels is
re-injected here and we’re treated to more of Han Solo’s quips, courtesy of the deliciously dry Harrison Ford, and a sparky relationship between the film’s two leads – both Ridley and Boyega do great jobs in bringing to life three-dimensional characters who have both depth and personality. With a careful balance of costumed characters and CGI, there’s a far more seamless integration of actors, scenes, props and special effects than any of Lucas’ tinkering with the saga through the Nineties and Noughties achieved. And while there could have been more tension, and a few pressing questions answered, this new addition to the Star Wars story leaves aficionados more than satisfied, and looking forward to the films to come.