It’s been thirty two years since Return of the Jedi brought the original Star Wars trilogy to a conclusion and fans have been desperately wanting to know the fate of their favourite characters since that time. Now with the newly Disney-ified Lucasfilm we get to see that in The Force Awakens; JJ Abrams attempt at bringing the franchise back to the good old days.
The passage of time means that a LOT has happened to our heroes and much of it fans will pick up as the movie progresses. It also allows a couple of revelations to be dished out as pieces of the story puzzle gradually come together. It works surprisingly well.
This also means that there is a new generation of actors now inhabiting George Lucas’ universe. And an impressive bunch they are too with Daisy Ridley, John Bodega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver all giving their best facing off against the old stars including Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Saying any more would spoil too much but damn, they are all good and there’s some stars in the making here.
Visually, the film presses all of the right buttons. I thought it would never be possible but it seems that the art of Ralph McQuarrie is more strongly present and influential here than ever before; many of the designs strongly echo his work from years past. As someone who proudly has a reproduction of his artwork hanging in his family room it brings me a lot of joy to see it come to life once more.
For all I love about the film I still have a couple of criticisms. The first is that there’s a lot of “cherry picking” going on with familiar story beats that may make parts of the film more predictable than intended by the creators. It is perhaps a sign that Abrams wanted to follow the previous film’s style too closely. The “Expanded Universe” stories clearly had some inspiration here too.
The last is the ending which I won’t go into details about but it perhaps goes longer than it should. For a movie that endeavours to stick so closely to George Lucas’ formula of structure and pacing it seems that instead of ending the film quickly at the closure of its own story, a couple of minutes of sequel bait are added which dulls the impact of a great return to form for the franchise.
Gripes aside, it’s a fantastic film made by a guy who wants to share with the world exactly why he loved Star Wars in the first place. Good thing is, a lot of us are on the same wavelength judging by the film’s success.
The Force is VERY strong with this one. 😉