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