"This is satisfying, entertaining and a huge relief for fans everywhere"
Star Wars is such a well-loved franchise and the hype for The Force Awakens has been at fever pitch for months, so it would be hard for the film to match expectation and satisfy fans, yet director J.J. Abrams has succeeded, managing to create a worthy addition to the series.
The Force Awakens is set around 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and the Galactic Empire has crumbled and is now replaced with the First Order, who are trying to track down Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last remaining Jedi. He has totally vanished and even the Resistance, run by his sister Leia (Carrie Fisher), cannot find him. She sends her best pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) to desert planet Jakku to locate a map of Luke’s location, but the First Order and its main baddie Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are hot on his tail.
Poe is forced to abandon his droid BB-8 on Jakku with a very important piece of information. The rolling robot bumps into scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Stormtrooper deserter Finn (John Boyega) and they embark on a mission to return BB-8 and stop the First Order.
The Force Awakens is exactly what you would expect from the Star Wars films, no more and no less. It has recaptured the magic and camaraderie the prequel series lost. The tone is exactly the same; complete with token catchphrases, cheesy dialogue, odd space creatures, a sense of humour and balance of fun and serious tension. The only main difference is the newcomers, who fit in with the veteran actors seamlessly.
Hamill and Fisher only have small roles, but Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) are definitely leading stars and Ford proves he has still got the cheekiness and action star skills. However, Driver and Ridley are the standout stars. Kylo Ren is probably the most emotionally vulnerable villain the series has ever had and his performance is phenomenal and so unexpected – most Star Wars baddies are seriously wooden. Ridley is a complete newcomer but you could not tell. She shines off the screen and can convey so much with her eyes. She is strong, feisty and can take care of herself and her backstory is kept deliberately vague, indicating at bigger things to come in further episodes.
The only downside with it being so loyal is that it does feel a bit repetitive and reliant on nostalgia – although you can easily follow this without seeing the other movies. Most of the action sequences felt familiar to what we have previously seen. Also, with a cast of this size some people don’t get a lot of screen time. The First Order’s General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) barely do anything besides bark orders. I would have liked to have seen more Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o via motion capture) Poe, and RD-D2 and C3PO, but BB-8 is a worthy substitute. It is adorable and hilarious.
This ticks all the original Star Wars boxes – lightsaber fights, air battles, the Millennium Falcon, good vs. evil, random aliens, droids, practical effects, the trademark score and so much more. This is satisfying, entertaining and a huge relief for fans everywhere.