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.
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.
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).
- 3 Out of 5 Stars
Some sloppy writing
A few bad CGI scenes
New cast performances
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
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
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.