This. Is. Star Wars
J.J. Abrams brings us the newest entry in the biggest saga in film history with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first in a new trilogy and series of spin-offs destined to consume film and cinema for the next decade. So where do we begin? Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, is missing and a regime called the First Order have arisen from the remains of the Empire. The Resistance, the remnants of the Rebels, and the First Order are competing in a race to find Luke, but esteemed X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron and his droid BB-8 may have the key to find him, however Kylo Ren and the forces of the order are closing in on their location.
J.J. Abrams had the hardest job in the film industry in directing this film, not just because it is Star Wars but because it’s the first film in what will become an expanding saga. You can’t go all out on the first attempt, energy needs to be conserved and spectacle contained enough to make an exciting film without making it hard to follow. That being said Abrams pulled it off. Is it a remarkable game changing film? No it is not, but is it everything you ever needed from a Star Wars film? Yes it is.
One could argue they largely played it safe here as it visibly borrows some major cues from Episodes IV to VI. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it retains that familiar feeling to previous instalments and allows you to immerse yourself immediately back into a fantastic universe. Though some fans will be sure to enjoy the nods, there will be some who wanted something different. That I feel will be left to the spin offs. Despite many events that feel familiar, one notable difference is the art of the direction. J.J. Abrams, the cinematographer Daniel Mindel and the art direction team have created and captured some absolutely wonderful scenery and stunning shots, some of them are fleeting glimpses lasting but a few seconds, but they’ve committed to film some fantastic images throughout.
The highlight of the film is Daisy Ridley as Rey, she is an absolute revelation. It’s a brilliantly written character and an astounding performance that will absolutely be guaranteed to further the progression of strong female characters in film. Despite having the immense presence of other significant roles such as Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia she manages to steal the show in every way. In fact the majority of the new characters are some of the best to have graced Star Wars (on screen at least) with three dimensional, multifaceted personalities. John Boyega is as refreshing a character as Rey with an intriguing story arc and Kylo Ren is a dynamic antagonist that is certainly more than just a stock villain.
However, like many many other films, it isn’t flawless. The film is loaded with exciting aerial battles and lightsaber fights but despite the plethora of special effects technology at their disposal, these battles though exciting, lacked the same intensity from those in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. Maybe the stakes didn’t seem high enough, or as we know future films are guaranteed we subconsciously know the fate of the Resistance wasn’t going to be perilous. In addition, though credit is due for on the location shooting and use of physical animation, the creatures created with CGI pale in comparison to those physically on set.
That being said these are minor niggles, and they didn’t really affect the enjoyment of my first viewing. J.J. Abrams must be applauded for doing Star Wars justice and doing Star Wars right, something George Lucas failed to do with his own creation in Episodes I to III. I find it hard to imagine that any Star Wars fan won’t enjoy this because it has it all. Humour, drama, tragedy, and action, the force is most certainly strong with this one.