After the biggest build up in recent film history, maybe ever, the seventh Star Wars film has finally arrived. A space epic worthy of the original we finally have the movie most fans have been expecting and demanding since the abysmal prequel trilogy reared its ugly head. J.J Abrams has taken notes and put together an homage to the originals while still providing enough new edge and modern societal consciousness to make the film refreshing if not perfect.
While looking to steer as far away from spoilers as humanly possible, The Force Awakens tells the story of a race against time as both the Resistance and First Order (Empire lite) look for the absent Luke Skywalker. Through the new tale we are introduced to heroes new and old as well as a cast of new villains and more animatronic and CGI aliens that you could ever poke a stick at.
Let's get a few minor quibbles out of the way before i start gushing. Some of the dialogue is very basic, nothing new for Sci-Fi but still unfortunate coming from the talents mouths assembled in this cast. The film also plays it safe with much of its story, not straying too far from what we know and love. Maybe a good thing in the face of podracing and senate meetings but it's hard to not draw parallels. As i said, minor, not enough to distract from the overall experience at all.
The Force Awakens in a joyous experience. Having used practical effects and sets, each new planet feels real and inhabited, the characters are interacting because they are actually interacting. Nowhere is this clearer than in newcomer BB-8, a droid similar to R2-D2 that acts as a companion and plot piece for multiple characters, each having a different relationship with the sassy droid. Abrams has done well to pay homage as well as put his own stamp on the film. We aren’t treated to lens flares, but there are distinctly fresh angles, newer technologies giving us new insight into hand to hand combat, rolling battles and aerial dogfights. He has injected a new rush of comedy and drama as well which plays like many other Disney (Marvel) films, but is modern and fresh in the galaxy far far away.
The characters we are gifted for this journey are perfect to accompany. Daisy Ridley plas Rey, a female Luke Skywalker starting her own quest to the stars, without knowing her place in the world, but sure of what she does know when it comes to technology and gender politics. It is a distinctly strong character and never falls to a damsel in distress or sexual conquest cliche. John Boyega (Finn) also brings a new perspective to an old trope. A disenfranchised stormtrooper, Finn is looking to escape from the conflict and protect himself despite building bonds with those around him, stop me if that reminds you of anyone.
The Force Awakens treats comfortable familiar ground in a way that feels like a welcome hug from a parent. It's a truly warm feeling to be back with these characters and going on adventures we all thought were finished years ago. J.J Abrams has reignited the franchise in a huge way and it would be a great surprise if the reputation of the Star Wars brand is not salvaged as a result of this film. Time can only tell how the onslaught of films in the next decade will leave us fatigued or fans but for the moment i’ll grab another ticket for the Force Awakens and return to play with old friends and new.