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Review: Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

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Director: J.J. Abrams

Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams

Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac

 

 

There is something about watching a movie at the cinema that brings out the excitement in me. I have loved movies since my earliest memory. I love watching the trailers, eating popcorn and waiting for it to start. It is a truly magical experience. Now imagine all of that excitement, happiness and joy when the screen goes black and those immortal words in blue appear…

 

A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

 

Then the Star Wars logo appears on screen and the first bars of one of John Williams’ most iconic pieces of music blast out at you making the entire room shake and the realisation that you are about to watch a brand new Star Wars movie hits.

Following on from the “disastrous” prequels, according to some, the expectancy of the continuation from “Return of the Jedi” was big. News hit that Disney was to take over the franchise from George Lucas and that they wanted to make episodes VII, VIII and IX. Before too long it was confirmed that J.J. Abrams was to take over writing and directorial duties. Following on from his success in rebooting the Star Trek movies, we knew this was in safe hands.

The internet was soon awash with cast news, photographs and that infamous shot of the first read through. It was still unconfirmed who was playing who, but the important news was that the original cast were coming back to reprise their roles.

Teaser trailers then came followed by the first main trailers and as much as I wanted to avoid it, I couldn’t. From the snippets we saw low flying X-Wings, Stormtroopers and the new lightsabre the prospects were good. But would it live up to expectations? Would it please the diehard fans of the Star Wars universe? The scrolling text had just disappeared into the dark depths of space and we were just about to find out.

The opening scene shows a dark shadow of a ship appear on screen and before long we are thrust right into the action. The original Stormtroopers are back and they are working for a new terror, Kylo Ren, a Darth Vader wannabe lured to the Dark Side in order to complete the mission that his predecessor failed to. Finn is part of the First Order, the group created to take on the Republic, but he was taken from his family to become a Stormtrooper and he doesn’t want to be part of it. Pilot Poe Dameron is captured as he is rumoured to hold vital information of the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, but the information he holds was installed into a small droid unit called BB-8. In a similar vain to “A New Hope” the mission is to then get this information back to the Republic before it falls into the wrong hands. Finn helps Poe escape and they steal a Tie Fighter, but get shot down and subsequently separated on the planet of Jakku where Finn meets Rey, a scavenger scraping bits from the remains of Imperial Starships in order to sell for food, hoping one day the family that left her will return. Hunted down by the First Order, Finn, Rey and BB-8 go on the run in order to fulfil the mission and bump into some familiar faces in the process.

What follows is a riot of action sequences, jaw dropping visuals, perfect dialogue and astonishing cinematography as J.J. Abrams grabs the reins and steers us through a truly breath-taking, but exceptionally mesmerising movie that belongs right up there alongside the others.

The sight of seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca back on screen is enough to fill the eyes of anyone. It was a moment of cinematical magic that could never be captured again. It means so much to the movie and it means so much to the fans. Abrams has crafted and sculptured a script that some say is too reminiscent of the original, but it has been produced in admiration of “A New Hope” with a plethora of new characters and storylines to explore.

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley are both British actors. They are relatively unknown (as were the original cast back in 1977) but they handled the pressure and the hype of starring in what could be the biggest selling movie of all time with such assurance and calmness and they completely nailed their roles bringing them deservedly into the Star Wars universe along with the greats. BB-8 was a refreshing character instantly adored by millions and is what George Lucas could have done with in the prequels rather than Jar Jar Binks. Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew as Han and Chewie get a lot of screen time as we see the friends thrown back into the action with glimpses of the beautiful Carrie Fisher as General Leia. Anthony Daniels as C3-PO jumps onto the screen with warm relief and Kenny Baker as R2-D2 shares a percentage of screen time, but it is the mystery surrounding Luke Skywalker that leaves us wanting more. Adam Driver was menacing as Kylo Ren and there was yet more mystery around the character of Supreme Leader Snoke portrayed in one of the movie’s few CGI scenes by Andy Serkis. It is the limited use of CGI which gives The Force Awakens that original feel.

There are many unanswered questions, particularly surrounding certain characters, but there is a lot more to come and it could be bigger and better than this movie. Once the credits start to roll you want to rewind it and watch it all over again. There are very few movies that can have that impact and in a strange sort of way, as much as The Force Awakens isn’t perfect, it is.

 

Trailer: