<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by JJ Abrams. Starring Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o
Running Time: 2 hours 16 minutes
Never before have I seen a film release with so much fanfare and excitement. Well not since Jurassic Park, at least.
And why not? Star Wars was a hit trilogy that became classic sci-fi and spawned an industry of memorabilia, costumes and toys. It was epic, majestic and magical. It had characters that will live forever in the hallowed halls of filmdom.
So it’s surprising that it took all these decades (Return of the Jedi released in 1983) for a new Star Wars film to surface – and I’m not counting the ridiculous ‘prequel’ films that followed.
But money has to be made and in the capable hands of Disney, hopefully a good film too. And while Star Wars: The Force Awakens captures some of the passion of the original films, I think it’ll probably be most successful because of fans. It’ll fly high on the wings of nostalgia (and hype), because it really has nothing new to offer.
At the premiere (photos below), which I attended, there were Storm Troopers and Darth Vader and Light Sabres. There were plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and cheering when a character from the original films first appeared on screen. Except when Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia came on though, since I think people expected her to look as sexy as she did back then and that is far from the case. Hey, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is no spring chicken either – he can barely hold a light gun.
And what of the story: Luke Skywalker has gone in to hiding after his apprentice, and son of Han Solo and Leia, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) goes over to the dark side. But the First Order – the leftovers of the Empire – must find him to wipe out the last of the Jedi. BB8 – an adorable droid that behaves like a puppy – has the map to Luke’s whereabouts and he must be protected. That’s where Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) come in, the new breed for the next generation of Star Wars.
Boyega doesn’t really have that much to do but he manages to do the little quite well. Daisy Ridley is the real star of the show as she becomes one with the force. We all know whose kid she is.
But Adam Driver as Kylo Ren (a wannabe Darth Vader) appears terribly bland and ridiculous. With the mask he’s relatively imposing, without it he looks like a girl or a spoilt little child. And just like a brat, Kylo Ren proceeds to brandish his light sword and destroy everything around him every time he gets angry. The rebellion should have just kept getting him mad and he’d have destroyed all the Death Stars for them!
The problem I have with the new Star Wars is that it doesn’t look as grand as the original ones. There’s no majesty, even with the rousing and familiar score by John Williams. Sure there’s action and battles but it’s all the same. You’ve seen it before. And the other part of the storyline about a giant Death Star wiping out planets… well you’ve seen that before as well. And the part where the X-Wing fighters have to penetrate it and destroy it… well you get the drift.
Also, it’s all a bit confusing what with the Republic, the rebellion, the First Order, and where they all fit in and what they all mean to each other after all the other films have passed. I really didn’t understand the politics of it all and the film doesn’t explain them.
To be honest, I have to say that JJ Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise (yes, I am a Star Trek fan) was far more exciting and fresh than this new Star Wars film. And there was no guarantee I’d love the new Star Trek. In fact, as a fan I may have hated his take on it. But it was just the right amount of contemporary with the ethos of what Gene Roddenberry had envisioned.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will make billions and please most fans that are just desperate for some new material to keep them going. Is it a great film: No. Is it a film more in tune and spirit of the original films: Definitely.