The Search For Skywalker.
After years of waiting to return to that galaxy far far away, Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally arrives in cinemas. Before I get started on this spoilers free review a quick note of praise to how Disney has managed the marketing campaign. Unlike many other blockbuster sequels almost nothing was known about the plot, arguably Star Wars sells itself and the return of some of the old guard was enough to get bums on seats. That said, it was a wonderful thing to know so little about the story, you know like how movies used to be.
The near sold out 10 am showing I saw was pleasingly populated by an older audience, at 34 I was one of the younger members of the crowd, and mercifully not a single child was present. You could feel the weight of expectations from life long fans, an audible gasp of nostalgic excitement was collectively released when the infamous title card made an appearance. Could the next two hours possibly live up to the hopes and dreams of millions of fans? Or will The Force Awakens be a Phantom Menace sized disaster?
The short answer is a resounding yes, J.J Abrams returns the fun that was missing from the po-faced prequels and introduces worthy new characters that for the most part can stand toe to toe with the original cast. Abrams had a nearly impossible task ahead of him, not only did his movie need to satisfy the fans it had to open the franchise up to a whole new generation. Back when George Lucas had full control of the empire, the prequels tried too hard to appeal to youngsters (I know that Star Wars is ultimately a kids’ flick) and ended up with a glorified happy meal of a trilogy. Abrams doesn’t insult the viewer; it works as a roaring space romp as well as a fairly grown-up science fiction adventure that deals with some weighty issues.
There is a sense of Abrams pandering a little too much to nostalgia, parts of the story borrows from New Hope and Jedi with more than one instance of deja vu. I’ll save any mention of Luke Skywalker for the full spoiler filled review as to go anywhere near it would be unfair. Cast wise it’s a strong turn out from the newcomers, John Boyega who impressed us all in Attack The Block turns in a knockout performance as deserter stormtrooper Finn. Daisy Ridley’s Rey isn’t quite given as much character development as she could have been, but you got to save something for the sequels, right. Oscar Issac channels his inner Han Solo as pilot Poe Dameron and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren is a force to reckoned with. What really matters is that the new characters work and the new generation are up to scratch, and they all do a sterling job.
Harrison Ford has been phoning in some of his performances of late, I’m not sure if he has lost his passion for acting or is bored in general by the scripts he gets, but even his long-awaited return as Indiana Jones felt like his heart wasn’t in it. Stepping back into the shoes of Han Solo is a task the actor clearly enjoyed, Han is a bit worn out when we catch up with him, and it takes him a minute to find his footing. That winning charm is still there, and he delivers his best work in many years, I’ll leave it there for now but all you need to know is The Force Awakens is a return of everything you loved about the original trilogy from a filmmaker who is a self-confessed Star Wars super geek. Go see it.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in cinemas everywhere now.