Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens film review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D (12A)

Directo: J.J. Abrams

Website: Star Wars.com

Some family Christmas traditions remain, some change with age and slowly the Christmas panto trip has been replaced with the Christmas cinema trip. (Oh, no it hasn't... Oh, yes it has!) This year, the build up has been almost tectonic in expectation, the new Star Wars with a new director, new cast, new effects... could it possibly live up to the mountainous pressure of mass marketing, let alone our own expectations?
With tickets booked a long time ago we arrived at the cinema with our 3D glasses expecting the place to be packed to find ourselves in a curiously half-empty auditorium. Clearly the appeal of 3D has passed so if you like your movies without a food chomping, phone watching, chair kicking, arm-rest jostling crowd I recommend you give the glasses a go.
I was the generation who grew up with Episodes 4-6, my kids are the generation who grew up with 1-3 and now we all wait, popcorn at the ready for episode 7. One thing we have all agreed on, we are hoping it's more Jawa than Jar Jar Binks, more action, less politics.
My biggest concern was; knowing it's a young female lead in this new Disney film, it would be the fly-waisted heroine with her doubting male comedy side-kick, overcoming adversity with a rebellious streak and a neat range of coordinating dolls, duvets and dressing gowns... not because I don't want young women to be empowered by their film role models but because Star Wars always felt more nuanced, more about the internal struggle of the male psyche. Princess Leia always had her head screwed on straight about right and wrong, Luke, not so much. With yet another post/pre-war, terror-weary generation trying to find a way through to adulthood my fingers were firmly crossed for something more than gold bikinis and teddy bears.
J.J. Abrams skillfully navigates the movie through majestic scenery, finding a good blend of LOTR-style locations and Star Wars-franchise CGI planets to fully explore this new story. And it is a relief to find it is a story, weaving in old and new characters and leaving you wanting to find out more. I'm deliberately being vague and trying not to give away any spoilers, but the two new leads, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn in particular (John Boyega), are convincing. The story has echoes of Episode 4 which is not a bad thing and the battle scenes do not disappoint. Even the 3D is OK, though used more for depth than leap in your face action. Set after the fall of the Empire and with the rise of a new, more evil foe, this is a family movie that explores family relationships in it, particularly war-torn ones, whether people set adrift by conflict or families torn apart by opposing sides, it finds a resonance with the world today. As to whether there are any gold bikinis or teddy bears, I shall leave it up to you to find out.
Although rated a 12A I think it could have been a PG. The force is strong with this one, five out of five on the midi-chlorian count.
*****