STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAK­ENS

A Newer Hope

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Nick Setch­field/ James White

An­other look at the block­buster, plus all the ex­tras ex­am­ined.

re­leased OUT NOW! 2015 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD/ down­load

Di­rec­tor JJ Abrams Cast John Boyega, Daisy Ri­d­ley, Har­ri­son Ford, Os­car Isaac, Car­rie Fisher, Mark Hamill

There’s a haunt­ing early im­age in The Force Awak­ens. The husks of fallen Star De­stroy­ers dom­i­nate the hori­zon of desert world Jakku. They look like an­cient ru­ins in the empty sands, rem­nants of a lost age. It’s a strik­ing me­taphor. Nearly 40 years on we’re all still liv­ing in the mon­u­men­tal shad­ows of Star Wars, still dom­i­nated by its iconog­ra­phy.

And just like desert scav­enger Rey, JJ Abrams is out to sal­vage what he can from the relics of a pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion – sift­ing the use­ful parts from the bro­ken, lash­ing them to­gether with a tech­ni­cian’s eye, run­ning volt­age through the scrap un­til the ma­chin­ery sparks back into life. Build­ing the new out of the old.

It’s over four months since the re­lease of Star Wars Episode VII, one of the most an­tic­i­pated, most dis­sected films in Hol­ly­wood his­tory. It was a hard movie to process at Christ­mas. While the orig­i­nal tril­ogy felt set in stone, the paint was still fresh on this up­start ad­di­tion to the mythol­ogy. Now it’s in our homes, on DVD and Blu- ray, and even mo­ments that at first felt jar­ring – like the low- key death of a beloved char­ac­ter – have been ab­sorbed into the saga; have be­come Star Wars.

You re­mem­ber how much it gets right, for all its re­hashed Death Star strike and half- hearted trea­sure hunt plot. Yes, Abrams fetishis­ti­cally recre­ates the look and tex­ture we love but, more cru­cially, the new trio of leads have life in their veins. You want to fol­low them on their damn fool ide­al­is­tic cru­sades.

And then there’s that last, in­scrutable shot of Mark Hamill. When Rey hands the lightsaber to Luke it feels au­then­ti­cally Arthurian, crack­ling with the prom­ise of new myths to build, new sto­ries to tell, in Episode VIII and be­yond. We’re on an un­charted world but that’s the mo­ment, more than any other, that wel­comes us home. The Force isn’t just awake. It’s alive.

Ex­tras It’s no easy task find­ing some­thing new to say about The Force Awak­ens, a film that’s been so heav­ily pro­moted that there are prob­a­bly Ama­zo­nian tribes with­out tech­nol­ogy that know JJ Abrams turned the film down when Kath­leen Kennedy first asked him to di­rect it. Yet the mak­ers of the star at­trac­tion here, the 69- minute Se­crets Of The Force Awak­ens: A Cin­e­matic Jour­ney, man­age to pull off a qual­ity Mak­ing Of, even if it never quite achieves the level of “warts and all” ( which was un­likely in any case).

Nat­u­rally, there’s un­par­al­leled ac­cess be­hind- the- scenes at al­most ev­ery stage of the film’s de­vel­op­ment

You want to fol­low the new trio

and pro­duc­tion, and it does gen­er­ate a few can­did mo­ments that el­e­vate the en­ter­tain­ment level – such as Adam Driver’s ad­mis­sion of nerves about shoot­ing that in­fa­mous scene with his on- screen fa­ther. It’s also helped by the pal­pa­ble en­ergy from all in­volved, boosted by the in­ef­fa­ble charm of John Boyega and Daisy Ri­d­ley. We’d have liked more from them; there’s clear ev­i­dence that a longer chat be­tween the two was shot, so per­haps that’s lurk­ing on a hard drive some­where, wait­ing to be re­leased on a fu­ture Spe­cial Edi­tion. Amidst all the puff- piece love- in praise, there are mo­ments of raw truth ( in­clud­ing Kath­leen Kennedy ad­mit­ting that orig­i­nal screen­writer Michael Arndt didn’t feel he could de­liver in time, re­sult­ing in the switch to Lawrence Kas­dan work­ing along­side Abrams), and yet some things re­main un­ex­plored – in­clud­ing Har­ri­son Ford’s on- set leg in­jury, which Abrams has talked about openly in in­ter­views, but we sup­pose is avoided be­cause of the health and safety case about it. Else­where, the deleted scenes ( three min­utes) are skimpy and don’t re­ally add a lot to our ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the fi­nal film and the much- hyped piece on the first ta­ble read ( four min­utes) feels like it was snipped out of the main documentary for no good rea­son. There are also six in­ter­est­ing short fea­turettes ( 41 min­utes) look­ing at how the many crea­tures came to life, BB- 8’ s birth and de­vel­op­ment, the cli­mac­tic snowy lightsaber clash ( all shot on a set), John Wil­liams’s mu­sic, and Star Wars char­ity Force For Change.

The VFX team for the Mil­len­nium Fal­con scanned in images of the orig­i­nal model and repli­cated all the de­cals in de­tail.

Sun­day down the re­cy­cling cen­tre was al­ways a good day out.

That’s one highly evolved or­ange.

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