Monday, 4 January 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

“Chewie, we’re home.”

Han Solo’s proclamation of a return to the more welcoming side of Star Wars goes without saying as we’re introduced to a whole new chapter in the renowned space opera that has helped to shape cinema through the years.

With J.J. Abrams steering this Star Destroyer of a franchise, Star Wars possesses a kindred spirit; a man who has continuously explained his love for a movie series that captured his imagination decades ago and has held on ever since. Having helped to reinvigorate and open up Star Trek to a whole new audience, as well as maintain the support of current fans, it wouldn’t go without saying that the director is more than qualified for this job, and boy does he deliver.

Set some 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens sees a secret mission culminate in the crossing of paths between heroes old and new, while a whole new force of evil rears its head in the form of the First Order. While Rey (Daisy Ridley) looks to find a sense of belonging on the planet Jakku, Finn (John Boyega) is seeking an escape from the dark forces he has found himself entangled with.

Naturally, the pair eventually encounter one another, along with charismatic expert pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and the likes of Rebel veterans Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Leia (Carrie Fisher). With their combination of expertise, the task of taking down the First Order is at hand, with both Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) leading their troops into a whole new waging war under the guidance of the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).

Those of us who felt all was lost following George Lucas’ failed attempt at bringing us three worthy and plausible prequels to the Star Wars universe would consider The Force Awakens a long time coming and it certainly sees to it that an awakening is in full force.

Steered expertly by director J.J. Abrams, produced by Kathleen Kennedy, and scribed partly by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan, The Force Awakens held the heavy weight of expectation upon its huge shoulders and certainly nails it for the vast majority.

To give plot details would be an injustice for any fan of this franchise, but instead its many positive features should be lauded. While many will have feared over-promotion for such an entity - especially with Disney now flying the flag - it must be said that the surprise factor of the film's unfolding narrative remains a wonderful surprise.

From the very moments of the classic opening monologue, to the closing scenes, no moment of The Force Awakens appears predictable, ruined by a trailer or pre-empted - leaving that satisfyingly sweeter taste come its close.

Where the film revels is its blissful awareness of a fan-base that is both nostalgic but also expects a certain level of progression. Thankfully, J.J. and his team know this all too well and we have a film that responds with the greatest of respect. There are scenes in which we hark back to the classic days of the original trilogy, but otherwise this is very much all about the future of the franchise.

At the centre of this future is a three-pronged attack from three new protagonists in Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Each bring their own special brand of character to the fray and help to forge a whole new generation of heroes and villains. While Boyega's Finn seeks a path of good, the brilliant Ridley enters her first acting gig as a strong, independent soul looking for belonging. What's most surprising in the best way is the newest Star Wars villain brought to life by Adam Driver; Kylo Ren has a wonderful depth to him, proving that there can be so much more than Darth Vader in this galaxy.

Joining these three are the likes of another great newcomer, Oscar Isaac, as Poe Dameron, the loveable and brilliantly emotive BB-8, as well as fantastic series returning faces in Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew and so many more.

This is the Star Wars movie we've all been building ourselves up to and it certainly does not fail to deliver in every aspect. If you're after stunning visuals, classic practical effects, and a reminder of the good old days then The Force Awakens ticks all those boxes.

That all-time box-office record of Avatar's will be broken, mark my words...