Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

In 1977, I queued along the sea front at the Regent Cinema in Redcar to watch a film called Star Wars. I loved it. Not as much as Star Trek, but I know I went back more than once. I loved Princess Leia – a girl kicking ass! – and was just the right age to have a crush on Mark Hamill (Harrison Ford seemed a little too old at the time). What I remember most is the bit where Luke ‘uses the force’ to destroy the Death Star as I hadn’t seen anything like that before. It was breathtaking.

And so now, 38 years later, it’s back. The main thing I wanted from this new iteration was that it wasn’t awful. That it was entertaining, and captured the spirit and atmosphere of the original (which, by the way, is called Star Wars. No new hope, no episode number. It’s just Star Wars. I was there at the beginning, and I know.)

Fortunately, this was a highly satisfactory experience. It’s not perfect, and JJ would have been hard pushed to produce an absolutely perfect film under such pressurised circumstances and history. But Star Wars: The Force Awakens lived up to expectations.

I’m not totally convinced about Adam Driver as Kylo Ren – I haven’t yet decided whether it was the character or the performance that didn’t ring true for me, and I think that will play out in a repeat viewing or in the next ‘episode’ of the franchise. Likewise, I felt that Domhnall Gleeson was a bit of a weak link and I’ve reached the conclusion that this is the one occasion where casting went awry – I just don’t think he is old enough for this role and comes across as too weak. Time may prove me wrong.

And actually this ‘time’ is one of the strengths of the movie – it may be a little safe in some of its concepts and plotting (to the point of mirroring in some places), but it has introduced new characters and set things up perfectly for the next film in the franchise. (No pressure, Rian Johnson 🙂 )

It was great seeing the legacy characters again, and I hope Oscar Isaac gets more to do next time out, but the real wins here are Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. She is able to hold her own against any of them, and is a fantastic character about whom we still have lots to learn. He is just all round great, and I look forward to spending time with him in the stories to come.

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