If you're any kind of Star Wars fan, you're going to see The Force Awakens anyway. For the rest: review here
If you've ever remotely enjoyed any Star Wars film ever, you should just quickly book your tickets and watch this one before someone spoils it for you. (It's been a tough week as parts of the internet have been near inaccessible for fear of spoilers.)
And let me declare upfront: I'm a fan. Not as hardcore as friends who've gone all out and bought tonnes of merchandise, lightsabers and all - but one who's watched the films several times, read a few books from within the universe and who still has a giant poster of Yoda up on a wall.
So let's get down to it.Hibernation
Since 1983's Episode VI - Return of the Jedi rounded off the original trilogy, the Force has been fast asleep.
While George Lucas deserves infinite credit and admiration for creating the franchise, it's an undeniable fact that his poorly-executed prequel trilogy failed to really release the Force from its hibernation - leading most fans, even die-hard ones, to hit the snooze button.
Luckily for us, The Force Awakens is a worthy successor to the original trilogy. In a way it's given the Force the wake-up call it deserved and demanded. Thismovie will totally transport you to a galaxy (far far away) and make you forget the real world for 135 minutes.
A galaxy far, far away
Three years of ever-increasing hype, JJ Abrams has nailed it more or less. The movie is both reverent to the source material, as well as prepared to try something new.
And that's because this actually feels like a Star Wars film. There's high-octane spaceship battles, fast and furious laser shootouts and tense lightsaber duels.
There were resounding cheers through the theatre when the lightsaber is first seen, when Harrison Ford's Han Solo and Chewbacca first make their appearance and for the many one-liner's John Boyega's Finn has. Oh, and for the Millennium Falcon of course.
The only criticism here is that he stuck too much to familiar terrain, shamelessly borrowing from the original trilogy's plotting. Several major plot points will give you a sense of deja vu.
On a directorial level, Abrams does a good job of steering the Star Wars franchise away from the hollow CGI-filled vibe of the prequel trilogy. It's all about real locales, props, costumes and some great production design, all of which help establish the familiarity of the Star Wars universe once again.
It's also fun to rediscover certain Star Wars tropes (ex: vehicles like TIE Fighters and X-wings, or various alien species in the backgrounds of shots).
The impact of writer Lawrence Kasdan in this can't be overstated. George Lucas may have birthed the Star Wars universe, but it is Kasdan (who worked on The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi) who has been the creative force its refinement.Spoilers ahead!
In terms of performances, The Force Awakens cast the new primary characters well. All of them manage to rekindle some nostalgia. The original trilogy characters also end up making more than just cameo appearances.
Abrams' best find in The Force Awakens is Daisy Ridley, who plays the lonely, isolated and feisty Rey, a young woman from the desert planet Jakku.
John Boyega does a brilliant job as former Stormtrooper Finn and somehow manages to nail the comedic hero balance that Han Solo and Chewbacca aced in A New Hope (there are genuine LOL moments, far more than any other Star Wars film).
Like this one: As they make their way to the base, Han asks Finn about what his role as a Stormtrooper was. "Sanitation," he says. With that background, Han becomes instantly dubious about whether he can disable the shields. "We'll use the Force!" says Finn, prompting Han's best lines: "THAT'S NOT HOW THE FORCE WORKS!"
Ford himself brings back the iconic smarmy charisma like no time has passed at all, including his timing and chemistry with Peter Mayhew's Chewbacca, or Carrie Fisher's Leia.
We also get to meet a new, cute droid - BB-8 - who kinda looks like he wandered off a Pixar set (considering Disney holds the reins, it's very possible).
Oscar Isaac, who plays Princess Leia's top Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, is definitely the third new lead.
And though Finn and Poe don't spend that much screen time together - they escape from the First Order in the beginning of the movie, and are later reunited on the Resistance base, with Finn taking care of Poe's fashionable jacket and BB-8 for most of the film - it's a bromance that has already inspired the internet with memes, artwork and fanfic to celebrate #FinnPoe. Or #Pinn. Or #FoeDameron.
The new villains are familiar in an unfamiliar way. Adam Driver delivered a half-decent villain in Kylo Ren but he isn't exactly a worthy successor to Darth Vader - and is rather prone to tantrums.
The Andy Serkis motion-capture character Supreme Leader Snoke is pretty stunning to behold, a 25-ft behemoth. But we never actually see Snoke in the flesh, only as a hologram. Maybe in the next movie we'll see how he looks like more or less like Gollum, with a bit of Voldemort thrown in.The verdict
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is exactly what it was promised to be.
But in the end it matters not, this review. See the film, you probably will. See the film, you should.
Good luck getting a ticket this weekend.RATING: 4 out of 5