So, with the end of the world nigh, and every person you come into contact with potentially carrying a deadly virus, it’s safe to say that the cinema isn’t a great place to be right now. Which is bad news for me, because the longer I don’t watch films, the longer I don’t write and my site traffic goes down in direct parallel to my self-esteem.
But fear not! I have some reviews tucked away that were featured in my first two books (available from all good charity shops, just kidding, only on Amazon) that didn’t go on here, so while I’m down the Winchester waiting for all this to blow over, here’s a review that most of you wouldn’t have read. Enjoy.
It’s safe to say that the hype for The Force Awakens had all the subtlety of a one-man-band playing at full volume at 2am. Not only did it have the job of following the original trilogy’s story, but it had to follow the incredibly disappointing Prequel Trilogy and improving on it of course.
It had the job of introducing new characters, and bringing back old ones, taking us to new planets, and establishing a new galaxy-spanning threat. It also had the hopes of many Disney representatives riding on it, they wanted as much from their new gravy train as possible, naturally.
So, almost forty years on from A New Hope, we revisit the galaxy far, far away to see what a new generation has to offer.
Roughly thirty years after the fall of the Empire, the First Order has risen in its place, and is terrorising the galaxy anew. Leia Organa leads a resistance against this new threat, but with Luke Skywalker missing, it falls to new heroes to rise to re-take the galaxy.
Leaving the midnight showing the first time I saw Force Awakens left me feeling the same sense of wonder I felt when I first watched Star Wars as a kid, and more importantly, what I felt when I watched The Empire Strikes Back, my favourite Star Wars film.
So, with that lofty feeling the first-time round, is it a feeling that holds up now, almost four years later? Well, kind of, yeah.
I still love the film for what it is, but my enthusiasm has died down in the past few years. Part of that is due to it doesn’t feel as special as it did when it first arrived, way back in 2015 we were starved of Star Wars, we hadn’t seen one in ten years (well, seven if you count the Clone Wars, but we don’t talk about that film) it felt fresh to be back in the Star Wars universe, immersed in new characters and places, and now we’re kind of spoiled when it comes to Star Wars, to an almost detrimental degree.
But, at the time, when Force Awakens was riding high, before everything was over-analysed (or before it was to such an extent) it was enjoyed for what it was, an extremely exciting new chapter in the Skywalker saga, with new threats and new characters to get behind.
For example, we’re introduced to the series new big villain, Kylo Ren, an extremely complex character, conflicted and turned against his parents, and uncle, Han, Leia and Luke respectively by the over-powering Supreme Leader Snoke, his allegiance is never portrayed as set in stone, throughout the two current new trilogy films his arc has taken many turns, and will undoubtably take more in the concluding chapter.
The acting in the film is pretty consistent, all the new faces bring their A-game, and the old crew look happy to be there, at the very least, it is truly Harrison Ford’s film however, as he steals every moment, whether it be as a disaffected father, or galactic hero. It was nice to see Carrie Fisher again too, even if her expression is somewhat affected by years of substance abuse and Botox, but she does her best within her return to her most iconic role.
But really, these films are all about the new blood, not only Kylo, but new lead protagonists Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) it reverses our expectations of what the characters were going to be; in the run up, it’s fair to say we expected Finn to be our new hero, but were pleasantly surprised by the emergence of Rey as the galaxies newest hope.
JJ Abrams was an inspired choice to shepherd this beloved franchise back to the big screen, after two films in the Star Trek franchise, he had earned his sci-fi stripes, as well as experience with reviving classic series, he was a reliably hand to guide the film, and he did a very good job in building an exciting adventure within a franchise that had long been stagnant, while filling the quieter moments with character development that a lot of people weren’t expecting.
What a lot of people find detracts from the Force Awakens is its similarity to A New Hope in its story; I understand this position and agree with it to a degree, although I see the similarities as being more ‘homages’ than straightforward adaptation, I would say there is enough differences in the film that to call it a straight rip-off would be fanciful and foolish, but will acknowledge that its similarities are pronounced, perhaps intentionally, but I wouldn’t like to speculate.
In conclusion, The Force Awakens was a welcome return to form of a franchise we thought long dead, but one we were glad of seeing revived. It paid its homages to the past while forging a path for its future and setting the scene for many years to come. It will be regarded as one of the best instalments within years to come, I’m sure.