As in the previous instalments of this thirty eight year old franchise, it tells the story of a galaxy threatened by great evil. The First Order, much like the Empire before them, are a coterie of masked figures, hell-bent on total domination and in control of an infernal arsenal. This time around the galaxy’s saviours are Rey and Finn. The former, a scavenger eking out a living in a desert wasteland; the latter, a rebellious Stormtrooper who refuses to assent to his commander’s brutal orders. Played by relative newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, the pair’s on-screen chemistry is undeniable. In the hands of less talented actors, the script’s comic understatement and slightly awkward repartee could fall flat. It’s to their credit that, here, it doesn’t.
The duo are joined by a gang of resistance fighters, among them returning characters Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia (now Commander Organa). And these old favourites aren’t all that’s back. The film recycles plenty of its plotlines, and does so with a delectable knowing. The First’s Order new weapon is in effect a larger version of the Death Star. At one point, there’s even a hologram comparing the two. Meanwhile the infamous father-son showdown makes a welcome return, staged once more at the hollowed heart of a space station. Far from laziness, this is a moment of self-reference that draws its force from the series’ history: it feels timeless, almost elementally dramatic.
In much the same way, the villain of the piece Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), draws inspiration from Darth Vader. In their cloaked garb and icy screen presence, there’s much that unites the two baddies. That said, there’s a capriciousness to Ren that separates him from Vader, and leaves Driver’s performance feeling fresh and terrifying in its own particular way.
The special effects, meanwhile, are as spectacular as you would hope and expect. Lasers fire across the galaxy; space ships hurtle between planets at light speed, and lightsabres smash into each other in perfectly choreographed fashion. It’s not exactly subtle, but it is deadly effective. You could say this of the film generally – the dialogue is lean, and the narrative familiar – but somehow it just doesn’t matter. The fact is, it’s tricky to think of a more enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.
Star Wars outdoors:
The Force Awakens is being screened in London parks this summer as part of Luna Cinema's open-air film programme - book your tickets now!
|What||Star Wars review: The Force Awakens|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
17 Dec 15 – 31 Jan 16, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Website||Click to go to Star Wars: The Force Awakens official website|