18
Dec
2015
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The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Find a screen. A really big screen. ‘The Force Awakens’ may have just re-awoken the Star Wars franchise. Whilst not touching the pathos of ‘Empire Strikes Back’, this is the Star Wars sequel you’ve been looking for. Drenched in the physicality of the first three movies (‘Star Wars’, ‘Empire’, and ‘Return of The Jedi’) ‘The Force Awakens eschews the CGI and the toys-for-Christmas merchandising of the prequel movies to give those who grew up with Han, Luke and Leia the film they’ve been waiting for. Goodbye to unnecessary SFX and hello to decent dialogue, off-the-cuff humour and character-led adventure.

...pitches the story beautifully for both those new to the Star Wars universe and those who've grown up up with it.

In this regard, newcomer John Boyega runs away with the film. Both this character and portrayal pitches the story beautifully for both those new to the Star Wars universe and those who’ve grown up up with it. Whilst Daisy Ridley is solid in the shared lead role as Re, its the return of some of the fan favourites that really steadies the ship and sells how the Star Wars universe has moved on since ‘Return of The Jedi’.

As you might expect with any re-boot ‘The Force Awakens’ borrows heavily from the Star War’s past catalogue, however you won’t mind as the pace is brisk and it never pauses for languor or waffly dialogue. JJ Abrams has delivered a lean, fast-moving movie in where the lines between good and bad are clearly drawn, albeit to the detriment of ‘Empire Strikes Back’s’ darkness and adult intrigue – and this is where the work lies ahead. As the series main villain, the shadow of Darth Vader still dominates the franchise. Whilst his dialogue was occasionally wooden, it was memorable and his deeds were properly dastardly and fom herein, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren has a very large environment suit to fill. He isn’t Darth Vader, nor is he as scary as Darth Maul and in this movie his underdeveloped character points to what needs to happen next: it’s time to move away from Vader and the Death Star and broaden the empire’s universe of evil characters.

Whilst ‘The Force Awakens’ is a welcome addition to Star Wars line up, it will be interesting to see if the next filmmakers now have the confidence step away from the old tropes and break totally fresh ground with the next movies. As Obi-Wan might have so sagely put it to them from the original Star Wars movie: “Your path lies on a different destiny to mine.” Let’s see what they do.

Mark Esper

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