“Episode VII eradicates all doubt possible with the biggest sigh of relief.”
Carrying an immense weight of expectation unlike anything seen this century, The Force Awakens has to be by its very nature dare to dream big. From the moment Disney acquired the rights and announced a return to the galaxy where Luke, Han and Leia sailed across in the 70’s and 80’s, there has only ever been one colossal movie event on everyone’s lips. Delivering a nostalgic swansong to the original trilogy, whilst capturing the imaginations of a whole new generation seems as insurmountable a task as you could imagine. But the safe hands of J.J. Abrams diving into the ultimate cinematic toy box has given even the most skeptical fan the warmest sense of reassurance.
Set thirty years after Return Of The Jedi, BB-8, a droid belonging to Resistance fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), has escaped falling into the grasp of the villainous First Order leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). But after winding up with Jakku scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), the deserted rogue storm trooper Finn (John Boyega) and a few familiar faces, they discover the key to the whereabouts of an old hero that they hope could bring peace to the galaxy once again.
As far as the Star Wars box ticking goes, this movie has the lot. Balletic lightsaber duels, air battles that provide a whizzing feast for the eyes, wise-cracking chemistry that many mainstream comedies can’t achieve and a swash buckling John Williams score that shows the maestro still has it. Abrams directs with a vigour and a verve that fills every inch of the screen with as much action and adventure as it’s possible to cram in. It feels like both a celebration of the franchise tropes, aswell as opening up a new world of possibilities and reasserting itself as the overwhelming blockbuster king whether you like it or not.
But while the screen fizzes and oozes with wonder, it’s the story and characters that ultimately drives the heart of the piece. Harrison Ford‘s introduction is played brilliantly as his weary Han Solo, in tow with Chewie, floods back a tsunami of childhood memories within seconds. Even a soft and touching reuniting with Leia, played by Carrie Fisher, whose relationship comes across like lovers still in their prime. All the old characters, be it human or machine, have their moment back in the limelight without ever coming across like a badly acted cameo or being forced into the story for the sake of it. But while they ease back into their characters like thirty years had never passed, it’s the new flock of talent that sets the stage alight.
Daisy Ridley as Rey grows into the feisty tomboy heroine with an attitude of taking anybody good or evil on. Sky rocketing her character that doesn’t resort to being the damsel in distress, she’s as inquisitive and smart as any of her screen counter parts. Most notably John Boyega as Finn, a storm trooper who has chosen the good side, he comes across as the cowardly bumbling hero who’ll take an opportunity to look good to those around him, but his appeal comes from knowing he’s a good man ultimately helping towards the good cause. Oscar Isaac fits in perfectly as the talented X-Wing pilot Poe for which he gets stuck into the story and seems to have the most fun out of anyone. Whilst his droid BB-8, steals the show above anyone with his box of tricks and communicating his message of joy, annoyance and fear as best he can, in the most playful of ways.
It’s the dark side though that comes in equal measure for it’s performances. Adam Driver as the antagonist Kylo Ren whose menacing voice and presence almost comes with the Vader stamp of approval. Brooding, angry, ruthless and frankly down right scary who heads the new brand of evil into the series and goes through a morality test throughout the film. It’s as though the Empire are coming at our heroes even stronger and frightening, increasing the threat without ever coming across as mere one-dimensional evil panto villains. With a mention for both Domhnall Gleeson‘s Hux and Gwendoline Christie‘s Captain Phasma further proof that us Brits do make the best Hollywood baddies.
It’s a sumptuous marriage of the sci-fi cinematic past, present and ultimately the future. Episode VII eradicates all doubt possible with the biggest sigh of relief ever heard and whizzes along in the most spectacular and entertaining way.