Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

EVERY GENERATION HAS A STORY.

Thirty years after defeating the Galactic Empire, Han Solo and his allies face a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and his army of Stormtroopers.

This is possibly one of the most anticipated films in cinematic history, with The Force Awakens being the first new Star Wars movie in over ten years and the first not to be directed by George Lucas. J.J. Abrams instead takes over the reigns for the bridging of the gap between the old and the new, the first film to continue the on screen adventures of the original trilogy rather than looking back into the era of the prequels, blending the mix of classic characters with the new generation. As the tagline says, “Every Generation Has a Story”, and that couldn’t be more true with this film as it is the Star Wars movie for the latest generation, with a fantastic cast, some incredible special effects and one of the best cinematic experiences that I’ve had this year, only on par with quite possibly Mad Max: Fury Road.

The film introduces us to a new trio of heroes. There’s a defecting Stormtrooper named Finn, (Attack The Block’s John Boyega), a scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley), and the Rebellion’s best pilot, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who are central to the cast as the new leads that will no doubt carry the original trilogy in the future as Abrams passes the torch effectively to the new characters. It’s an impressive cast and they all put in some great performances, with Rey being the latest in a line of awesome female characters that we’ve seen over the course of 2015 (Imperator Furiousa, Rebecca Ferguson’s Illsa and more), and they’re more than capable of carrying the trilogy. Kylo Ren, the antagonist, is played effectively well by Adam Driver as arguably the most sinister bad guy that the series has had since Vader himself, and all the old favourites return in a good, nostalgic display. Both Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill appear (I won’t spoil Luke’s reveal here) but out of the original protagonists, if anything, this is Han Solo’s story. Harrison Ford takes the reins and really shines as the smuggler, giving the character some great material. I loved the exchanges between all of them and if you were to make a list of the best on-screen characters of 2015, there’s no doubt that they would all come near the top.

If you’ve seen a J.J. Abrams film before you’ll recognise the familiar elements that he uses here. Thankfully there’s not an overreliance on lens flairs but instead allows for some great interactions between cast members, but also keeps the story moving along at an excellent pace. His Star Trek films never came anywhere close to the experience that we’re seeing here and The Force Awakens is easily his best movie yet. We really get the world developing but at the same time Abrams manages to make a compelling story and compelling characters, thanks to a strong script by both him, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. The character interactions are probably the strongest point of the film, as they really sell them on the audience.

The film really captures the magic of the original trilogy and provides for a fantastic experience. I’ve only been to one screening before where the audience were applauding at the end (that was the first Avengers movie) but they were cheering here. The film may rely on nostalgia a bit too much in places as it treads a lot of similar beats to A New Hope, and there may be a few predictable moments in there, but on the whole I didn’t have any major problems with this movie. It was a fantastic watch and assures everyone that Star Wars has got its mojo back. Don’t go in expecting all your questions to be answered though, and now I really can’t wait for Episode 8. Oh, and next year’s Rogue One looks fantastic as well.

Welcome back Star Wars, you were missed.

VERDICT: 9/10

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