Episode VII: Luke Skywalker has vanished…
“The idea of being involved in it frankly felt dangerous” – J. J. Abrams.
“Come on, baby, don’t let me down!” growls everyone’s favourite nerfherder during one of the many exhilarating moments in this record-smashing latest installment of the galaxy’s greatest saga. This perfectly sums up the expectations – not just of my humble self – but millions of fans as the weeks, then days, till release were agonisingly counted down.
No worries; fortunately for all of us, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a triumph, and deservedly so. J. J. Abrams has crafted a superior space fantasy, offering so much more than just a fanboy pastiche – embellishing this blockbuster with plenty of brand new and intriguing delights, forging the franchise in a bold and promising direction. Give him a film project with ‘Star’ in the title and – yay – he will work wonders…
“I’ll tighten those restraints, scavenger scum” – Daniel Craig. 😉
“People were like: ‘Oh my God, you’re Rey Solo’ – this is what people do, they just assume I’m Han Solo’s daughter, it’s not even a question any more” – Daisy Ridley.
It’s fantastic to see the new generation of Wars stars: Ridley, Isaac and Boyega – and, what the heck, BB8 as well – establish themselves firmly and convincingly in this beloved galaxy.
As the central character, newcomer Daisy Ridley more than holds her own as the resilient Rey. Most curiously, when we first see her, she is merely a scavenger, searching for scrap from the now-legendary Battle of Jakku (and selling it to Simon Pegg! 😉 and – bizarrely – squatting in the shell of a fallen AT-AT. Pretty soon, she’s – what the-?! – not only flying the Millennium Falcon, but perfectly adept at the Ways of the Force. Blimey, Charley! She’s just too good to be true…
In Finn (John Boyega), we have a completely different type of character: a stormtrooper who – after a change of conscience – wants to defect to the Resistance. Through a compelling plot development, he helps the escape of star-pilot: Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). The time is right for Star Wars to have a new cocky young flyboy, and Dameron certainly makes the grade.
Must – at this point – express what a delight it was, at last, to meet the wonderful, yet enigmatic, Maz Kanata. She reminded me a lot of the old dears who sell jasmine garlands in downtown Bangkok. Her “castle” is the sort of blissed-out, rad dive this blogger would have loved to frequent during his college days.
“I feel there’s a recklessness about him that’s maybe not normally associated with the Dark Side. You normally think of order, and structure… he’s just a little bit more unpolished” – Adam Driver.
For me, by far the best, most tantalising new addition to the cast is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). He not only looks right, but – by Jove! – he sounds menacing enough. Black-robed and badass: that’s how we dig it around here! Could it get any better?
In time-honoured tradition of Star Wars – with his ragged crossbeam lightsabre and disconcerting mask – he has captivated and freaked out the entire fanbase in equal measure.
Hey, don’t mean to brag, but his true identity was sussed on this blog months ago. And what he does towards the end of this episode – with Rey, Finn and Chewie looking on in horror – actually came as NO surprise. At all.
Before moving on: let it be known that Supreme Leader Snoke was superb and sufficiently sinister – another unforgettable contribution from Andy Serkis.
“I didn’t have the imagination to recognise the future potential for the character. I was only going to do three of them, so I wanted to use the character to supply some bass notes, some gravitas” – Harrison Ford.
It was just amazing to see that wondrous piece of junk – not Han Solo, ha ha! – but his eternally supercool Corellian freighter which – inexplicably – just happens to be standing neglected on Jakku AND in the exact area from which Rey and Finn must make their escape?! How opportune…
There is no dramatic build-up to the entrance of Han and Chewie together, but the lump in the throat is still inevitable. Funnily enough, after all these years, Han is STILL moody and obsessive over the Millennium Falcon, forever quick to remind anybody that it’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 14 – sorry! – 12 parsecs.
But when General Leia first steps into view after 32 years, quite frankly my tear-ducts burst. SO GOOD to see Carrie Fisher in a Star Wars movie again.
As a HUGE fan of the X-wing Fighter – it was, after all, my very first Star Wars toy – the sensational sequence featuring a whole squadron of them skimming the surface of that lake was irresistibly stupendous. The ensuing dogfight offered an enticing spectacle. This movie also honoured one of this franchise’s more stirring trademarks: TIE fighters chasing our heroes through ever-narrowing tunnels of vast installations.
Just can’t get enough of that wrecked Star Destroyer embedded in the sands of Jakku.
Impressive. Most impressive.
“In the street, they call out: ‘Hey, Princess!’ which makes me feel like a poodle” – Carrie Fisher.
Yes, there are a few quibbles:
- Having been enthralled at the prospect of Captain Phasma: a female stormtrooper, we looked forward to finding out what she would do. Bah! A couple of forgettable lines and nothing else – hardly seems worth the bother…
- Been waiting on tenterhooks to hear the new score by legendary composer John Williams. Don’t know about you, but there were no discernible epic tunes here.
- The movie ends on Skellig Michael, a World Heritage site off the coast of County Kerry, Ireland. That’s the problem: without any CG tinkering whatsoever, it looks exactly like it was filmed… off the coast of County Kerry, and NOT in a galaxy far, far away…
- Seeing Joseph Gordon-frickin’-Levitt all greened-up, supposedly as Yoda? (!) at the Hollywood premiere on Monday night. Jeez, what a prat…
Let’s not deny it: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a successful re-engagement with the myth and magic that has made this the best-loved and most durable franchise.
Despite being several notches down from the glorious masterpiece that was The Empire Strikes Back, this is still a Magnificent Seventh Episode in its own right.
And – oh yes – the Force IS strong with this one!
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Grumble, grumble, disturbing lack of faith, etc, etc.