‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Is A Triumph: But Can It Overcome Expectation? | Film Review
So here it is. The most anticipated film of recent history with record breaking pre-booked ticket sales. J.J Abrams openly admitted his terror as the opening drew nearer; a childhood fan given the chance to rejuvenate a franchise under new management. Abrams was always considered a safe pair of hands after his two film audition for the job in the form of the recent Star Trek films.
The original trilogy means something special to everyone. We all have our own Star Wars stories and moments. For fans this is more than just a film franchise, this is their childhood heroes and worlds being shown the respect they deserve. My personal Star Wars moment was seeing the special edition of A New Hope at the cinema. I grew up loving the films and watching them on repeat with older brothers and then finally seeing it on the big screen was special. The John William‘s score had me obsessed with cinema for the rest of my life.
I was too young to appreciate that George Lucas’ dabbling added nothing to an already classic film. My Star Wars bubble burst with Attack of the Clones. The hype and excitement of the Phathom Menace saw me almost forgive Jar Jar Binks thanks to the great finale with a wonderfully scored lightsaber duel. By Revenge of the Sith I was cynical and tired of George Lucas. So everyone has their own Star Wars baggage but still I allowed myself to once again generate a child like excitement for episode 7. The promotional campaign has been note perfect having watched all the trailers and read the constant news stream I still had very little idea of the actual plot; this is such a rare cinema treat in today’s world.
The best way to see the film is knowing as little as possible so any surprises can be genuine. Unlike the prequels this is stepping into unknown territory for the franchise. All I knew before the film was the basic set up consisting of a lack of balance in the force as Luke (Mark Hamill) has vanished. Both the Resistance and the sinister First Order are searching for him. Ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) obtains a clue to his whereabouts and entrusts BB-8 with this information. The cute BB-8 teams up with scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and stormtrooper deserter FN-2187, aka Finn (John Boyega). Along the way they may just pick up some garbage in the form of the millennium falcon and its old pilots.
The likes of Ford and Fisher fit effortlessly back into their roles with a level of gravitas. There is a clear sense of the orginal cast passing the baton. Boyega’s Finn hits some comic touches nicely and Rey is a fresh character that could be lumbered with the Luke-esque goody two shoes role but really stands out and makes the film her own. Apart from Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) the other villains are unfortunately two-dimensional. Gwendoline Chritie‘s Captain Phasma’s voice is jarring, Genral Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is a generic nazi-like character and Andy Serkis as supreme leader Snoke remains an unknown quantity. Driver’s Ren however is a worthy addition to the Star Wars villain roster and is more complex than Vader.
As Abrams predicted you can’t please everyone and I am guilty of my own high expectation and excitement. The film is exhilarating, reverent to the source material but not scared of being orginal. It ticks all the required Star Wars boxes including cute robots, cantina music, lightsaber duels, x-wing vs tie fighter dog fights, laughs from C-3PO and Chewbacca and importantly light vs dark with an emotional punch. I enjoyed the film but perhaps left a little disappointed, it’s good but not great. It rattles along at a breakneck pace compared to previous entries. This does leave some unexplained lore and plot points that you don’t have time to consider until after the film. Thankfully it confidently dismisses memories of the prequels and sets a foundation for another possibly great trilogy.
Abrams had passed with flying colours and Daisy Ridley is a revelation but a repeat viewing is required to reach my final opinion. However, what do I know, 12 year old me enjoyed the Phathom Menace! The Force Awakens does need to be seen at the cinema preferably on the biggest screen possible in 2D. It is a great ride but somehow leaves you wanting more.
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