A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a saga known as the Holy Trilogy. Then came the much-maligned, but really not all that bad (well, bar Attack of the Clones), prequel trilogy. And now here we are again: on the cusp of yet another venture into cinema’s most famous space opera.
Picking things up roughly 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi and the fall of the Galactic Empire, we see that the battle between good and evil still continues across the galaxy. With the vicious Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) heading up the charge, the savage First Order is on a mission to take down the Resistance and stamp their authority on all in front of them, with Ren also keen to track down a BB-8 droid that could contain the secrets to locating one Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). As the droid falls into the hands of scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and the disillusioned Finn (John Boyega), it’s not long before they find themselves aligned with some familiar old faces and wind up involved in an all-out battle that sees secrets revealed, truths learned, and the plot well and truly thicken.
When it comes to additional plot details, it would be unfair and flat out cruel of me to indulge any further real details, but it’s safe to say that the race is on to find Luke Skywalker, and it’s a race that is as frenetic as any podrace you’ve ever seen, as hard-hitting and shocking as any “I am your father”, as magical as those first memories of seeing Tatooine, and as fuzzy feeling as everyone’s favourite Wookiee. And fear not, there most definitely is not a Gungan in sight.
To get to the burning question that you all want answering, yes, this is the Star Wars film that you’ve been waiting for. Sure, the prequel trilogy had its moments, but The Force Awakens is a film that is more in line with the original three movies and a real hark back to what made that initial trilogy so special. J.J. Abrams has crafted a movie that is refreshing and new whilst also managing to pay just the right amount of homage to what has gone before it. Added to this, some of the cinematography on display is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty and at times even surpasses what George Lucas did all those years ago.
In terms of performances, all of the new arrivals do a fantastic job in their roles, with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac all on their way to superstardom for their turns as the heroic trio of Rey, Finn and expert pilot Poe Dameron. On the Dark Side of the Force, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is a worthy villain and a menacing threat that ranks alongside the most thoroughly nasty bastards that the saga has produced to date. Think the erratic, angst-ridden Anakin Skywalker but delivered with real sincerity, emotion and a cruelty that would make even Vader wince. Then there’s the familiar faces of yesteryear, with Harrison Ford’s Han Solo given the most to do out of these warmly-received returning characters. Ford masterfully turns on the old Solo charm, yet his performance is tinged with a sense of tragedy at what’s gone on since we last saw the scruffy-looking nerf herder, which in turn shows us a side of Han rarely seen in previous installments.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is an undeniable triumph. It encapsulates everything about the saga that gave you butterflies all those years ago, and the conclusion leaves you longing for May 2017 and Episode VIII to roll around. Consider the Force, as well as this much-loved franchise, well and truly awoken. To steal a line from Han Solo, we’re home… and man, does it feel good.
STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: J.J. ABRAMS / SCREENPLAY: LAWRENCE KASDAN, J.J. ABRAMS, MICHAEL ARNDT / STARRING: DAISY RIDLEY, JOHN BOYEGA, ADAM DRIVER, HARRISON FORD, OSCAR ISAAC, MARK HAMILL, CARRIE FISHER, PETER MAYHEW, DOMHNALL GLEESON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW