**BE WARNED, MINIMAL SPOILERS AHEAD**
So, how can I describe this film without giving any of the spoilers? First off, the film is a huge achievement in what can be created in the world from George Lucas. Taking place around 30 years after Return Of The Jedi, we begin the story on the planet of Jakku. Jakku was where a huge battle had taken place many years before, and looks set to see more action from its earliest moments. We learn the FIRST ORDER has come to take over from the Empire and looks to defeat the Resistance, and the FIRST ORDER are tough. We are steadily introduced to our new lead stars, as they burst onto the screen in a fantastic way. From X-Wing pilot Poe, Scavenger Rey and Stormtrooper Finn, we get to see them introduced gradually over the first ten minutes. The amount of practical effects is evident greatly in the opening moments, and sets a great tone for the rest of the movie. Of course, we also get to meet new droid BB-8 (the best practical invention I have seen on screen for a long time). Also from the opening few minutes, we meet the main villain, Kylo Ren! From the very beginning, we know how powerful Kylo is (and there is a good reason he follows the path originally for Darth Vader). This is a character who controls the FIRST ORDER (the new Stormtroopers, who can actually aim well and mean business), very powerful with the force and owns a cool lightsaber. He has one main ambition, to hunt down a certain Jedi.
From the very beginning, we know we don’t need to rely on the old cast to make this film entertaining. The laughs are constant, especially during the first hour of the movie. The action makes a perfect blend of CGI and props really explode on the screen. Nothing beats the thrill of when you see Han Solo and Chewbacca first appear on the screen (I kid you not; there was an applause in that screen!). To have the millennium Falcon flying through the danger is always exciting, and the arm rests on my seat in the cinema definitely had plenty of wear from my grip (not force grip). To see the interactions of characters old and new is superb, whether it is BB-8 making friends with a familiar looking protocol droid or even Finn and Rey getting help with a smuggler and his hairy companion. Also, the number of villains in this movie may seem rather huge, but they all link back to the one cause. Kylo Ren may be the one we follow, but he is not the one in charge. Supreme Leader Snoke is a villain who looks to be the new emperor, but be sure to see more learnt about him as the film series go on. Also, we see you can get bigger and better with the construction of Starkiller Base, a planet which is turned into a weapon (sound familiar? It seems like the Dark Side like to keep their plans huge!).
Remember, this is only the first of three new films in the main series. There is a certain amount of set-up in this movie, there is just so much going on and that last scene will be both slightly irritating and breath-taking. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega steal the show as Rey and Finn, both injecting a new blood to the system. Their combination works well on many levels and hopefully shall continue to grow in Episode VIII. Adam Driver portrays a convincing villain in Kylo Ren, his actions will have you both feeling bad (there are some issues) for him and hating him (when you see what he does, you will hate him!). Peter Mayhew and Harrison Ford lead the pack and provide central roles to The Force Awakens. Han Solo and Chewbacca do the same as they did in Episode IV and win fans over within seconds of appearing on screen, and Han is still a smuggler with a heart for adventure (wait till you see what he has recently acquired). There isn’t much to go on, but Andy Serkis brings a strong menace with Supreme Leader Snoke. When we next see him, it should be a chance to see the extent of his powers. Carrie Fisher gets back into the Leia role nicely, and joined by Anthony Daniels as the popular C3PO definitely will please lifelong fans. There are too many characters to single out, but all play their parts well. Though I was hoping to hear “It’s A Trap” from one returning character, but it never pans out that way (but still very cool to see him).
I must say, this has become my favourite film made by JJ Abrams (and only two lens flares that really stood out), and his writing partnership with Lawrence Kasdan (using Michael Arndt’s original and expanding on it) shows that they had the job down to a tee and Lawrence can still do top notch work like he did for The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. George Lucas has passed this onto the safest of hands, and the future looks great. Having the opening text crawl is still the chill that sets you in for a great ride. The effects make the original trilogy not look out of place, making a good blend of what we saw and keeping the same look that we had back then. The film is not perfect, but it is superior to many films you will see this year. A few quarrels in regards to screen time for some characters are questionable and pacing is at times a bit off, but overall I loved this film. The excitement of two lightsabers striking each other is what we build up to in any Star Wars film, and this fight really does impress. It is a long wait now to May 2017 to see what comes next, but that last scene definitely shows you why you will want to watch the next one. Also, you know that Mark Hamill hasn’t been shown much in promotion, you will soon find out why! Also, look out for what happens when Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac, definitely will be the cool guy from this point onwards) shoot’s at a certain character, and soon regrets it.
A superb film, a pleasure throughout and the nostalgic trip which is easy to absorb. A great start to the follow-up trilogy we wanted. Best of luck to Rian Johnson, May The Force Be With You!
Final Rating: 9.5/10
Written by Jonjo Cosgrove