CONSIDER Star Wars redeemed; like many other fans, I can finally start purging the memories of the prequels from my mind. This is A New Hope, in more than one way. Fans will find the overall plot of the film similar to it, though the classic ‘massive danger to the galaxy’ is given less time than the superb character-driven moments that really make this film shine through. It acts as a way to show new viewers a deep and detailed world – without needing any info-dumps – and to introduce current fans to the new characters in a logical, measured way.
Speaking of the new characters, each one is thoroughly different and intriguing in their own right. John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac really manage to sell their parts as Finn, Rey, Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron respectively. The on-screen chemistry between the new cast crackles, with heaps of quips and comments that really lend to a more realistic conversation; as far as big space movies are concerned, that is. There are moments that really show how new these characters are in the world. They’re not all that experienced in what they’re doing and make mistakes trying to do things that would seem trivial to the characters in the original trilogy. Early on in the film, for example, there are some really nice moments with Daisy Ridley’s Rey that portray her as the imaginative, Luke Skywalker-type; similar to how he watched the space battle over Tatooine back in A New Hope, imagining what it would be like to be a space pilot.
Back when they announced the new set of Star Wars films, Disney also said that the expanded universe was to be effectively renounced as canon; to the annoyance of many fans. That said, there are some moments in the film that remind me of moments within the EU.
Take Kylo Ren, for example. For those of you aware of the goings-on of the expanded universe, he reminds me somewhat of Kyp Durron, or the other one that went bad; you know the one I’m talking about. That said, even after seeing the film, details on Kylo’s past are reasonably scarce- hopefully this will be rectified in the future, considering what an interesting character he is.
Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher effortlessly step back into the roles of Han Solo and (now General) Leia Organa. Much more time is given to the naturally wry and witty Solo, acting as the main link between the films; the new Obi-Wan, if you will, providing exposition on past events and introducing the new characters (and viewers) to the details of the world they’ve come crashing into. And there is lots of crashing. From the end of the initial title sequence (which gave me goosebumps, by the way), there’s plenty of action sequences, but none feel rushed or unnecessary.
Actually, I want to talk about the opening moments a bit more, but from the perspective of someone sat in the cinema. All through the adverts, there had been a good amount of friendly chatting about the films that would be shown, about Star Wars, and about the queue to get into the cinema itself (we’re British, what do you expect?). Soon after, though, the words came up on the screen:
The room fell deathly silent. Like the others, I watched the screen intently. This was what we had all been waiting for since 1983, though those of us born after that haven’t yet had the opportunity to see a good Star Wars film on the big screen. The title music began, transporting me back to my childhood courtesy of an ever-incredible score by John Williams. I was held in a state of near-shock for the first few minutes of the film because of this, just thinking, “This is it. This is a new Star Wars film. Finally.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens provides a wonderful continuation of the original trilogy, capturing the heart of the old films with spectacular visual imagery while not being afraid to chart its own course and kick us in the feels every so often. Congratulations, J.J., you scruffy-looking nerf herder.
Final Verdict: What are you reading this for? Go and watch the film now!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out now at the Commodore Cinema and at Aberystwyth Arts Centre starting January 8th