So this was a movie that we have all been waiting for – for more than a year now with bated breath, having trimmed down those expectations that refuse to lie still and keep poking you, saying “hey do you think Lucas still has it? Oh wait, this time it’s his protégé, JJ Abrams behind the wheel. So can he recreate the magic?”
If you have been on that boat – rocking yourself to sleep, not able to answer that question peacefully, then hey! its finally here. Part VII of the world’s biggest movie franchise. And did it knock the socks off of our audience? Well, the jury is divided on that.
I caught The Force Awakens in the first week of January – the Sunday before the world went back to work after an extensive festive holiday season. And simple answer to that question I posed above: I LOVED it.
We got new faces to root for, our older favorite characters are back in the story arc, there’s a new evil at large, prophecies and intriguing back stories to be revealed – All in all, it’s a rousing installment that certainly restores our hope in the series and we hope the trilogy continues to kick ass and deliver! [Notice that ‘hope’? The critics pan it saying why don’t we rename it to New Hope – II as the plot seems to be a derivative of the original trilogy part-I? But bah! These are the skeptics who would never shed their thick skins and look for something fresh.]
Writer-Director JJ Abrams plays it relatively safe – sticking to the original trilogy form – in this monumental new undertaking to “restore” the faith of the audience in the Hollywood blockbuster paradigm. Force Awakens probably will go on to break some records in the holiday season but what it unconditionally does is – bring back that warm nostalgia, comic sensibilities and shakes off that uncharacteristic torpor that seized episode I and II. What was very different in the feel – was that the movie was light and well-paced – shot with wisecracks and earnest humor by a lot many characters. And the fresh faced new “heroes” bode well for the future of this enterprise.
Leading from the front, is Daisey Riley – who plays “Rey” the scavenger girl with a mysterious past who has the Force very strong inside her. Ably supporting her is John Boyega, who essays the role of the earnest and frantic do-gooder stormtrooper soldier turned rebel and good Samaritan, Finn. They share an easy camaraderie that is hard to miss onscreen and this really lights up the movie. Oscar Isaac – who plays the role of the “best” pilot in the galaxy leading the rebel wing – has his moments in his brief outing that really endeared him to the audience. We hope to see more of him as well.
Moving on to the one of the biggest comebacks – Adding the sparkling star-value to Episode VII is Harrison Ford. When Han Solo (Reprise roles! Hello there Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca) mutters, “It’s all true – the force, the Jedi, all of it”, he might have been addressing the jaded skeptics sitting in the audience. My heart leapt at it – and I was up clapping for Han Solo as he again teams up with these newcomer kids to take the fight back to the dark side. Some may argue – that return of Harrison Ford was perhaps the best thing about the movie. Perhaps. But personally for me, Daisey Riley is the find of the enterprise. It’s a break out role for the young actress and she shoulders the responsibility pretty well. She kicks ass, she’s great with her onscreen chemistry with John Boyega’s character and there’s an air of mystery around her past that will slowly be peeled back in the coming episodes where I think she will play a greater role.
The camera zooms in on ravaged desert landscapes of Jakku the planet where the initial half of the movie is centered around and then moving onto the verdant greens of Yavin that feels textured and exotic. This is nicely complimented by John Williams’ music that lends life to the long arduous journeys from the cast.
So to that long pending question, is it still worth it? My answer is a resounding yes. In spite of the fact that this one seemed like a homage to the original trilogy full of Easter eggs, casual references to events and people [ They even got Carrie Fischer – to play Princess…oh beg your pardon…General Leia and Mark Hamill to reprise you-know-who!] I feel it’s a great start to something new. A movie firing on all cylinders, brimming with nostalgia and homage yes – but a return to form for Star Wars, which I think should sufficiently endear itself to the legion of fans around. JJ Abrams is careful not to ruffle any more feathers and while there is nothing uttery inventive in this new outing, we love the fact that he has not reimagined and repackaged the familiar landscape. A winning start to the new trilogy!