Director: J. J. Abrams Cast: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill
The long-awaited seventh instalment of the Star Wars franchise finally arrives, introducing a new generation of characters taking on a new threat (The First Order) with the help of a new Resistance. After seeing merciless killing carried out in the name of The First Order, a stormtrooper (Boyega) becomes disillusioned and escapes his position, and bumps into a lonely admirer of the old Rebel Alliance. Together they join up with the resistance, enocuntering some of the original characters on the way.
At 12.02 am on Thursday 17th December, I was nicely settled into my seat wearing my Star Wars t-shirt and my 3D glasses at the midnight showing of The Force Awakens. With all the hype surrounding it, I had tried to go in with no expectations, but having grown up with the series (A New Hope being the first film I ever remember watching) it was difficult to not get excited. Right from the outset, I was taken back to the world of my favourite franchise, and I was not disappointed. With so much pressure on him, Abrams has done so well to keep aspects of the original films as well as introducing the new characters without feeling like they’re intruding. The music, the sounds, the landscape shots, and pretty much every other detail was in keeping with the originals, which made me feel like I was seeing old friends again (I’m trying not to sound like a weirdo here). We don’t see any of the original cast for a while, which works well since we get to know the new generation first; we settle neatly into the new storylines rather than them being placed alongside characters that we already know so well, which I think would have made the new bunch seem like they shouldn’t be there. The new actors do very well and bring great touches of comedy, which the original series benefitted from too; they fit excellently into the style of the original series, which was probably a highly daunting task.
Of course however, seeing the original cast was probably a highlight for much of the audience. Not just the main characters like Han and Chewie, but also minor ones (and this isn’t really a spoiler) like cult figure Admiral Ackbar bring a welcoming sense of nostalgia. And what about the actual storyline itself, you say?! Well, I liked it- I suppose with all the hype around the film it’s hard to have a perspective of how good it actually was, but it made sense and leads clearly into a new phase of the Star Wars story. There were many parallels with the original trilogy, (and these may be spoilers) such as a disillusioned youth living on a sandy planet, a Death Star-type thing, a mysterious baddie leader who only appears by video link, and someone discovering they’re a jedi. And, like I say, the structure of introducing the new characters first was a good move.
So all in all I think this film was brilliant. It was full of risk to take on this task, but it is done very well and I wasn’t at all disappointed- in fact, I’m already planning to see it again, and going to the cinema twice for a movie is something I virtually never do. It’s not for everyone, of course: after all it is sci-fi, and people who haven’t seen any of the originals (do those people actually exist, though?) would miss a lot of the references to the old classics. But for any Star Wars fan, go and see it, you won’t be let down!