Thursday, 17 December 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, 2015, USA
Director J.J Abrams
Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega & Harrison Ford
"Luke Skywalker? I though he was a myth."

There has indeed been an awakening, and it isn’t just the titular force, it’s the ‘Star Wars’ series as a whole.  ‘The Force Awakens’ is an exhilarating blend of well executed nostalgia and a fresh perspective that has reinvigorated the series and established a new set of stories and characters that will endear themselves to a brand new generation of fans.

Not having George Lucas in the writer or director role was the best thing for this film, not only because the prequels were critical bombs, but because it allows someone else to take this vast and storied universe and tailor it to his own vision, and that someone is J.J Abrams. I personally don’t have much of a history with Abrams, I never watched ‘Lost’ or his ‘Star Trek’ films, the only thing I’ve actually seen from him is ‘Super 8’, but his work on this film impressed me immensely. Abrams’ style is grounded in realism, a little more so than we are used to seeing in the ‘Star Wars’ films. The action sequences feel grittier, more tenacious, and as a result are more suited to modern audiences. Teamed with some impressive camera work, gives the film a vice-like grip during the action.

In many ways, ‘The Force Awakens’ resembles ‘A New Hope’ in the same way that ‘Creed’ resembled ‘Rocky’, it’s almost like a loose-remake of its original predecessor. ‘The Force Awakens’ hits many of the same notes as Lucas’ classic and even sees the new cast members take on the role similar to those of the characters from original, like Finn being like Luke Skywalker, Ray being like Leia, and Kylo Ren obviously resembling Darth Vader. And just like with ‘Creed’, this film manages to feel fresh regardless of its similarities.

‘The Force Awakens’ genuinely feels like a true successor to the original trilogy, even more so than Lucas’ prequel trilogy did. Abrams is clearly a lifelong fan of the films and does his best to appease fans like him with plenty of odes and references to the classic trilogy and, if you’re anything like me, will make you smile every time you notice them. The returning characters are handled with grace and respect and very much the same characters we fell in love with the first time around. Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is still the charismatic, brash smuggler that made him one of cinemas most entertaining characters. Carrie Fisher is still the brave, strong-minded Leia, and Chewbacca is still as loveable as ever.

I was very pleased with the new cast members, all of them do an excellent job and provide a cast full of watchable and endearing characters, which was a trait of the original trilogy and absent in the prequels. Daisy Rildey is a wonderful heroine, John Boyega is a really awesome hero (and has great comedic timing), Oscar Isaac continues to become one of the best actors out there, Domnhall Gleeson shows a darkside that we had previously yet to see, Max Von Sydow adds gravitas and class to anything that he is apart of, and Adam Driver is an interesting villain, who is very threatening and intimidating but is equally tortured and flawed, I’m really looking forward to seeing Kylo Ren’s character progression in the following films.

This is a wonderful first chapter to a new story that had me eagerly anticipating the next installment as soon as the credits began to roll.

This is the Star Wars films that the prequels wished they were. Believe the hype, ‘Star Wars’ is back!

"The Force, it's calling to you. Just let it in."


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