‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ (2015, 12A)

The long-awaited sequel to probably the most successful movie franchise in cinema history, does ‘The Force Awakens’ deliver?

Set thirty years after the events of 1983’s ‘Return Of The Jedi’, ‘The Force Awakens’ follows the story of the young scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and the defected Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) as they travel across the galaxy with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in search of the missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and to defeat the evil First Order.

I don’t think many people can say that they didn’t enjoy ‘The Force Awakens’. There are aspects of the film that could be improved upon, yes, but I think both hardcore Star Wars fans and causal movie-goers alike can agree that ‘Episode VII’ was spectacular. Unlike the infamous Star Wars prequel trilogy films – widely regarded as one of the biggest disappointments ever – ‘The Force Awakens’ is an enjoyable, fast-paced addition to the ‘Star Wars’ movie line-up. The director, JJ Abrams, opted to use as many practical effects and it shows, giving the film a sense of realism that other modern sic-fi films don’t, those using CGI animation instead of real props and scenes.

I think this film has both good parts and bad parts. It does a really good job of introducing the new characters to the story while integrating the older ones into the film as well (although the acting of some of the older characters leaves much to be desired). i think the new group of new characters are strong and different, although still mirroring those of the classic films.

And that leads on to my biggest gripe with this film – it mirrors the previous ones. George Lucas claimed when making the prequel trilogy that ‘the films would rhyme’ – well I think ‘The Force Awakens’ does a bit more than rhyme. It seems to essentially be ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ but with different names for the characters and places. The mission in ‘A New Hope’ is to destroy the Empire’s  new battle station – the Death Star, a large circular place the size of a moon. The finale of that film is taken up with the Rebel Alliance destroying the Death Star by hitting its one weak-spot – an exposed exhaust-port. In ‘The Force Awakens’ the final scene sees the Resistance destroying the First Order’s new battle station – Starkiller base, a large circular place the size of a planet. The Resistance managed to achieve this by hitting Starkiller’s base one weakness – an exposed thermal oscillator that, if hit, could cause the base to explode.

This is one of many notable similarities which include – the hero coming from a desert planet, the hero not knowing their parents, a scene in a cantina, a mentor figure getting struck-down, an oppressive regime led by a mysterious dictator trying to rule the galaxy, a droid holding a secret plan for something that’ll prove to be very useful, the hero finding the droid after its sent away, a masked, black-clad  villain, and a group of orange jumpsuit wearing rebels fighting back against the evil force.

As you can tell, ‘The Force Awakens’ isn’t quite original. However, I still really enjoyed it. It’s fast-paced, fun, dramatic and a brilliant beginning to a new trilogy of films. It’s not quite my favourite ‘Star Wars’ film – that title still goes to 1980’s ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. But, it’s a brilliant beginning to a new era of ‘Star Wars’ films and it’s got me even more excited for its upcoming sequels.

Overall, ‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ is a good, fun film with drama, comedy and lots of action that has you gripped from the beginning to the end. It’s story isn’t as new and original as I’d hoped it’d be, meaning I’ll have to give ‘The Force Awakens’ eight-out-of-ten – let’s hope 2017’s ‘Episode VIII’ is better!


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