Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12a)

Director: JJ Abrams
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis and more…

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20 on twitter)
“The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power, too.”
30 years feels like a long time – Jedi, smugglers and Princesses age, power and responsibility are passed on to new generations and new threats arise. But The Force remains…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film I have anticipated for decades, I’m a self confessed huge Star Wars fanboy – my firstborn son is named after Luke Skywalker and I felt the huge disturbance in The Force when the prequels threatened to sully the heritage of the original trilogy more than many.

Which is why I’m delighted to report that The Force Awakens is without doubt a quality Star Wars sequel, which blows the prequels away. Epic, reverent and managing to recapture that original trilogy magic, this is high adventure writ large once more and a total adrenalin rush to boot.

The Force is very much with director JJ Abrams who is aided by a great cast led by smart, savvy scavenger Rey (excellent newcomer Daisy Ridley). Also worthy of credit are redemption seeking Storm Trooper Finn (John Boyega), scary but flawed new Sith on the block Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac).

Add in the massive crowd pleasing return of Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), plus Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and let the space based action transport you back to a galaxy far, far away in fine style.

The plot borrows many best bits and themes from across the series and utilizes them to huge effect. Lightsaber battles have never looked so good, X-wing vs Tie Fighter dog fights are more impressive than ever and the sheer joy of seeing the Millennium Falcon fly again brought tears to my eyes.

There is so much to enjoy in The Force Awakens and the plot crackles along at such a breathless pace you can forgive it for some improbable moments and coincidences.
At heart once more are the personal interactions and thematic strands of broken family relations, regret, trust and honour. The Star Wars comic asides are great rather than cringe worthy, the romantic elements ring true and the excitement levels are cranked up to dangerous levels.

There’s not a single reason I can give you not to go and enjoy this on the biggest screen you can find!

Thinking material:

Are you a Jedi? Many of us would aspire to be thought of as noble knights who stand for what is right, help those oppressed and who will fight evil in whatever incarnation we come across I – plus lightsabers are freakin cool. But like those who wield The Force in the Star Wars films – there is a dark side and it alluring. In The Force Awakens new (and epic) bad guy Kylo Ren is a character who has chosen the dark side despite (and like Darth Vader before him) having ‘some light in him’.

This internal battle over which path to take, which actions to go with and ultimately what legacy we leave on this planet is one we can’t afford to take lightly.

*Caution – spoiler*

The Force Awakens is a magnificent film – and it deals in some deeper issues than the surface level good vs evil too. The emotional core of the pain of a father trying to win back a son who has turned against everything he stands for is heartbreaking. And even as tragedy encompasses their relationship it will make you think ‘what would I have done in that situation’ – its great that even such pure escapist fantasy as this can impact us at a very human level.

*end of spoiler*

As new character Maz Kanata says at one point: “The Force, it’s calling to you. Just let it in.” I’d add ‘be mindful of how you wield it!?’

CVM Rating: ***** 5 out of 5 stars The Force is Strong Again!!

Related Films: Star Wars – A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi