As something I can only classify as a Christmas miracle, I managed to see/get seats to Star Wars: The Force Awakens a week after the initial release without having been witness to any spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film, this review will be completely spoiler free, but alas, judging by the box office sales, it’s likely that you’ve already seen it — maybe even twice.
The Force Awakens is the start of a new trilogy in the Star Wars universe, and marks the beginning of Disney’s somewhat aggressive plan for everyone’s favourite sci-fi saga. The main trilogy will see another release in 2017, and again two years later in 2019, with spin-offs and extended universe films being released in those yearly gaps.
Surprisingly, and much to the credit of the film’s script, Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn) bring a fresh sense of life to the franchise. Ridley is 22, and Boyega is 23, making them approximately as young as Mark Hamill (26) and Carrie Fisher (21) in Star Wars: Episode IV when it premiered in 1977.
Throughout the first half of the film, I found myself hoping the movie would get started and bring back the actors we are all familiar with from the original trilogy, but through the second half, I just wanted to see more of Rey and Finn, alongside new charismatic villain, Kylo Ren. While the roles of Fisher and Ford presented a near tear-jerking moment, and clouded the entire theatre in a moist haze of nostalgia, some of the references to the earlier trilogy were clumsily done. The film makes it sound as if in the last 30 years, these characters haven’t done anything notable. Although this is probably true for Carrie Fisher’s acting career, it’s a noticeable void in the canon. There’s a smug “remember when we blew up the Deathstar?” that runs through the film, somewhat spoiling the referential fun.
Overall, the film, beyond the grandiose effects and epic nature, is an introduction of new characters into an extremely codexed universe. In that respect, it succeeded. The young, new blood was perfectly cast, and these characters are compelling enough to warrant the amount of screen time they consume. It seems as if Star Wars will continue to be the reason a young generation will grow up being able to read Roman numerals.
- Steve Nadon