A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …
Or rather, 38 years ago, to be precise. Back in 1977, George Lucas unleashed a movie that would go on to spawn sequels, prequels and spin-offs, becoming a worldwide cultural juggernaut that has touched more than one generation.
I’ve been an unabashed Star Wars geek (read freak) since I saw the first film as a young boy at the drive-in back in the late ’70s.
And like fans everywhere, I’ve been on tenterhooks since it was announced that the team of Disney and director JJ Abrams would bring us Star Wars: The Force Awakens – the first film without Lucas at the helm after he sold the rights to his grand space opera to Disney for a stunning $4 billion.
So let’s cut to the chase: is it any good?
The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, this film can proudly hold its own with any of the movies in the original trilogy.
After the very negative reaction among critics and fans to Lucas’s last prequel trilogy, the much-maligned episodes I to III, a lot (understatement) has been expected from this film – episode VII. Most of that expectation lay at Abrams’ feet.
The Star Trek director has successfully brought back a lot of the magic, charm and wow factor from the original episodes that was missing from the prequels. Much of this is due to the return of fan favourites – Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Chewbacca the Wookie and others – but new characters Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) also have great presence on screen.
This film is set 30 odd years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Without giving away any plot spoilers, we can say that in that time a new power has risen in the form of the First Order led by the masked, triple-bladed light-saber-wielding menace Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his Stormtroopers (yep, those guys are back and seems they can shoot straight now).
Once again, the entire galaxy is under threat and the heroes band together to try to save the day.
The film has many nods to previous films but while it genuinely feels like Star Wars – it’s also new Star Wars. Where the prequel films where almost hamstrung by the fact we all knew what would happen to young Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Force Awakens covers unknown territory, which adds to the excitement.
Visually and aurally, the film is what you’d expect; at times, it’s absolutely beautiful to watch.
But what is Star Wars without great action sequences? The Force Awakens provides some thrilling, edge-of-the-seat action scenes, though its heart lies in the quieter, more reflective moments. Each actor, both old and new, gets their chance to shine. In Rey and Finn, we have our new Leia and Luke.
This is indeed a fresh and very exciting Star Wars.
Now stop reading. Go see the film. And remember, may the force be with you.