Thursday, December 17, 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)


Review #1,244






THE SCOOP
Director:  J.J. Abrams
Cast:  Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow
Plot:  A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set thirty years after 'Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi'

Genre:  Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
Awards:  Nom. for 5 Oscars - Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects
Runtime:  135min
Rating:  PG for sci-fi action violence.
Distributor:  Walt Disney Studios

IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“Chewie, we're home.”

The diverse audience clapped and whooped with unbridled joy as “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”, and the iconic opening crawl appeared along with the 'Star Wars' main title theme by John Williams (he’s back with new themes and rousing cues). 

It is the epitome of inter-generational fandom.  And in the shrewd (or sly) business acquisition of ‘Star Wars’, Disney helped dispel some of the ‘superhero’ fatigue that they induced with nearly a decade of Marvel movies, by providing the tonic that we all needed in The Force Awakens

This is a reunion of characters we missed dearly, and a wonderful opportunity to take the saga in a new if familiar direction.  I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard fan, but this is one of those movies which comes once every few years that you will be tempted to see it twice, maybe thrice, maybe many more times in theatres. 

The story continues thirty years after the events of Return of the Jedi (1983), and that is all you should know.  There are new characters introduced, including Rey and Finn played by newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega respectively, who you will grow to like as immensely as you did when you first saw Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in A New Hope (1977), all virtually unknowns at that time. 

The Force Awakens follows mainly the trajectory of Rey’s journey as a desert scavenger who is inevitably thrust into the battle between good and evil, the latter represented by the fearsome Nazi-esque First Order, led by villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). 

Fanboy director J.J. Abrams delivers with aplomb a film that we all want to see.  It’s a ‘Star Wars’ movie through and through, taking most of the elements that made the original trilogy such a joy to watch (though this ‘recycling’ will probably not go down well with the more critical fans). 

The Force Awakens is not exactly an inspired piece of blockbuster cinema, and it doesn’t quite innovate in its own self-contained world, but it proves satisfying throughout.  The movie is well-paced, despite being as lengthy as the terrible The Phantom Menace (1999), and is constantly moving forward with exciting thrill-a-minute action set-pieces. 

Considering the hype and anticipation, Abrams and Disney can now heave a huge sigh of relief.  The pressure is now on Rian Johnson’s shoulders – the next episode is scheduled for a summer 2017 release.  We can only wait with bated breath. 

Verdict:  It's back, big time – a satisfying continuation of possibly popular cinema's greatest saga.

GRADE: A- 






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