Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) Directed by J.J Abrams. With Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac and Mark Hamill.
*At the time of writing, the film has been in theatres for just over a day, which means this is a 100%, spoiler-free zone.
J.J Abrams’ much-anticipated The Force Awakens feels like being back in the Star Wars universe for the first time since 1983. If, like me, you’re a fan of the adventures from ‘a galaxy far, far away’, it provokes an almost indescribable feeling of joy to witness the rebirth of something that has been sorely missing from cinema, ever since the original film changed everything.
Now that Disney has the rights, we begin without the traditional 20th Century Fox fanfare, which is at once unusual, that is, until we’re pushed back into our seats by the majestic power of John Williams’ iconic score. As the opening crawl begins to set the scene for what we’re about to enjoy, there’s an immediate dawn of realisation that this is already light years ahead of George Lucas’ stagnant prequel trilogy. Indeed, the very first line of dialogue in the film is – “This will begin to make things right“, which is a clear message to all those who were justifiably confused and bored by the years 1999-2005.
Written by Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, The Force Awakens is successful on many platforms. First and foremost, it offers new characters that we can effortlessly latch on to. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are all magnificent, each of them giving strong performances, while carrying the incomprehensible weight of public expectation like a plastic bag full of feathers.
In her role as Rey, a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku, Daisy Ridley is the biggest revelation in a star-making performance that will surely go down as one of the most memorable breakouts the mainstream has seen in years. John Boyega too, shares a winsome, fluent chemistry with Ridley – chemistry being an ingredient that flows like the force through the entire piece. As Kylo Ren, a dark agent working for the dictatorial First Order, Adam Driver is worryingly unhinged, playing a complex character who frightens and fascinates.
Then we have the returning cast members, most significantly, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. It’s astounding that after all these years, Ford still has the charm, charisma and physical ability to carry it off, but beyond that, his performance is the most resonant and heartfelt that he’s given in the entire saga.
In terms of overall symmetry with the original trilogy, the film balances the humour and magical adventure of A New Hope, with the dark threat of The Empire Strikes Back. The First Order is a harder-edged, more sadistic organisation than the Empire, as the opening 15-mins sets out to demonstrate.
There’s so much to absorb with The Force Awakens, with its emphasis on the heft of physical effects, combined with loveable characters, new and old. Fans can rejoice, for J.J Abrams has remained true to the original vision of Star Wars, but he has also extended it by offering mystery and intrigue, and in doing so, has given us so much more to imagine and dream about. I can’t wait to see it again! 5/5