Film Review: Star Wars – The Force Awakens (spoiler-free)

On Saturday afternoon my brood and I were transported to a galaxy far, far away…

With 3D glasses perched firmly on our faces, popcorn at the ready, the familiar yellow words began slanting across the screen and John Williams’s magnificent music score surrounded us. This movie was part of their Christmas treat and expectations were high.

Chewie and Han Solo

All I can say is that JJ Abrahams had the force with him when he made this movie. To have the pressure of making the sequel to the movies that hold such a special place in the hearts of millions of fans must have been both an exciting and terrifying prospect.

By now you’ve probably seen a few reviews about this film, so I doubt I’ll say anything that you’ve haven’t already read. However, it’s my honest opinion, adding to the chorus of high praise.

It’s very rare that the hype of a film actually lives up to its own hyperbole, but in this case; in my humble opinion, it most certainly does. My eighteen year old son (who absolutely loved Star Wars and watched the first six films numerous times growing up), turned to me and said, “Mum, that was sick!” For anyone with a teenager you’ll know that’s the highest praise he could bestow on it.

For me personally, it was like stepping back briefly into my childhood. Episode’s IV-VI are so deeply embedded in my early memories that paradoxically, The Force Awakens felt familiar and also different.

The official trailer:

What I really loved about it was the two main characters, (played by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega) are both unknown actors portraying unsung heroes. You see Rey (Daisy Ridley) scavenging for old space ship parts on the arid planet of Jakku, and you sense that she is more than her circumstances suggest. Her encounter with the fleeing droid BB-8, carrying a very important map, and the AWOL Storm Trooper Finn, brings the might of the dark side to her desert home.

The edge of our seats were definitely getting more wear and tear than normal!

The film unfolds with strong focus on the characters and their stories, and the cinematography is very faithful to the themes and style of the first three films that George Lucas made. It has a true sense of reality, thankfully no overkill of CGI that can often overtake the actual people in a film.

As you would expect, you cannot have light without dark, and the darkness is infiltrating the galaxy in the form of Darth Vader wannabe Kylo Ren, commander of the ruthless and shadowy First Order under the supremely evil leader Snoke, (played by the master of scary voices, Andy Serkis).

It always boils down to the eternal battle between good and evil, and only the Jedi can bring balance to the Force.

The special effects are amazing as you would expect, but they are more a part of the film than the central focus. The chases are breath-taking, the plot twists and turns dramatically as the film progresses and the appearances of the ageing lovable rogue Han Solo, General Leia Organa, the walking carpet Chewbacca and the fastest rust-bucket in the galaxy, the Millenium Falcon, are nothing short of brilliant. I think the new, comical but loyal droid, BB-8 will become as iconic as R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Star-Wars-BB-8

It left me hungry for more, to find out exactly what happened to Luke and how things went bad for Darth Vader’s children in the thirty years after they defeated the Empire at the end of episode VI. I expect those questions will be answered in good time in the next two episodes. The family saga will continue…

So I’ve deliberately kept this post short, because I don’t want to give away any major plot points if you haven’t yet seen the film.

Even my thirteen year old son was impressed, which is no mean feat. So it’s five thumbs up from me and my sons. If you enjoyed the original films I think you’ll be satisfied that this long awaited sequel hits the spots that other sequels just can’t reach.  Its legendary characters have made pure movie magic once again.

Star Wars The Force Awakens has smashed box office records for an opening weekend, (having already made around $238 Million on its first three days of screening in the US and $517 Million globally), which is hardly surprising – it’s a great film that’s part of one of the most beloved and iconic film brands in the world. Star Wars has ignited many imaginations over generations and holds a place of true affection for countless individuals as it reminds us of the hero’s journey.  All our journeys.

We may not be fighting the First Order or the evil Empire, but we face our own struggles in our daily lives, and boy does it feel good to get involved for just a couple of hours with characters who have bigger problems than most of us. Life and death issues…the threat of annihilation…

We emerged from screen five like proper space cadets; mute from having our minds blown away…

If Master Yoda had seen the film, I’m pretty sure he’d say something like: see it you must. Depends upon it, your life does.

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