Star Wars, The Fanfiction Has Awakened.

Please note the review contains Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers - Please be aware before continuing.

With the Star Wars franchise now in the hands of Disney, that inevitable rebirth - I mean cash grab - is upon us, but with creator George Lucas now missing in action ala Luke Skywalker, it’s time for emergent sci-fi director J. J. Abrams to conjure up his best Star Wars fanfiction effort; introducing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

For those that haven’t seen Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi since the 80’s, it ends with the Rebel Alliance finally triumphant against the Empire - albeit with the help of some furry creatures who are presumably now erased from the history books all together - and with the death of The Emperor and his iconic apprentice Darth Vader, all's once again right with the universe, well at least that's what we thought…

Skip ahead a few decades and so begins Star Wars: The Force Awakens (I guess it was asleep before?). Luke Skywalker is now missing-in-action ala Yoda, and a new insidious threat named the ‘First Order’ has emerged from the remnants of the Empire, spreading across the galaxy and stronger than ever. Meanwhile the Rebel Alliance (or Resistance as they are now known) seem to be weaker than ever (where’s an Ewok with a rock when you need them?).

But a clue to the whereabouts of Luke has turned up on the desert-planet Jakku, held by a man named Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) - not to worry about remembering his name, he’ll be dead quicker than the time it took you to read this sentence - who hands over this top-secret information to Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) a member of the Resistance and its only competent pilot - why they found it fit to waste their one good pilot to retrieve information from this soon to be dead old guy I’ll never know, I guess they haven’t invented the Internet yet.

But it wouldn’t be Star Wars without the arrival of Stormtroopers to swiftly follow and slaughter all the faceless denizens of this dust bowl. Fearing for the safety of the information Poe hides the data-stick within his trusty droid - BB-8 - and tells it to roll away like the wind. Meanwhile a new ship has touched down; from it emerging the franchise's latest Sith - Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) - who is quite the badass, well at least in his introduction.

After Kylo swiftly executes the information-holder, Poe tries his hand at sniping this menacing figure from a distance, only for the masked Sith to quickly stop the laser mid-flight in the air - okay guys, time to pack up and go home, he’s stopping lasers in the air and shit. With his position now compromised Poe is taken prisoner and transported aboard Kylo Ren’s ship; the Stormtrooper platoon is then ordered to roundup and slaughter all remaining civilians, an order that doesn’t sit well with one particular trooper.

Having a crisis of conscience and now back aboard a Star Destroyer, Stormtrooper FN-2187 (a designation later refined to Finn and played by John Boyega who nails his performance) has realised that wait... we’re the bad guys? Seemingly unaware through his life that this marauding, merciless, masked army doesn’t quite fit with his personal beliefs, he sets to work freeing Poe from his confines and get as far away from the the First Order as possible.

Unfortunately for Poe he is currently being grilled by Kylo Ren for the whereabouts of his newly acquired information - which he will shortly give up after a session of torture by way of Force powers - but with the help of Finn, the pair hatch an escape plan and head back to the planet - or should I say crash land. But back on Jakku the adorable BB-8 is already making new friends, namely Rey (Daisy Ridley) an orphaned child - now teenager - who is scraping by day-to-day salvaging what she can in exchange for rations.

Elsewhere on Jakku, Finn wakes from the wreckage of their downed TIE fighter, only Poe is nowhere to be found. Presuming Poe is dead, Finn shambles under the desert heat to the nearest settlement, where he stumbles upon Rey and BB-8. The pair now resolve to team-up and get the information back to the base of the Resistance - and embroiled within a galactic adventure for which they are oblivious to.

Let me say right off the bat, Star Wars: The Force Awakens feels like a Star Wars movie, J. J. Abrams and crew have done a fantastic job of recreating that classic aura yet have transported it into modern cinema. From making actual puppets, full-scale models and pushing practical effects as much as possible, it has all coalesced into some magical scenes. So much so that the scenes that do involve a mix of CGI, stick out like a sore thumb - namely the new Sith lord, a 50 feet tall projection of poor CGI work, what were they thinking?

It’s also clear that they didn’t want to get too off-track from the original work of which it's clearly inspired, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens feeling like a beat-for-beat retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope and various other bits of the original trilogy repackaged into a new form for modern consumption. From droids carrying messages that the ‘bad guys’ are looking for, a new ‘small-minded’ hero with mysterious parents emerging from a desert planet to save the galaxy or destroying the ‘new death-star’ by first dropping shields before the X-Wing fleet can bomb the ‘weak-point’ - it all feels like fanfiction, the type you may see on a Star Wars message board from a hardcore fan with a lot of time on their hands and merch lining their living-room walls, except this fanfiction has been given a few hundred million and put on cinema screens for us to watch.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Kylo Ren

Whilst Star Wars: The Force Awakens can be picked apart at many points within its over 2 hour runtime, it’s painfully apparent just with Kylo Ren himself. A Sith - and son of Leia and Solo - who had been trained by Luke as a Jedi before presumably killing the rest of his comrades and turning to the dark side. Now he is the new ‘big bad’ of this universe - who is doing his best job to emulate his personal hero Darth Vader, which is weird in of itself after all Vader killed The Emperor - well atleast thats what you may believe at first - before the movie goes against its own fictional, but established rules; a cardinal sin in film storytelling.

By setting up Kylo Ren to be extremely powerful - using his powers to clearly exemplify this in many scenes - only to be thrown away when the scenes call for it and our heroes - who have never handled a lightsaber in their lives (heck, one is just a normal Stormtrooper) - to best this menacing foe. Such sloppy writing destroys the illusion of the universe it has created, and drags down not only Kylo Ren’s own motivation - what’s the point of joining the dark side when any normal guy holding a lightsaber is managing to stand their ground against you? - but everything around it; making the battle of light, darkness and the force itself seem pedantic - seem fanfiction.

In fact the entire movies premise takes a giant leap of faith from the original trilogy to end up in this new dire situation, a trilogy that ended on such a high-note, of such promise, to be all back where it started and to presumably once again traverse back to where it all ended.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is by no means a perfect Star Wars movie - a feat that is nigh impossible - and I’m sure it's one in years to come that fans will continue to pick-apart for all of the glaring holes it presents. But compared to the most-recent trilogy, this piece of fanfiction is easily the best Star Wars film for the past three decades, with its return to practical effects and revisiting cast sure to delight fans - or make them cry in one case, but let's be honest Harrison Ford was begging for this film to be over with his completely uninterested performance - whilst setting the stage for a brand new set of films (not to mention the myriad of spin-offs coming).

If you are at all a fan of Star Wars, then Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be sure to bring a smile to your face and warm up your withered heart with its nostalgia trip into the original trilogy, making The Force Awakens a must-watch for any Star Wars fan over Christmas.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD or on-demand via Amazon Video.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    16th December 2015

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Some sloppy writing

    A few bad CGI scenes

    Plot holes

  • Authentic feel

    New cast performances

    Practical effects

Film Info

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rating: 12A
Release Date: 16th December
Runtime: 2 hr 15 mins
Director: J. J. Abrams
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher & Mark Hamill

  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Trek

Yes, although there is a certain death scene kids may find uncomofortable.

Andy Serkis known for his stellar work as Gollum in Lord Of The Rings once again reprises a role as a CG character (Supreme Leader Snoke).

Though widely advertised, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) only reprises his role for a brief few seconds at the films conclusion.