Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams & Michael Arndt
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac
Runtime: 135 Minutes
The best thing about The Force Awakens is that it makes you remember how brilliant and exciting the original films were, taking you back to a more innocent time when annoying CGI characters and midichlorians were just a twinkle in George Lucas’ eyes. Director J.J. Abrams has stripped the franchise to the key components that made people fall in love with Star Wars to begin with, Star Wars – despite the exotic aliens, the daring dogfights and the dueling lightsabers, arguably the films are about real human issues: love, family, spirituality. The Force Awakens is as much a film for die-hard fans as it is for people seeing Star Wars for the first time, and what a great introduction it makes.
Where the older Lucas became more and more obsessed with film technology and political allegory, Abrams has made a much simpler a film that parallels some of the events of A New Hope. Some may feel disappointed that The Force Awakens doesn’t fully address what happens after the events of Return of the Jedi, though still a divisive film for fans and critics, Return of the Jedi gave audiences a satisfying conclusion to the saga with the redemption of Vader and peace returning to the galaxy. The new film introduces a successor to the Empire by name of the First Order, a much larger and threatening operation as led by Supreme Leader Snoke (mo-capped Andy Serkis) and his two generals, Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and the lighsaber-wielding Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). The First Order are opposed by The Resistance, led by General Organa (Carrie Fisher) and her faithful soldiers, including ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). We met our new heroes Rey (Daisy Ridley) and First Order deserter, Finn (John Boyega) as they try to protect a droid called BB-8 from falling into enemy hands, they soon learn that the droid is much more important than they first thought.
The Force Awakens is solid family entertainment that is both funny, warm-hearted and action-packed, if you see one film this year then you can’t go too wrong with Star Wars. Old school fans will appreciate seeing some of the older characters on the big screen again, the appearances are much more than cynical cameos and do have some weight to them. Unfortunately the film is not as bold as it could have been, at times the story can feel like a ‘Best Of Star Wars’ compilation instead of it’s own thing. Some plot elements seem overly vague and seem like they are present only for the cliffhanger to be built upon in future films.
For the most-anticipated film of the year, The Force Awakens has delivered. Abrams has reassured fans that the franchise is in very capable hands and by people who really care about Star Wars. It would have been quite easy to try and re-invent Star Wars for a modern audience but Abrams has respected the template and built upon what Lucas created. This is the new Star Wars with new heroes and villains and it’s got people excited. The sweeping John Williams score and the emphasis on practical effects over CGI is very much the icing on the cake, fans and non-fans alike will find The Force Awakens to be the perfect antidote to Lucas’s missteps.