Review: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Jessie Mathewson 11 January 2016

A long time ago in 2012, devoted Star Wars fans felt a disturbance in the force when Disney bought Lucasfilm for the Death-Star-sized sum of $4billion. Following the pitiful prequel trilogy, there were genuine concerns that the franchise would be “disneyfied”, and would result in cuddly CGI Goofy-Jar Jar Binks hybrid characters even more emotionless than Hayden Christensen. With J. J. Abrams at the directorial helm, he has succeeded in doing what he did with the recent Star Trek films; Abrams has created a nostalgia-trip rooted in the best parts of the original trilogy. Having smashed nearly all box office records, The Force Awakens is the new hope that fans were longing for.

Although it seemed that all was well at the end of Episode VI with our favourite rebels, the smuggler Han Solo, Princess Leia and Jedi Luke Skywalker, dancing with the ewoks following the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the party clearly didn’t last. Episode VII picks up a few decades later on the desert planet of Jakku, where a scavenger called Rey and Stormtrooper-deserter Finn serendipitously come across spherical droid, BB8, which contains vital information that needs to be returned to General Leia. Sounds familiar? The Force Awakens essentially follows the exact same story-arch as Episode IV, but on an even greater scale that is nostalgic for the fans, but has the sense of a franchise being created anew that should appeal to a 21st Century audience.

Having attended an open audition in London, I did feel a little cheated that I wasn’t cast. New-found British talent Daisy Ridley as Rey, and Attack the Block actor John Boyega as Finn take you on a huge journey from the desert planet of Jakku, to a place resembling Mos Eisley Cantina, to the new First-Order base, with such humour and authenticity that I fully engaged in their story. Adam Driver takes on the role of Kylo Ren, a Sith-in-training who is obsessed with fulfilling Darth Vader’s destiny, (which isn’t entirely clear considering Vader was a puppet of the Emperor…). Nonetheless, Driver convincingly portrays a conflicted soul who has more important concerns than Anakin’s aversion to sand.

Gone are the days of George Lucas’ dire dialogue that would be better suited to an E. L. James novel.  The force is strong with J. J. Abrams and he has restored balance to this franchise. Let’s hope it continues…