Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
"The action sequences are where the money went and can be quite spectacular"

Starting with the positive. Disney, new owners of the Star Wars franchise, should be congratulated on putting together such a formidable marketing campaign. The Force Awakens has broken every pre-sales/opening weekend record. Bravo the backroom boys!

What about the product?

Copy picture

The plot is simplistic and difficult to follow. A contradiction in terms? The planet - what planet? - is ruled by Nazi-U-Likes who have no sense of humour and zero social lives. Somewhere in the outer otherworld is The Resistance, headed by Granny Leia (Carrie Fisher), that doesn't make its move until near the end by which time you have experienced every shape and form of explosion known to CGI.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is the last Jedi alive. His presence could spark a rebellion amongst the downtrodden masses, not that we meet many of them. But where is he? The film is a search (for Luke) and a chase.

The leading players are not previously known to SW aficionados. Finn (John Boyega) is a brainwashed squaddie in a white onesie who decides for reasons unknown to throw away his kit and go AWOL. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a scavenger, related to tinkers no doubt, who gets caught up in this where's Luke thing and goes with the flow.

Finn is a solid enough bloke without being particularly interesting. Rey is feisty, almost sexy, surprisingly adept at anything mechanical as well as being able to pilot a space ship without lessons.

The action sequences are where the money went and can be quite spectacular. The arc of the story incorporates the incredible and the confusing as its landscapes morph between desert and forest and lush green lake shores and snow in the twitch of an eyeball.

The characters lack depth and back stories. In place of a towering menace, such as Darth Vader, there are three black masked commanders and a weird Supreme Leader, glimpsed in semi-darkness, resembling an Egyptian sand ghost.

Excitement runs dry because you don't care enough. Finn and Rey are minor figures given too much to do, involving running like mad before a bomb goes off, or getting lost in a cavernous space centre, outnumbered by storm troopers with automatic weapons.

The violence is acceptable because after a while it becomes irrelevant. Rey is the girl and girls escape - that's allowed - and Finn is black which makes him special, according to the PC Bible.

Suddenly, over half way in, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca pop up out of nowhere and things improve. The old charm hasn't left him and that's what is needed now, a light touch, some screen saved charisma and a hero with retro style, still wearing that battered leather jacket.

The only moment of genuine emotion, excluding Han's reunion with Leia, is when he faces their son who has gone over to the dark side. Otherwise the bang-bang-crash-crash content excludes tender moments, although Rey and Finn have an understanding that touches the further reaches of a sentimental core that remains mostly hidden.

J J Abrams, the creative tsar behind this George Lucas free SW continuum, has thrown the kitchen sink at his visuals, forgetting that character development matters. Although Battlestar Galactica is twice as tense, The Force Awakens resurrects Han Solo and, for a moment, bathes its seventh outing in a soft nostalgic light.

What about?



Oh, yes.... Next time.

Reviewed on: 19 Dec 2015
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Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens packshot
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a new threat has emerged and new heroes must arise to save the day.
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Read more Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens reviews:

Andrew Robertson ****1/2

Director: JJ Abrams

Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, JJ Abrams, Michael Arndt

Starring: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie

Year: 2015

Runtime: 135 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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