AN EMPIRE OF WORDS

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

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That moment the Lucasfilm logo appear on the screen I was already beaming from ear to ear. Immediately I was transported to a galaxy far, far away and the nostalgic memories of watching the original trilogy on VHS all those years ago rushed back.

Of course, the moment the release date was edging closer there was a collective effort worldwide to keep everywhere spoiler free and it was fantastic, everyone was simply excited about this film and it was on everyone’s lips. And it has to said it was so worth it. 

When JJ Abrams was attached to the project I had every confidence in him to not repeat the prequels (albeit The Phantom Menace had the best lightsaber duel). I was massively impressed with Abrams and his work in the Star Trek universe and this was the main reason I felt comfortable with him taking charge.

A big criticism I heard of this film after seeing it was the treading of familiar ground, however, upon watching this, I felt it was necessary to launch the new characters of Rey and Finn into the Star Wars universe.

Rey and Finn are at the centre of this film, set thirty years after the events in Return of the Jedi, with Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) as a scavenger on Jakku and Finn (John Boyega) playing a stormtrooper with a conscience. Their stories become intertwined as Finn defects from the First Order (the aftermath of the Empire) and crash lands on Jakku. Over the next two hours or so, they are helped with a mix of new and old characters to take down the latest dark side enforcer, Kylo Ren and the dark side’s latest destruction path.

The casting was absolutely superb as well, with a great but not overpowering mix of new and old characters. Of course Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver – fantastic casting choice in my opinion) were the characters leading the charge, helped with Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and of course Han Solo, Chewie and Leia. The teasing of new characters who didn’t have much screen time in this film, like Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) who I thought held their own and intrigued me as not much was revealed about them.

With beautiful landspaces, The Force Awakens explores new territory like Jakku (Rey’s home  planet) and a shady cantina in the depths of Takodana, and not forgetting the Starkiller Base, aptly named as it draws it’s power from the suns of the solar system.

The action sequences throughout the film are excellent as they’re not overpowering to the story, with the right mix of the blaster fights and aerial pursuits. Paced well enough to keep you entertained, topped off by the finale battle that’s always to be expected in Star Wars.

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As I mentioned the story does step on the toes of A New Hope, that being said, JJ Abrams did mix it up with a few twists, some foreseeable, some not. For me, however, this was all washed away when you’re watching these characters and the story unfold on screen. And keeping John Williams on board and in charge of the sound, is always a strong choice with the familiar tune reworked, much like Michael Giacchino did with Jurassic World. 

It’s a fantastic nostalgic trip back to a galaxy far, far away. The treading of old ground makes the story wear thin, but the reworking to make the new characters shine I thought JJ Abrams has done an excellent job. The superb casting and the fantastic landscapes that have been created, this is an absolute beauty to watch on the silver screen.

8/10

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

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