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Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A)

At the very outset, let’s ease your minds: The Force Awakens is better than any one of the Star Wars prequels – by about a million percent! More important, however, is the fact that this latest in the Star Wars saga is actually better than it needed to be, standing proudly shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the original trilogy. Director JJ Abrams and the team have managed to create a film that is a noble extension to the beloved universe, full of romance and the thrill of adventure.

Every frame oozes a nostalgic quality. Gone are the paper-thin CG environments, and returned are the real world environments, with their dusty, lived-in feel. Old friends mix with the new in a way that feels natural to the story, rather than simply shoe-horned in. John Williams’ epic score carries proceedings with energy and enthusiasm, adding a mythic quality to each scene. Even the lightsaber battles – so manically over-choreographed in the prequels – have the same sweaty workmanship of the classic Skywalker/Vader duels.

This is a film that understands the debt it owes. Occasionally flying perilously close to being a reboot of ‘A New Hope’ with regard to plot and character beats, it manages to avoid pastiche by injecting the familiar with fresh and talented actors. The overwhelming sense is that this is about passing on a baton (or a lightsaber, if you will), rather than attempting to relive former glories – a mistake Abrams previously made with ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’.

Fans of Star Wars can find very little to complain about. The Force Awakens is joyful and energetic, overblown and intimate, set in a galaxy of breath-taking scale and beauty. And it’s just really great fun! The film does raise more questions than it answers, which after such a long wait is slightly frustrating, but also serves to highlight that this is only the beginning. The Force has awoken, and now is ready to stretch its legs…

Rating: 4/5




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