Definitely A New Hope: Star Wars – The Force Awakens Review

I have never written a film review before and I may never write one again. I will endeavour to avoid any form of spoiler for those people yet to see the film but if you really want to see this film with no preconceptions then stop reading now or return when you have seen it.

I was one of the original Star Wars generation. I grew up with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as heroes. I had the toys, the duvet case, the annuals and bought the films on VHS, DVD and then Blu-Ray. This was a story in three parts – with glaring plot holes even a child could see – but which contained everything a child could wish for. Good triumphs over evil, a bad guy, the good guys, lasers, spaceships  AND magical powers. Knights with futuristic weapons.

You could ride a wagon and horses through the scripts and I still don’t believe that George Lucas has episodes V and VI in mind (never mind episodes I-III) when he finished A New Hope.

Hell, I’m not even convinced he had decided Vader was Luke’s father when writing A New Hope but we all know how the story goes and in the end it made sense.

The prequels were long awaited but unnecessary. A wasted opportunity which were a triumph of CGI over story and whilst they did flesh out the story of Annakin Skywalker’s journey to the Dark Side most people felt robbed by the whole charade and particularly by the acting.

The Phantom Menace was the worst of the bunch and The Empire Strikes Back was the best.

One thing is certain about the first six Star Wars films – they were not – as you might initially have been forgiven for thinking after 1977 – the story of Luke Skywalker.

No – depending on which way you looked at it they were either the story of Anakin Skywalker or a story about two droids.

Either way, the triumphant ending of Return of The Jedi (digitally remastered with all manner of new scenery added to it) would lull you into the false sense of security that the Dark Side had been expunged forever and peace may reign long in a galaxy far far away.

When word was announced that George Lucas has sold the rights to the Star Wars franchise to Disney, die-hard fans gulped hard. There was every chance that this could turn out to be an over-commercialised disaster and whilst there was great delight at the prospect of a new film this was tinged with reservation.

However, when news filtered through that the original cast were all signed up for it and the director was going to be JJ Abrams (who so successfully rebooted the Star Trek franchise) then hope sprung eternal that things might turn out okay after all.

The shared thought of every Star Wars Fan watching as that iconic orchestra strike blasts and the yellow writing starts to pan into the distance is most likely to be “You better not have screwed this up, Walt!”

But I am pleased to report – they haven’t. They really haven’t.

The characters are believable. Stand out performances from Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) help ease viewers into the transition from old to new. There is a sense of “time passed” and a sense of history.

For the first time in a Star Wars movie, the dialogue works. The old jokes are there but the script doesn’t clank like it does in some of the earlier films. What is more, Han Solo really is Han Solo. This could have gone so terribly wrong but it really truly doesn’t.

It is hard to overstate how good Daisy Ridley is in this film. Ably supported by John Boyega as Finn, you can see how their adventure starts and know that there is so much more to come.

The old Empire of the original trilogy was always a thinly veiled parody of the Nazis and this imagery is particularly strong in The Force Awakens from both the costume design up to and including a scene which conjours memories of the Nuremburg Rallies (including speech.)

In many respects this film is more of the same. Enough homage to be respectful but clearly the beginning of something else. This is a transition film and you can see Episodes VIII and IX in your mind already.

At times, the true afficienado might struggle with “how did we end up here?” (If anything it gives rise to more ‘prequels’ set between Episode VI and VII) and there are a few moments of deja vu which make you wonder if the script-writers might have come up with something different but overall it is magnificent.

The battles are realistic, the fighting looks real, the spaceships incredible and the scenery is something else.

There are also moments of true cinematic genius. Such gloriously shot and imagined footage that it lifts the film to an even higher plain. One scene in particular stands out above all others – I won’t say what it is – you’ll know. It is a scene where no words are spoken – yet it says everything.

In summary, this is a film which seeks to link the old and the new. It does so magically and you know, you just know that the next films are going to be even better.

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