Image courtesy of: Las Cosas Nos Hacen Felices
I will get straight to the point. Yes it is good. Very, very good. Now I have assured you that this film will deliver on your expectations, I will elaborate why. First and foremost, it feels like Star Wars. It brilliantly captures the magic of the original trilogy, from the Saturday morning cartoon atmosphere, to its homely, grainy aesthetic. It is undoubtedly part of the same universe explored in Episodes I-VI. However what is more impressive is that director JJ Abrams delicately and superbly inserts the new characters with enough impact to make them feel welcome standing next to the icons of the original films.
Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, who play Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron respectively, all make smoothly likeable turns. They are helped with a sensitive and layered treatment from writers Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan (writer of The Empire Strikes Back) and Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) who imbue them with enough humanity and foibles to make them interesting for the fans. Ridley and Boyega take a while to click into their roles, but Ridley successfully conveys Rey’s vulnerability and inner strength and creates a deep connection with Boyega’s reluctant yet courageous Finn. Isaac is impressive too with his immediately striking swagger, however he is given significantly less screen time than his co-stars. Indeed the side-lining of other characters such as Captain Phasma and General Hux is a minor niggle in what is an astounding film.
It would have been so easy for the film to buckle, but astonishingly, Abrams maintains a remarkable balancing act, of tone, action and humour. Admittedly the call-backs to the series’ previous outings are sometimes a little unnecessary, but there is plenty to be grateful for. This can be attributed to his analytic qualities as a huge Star Wars fan. This is evident in the little details, such as his preference of practical effects rather than relying on the endless stream of CGI as the prequels did. These loving details expertly create a sense that this universe is very lived-in and authentic. Although the story relies on beats already explored in previous films, it moves along at a refreshing pace that induces that childlike awe that only Star Wars can invoke.
But it is not all so rosy. There is some surprisingly dark moments within the film, all as a result of Adam Driver’s volatile and sinister Kylo Ren. He is an interesting villain, one not seen in Star Wars before, and he goes to some shocking depths of cruelty that will have fans heartbroken and outraged. There are several shades to his character which are well explored as the film continues, but it feels as if there a lot more to be discovered in the upcoming movies. Another thing Abrams achieved well is establishing new character connections which make it easier to invest in the film, in addition to setting the ball rolling for the next episodes.
All in all fans can rest easy, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens most certainly is the film they’ve been looking for. JJ Abrams was a wise choice to direct, because his instincts as a fan have guided him to tell the right story and assemble an incredible cast. His presence will be sorely missed when Episode IIX comes around, but either away, you will be left eagerly awaiting more.