Friday, 18 December 2015

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Below the picture you will find my thoughts on Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. This will be a spoilerific discussion, so if you've yet to see the movie and what to go in clean, go away now. Otherwise read on.

"This will begin to make things right" utters Max Von Sydow at the very beginning of Episode VII. It is the very first line of the movie. He is talking about the map fragment that will allow his resistance brethren to locate Luke Skywalker. But more than that, director J J Abrams is speaking directly to the fans.

We all know that the prequels didn't live up to the hopes we had for them. I don't ardently hate them as some do, but they just don't feel like they exist in the universe of Star Wars. They were characters with recognisable names, but weren't those characters.

From minute one Abrams makes it his mission to return the franchise to form. A massive Super Star Destroyer fills the screen, just as it did in 1977, as a cute droid - on which more later - is entrusted with secret plans as the movie's Big Bad marches in, all guns blazing.

It is impossible not to be mentally transported back to the corridors of the Tantive IV as you see Kylo Ren first search Poe for the data, and then take him captive, just as Vader did with Princess Leia all those years ago.

From here the movie doesn't let up on its nostalgia kick. We knew that it would be exciting to see Han and Leia back, but to see Han in such a key role was just excellent. From the first moment he and Chewie run back onto the Falcon, it is not just they, but the audience too who sigh happily. We are home.

This isn't just a nostalgia movie though, playing on the blue print of A New Hope, but an entity which works unto itself as well. A New New Hope if you will. A New Hope for A New Generation. This relief comes in the hands of John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and most importantly: Daisy Ridley.

Ridley, a practical unknown (she has done some minor television roles, but nothing even within the basic realm of this kind of film) is a revelation as the scavenger girl Rey. She is one of the most finely drawn characters the franchise has laid eyes on, and even early on in proceedings as we see her beat up two aliens who try to mug her for BB-8 it is clear this isn't a damsel in distress.

She takes charge, and despite the assumptions one might have from the trailers, it is her and not Finn that will carry the franchise. The Force which is awakening is within her. She is a Jedi, and must find her place in the universe. As Lupita NYong'o's Maz Kanata tells us, her future is with Luke, the lightsaber has chosen her. Luke's lightsaber. Anakin's lightsaber. She is so incredibly important, and to see a women at the head of the franchise - in a way that arguably even Carrie Fisher never was - is a truly special moment.

It is clear that despite her relative inexperience however that she can more than hold her own, and she steals every scene she is in. Whether she is crying out over the death of Han; taking control of the Falcon through a spellbinding TIE Fighter battle on Jakku;  openly weeping over Finn's body; or battling Kylo Ren in what will go down as the finest saber battle in all 6 films, this is an actress who can command the screen.

It is not just Rey who captures attention here though, but the simply wonderful BB-8. From the very first quarter second clip in the original teaser a year ago the fanbase watched in wonder as this little guy rolled his way into our hearts. Here in full the beauty continues forthwith.

He has several genuine laugh out loud moments as the movie goes on: from his rolling and falling around the ceiling of the Falcon as it flips around; the excellent lighter thumbs-up; and his clear respect for R2D2.

Its nice because J J hasn't simply forgotten R2 and C3PO, but gives them the roles of veteran's showing the new guy the ropes, just as Han and Leia do for our new cast. BB-8's adventures moving forward will be of great interest.

I could go on all day about everything that was right about this film. John William's score, to Adam Driver's dark, brooding, anger filled Kylo Ren, there isn't a hair out of place in the whole film.

To say it the only way I know how I will say this: J J has woven a tale worthy of the name. If the prequels struggled to maintain the identity of the original trilogy then allow me to pay The Force Awakens the greatest compliment I can give it: This is a Star Wars film. And a damn good one at that.

No comments:

Post a Comment