Narrative flaws aside, this is the Star Wars film we have all been looking for…
I won’t beat about the bush here; we can all breath a huge sigh of relief. Episode VII feels like a continuation of the space saga we all know and love. Regardless of how you feel about the prequels it’s clear that this latest entry has observed and learnt from their mistakes and as a result is deeply rooted in the world and approach we saw in Episodes IV-VI. We have here a story of adventure, romance and excitement which zips along at breathtaking pace, giving us a group of new faces we can root for and (mostly) cleverly handling its fan service with returning characters and details. Frankly I can’t believe I am writing these words, we couldn’t have asked for much more could we….
Well we could have asked for a more imaginative plot. I am not going into any more detail for fear of spoiling anything to anyone but I will simply say that by far my biggest issue with the film is that it quite often played like a fan’s mixtape of the series’ best bits. It is staggeringly unimaginative and is rather disappointingly poor writing, but crucially it is not a deal breaker because everything else works so very well. I just loved how this felt like I was experiencing Star Wars again in a way that the prequels never managed to achieve. It’s tactile and feels grounded and real with a well balanced mixture of CGI and practical effects that, whilst impressive, only serve to help build a magical adventure in an incredible world rather than being the main attraction. What quite rightly lies at the heart of The Force Awakens are the familiar themes of family, friendship and love. It’s the desire to give us a classic piece of escapism that tells a story that’s as ancient as it is enduring, and which can glue us to the screen with thrilling verve.
Perhaps the film’s greatest asset though is its characters. The returning actors all do a great job at re-inhabiting their beloved roles. Harrison Ford is a particular highlight; not simply phoning it in for a quick pay check but giving us a performance as old Han Solo which far exceeds that which he gave as an old Indy in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He gives it his all to ensure that he remains true to the Han we have always loved, whilst remaining flexible enough to be able to kick it up a few emotional notches when he is called too.
But let’s talk about the new cast; Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac all exceed expectations as heroes that we can get behind and root for. They are all instantly likeable, empathetic and win the audience’s hearts over shortly after arriving on screen. Our villain (Kylo Ren) holds such an abundant amount of promise to become the best villain in the saga aside from Vader himself. The less said about him the better in a spoiler free review but he is complex, exciting to watch and one leaves the film gleefully realising that we have only just scratched the surface of his character’s depth. What’s even more exciting than how good each individual lead is though is that it feels like there is rich potential for them to develop both individually and in their relationships with each other as the series goes along. I’m really excited to see what lies in store for them in the next two episodes and in what directions they are going to be taken.
Overall I have to say that The Force Awakens is a triumphant and hugely satisfying success…. Would I have liked to have seen a more imaginative plot line? Without a doubt, but Abrams and co achieved the impossible here by matching fans ridiculously high expectations, over coming the setbacks caused by the prequels, reintroducing old characters and establishing the new leads. In order to achieve this they felt that they had to play it safe with the storyline, which is annoying but I can forgive them. The pulled off the most stunning of tricks and gave us back the Star Wars we know and love. Now they have set the scene for Episodes VIII & IX to go off and find their own directions. We know the gang now and can settle down to whatever exciting storylines they can dream up. Personally I simply cannot wait to be transported yet again to a galaxy far far away in 2017.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is open in UK cinemas now, are you planning on seeing it? Let us know in the box below!