Friday, 18 December 2015

movies with kirsty: the force awakens

First of all, breathe. If you've been worrying whether Episode VII will live up to the hype or not, set your mind at ease. For the first time in over 30 years, I think we can finally agree - Star Wars is back.

The traditional opening credits and music give you an immediate sense of familiarity that stays with you throughout the film. It's not just the reintroduction of the characters you know from the original trilogy; The Force Awakens induces a unique kind of déjà vu through plot points, in-jokes in the dialogue and even camera angles. Some people might argue that JJ Abrams is pandering to his audience with the sheer amount of fan service, but there's no denying that warm fuzzy feeling that the references give you.

Of course, it was unbelievably emotional seeing beloved characters like Han, Leia and Chewie on screen and back together again. But the new introductions did a remarkable job of slotting in to the formidable franchise and interacting with both each other and the veterans. John Boyega is a particular standout as Finn/FN-2187, revealing his uncertainty - and slight dorkiness - even in his initial introduction whilst wearing a Stormtrooper uniform. Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron is instantly charming, although his motivations remain unclear along with complexities of character - by the end of the movie, he still appears to be just a damn swell guy and a great Resistance fighter pilot. Similarly, we are left with several questions about Rey, although Daisy Ridley's performance is sensitive and authentic.

Rey, Finn and of course the adorable BB8
Unless you've really done your research or are incredibly skilled at voice recognition, you'll be hard pushed to recognise big name actors such as Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong'o, although I suppose they add more appeal - if that's even possible for perhaps the most publicised movie ever. I was also left slightly disappointed by the role of Captain Phasma, played by the delightful Gwendoline Christie. Her character's appearance on the poster is slightly misleading, as she has limited screen time and doesn't play a very active role as an antagonist. I suppose there's only so much you can fit in one movie!

Thankfully the Dark Side is well represented in the sneering General Hux, enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke, and of course, our major villain Kylo Ren. Played by Adam Driver, he provides a multi-dimensional and complex villain for the Star Wars franchise - a refreshing change from the all-conquering 'I'm so evil' vibe of Vader (yeah so the prequels humanised him, whatever). I'm intrigued to see how the events of The Force Awakens take their toll on him in episode VIII.

every story needs a good old-fashioned villain with a cool black helmet and a cape

My favourite thing about this film was definitely how really, truly funny it was. Han Solo has always provided some witty and dry remarks, but he seems to have taken on more of his actor Harrison Ford's personality, becoming a hilariously grumpy old cynic. His interactions with new recruits Finn and Rey make for some great entertainment.

Admittedly, minute details are kind of glossed over in this film; the intentions and rulings of 'First Order' who are now in control remain out of focus, other than that they're obviously oppressive. However, it's true that jokes, fast action scenes and lightsaber battles are a lot more entertaining than talk about politics and dictatorships. Overall, JJ Abrams did a terrific job of reintroducing Star Wars to the world in a way that honoured the originals but created a fresh and exciting new film. I can't wait to see what will happen next - after all, this is only the beginning.

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