Sure, the film has only been open for one weekend, but at this point, there is absolutely nothing new for me to add to the discussion of the film. I’m still processing it so much of it, I mean after 30 years we get to see what really happened to our favorite characters, and are given a solid, and incredibly fun, science fiction film that knows how to balance practical and visual effects, while embracing its inner b-movie serial and space opera origins.
The story is basic, in fact, it’s little more than a retooled version of Episode IV: A New Hope. But I think not only the nods to the original film are intentional, but that I was a wise move as well. The story of both A New Hope, and The Force Awakens is incredibly simple. It has to be, they are introducing new characters, new worlds, and letting the regular viewer simply get used to being back in this much-loved universe.
And under the guiding hands of director (and writer) Abrams, writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, the film plunges us back into that galaxy far, far away and a long time ago.
Filled with nods to the previous trilogy, the film seeks to connect with the nostalgic heart of all us would-be Jedi, Sith, smugglers, rebels, bounty hunters and stormtroopers, while bringing new characters into the fold, and happily, casting choices (though I’m still unsure about Adam Driver) were top-notch as each of the actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac bring their love for the series and it shows in their performance.
When Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron (Isaac) is captured by the First Order (the remnants of the Galactic Empire), his droid, the wonderful practical effect, BB-8 finds its way into the hands of scavenger, and orphan, Rey (Ridley) on the desolate planet Jakku.
Aided by a stormtrooper on the run, Finn (Boyega), the pair find themselves on a huge adventure, opposing a new villain, Kylo Ren (Driver) and getting help from some familiar faces, like Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).
And that’s as spoilery as I want to get with the review, for me the film was a wonderful experience, and first and foremost that’s what it was. This film feels more inline with the original trilogy than the prequels ever did, there are laughs, tears, and happily with the audiences I saw it with, there were cheers and applause as well… Each classic reveal caused my eyes to tear up all over again, and the emotional moments are earned.
This is a film that plays to the rafters, it’s big, brassy, bold, everything Star Wars was when it first burst onto the scene, and it did something, for me, that the prequels were never able to do (and don’t get me wrong, there are moments I like in all three films) – and that is to give me that sense of wonder, joy and nostalgia wrapped up into the perfect Xmas gift.
I can’t tell you how it felt to see the Falcon flying again, or to see those X-Wings whip along the surface of Starkiller base, or to see Han Solo at the controls again, or shooting stormroopers.
Combining that with a wonderful new score by John Williams (love Rey’s theme), a rapidly-paced film that only hints at the events of the past 30 years (which excitedly fires the imagination – though I’m well aware there will be books at some point filling it all in), fantastic effects, and a fun cast… this ended up being the singular most enjoyable cinematic experience I’ve had in years.
Is the film perfect? No, but none of the previous 6 have been either, no matter how high a pedestal we put them on (and I’m as guilty of that as the next fan). But it did invite me back into that universe in a way that I haven’t been since I was a child, and for me, there can be no higher praise for this film than that.
The Force Awakens reignited my excitement for a universe I’ve always loved, and it didn’t let me down.
I wept, I cheered, I applauded… I was home.
(there’s probably a longer review in me, and there are so many things I want to talk about… the reference to the Ducains, the remote, the sabers, so many things… the Daniel Craig cameo… but perhaps I still need to sit, process and just enjoy).