Fran­chise awak­ens

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAK­ENS (M)

Di­rec­tor: J.J. Abrams Star­ring: Daisy Ri­d­ley, John Boyega, Os­car Isaac, Har­ri­son Ford, Mark Hamill, Car­rie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupita Ny­ong’o, Andy Serkis Ver­dict: A re­turn to form

RISE and shine, Star Wars fans! The long wait is over, and the news is good: The Force Awak­ens her­alds the new dawn you hoped for.

First things first: re­mem­ber that tril­ogy of pre­quels (aka Episodes I to III) from over a decade ago? We can fi­nally file them away as the cashin­gin car­toons they al­ways were.

The Force Awak­ens is a real Star Wars movie, a proper en­try in the canon which can be held to the same lofty stan­dards as the “orig­i­nal” trio of re­leases.

While this alone would have jus­ti­fied the price of ad­mis­sion, The Force Awak­ens is al­ways striv­ing to do more than just restart the en­gine of a stalled fran­chise.

To the le­gion of fans for whom the Star Wars ex­pe­ri­ence is al­most a way of life, the pro­lific and multi-tal­ented di­rec­tor of The Force Awak­ens, J.J. Abrams will be the per­son to thank.

Abrams has han­dled this new in­stal­ment in the long-run­ning saga with ex­actly the right mix of gusto and good hu­mour that was re­quired.

Most of the in­tri­cately con­structed ac­tion se­quences rock (and ben­e­fit im­mea­sur­ably from go­ing easy on the CGI ef­fects, and keep­ing it ana­log where pos­si­ble).

A few key story twists shock (and will not be even hinted at here – bet­ter catch this quick be­fore the blab­ber­mouths rise as one).

Any bor­ing bits? Not if you al­ready carry the Star Wars gene. If you’ve never cared for the phe­nom­e­non since Ge­orge Lu­cas first let the whole thing loose in 1977, The Force Awak­ens won’t be changin’ any minds.

(The pro­duc­ers won’t be of­fended if you stay away. They al­ready know their fran­chise holds the big­gest cap­tive fol­low­ing in the history of mo­tion pic­tures. Now it’s just a mat­ter of sit­ting back and guess­ing how far north of $3 bil­lion the fi­nal gross will go.)

More im­por­tantly, the fun­da­men­tals of the mythol­ogy laid down by the orig­i­nal tril­ogy are re­spect­fully ac­knowl­edged by Abrams and his team.

How­ever, true devo­tees of Star Wars will also note that mythol­ogy has also been clev­erly ex­panded in ways that can be stud­ied, savoured and de­bated for some time to come.

You want to talk plot? In the in­ter­ests of keep­ing things spoil­er­free, let’s just stick to the ba­sic out­line, which is more than en­tic­ing enough.

We are now 30 years on from where Re­turn of the Jedi left off. A new form of or­gan­ised evil is spread­ing across the galaxy in the form of a shad­owy ca­bal known as The First Or­der.

All that stands in their way of com­plete dom­i­na­tion is a scrappy move­ment (“The Re­sis­tance”) led by Princess Leia (Car­rie Fisher).

A cer­tain some­one who looms very large in the Star Wars saga has dis­ap­peared. The First Or­der would like to know his where­abouts, and then kill him shortly there­after.

The Re­sis­tance know full well what the demise of this im­por­tant fig­ure would mean to any hope of peace across the galaxy.

So they have a vested in­ter­est in this multi-planet search as well. If The Re­sis­tance can find a small ’droid named BB-8 and down­load a map stored in this cute lit­tle robot’s mem­ory, then all hope is not lost.

Once the bat­tle lines are clearly drawn be­tween good and evil, Abrams moves on to mas­ter­fully blend some old fa­mil­iar icons from

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