Directed by: JJ Abrams – Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow
Unless you have been living on another planet (which would be ironic since this is set on many other planets) you can’t have failed to notice the hype surrounding this latest offering from the Star Wars franchise.
One of the main reasons it has generated such excitement, is that the core cast of the original movies returned for what is episode VII in the saga. Therefore it picks up the story after the events of Return of the Jedi. Around 30 years afterwards in fact.
Although this fact is common knowledge, producers have done an astonishing job of keeping the plot under wraps. They have specifically requested that reviewers don’t post spoilers, or any detailed plot points, so what follows will hopefully be a suitably vague explanation that will still pique your interest.
The Rebel Alliance from the earlier movies has now become the resistance, and the Galactic Empire is now known as The First Order, and they are still at war. Princess Leia is now a General who leads the resistance, and they find help in the form of a young girl named Rey (newcomer Ridley) who inadvertently gets caught up in the conflict, and a former member of the First Order, Finn (Boyega).
Other than that it is difficult to say much without ruining it. Suffice to say that many of the fan theories which were inspired by the trailers are completely wrong. Abrams has done a great job of throwing the audience curve balls, and there is one scene in particular that left me shocked and almost traumatised, as I didn’t see it coming at all.
There are plenty of nods to the original films – not just with the cast but also with settings, scenes, in-jokes and references. I’m not going to lie – I did feel a squee of excitement when Han Solo made his entrance (and Harrison Ford can still kick serious bad guy ass despite being in his 70s) and seeing the original stars back in character was wonderful.
However, the focus here is very much on the newer characters of Rey and Finn, and they are every bit as engaging as Ford, Fisher and Hamill were back in the day. I should also give a shout out to Chewbacca, C3PO and R2D2, who are also back for this episode.
As you would expect, the effects are spectacular and enhanced by watching in 3D, however, the look and feel is akin to the original, and they have resisted the temptation to completely redesign everything simply because they could. In fact in terms of cinematography, editing, and score, there is nothing I can fault this on.
What I found most surprising was that you don’t really need any prior Star Wars knowledge to enjoy this. Yes, it will enhance your viewing experience and you will get more from the references, but it is not necessary and the movie will still make sense.
Since there are two more episodes to come, I’m not ruining anything when I say they set it up for a sequel, and I did feel this left the story hanging a bit, but that is one of my few criticisms.
This is a movie that lives up to the hype. It will appeal to the old fans, and is sure to attract many more. It will make you laugh and leave you with a lump in your throat in places, and it looks magnificent while doing it.
When the well-known opener “once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…” flashes on screen, and the famous theme music strikes up, it is impossible not to feel excited, and that excitement is maintained throughout the movie.
This is definitely worth the price of admission, and since pretty much every person in the country will be heading to see it, do you really want to be the one that misses out?
In cinemas December 17th