It’s something that I’ve followed thoroughly over the past 3 years, and for some it’s been over 30 year in the making. Since Disney took over Lucasfilm I, and many others, have been glued to a catalogue of news, rumours and videos that have been circulating the mainstream – Detailing the various updates that Disney has to offer. I’ll be honest, I did have concerns about the acquisition of LucasFilm by Disney in late 2012, but as soon as I learnt the cost and commitment of that transaction, I knew that we were in store for something spectacular. In fact, I titillated with excitement when the first teaser was announced as I scanned it 20 times over, absorbing every last detail. I was in awe when the BB-8 droid rolled out on stage during the the Star Wars Celebration and my spine tingled as I wept at the viewing of first official trailer for the Episode 7. In truth, Star Wars is a big part of my life and it’s fair to that It’s an understatement to suggest that I was excited for this film.
It seems as though the whole world has caught Star Wars fever over the past few weeks leading up to the film’s release. I couldn’t turn a corner without seeing the franchise plastered on the wall of some retail outlet, or scourer youtube without being tangled in a stream of Star Wars related content. It seems that Disney have kept to the LucasFilm tradition of whoring themselves out to every punter that is willing to pay for merchandising rights. I’m not offended, nor am I shocked at scale of marketing that has bleached our modern pop culture over past few months. After all, it’s not as if it affects the credibility of the film; as shown by the untarnished reputation the prequels had on this multi-billion dollar franchise.
Personally, Star Wars has been a big part of my childhood. Although I never previously had the chance to enjoy a theatrical release of a Star Wars film, It has been a continuous stepping stone in my time growing up and has raised me to become who I am today. I often reflect on Star Wars as being one of the pillars of film-making and regard it highly amongst an encyclopedia of art that has revolutionised the way we live, as It is impossible to avoid the impact that this film franchise has had on our pop culture over the past 30+ years. References from the original trilogy are unavoidable and they are still being credited in today’s modern society with a slew of medium that unknowingly take inspiration from the Star Wars franchise and vice versa.
I think it’s fair to say that there was a fashionable hype throughout the media and the consumer leading up to this film’s release. Suddenly, my facebook feed was clogged with Star Wars related statuses, videos and photos, and my personal Twitter was congested with hashtags, adverts and tweets relating the the newest, eagerly awaited installment. Our culture has had such a dramatic turnaround in terms of how we perceive different trends. Suddenly it has become fashionable to be a geek, despite it’s closeted perspective it had on the media only a decade ago.
I was a child in ecstasy as soon as that bold, universal title graphic plastered the screen and the orchestral symphony echoed the hall. My spine tingled as the scroll of golden text covered the emptiness that was space itself, it was nostalgic visiting something that is so familiar to so many. A sudden burst of Deja vu caused uncontrollable spasms and screeches during the opening sequence and an influx of emotions filtered through my brain whilst I followed the beloved harmony that happily surrounded my ears. Never before have I experienced a Star Wars film in theatre so this was a completely new experience for me, and must I say that it was truly thrilling. Only one other film this year has enabled such amount of adrenaline and that was ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.
Disney were smart enough to contract fellow Geek J.J Abrams to write, co-produce and direct Episode 7. Abrams is a great director whose work includes the latest Star Trek movies as well as the science fiction thriller ‘Super-8’. There was a sigh of relief once it was known that Abrams would be directing the first film as fans had complete trust in his capabilities of creating one of the most highly anticipated films of the decade. However, I’m sure that J.J himself felt a great deal of stress in worries that he may disappoint such a savage fanbase. From watching the film I can tell you that Abrams and his team did not disappoint and I would highly regarded this installment as a true Star Wars film that managed to live up to quality of the first three movies.
If you know me then you’ll probably understand my love of practical effects. I believe that the use of practical effects displays the amount of thought and effort that has gone into producing a movie, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens was no exception. Though it would’ve been so much easier and cheaper to use special effects, Abrams tried to use practical effects wherever he could to create a much more real and traditional Star Wars film. Every alien or creature that appeared in the film was either a costume or makeup and most scenes were filmed on location or in a pre-built set. I congratulate Abrams and Disney on keeping to this tradition as the abundance of special effects is one of the reasons why the prequel trilogy is so hated amongst many.
The story was intriguing, I felt that it created the same amount of mystique that ‘A New Hope’ did but also introduced the plot absurdly well. We didn’t know what was happening nor did we know why, and much like the main characters the audience was thrown into the action without warning. In some sense it felt as if history was repeating itself as the plot and storyline made constant parallels with the original trilogy. It seemed that once more a droid with an important message must travel the galaxy with help from two unknowingly important individuals to save the universe from an underlying evil. Because of the stories similarities, it was predictable at times and I can only presume that it was done on purpose to create a foreshadowed effect on the audience.
There were plenty of small details that harkened back to the original trilogy, and some of methods that were used in those original films were continued in the production of Episode 7. The Holographic chess board that is spotted in the Millennium Falcon was brought back thanks to the help of Phil Tippett who designed and produced the original stop motion sequence. Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) were all brought back to play their respective roles and although It wasn’t necessary, it did make the film feel that more belonging.
J.J Abrams did a great job at casting for this film, choosing the new batch of heroes and villains that will control the silver screen for years to come. John Boyega portrayed the very unique role of a rebellious Storm Trooper that was seen as a traitor in the eyes of The First Order, but presented as the confused hero throughout the rest of the film. Boyega managed to show a rainbow of emotion but also managed to play a character that slowly detached from the robotic, emotionless soldier he had been forced to live and despite his prominent South London accent he managed to maintain a rich and thick dialect throughout. Daisy Ridley, who has also appeared in the British teen comedy ‘The Inbetweeners 2’, played the Jakku born scavenger ‘Rey’. Rey was a very unique character that reminded me of the hopeless nobody Luke Skywalker and her performance made her a likable character that the audience sympathizes.
Adam Driver had one of the most demanding roles in the film, having to play the newest villain Kylo Ren. Ren’s constant ambition to be as great as the evil Lord Vader created a sense of solace from the viewer. Driver managed to convey the correct emotions for an unstable sith lord with an uncontrollable amount of power and in doing so made a memorable character that struck fear into the audience’s eyes. On the other end of the galactic spectrum, we had ace resistance pilot Poe Dameron. Played by Oscar Isaac this charmingly handsome character gave an upbeat tone to the film as his character possessed a great deal of personality that is reminiscent of the rebellious galactic smuggler Han Solo. Along with the new cast, we were greeted by the stars of the original trilogy. It was great to see these no-named actors aside of the legends of the first three films and their talent and companionships that made the first three films still translated 30+ years later. I was pleased that Abrams chose to cast small-time actors as it gave the chance to share new talent with the world. It was nice to to that they focused on the character building of these new faces and really identified to the audience that Disney owe this to the fans.
The Force Awakens felt like an original Star Wars film, reimagined 30 years later and being able to witness the theatrical release of Episode 7 was not only privilege, but an honour. I spent some time writing this review in order to prevail the points I wanted to include without sharing a bias opinion. This is by far the longest and most in-depth review I have ever written which shows my dedication towards the catalogue and history of these films. Disney, J.J Abrams and everyone involved in the making of this masterpiece really cared about what they were making and spent the time and effort to make it the best film of the year without relying on the already established credibility the franchise obtains. It was obvious that a multi-billion dollar franchise is not going to cut corners and thus I was never worried that Disney may vandalise the credibility of the Star Wars name. In all, I was expecting something great, but I received something spectacular, which is why I am rating ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ an 11/10.