A New Hope!
Have you ever dyed your hair green because it looks like Kit Fisto’s squidlocks? Ever punched an asthma kid and stole his inhaler just so you can sound like Darth Vader? Ever stuff a midget into a trash can because you desperately wanted your own R2 unit? If yes: you will love this film.
I feel like I’m going to be the odd one out here by not giving the latest Star Wars an 8 out of 5. I did think it was a very good Star Wars film but therein lies the problem. If you are a super Star Wars nerd then this is like giving an ice lolly to a gorilla on a hot day; you’ll lap it up and you’ll love it, but if you’re not a fan don’t expect to become one because of this film.
So let’s start with the dark side of this film. There is nothing new here. That’s my biggest problem.
The (spoiler free) plot is simple: There are rebels fighting the good fight against a bunch of storm troopers who are headed up by Kylo Ren; a powerful Sith who reports to a Sith lord – same as Empire Strikes Back. One of the leaders of the rebels has some important information that is stored inside a droid and sent away so the Sith don’t find it – same as A New Hope. The droid stumbles upon a young desert dweller who happens to be gifted in the force – same as A New Hope. The race is on to get the information in the right hands before an inevitable showdown between the soon to be jedi and the Sith – same as A New Hope.
It’s all just a bit too familiar. There are other similarities as well that I can’t go into without delving into spoiler territory but even from the trailers you will know that Kylo Ren wants to finish what Vader started, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) return “home” to the Millennium Falcon. There are TIE fighters and X-Wings and everything you loved from the original trilogy and even a rubbish gonk droid (no pun intended). Thankfully there isn’t a Jar Jar in sight.
Don’t let that put you off though because there are many, many things that keep it on the path to the light side.
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is just brilliant as the universes new threat. He is beautifully unhinged and so consumed by emotional turmoil that you are never sure of what will happen next with him. There is a desperation in his performance that was missing from young Anakin in the prequels making Ren instantly more vicious and compelling.
Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) have a fantastic on-screen chemistry which is only helped by a semi-whimsical script. This keeps it feeling light-hearted even in the middle of chaos in a similar way to what original trilogy did with such charm.
Then you have BB-8. This little sphere droid deserves a mention because it’s unquestionably the new R2D2. It is remarkably anthropomorphic making you care for this little fella’ more than you probably should.
The BB-8 droid isn’t the only weird but impressive character as J.J. Abrams takes the franchise back to it’s roots by making a much of it as possible real animatronics. It’s fantastic to see because as good as CGI is it still can’t trick the human eye so to see so many ‘real’ aliens breathes into the local society.
It’s ironic then that all of the above is eclipsed by the CGI moments. What I’m talking about here are the scenes with aerial dog fights which are both beautiful and breath-taking. The scenery the ships traverse and the manoeuvres they pull brought out the giddy 5 year within me and a big smile was slapped across my chops faster than a feminist can slap you for pinching her derrière.
The Force Awakens is unmistakably a return to form for a film franchise that has been mostly forgettable or at least regrettable for the last 30 years. Abrams firmly re-asserts everything that was great about the original trilogy which gives hope for the future of the franchise but by re-telling all too familiar stories it is unlikely draw in people with little love for the original trilogy. Still, if you already are a fan; this is the film you are looking for.
The Good, The Bad & The Outcome
+ TIE fighting
+ Return to the quality of the original trilogy
– Nothing particularly new
– If you are not a fan then move along