Review: Star Wars – The Force Awakens

It’s been several months now since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in cinemas, so, if you still haven’t seen the film,  DO NOT READ ON. There will be spoilers. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum, but I can’t avoid them altogether.

Let me preface this review with a simple fact – I am a Star Wars tragic. I love it. The movies, the television shows, the books, the action figures, everything. From where I am typing (on my bed – not good for the back, in case you were wondering), I can see the Force Awakens novelisation to be left. In front I can see the ‘Tarkin’ novel which I have just finished. Next to that, on top of my drawers, I can see numerous figurines, a completed Lego ‘Ghost’ spaceship, Star Wars money boxes, multiple Star Wars T-shirts. I love it.

So, as you can imagine, and, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will have noticed from my previous blog posts, that having a new Star Wars movie in cinemas absolutely blows my mind. I was too young to see A New Hope at the cinema, but I recall vividly seeing it at the drive-in, and bringing it home to watch on VHS from the video rental store. These memories are etched into my consciousness and are the types of memories that make me the person I am today.

The Original Trilogy (A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) are staples of my movie watching diet. I’m talking numerous viewings each and every year. The Prequel Trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) not so much. I am not a prequel hater, but they do have their flaws. That’s not the say that the original trilogy is perfect – it’s not. It is just when comparing the two, the prequel trilogy is missing the warmth, adventure and sense of humour present in the original trilogy.

It’s this that I think The Force Awakens captures well. The new characters, particularly Rey and Finn, are engaging and accessible. There were several laugh out loud moments, usually resulting from something Finn says or does. Rey is a great lead character, and it is great to see a female take the lead in the Star Wars universe.

The plot revolves around the search for Luke Skywalker, who has gone into hiding after a tragedy involving his jedi academy. The Resistance, led by General Leia Organa, have located the final piece of the map that they believe will lead them to Luke’s hiding place. They send Poe Damaron, the best pilot in the galaxy, to retrieve it from Jakku. While attempting this, he is captured, but his droid, BB8, escapes with the map. He meets up with Finn and Rey and the galaxy spanning adventure starts from there.

Some have critcised the movie as being too derivative of A New Hope, and I can see their point. The plot lends heavily from this film, but I believe does enough to make it stand on its own merits. It also gives enough information to intrigue us into speculation about episode eight – who is Snoke and where did he come from? How did Kylo Ren fall from the light? Was Kylo Ren responsible for the tragedy at the jedi academy? How does Rey fit into the Skywalker family, if at all? How will Chewie and Leia cope with their loss? Has the Republic fallen? So many questions…

Favourite things – BB8 has so much personality. He easily takes up the role of R2D2 from the other films. Finn – great character. Had plenty of opportunity to shine and John Boyega grab every one with both hands. The ships – X-wings, TIE fighters, Star Detroyers – they’re all there, slightly redesigned, but awesome as always. The Falcon is back!

Not so good – the death. I knew it was likely, but it still hit like a tonne of bricks when it happened. The final scene dragged on too long. They could have done the unveiling and left it there. Instead, they filmed an extended scene of two static people really not doing anything. Chewie getting nothing from Leia after the death – no hug, no glance, no nothing. Instead, Leia comforts a girl she has never met before. Interestingly, JJ Abrams has admitted that, with hindsight, this was a mistake. I agree.

Overall, I loved it. It reminded me of my days as a youngling, watching the original trilogy with my mates. The sense of awe and adventure was back.

8 out of 10 for me. A solid return to form for the Star Wars franchise.

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