When news that the most loved film series of all time was getting a new movie the whole world went mad. This madness didn’t stop all year and it reached its climax last night when Episode VII, The Force Awakens was released. In celebration of the Star Wars saga so far this fortnights ‘Movie Chat’ was a Star Wars retrospective, you can check that out here. So after all the speculation, hype and anticipation we finally got to see the movie and these are my personal thoughts on what J.J. Abrams created for Episode VII.
For a film series with so many characters Abrams managed to get the screen time of each of these characters pretty much spot on. Whether it be the beloved characters from the original series (Han Solo, Princess Leia etc) or the new breed of Star Wars characters I think he gave the fans what they wanted but also allowed the story to progress through the newer characters. The new characters are great and they immediately stand up to those that we have so wholly welcomed into popular culture for over thirty years. My personal favourite was Poe Dameron, the galaxies best pilot, played by Oscar Isaac. I am a big fan of Isaac’s and he has had a brilliant year starring in the likes of ‘Ex Machina’ & ‘A Most Violent Year’. He is similarly awesome here and his partnership with new droid BB-8 is immediately effective and endearing, R2-D2 and C-3PO now have some serious competition for best Star Wars droid for sure. With huge Darth Vader sized shoes to fill Adam Driver stepped into the role of villain for ‘The Force Awakens’ playing Kylo Ren. He has moments of brilliance and other moments that weren’t so convincing, but it’s never because of Driver’s performance instead usually the writing or set up of a scene. I will need a few re-watches to fully decide about him. As we all know many well know faces return to the saga here and they were meet with cheers and applause at the screening I was at. They all are brillaint in their roles but for me Carrie Fisher impressed the most as, now General, Leia.
As the film began in usual Star Wars fashion goosebumps took over my body and as I read the rolling paragraphs I found myself being really impressed by the story presented to me. However, it was a shame that this story isn’t explored deeply enough or with enough focus to meet my initially impressed feelings. Instead I felt like ‘The Force Awakens’ simply borrowed and recycled ideas that we have already seen in the original trilogy of films. At times it felt like it could have been a remake rather than a sequel. As to be expected there is a huge amount of nostalgia attached to this film too, much a result of references to the older films. For the most part these are handled really well although I thought the film was always treading dangerously between perfect nostalgia and relying too much on the previous success of the original films. This wouldn’t have been a problem if not for the over familiar plot so due to this I thought that the film held itself back from truly being its own progressive and unique film.
Don’t get me wrong though I had a blast with this film and I would probably say that it’s the best of the big blockbuster sequels/remakes/reboots for this year. Thanks to the fantastic special effects we get the greatest action sequences that the saga has ever seen with many of these moments being the best that the film has to offer. I didn’t quite feel the drama that I wanted to though, I felt that this was the result of a tad too much humour in certain moments. Humour is of course and integral part of Star Wars and generally ‘The Force Awakens’ nails it but there are just certain moments when the humour compromises the tension or drama of a scene. If this had been avoided than the issues of over familiarity wouldn’t have bothered me as much. There were a few other minor issues that I had with the film relating to character design and the focus (or lack of) on certain plot points but I can’t really discuss those without treading into spoiler territory.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is a valiant effort from director J.J. Abrams and he will have delivered so much to so many fans. I did have issues with the unoriginality of the plot and some other details but on the whole I did very much enjoy this movie. With a host of characters new and old, fantastic action and some good foundations laid I’m hoping that ‘The Force Awakens’ is paving the way for bigger and better things from this series.
Rating – 8/10