The Force Awakens

December 20, 2015 at 12:03 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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After re-watching the early episodes, I took myself to the midnight session of Episode VII of the Star Wars saga: The Force Awakens. I count myself lucky to be in the first wave of general release viewers. Yes, it was worth staying till midnight, driving home at 2:20 AM afterwards, and getting only three hours sleep, to watch it.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

The movie opens with a homage to Episode IV and Alien: there are two moons above a desert planet; one of the moons is occluded by a massive space ship. Then we are introduced to two new characters:  Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Poe is the Resistance’s top pilot. Ren is the new ‘Darth Vader’ – he even has a breathing mask!

Then comes Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley). Finn is a storm trooper who has goes AWOL and eventually joins the resistance. Rey is the new ‘Luke’ – she even grew up on a desert planet (Jakku). Then we re-introduced to Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

The level of marksmen ship has improved: there is less ‘spray and hope’, and more coolly aimed shots.

There are some amazing flight sequences. Special effects and audience expectations sparked mainly by Episode IV has come a long way from Episode IV.

Final comes Maz (Lupita Nyong’o) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), going by her working title of General Organa. Maz is a new character – she runs a bar – whether she makes it into Episode VIII remains to be seen.

There are some great fight sequences: much grittier that in Episode IV, V, and VI.

Along the way there is also two other new characters: General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). They represent the latest manifestation of the dark side – the First Order. General Hux represents a new element in the story: he is not (apparently) a practitioner of the dark side, but through sheer competence is in competition with Ren for the Supreme Leader’s favour.

There are the odd surprises and of course there is a final battle.

This is a difficult movie to make. It needs: to grab a new fan base, not disappoint the existing multi-generational fan base, to set things up for Episodes VIII and IX, and remain true to what has gone before. I think J.J Abrams (and Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt) succeed.

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