[SPOILER FREE REVIEW]
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a tour de force of nostalgia, fun, humour, emotion and action as the long gestating sci-fi opera finally reinvigorates itself. The Force Awakens returns to George Lucas’ original trilogy for much of its core plot beats but also brings back the smart laughs, the tangible characters and the feel of the galaxy far, far away.
Our two central heroes, for a new generation, are Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega). Finn and Rey are tasked with providing the Resistance with vital information whilst the First Order hunts them. What follows is a beautifully shot rollicking thrill ride that delivers on the hype and anticipation we all experienced for over two years.
The new breed – Ridley, Boyega and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron – are fantastic at the heart of the film’s deeply emotional story. Boyega brings charisma, laughs and genuine empathy to his role. Isaac, whilst paling in comparison to his co-star’s screen time, is the cool guy of the film and you just can’t wait to see more of him in the next adventure. But, Daisy Ridley absolutely steals the show. Her character, Rey, has some of the best moments in the film and Ridley plays it with nuance, heart and tender love. All three new stars bring vulnerability, strength, confidence and innocence to their loveable characters. The baton has been well and truly passed.
Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Carrie Fisher’s Leia are actual characters in the film. They don’t feel shoehorned in nor are they done a disservice. Han Solo is one of the best characters in the film. Fisher brings an almost regal glow to her scenes. And the two interacting sprouts some heart-warming moments.
Adam Driver is the big surprise as Kylo Ren. Ren isn’t just some masked villain for the sake of having a masked villain. He has layers, he has an intriguing psyche and Driver brings a human side to the masked character.
However, you have to keep your other character expectations in check. The marketing features some characters extremely prominently but they appear oh so briefly in the film. Keep your expectations in check.
I also adore Lucasfilm’s decision to not overload the film with reveal after reveal and answer after answer. The Force Awakens does answer some big questions and feature some amazingly tingling reveals but it ends by providing even more questions and I love that. This really is the beginning of a bigger story but it is a perfectly singular story on its own.
The film does have some flaws, as does every Star Wars film if you don’t view them with rise-tinted glasses. The plot is an amalgamation of previously used beats but they riff on it so well. However, some audiences may not appreciate it. Certain characters and actors do feel wasted in small roles but who knows what the Star Wars future holds.
Nevertheless, J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and the credited Michael Arndt have crafted a thoroughly enjoyable film that honours the originals the way we wanted it to be whilst simultaneously setting up fresh characters for a new generation to idolise. It is a film that delivers on its hype and then some.
Score – A