Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This week saw the release of one of the most anticipated films of all time; Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I should preface the remainder of this post by saying that there will be spoilers from now on.
The Force Awakens is a great movie. It’s entertaining, it kept my focus, it’s exciting, it’s got just the right amount of threat, it’s funny, and I know this is ridiculous to say but: it’s full of Star Wars.
Having said all of that, it might be obvious to point out that it is a fairly unashamed copy of A New Hope. And this is okay… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right?. There is a character on a sandy planet (Rae) who is strong with the force, but who doesn’t know it, her family tree is also unknown. There is a super cute droid (BB8) who is holding a secret message that must get to the rebellion, Leia is back where she belongs as the leader of the rebellion and Han (with Chewie) has returned to the life of smuggling. Also; Luke Skywalker has become like the shadow of Obi Wan, in hiding on a lonely planet waiting to be called/ convinced back into action.
The rebellion are battling The First Order, a group of people who are eager to get back to the dizzy heights of power that The Empire enjoyed. The First Order are in possession of an incredible weapon just like the Death Star of The Empire before them; Starkiller base is not only the strong hold of the First Order but it also doubles as a weapon which takes power from the sun, and is able to destroy several planets in one hit. However — guess what? It has a weakness…
The story centres around Rae, a scavenger on the planet Jakku. She is good at what she does, and lives in a repurposed imperial walker — however, she is a slave to the junk that she has to scavenge for food. She is a strong female lead — a very capable, techsavvy, lightsabre wielding woman. I am very much looking forward to learning more about her backstory in the next couple of films; there is an interesting flashback/ flash forward sequence in the middle of this film which presents a lot of past detail in a rather confusing manner, however — that’s the beauty of making a film with a known sequel; intrigue sells tickets.
Rae is joined by Finn, a stormtrooper with a conflicted conscience. Instead of being cloned; it seems that the stormtroopers of the First Order era are selected at birth and then brainwashed. Finn and Rae are trying to return BB8 to the rebellion as he is carrying a map which seemingly leads to Luke. However — Kylo Ren and the First Order want the map too.
Kylo Ren is a Darth Vader sympathiser who is being trained by the mysterious General Snoke, whom we only ever see as a massive hologram. Ren has some other secrets up his sleeve too, but I won’t tell you everything, he does however seem to be one of the strongest wielders of the force we have ever seen, able to stop a blaster beam in mid air, not to say that this hasn’t been possible before but we haven’t ever seen it on film. His long black hair and his conflicted nature reminded me of a young Severus Snape a little — no bad thing, Snape is a great character and one of my favorites from Harry Potter.
There are lots of nods to the original Lucas era films, from the expected screen wipes right through to props and characters that we haven’t seen since episodes IV/V/VI. I really loved seeing these little bits of nostalgia, and it just added to the feeling of it being a Star Wars film made by a guy who is clearly a massive Star Wars geek. JJ Abrams was apparently initially going to turn down The Force Awakens because he didn’t want to be known as “the guy who does sequels” having reinvigorated the Star Trek series in the last few years, however he clearly had a change of heart and took up the challenge.
One thing that struck me is the amount of ‘British’ there is in this film. Both the lead characters are played by Brits. All of the First Order are seemingly played by British actors. The film was made largely in the UK. As a Brit myself I am hugely proud of my national film industry, as well as our contribution to the world film stage. This film is yet another ringing endorsement of the skill that lies in the UK film industry, as well as all the peripheral industries that support it.
It’s safe to say that Force Awakens has been a success, it smashed the worldwide box office records both for preorders and opening weekend, and it is yet to open in China which is one of the largest film markets on earth. I am not surprised; it’s a fab film, well done JJ and everyone involved — if you haven’t seen it yet and you enjoy Star Wars even slightly, I would urge you to try and make time.
I can’t wait for Episode VIII… only 18 months…