Editor’s Notes: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out in wide theatrical release.
“Chewie, we’re home”
In 1977, a young director by the name of George Lucas introduced Star Wars to an unsuspecting public. Little did he know that a nostalgic throwback to the sci-fi serials of the 30’s would have become such a global sensation; providing much-needed escapism in a dark time of history. Now titled A New Hope, it was almost singlehandedly responsible for the world rediscovering exactly that: hope. Five more movies (ranging from emotionally raw masterpiece Empire Strikes Back to…the prequels) and 37 years later, we now have a new chapter in this timeless story of rebellion, romance and adventure. Endlessly reverent to its predecessors, yet finding its own path for the future, JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens could well be the best Star Wars movie to date.
Endlessly reverent to its predecessors, yet finding its own path for the future, JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens could well be the best Star Wars movie to date.
Mirroring A New Hope in both youthfully optimistic spirit and story structure, it also manages to deliver to emotional gut-punch of Empire, this combines the old and the new to produce the ultimate Star Wars experience. To maintain the element of surprise so crucial to the film’s genius marketing, it stars newcomer Daisy Ridley as Rey, a lowly scavenger who becomes embroiled in a galaxy-spanning conflict to destroy the tyrannical First Order. Along the way, she is assisted by a former-Stormtrooper called Finn (Attack the Block’s John Boyega; a fully-fledged movie star in his first big-budget role), Oscar Isaac as the palpably charismatic Resistance pilot Poe and maybe even some familiar faces…
If the new cast rest comfortably at the heart of The Force Awakens, Harrison Ford is most definitely its soul. Rey et al and a wonder to behold, but simply nothing compares to the overwhelming joy of witnessing Ford return to his most famous role in spectacular fashion. By turns witty, fallible and charming to the extreme, Ford turns in his finest screen performance to date. Which brings us to Kylo Ren; without hyperbole, one of the most compelling, flawed and thematically powerful movie villains of the year. This is not Darth Vader 2.0. Petulant, menacing and astonishingly well-played on the part of Girls’ Adam Driver, Ren harbours a dark secret at the crux of this emotionally raw tale. To reveal any further details would enter spoiler territory, but rarely, if ever, has a villain possessed such profound thematic depth as this swaggering coward prone to hilarious temper tantrums.
Immaculately entertaining as blockbuster spectacle, genuinely impactful as drama and almost perfect as a Star Wars movie . . .
Abrams has always felt like a director from another, more innocent time. Before the dark times. Before the prequels. Already a brilliant technician, here he reveals a natural eye for character that renders this already terrifically exciting picture a boundless volume of emotional purity. Every scene is built around showcase the natural abilities of his magnificent ensemble, be it the child-like wonder of new horizons or deep inner turmoil. This is a fantastical world populated by real people, which imbues delightful bombast with a true sense of urgency. The characters of the original Star Wars trilogy are what lent it such universal appeal, and Abrams (along with co-writer Lawrence Kasden, a veteran of the series) introduces a whole new roster for fans both young and new to fall in love with.
A handful of CGI-heavy scenes, those involving the malevolent Supreme Leader Snoke in particular, feel oddly out of place in this timeworn, lived-in universe, abandoning objectively fantastic performances from Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong’o to the age-old Uncanny Valley. In the grand scheme of this wonderful film, however, these minor distractions hardly seem to matter.
Immaculately entertaining as blockbuster spectacle, genuinely impactful as drama and almost perfect as a Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens is a miracle of modern filmmaking. Capturing the spirit of the old and delivering it in a thoroughly modern way, this truly is one of the ages.
The Force Awakens is a miracle of modern filmmaking. Capturing the spirit of the old and delivering it in a thoroughly modern way, this truly is one of the ages.