Prior to seeing the film I’d seen the original launch trailer and read an article on Leia’s promotion so I was going in blind. If Darth Vader had asked me about my feelings leading up to the force awakens he probably would have said “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Vader is right. Star Wars VII is worth your time if just the opening bars of the title theme is enough to bring a smile to your face.
It’s not perfect by any means but as a sequal to the original 3 films it feels like a true ssuccessor. To get the bad out of the way: its not high art, expect it to light the world on fire and cure several types of malaria and you will be disappointed. A few comic beats fall flat, or did for me. You need to suspend your disbelief for some plot points, we’re operating under fairy tale/ fantasy logic. If you’re looking for complexity in the dark/light struggle, look elsewhere, again this is fantasy melodrama, the emotions are big and that’s Star Wars. (So naff off Anakin, there’s no “good is a point of view” in the Star Wars universe. There is the light and the dark sides, one cannot look like the other you mopey, floppy haired nerf).
So, what’s good?
To me and those like me the Galaxy Far, Far Away is not shiny silver Naboo cruisers, towering Jedi temples and flamboyant lightsaber duel. It’s dirty, it’s lived in, it’s the cantena in Mos Eseley, it’s Han Solo whacking the panels above the cockpit door to bring the Falcon to life, it’s the clash of medieval fantasy with futuristic technology. Star Wars VII captures all that.
Secondly, more subtlety, Abram has pulled back from his usual frenetic, lense flare soaked style and clothed himself in the film making of when the originals were released. This again is where the Galaxy of Star Wars lives, not fast edits and CGI but live effects and wide, slow panning shots. Remember how it felt when Leia’s ship flew overhead at the start of IV. That ship felt huge only to have the Star Destroyer appear, and keep coming, and coming, and coming. That sense of scale is there in The Force Awakens.
Sticking with parts of the film as an entity, John Williams is on form as usual and the return of certain theme songs tugged the heartstrings. It’s also very funny. I said not all the jokes landed but that was because there were scenes I hoped would be serious but seemed to have had levity deliberately added. The humour is that of Episode V, character interactions and quips that build character. No winks to the audience here.
The acting! Harrison Ford IS Han Solo and the double team of him and Chewie once more is lovely. Carrie Fisher has brought Leia, now a General, back to life. I really liked when and how she appeared in the story. The stand outs aren’t the returning cast but the new blood playing our heroes. They fill the archetypical roles but the arrangement of these roles and the character’s place in the story are different from the Han/Luke/Leia dynamic. They are likeable, fleshed out characters who I can’t wait to spend more time with.
Daisy Ridley is the brightest of the shining stars as the savvy scavenger Rey from Jakku (our ‘starting village’ if we were to use the terminology of video games). Her range is fantastic and her interactions with certain characters are the moments that stuck in my mind the most.
A final word which may be considered a spoiler so skip this paragraph if you’re bothered. OK, everyone who don’t want any spoilers have gone. The appearance of a character weilding a blue lightsaber on the film poster and a red saber in the trailer is a give away for the inevitable duel. It’s a great fight, none of the prequel’s over the top flare, instead it felt in the vain of Luke and Vader’s encounters, y’know, sword fighting with serious stakes. Speaking of Luke, his role was bang on the money.
So that’s my spoiler free thoughts, my next post on the topic will be a commentary and comparison of the new film with the Expanded Universe continuity which will be big on spoilers and esoteric Star Wars trivia, cos like BB-8, that’s how I role.