Revisted, re­vived and rein­vig­o­rated

The Tribune (NZ) - - MOVIES -

The strug­gle to re­call any de­tails of the soar­ing starfight­ers and laserblast­ing Stormtroop­ers is the great­est com­pli­ment I have to pay The Force Awak­ens, the in­sanely an­tic­i­pated sev­enth in­stal­ment of the Star Wars space opera.

Even the cli­matic lightsaber duel is lit­tle more than a blur in my mem­ory.

What is clear are the qui­eter scenes be­tween the char­ac­ters; the ban­ter, the ca­ma­raderie, the heart. The mo­ments that pro­vide the char­ac­ters with in­sight and depth, and foster our in­vest­ment in them, the mo­ments that Ge­orge Lu­cas’ ma­ligned pre­quels were so spec­tac­u­larly bereft of.

Di­rec­tor JJ Abrams doesn’t so much blow our minds as com­fort them, pre­sent­ing us with fa­mil­iar char­ac­ter arcs, mo­tifs and a story struc­ture that mir­rors the orig­i­nal Star Wars (or Episode IV: A New Hope de­pend­ing on your age). The char­ac­ters and en­vi­ron­ments are tan­gi­ble and fun. This is ‘‘real’’ Star Wars, we are re­as­sured.

As for the blow­ing of minds, that is left to Daisy Ri­d­ley and Adam Driver as Rey and Kylo Ren. They are our bea­cons of light and dark, the scav­enger in search of pur­pose and the tor­mented pur­veyor of the dark side.

STARWARS: THE FORCE AWAK­ENS (M)

Di­rected by JJ Abrams ★★★★★ 2hrs 15min Re­viewed by Matthew Dal­las

Ri­d­ley’s Rey is a rev­e­la­tion, and an act of re­demp­tion in terms of the saga’s use of fe­male char­ac­ters to date. But it is not mere girl power to­kenism. Smart, feisty, coura­geous and re­source­ful, her in­flu­ence is not de­fined or con­fined by the other char­ac­ters around her. Rey is the cen­tre­piece and an en­gag­ing one at that.

Like Luke Sky­walker, her quiet life in the sand is in­ter­rupted by a galac­tic power strug­gle, in which she must as­sume a fate­ful role.

Yes, there are epic bat­tles, a scary bat­tle sta­tion, gor­geous spe­cial ef­fects and killer cos­tumes, and I’ll no doubt soak th­ese up more on the se­cond or 16th view­ing.

But for now I’m sim­ply spell­bound by mean­ing­ful char­ac­ters hav­ing cool con­ver­sa­tions about their fears, their for­mi­da­ble des­tinies and The Force, which is some­thing we haven’t seen in a galaxy far, far away in a long, long time.

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