As I write this, it's Christmas Eve, presents are under the tree, while children everywhere are awaiting the magic of Father Christmas and what he may bring. In many cases, and thanks to the new-found success of the franchise, it will be some of the wide array of new Star Wars toys, and I have to admit, I might have one or two toys myself, but that's all for another article. First it's time to look at JJ Abrams new addition to the Star Wars universe and the challenges faced in bringing this legendary saga back to the big screen. Apart from perhaps Titanic, never before has there been so much pressure on a Director to deliver and now as the movie passes $1 billion in takings, success is assured and his job is complete. Though despite the wide critical acclaim there are some movie goers who haven't quite understood the direction taken in terms of the parallels with the previous movies. So I thought it high time to look back on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and point out why it is the perfect Star Wars movie at the right time.
Last week I was lucky enough to attend the European Premiere for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the buzz on the red carpet being an almost unexplainable feeling of emotion, elation and relief. There surrounded a great feeling of positivity that Star Wars was back, with positive vibes all abound. Walking into the Empire Cinema brought back memories of the Revenge of the Sith premiere just over 10 years ago, back then we watched all six movies in one-day finishing with the premiere joined by George Lucas and the cast on stage. But despite the elation of the event it was clear the original movies were considerably better, and the prequels had not only lost their way in terms of continuity, but there was a wide array of cringe worthy moments that had damaged the very fabric of the Star Wars universe, and its with that in mind that JJ Abrams was tasked not only with rejuvenating the franchise but in restoring the magic while repairing the said fabric that made the original movies great.
From this point there will be a wide range of spoilers, so please only read on if you have seen the movie.
With the fighting taking place on Jakku we see the brilliant new droid addition in BB8 rolling off across the desert, an odd alien head pokes out of the ground and it made me smile, it made me think of Star Wars and reminded me of R2 and C3PO wandering off across Tatooine, the quirky aliens and droids that made this universe were all here, simple things that establish an old galaxy of wonders. The next parallel sees Finn (cracking performance by John Boyega) rescuing a prisoner (Poe) and removing his helmet, again much like Luke rescuing Leia it adds a human touch and sets him apart from your regular storm trooper. We've been here, we know how it goes but something new is added to the mix in terms of the two man tie fighter and the more daring escape plan.
This brings us to another important point, re-establishing the rules of the force and understanding how it works. The prequels took away the mythical nature and instead made it scientific, thankfully that's all been forgotten here, it's possible the force is in some way guiding everyone's actions hence Finn's swift evolution. But in terms of powers we see Rey developing her mind control in a comical scene with a guard (reportedly played by Daniel Craig), again getting her development moving along swiftly. This eventually culminating in her fight with Kylo Ren at the climax of the movie, he may have received more training but he is not fully in control, unlike when Luke met Vader, a fully trained Jedi master, Luke would need to be fully trained himself to defeat Vader and it is likely Ray will need to be equally trained if she is to defeat Kylo Ren in the future. Of course on this occasion her standard combat skill was highly capable and combined with the force giving her strength against a weakened and wounded Kylo Ren, the battle eventually stood in her favour.
It was welcoming seeing the new cantina bar scene, but this lacked the menace of the original movie, a violent scene apparently cut but which would have added to the risk always present to our heroes. However again in re-establishing that said galaxy it was an important inclusion. While the new Maz Kanata character gives the advice of an alien being which has lived a long time and seen a lot of action, displaying the wisdom we've come to expect from Yoda, there are bound to be many lifeforms that have seen much throughout the galaxies turbulent history though heavy on CG.
Another new mysterious character is Supreme Leader Snoke, introduced in a similar way to the Emperor in Empire Strikes Back, we know little of his background but that will no doubt become clearer in the second movie as both Rey and Kylo Ren's powers are explored further.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens set out to create new Star Wars fans while reigniting the fun and excitement for the old ones. With a narrow margin it needed to capture that feeling of the old movies with familiar moments while taking the story forward, this resulted in a difficult balancing act that JJ Abrams passed with flying colours. A proven success, this was just the movie the franchise needed and at a time when it balances both young and old in terms of appeal, now younger people can finally see why older people enjoyed the original trilogy so much and with a story including all of the elements that made the originals great, The Force Awakens surpassing all expectations. From story and character development to film techniques using sets and real effects, it was all there and despite seeing the movie twice I can't get enough of it.
The Force is indeed strong with this one and I look forward to this trilogies ultimate destiny as the story unfolds.
But it doesn't end there, in my next article I'll be looking at some of the toys and goodies available for both small kids and big kids, now excuse me while I head back on to Star Wars Battlefront and return to Jakku, getting it all prepared for Rey.