Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

New Year, New Star Wars. Yep, being fashionably late as ever, I saw the rebooted Star Wars last weekend, about a week after the rest of the world. James and I visited the Imax cinema in Cheltenham for the first time because... well, it's Star Wars innit? JJ Abrams' invitation to return to that galaxy far, far away was too good to pass up and seemed the ideal film for the large format.
I'm guessing everyone who reads this blog ( all  3 1/2 of you ) has either already seen the film or absolutely will not see it ever, it's a betrayal of the original Star Wars etc. etc. so I don't need to go into proper review mode here. The net is overflowing with such reviews anyway and there's little I can add except to say...
I loved it! From the nostalgic sugar-rush of the opening crawl to the last, tantalising shot of that returning character I was absolutely hooked. Abrams and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan have done a spot-on job of recreating the fun, adventure and tone of the Original Trilogy ( no trade disputes or Jar Jar bloody Binks here! ) while adding some suitably modern flavours. The special effects looked wonderful  -  many, many practical effects and sets added the verisimilitude that the CGI-heavy prequels lacked, while the none-more-Star Wars spaceship dogfights were present and correct and thrilling. I have to admit to going slightly watery around the eyes when the Millenium Falcon soared over the sands of Jakku and TIE fighters screamed their iconic scream.
And, while it was lovely to see the return of such beloved characters as that scruffy-looking Nerf-herder and his walking carpet co-pilot, the new characters were instantly engaging and promised much for the future. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley had a genuine chemistry and were totally convincing as ( respectively ) runaway Stormtrooper Finn and scavenger-turned-potential Jedi Rey; Adam Driver made his petulant, rage-driven Kylo Ren an interestingly emotional villain and Oscar Isaac was charismatic but underused as ace pilot Poe Dameron  -  let's hope we see more of the latter characters in episode VIII.
The main grumble many people have had over this movie is its reliance on familiar tropes from the Original Trilogy  -  desert planet, droid with a message, Death Star-like super weapon, shock death of father figure ( Spoilers! ) etc. etc. I can't say I'm too bothered about all that. JJ Abrams was obviously in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation here and his reworking of old themes ( with a new energy ) seems an appropriate way to tie this new series into the original stories. The fact that these characters are facing such familiar situations lends the new movie the kind of mythical, cyclical feel of The Lord Of The Rings. After re-establishing the Star Wars universe as it once was ( without ditching too much of what made it so special as George Lucas did with his misbegotten prequels ) future film-makers can now take it... anywhere...

( Oh yeah, the Imax experience was well worth it, too. It all looked gob-smacking on the huge screen and the 3D was wonderfully imersive. I'm not usually a fan of 3D and will tend to avoid it but this was the best use of the format I've seen since Life Of Pi  -  it was really that good. )

Soundtrack  -  The White Album by the Beatles


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

You got it totally right. I felt exactly the same way about it.

Tom Wiggins said...

I rather enjoyed it, too. Abrams has silenced some of the harshest of critics. We know he's good at cranking up the nostalgia up to 11! If we should be disappointed about anything, it's that Abrams isn't going to live long enough to direct the gazillion Star Wars prequels, sequels and spinoffs that Disney is going to push through.

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for the comments, gentlemen. There's been a lot of negativity about The Force Awakens but I think JJ did a fine job of balancing new and old. I'll be very interested to see where the next director takes Episode VIII.


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