Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Release date: 17th December 2015/Watch the trailer here

I’ve seen The Force Awakens three times. If you’ve seen it (and let’s face it, who hasn’t seen it by now?) and didn’t like it, you might want to stop reading now, because that opening sentence should tell you all that you need to know about the following review.

Let’s back up. I know that everyone says this, but my dad is one of the biggest Star Wars fans you’ll ever meet. He raised me on the original trilogy, and I have fond memories of him reading the opening crawl to me back when I was too young to be able to read it myself.

Fast forward. I had been excited to see The Force Awakens for what felt like forever, and now I was finally at the midnight showing. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt the moment Star Wars first appeared on screen, followed by a brand new opening crawl and  John Williams’ iconic Star Wars theme accompanying it. It was the best possible kind of nostalgia.

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I have since seen The Force Awakens another two times. In the past, I’ve found that repeat viewings of films that I adored on first watch tend to be disappointing. The more you watch, the more you notice flaws that you were too giddy in your excitement to notice the first time. I haven’t had this issue with The Force Awakens. If anything, I think that I love it even more.

Episode VII of the Star Wars saga is centred around the search for Luke Skywalker. The Resistance’s best pilot, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) has hidden a map leading to his whereabouts within an adorable little droid known as BB-8. The droid ends up in the hands of desert scavenger, Rey (Daisy Ridley), and a runaway stormtrooper by the name of Finn (John Boyega), whose paths soon end up crossing those of a few familiar faces…

Of course, plots in films are never quite so simple. There’s an ominous figure called Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), and he wants the map to Skywalker to be in the possession of the sinister First Order. Oh, and there’s a giant Death Star-esque planet – the Starkiller Base (which is a nice little nod to Luke Skywalker’s original name) – armed with a super-weapon capable of destroying entire star systems.

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What The Force Awakens achieves so incredibly well is making its audience fall in love with its new characters. Of course fans were excited to see Luke, Han, Leia and the gang back in action – but this is a brand new trilogy, with brand new faces.

We have Daisy Ridley’s Rey, an orphaned scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku. I love Rey. I love that we have a Star Wars movie with a strong, kickass woman as its main character, and not just a strong female main character, but a female main character who has a fascinating storyline that does not involve a love interest. Thank you, J.J. Abrams.

John Boyega plays ex-stormtrooper FN-2187 (renamed to the much more catchy ‘Finn’). John Boyega is brilliant. He is so very funny, but what I love about the character of Finn is that he’s so much more interesting than just the comic relief role. He has been raised since childhood to serve the First Order. He is brave and strong but also sometimes he’s in need of saving, and in Rey, he finds the friend that he’s never had before.

Then we have Oscar Isaac’s starfighter pilot Poe Dameron, the painfully cool, eternally awesome best pilot in the Resistance. ‘I can fly anything‘, he tells Finn. ‘That’s one hell of a pilot!’ Finn later remarks, with whooping glee. I hope we see much more of Poe in Episode VIII, because as cool and as awesome and as much of a really, really great guy that he is, we never get to know much about him. I love Poe Dameron, I really do. I want a Poe Dameron standalone spin-off film, please.

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I could spend hours talking about how brilliant The Force Awakens‘ characters are, but I feel like I can’t write this review without at least mentioning Kylo Ren. He’s the best villain we’ve ever seen in a Star Wars film. Yes, I said it. He is a troubled young man who is torn between the dark side and the light. He is not evil, but his inner turmoil causes him to do terrible things. He is not calm and restrained in the same way that Darth Vader was. He throws tantrums. He is emotional. He is not merely a robotic figure, hiding behind a helmet. He is a real person, and he has demons which we, the audience, come to understand – even if we’ll never love him for what he does.

As I reach the end of this post, I realise that it was less of a review, and more of a declaration of my love for The Force Awakens. That’s okay. I know that it has its flaws, but I’d rather talk about how it makes me feel. It makes me feel like I’m a child again, awestruck at the adventures of these wonderful characters that I want to be my friends. It gives me goosebumps. It makes me laugh, and it makes me cry. I want to watch it over, and over, and over again. I need Episode VIII now, but until then, I think I might go and watch Episode VII for a fourth time…

★★★★★

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