Mrs Earth-Prime and I went to the five past midnight showing of the new Star Wars film last night and, after getting home at 3am, crashing out catching up on some sleep, here’s my review.
Be warned – this will contain spoilers so here’s a large picture you can scroll beyond if you want to read them.
Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Short version: this is a damn good film and a worthy sequel to the original trilogy.
Longer version: where to start? There’s a lot going on in the film – the First Order, created from the remnants of the Empire, have created a huge, planet destroying weapon with which to crush the re-established Republic and its military wing, the Resistance (formerly the Rebellion). Finn, a Stormtrooper stuck by an attack of conscience, helps a captured Resistance pilot, Poe, escape and eventually meets up with Rey, a scavenger on the desert planet Jakku, who had earlier come into possession of Poe’s droid, BB-8, which the First Order are searching for under the command of Kylo Ren, a dark lord who is also (highlight big spoiler to read) the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa.
Finn, Rey and BB-8 escape in the Millennium Falcon and are then captured by Han Solo and Chewie who’ve been looking for the Falcon. Escaping from other bad guys, they look for help in a “hive of scum and villainy” type of place where, coincidentally, the owner has Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber which calls to Rey. They’re attacked by the First Order with Rey being captured by Kylo Ren. The First Order’s weapon is used and destroys the system (which might have been Coruscant) housing the new Republic. Once Solo and the others meet up with Leia Organa and the Resistance, a rescue/attack mission is planned to find Rey and also destroy the First Order’s weapon.
The attack is a success and the planet killing weapon is destroyed though not before (another big spoiler) Kylo Ren murders Han Solo, his own father. Ren and Finn face off with lightsabers with Finn coming off worst and left unconscious; Rey, however, taps into the Force and is able to fight Ren to a standstill, even wounding him and scarring his face. They’re rescued by Chewie in the Falcon and manage to get back to the Resistance.
The reason everyone wanted BB-8 is because it held the final part of a map showing the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker; Rey flies off to a remote planet and the film finishes with her finding Skywalker and offering him his old lightsaber.
The film looks fantastic – most of it is shot on location or with real characters, giving it a warmth and reality that the prequel trilogy lacked due to the reliance on CGI – and it’s a damn sight funnier than any of the other Star Wars films, too, with lots of one liners and nods back to the earlier films. At one point, Finn and Solo have captured Captain Phasma and wonder what to do with her, leaving Solo to ask if there’s a nearby garbage chute that leads to a trash compactor.
But at the same time, the similarities between The Force Awakens and A New Hope were a little too obvious for me: the droid with the data; the Rebels/Resistance on a forest planet hideout; the system destroying weapon; the countdown as the weapon moves into position/recharges itself; the X-wing attack down the trench leading to the exhaust port/oscillator. In places it was a little too much like the original that it almost felt like a remake instead of a sequel – even some of the dialogue felt stilted and unnatural in places, just like the first one.
However, there’s enough new stuff in there to keep it from being too flat. Kylo Ren – a literal Darth Vader wannabe – has a long way to go before being able to fill his idol’s shoes, showing that it takes more than just a black cloak, mask and voice changer to be a bad guy. His boss, Supreme Leader Snoke, appears as a hologram that towers over him and his First Order generals. And both Rey and Finn are more than worthy additions to the cast as well.
I’ve deliberately not read any other reviews before writing this but I’m aware it’s getting favourable write-ups and I don’t want to appear that I’m damning the film with faint praise – I’m really not. I came out of the cinema with a huge grin on my face, will definitely be seeing it again and can’t wait for Episode VIII.
One thing, though – I really hope they do more with Captain Phasma next time as she had two or three lines of dialogue and not much else.