Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

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Entertaining in parts, but nothing special and unoriginal. Set decades after Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, peace has not lasted and the Empire is once again imposing its control on the galaxy.

Beware the following will contain plot detail.

Being one of the most iconic and successful film franchises ever, Disney has taken the mammoth task of reviving Star Wars. The franchise has almost universal appeal and its praise is rightly justified due to its rich and diverse imagination of science fiction. I did not follow much of the pre-release, but I had seen the rest of the series so a sequel was most welcome.

Beginning with the famous scrolling text, the Empire’s new faction called “The First Order”, led by Kylo Ren (Driver) the heir to the Darth Vader throne, are hunting a droid containing a special map. Then we have Rey (Ridley), the new hero/hope, and it all feels very familiar. Too familiar. From this point, the threat to peace once again manifests itself as a new death star (a planet sized machine that destroys planets). With little time to spare, rebel forces old and new eventually band together and form a plan to take down the death star. This is as traditional as it gets, with new key characters introduced along the way such as Poe (Isaac), an ace pilot, and Finn (Boyega), a defected storm trooper.

Due to the many semblances to its predecessors, the plot is inevitably anticlimactic and so it’s mostly left to the visuals to impress. Space has always been a playground for special effects artists and, in 3D, the dark depths of space are spectacularly lit up like a firework display.

Most disappointingly, even after so many years, the plot feels unnatural and forced – probably why the initial extension to the trilogy were prequels. Whilst there have been more questionable prequels, they were at least original. On the other hand, for those who have never seen Star Wars, The Force Awakens showcases excellently what all the hype is about, although starting on the 7th film of a franchise is ill advised. It appears then there is a problem as to whom to recommend this film, but one audience well catered for are the nostalgic fans. For me, the force may have awakened but it’s yet to get going.

 

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