I’ve just got home, fresh from a midnight screening of The Force Awakens. I won’t divulge spoilers here – if you want them, there are sites and blogs posting them. And I’m not a film critic, so I won’t give you a critical dissection of the film. However I am a Star Wars fan. And, being a writer, I am a fan of “Story”. I spend a lot of my time either thinking up my own, or examining the ways in which stories work.
The Force Awakens works. It really does. The film is not without its flaws – but they are few – but it works brilliantly. The introduction of new characters, of a new quest, of a new series of arcs, is a welcome breath of fresh of air. The prequels left fans disappointed and wanting. Episode 7 delivers in a big way. It works as its own film, but leaves a lot of things hanging for Episodes 8 and 9. And that’s great. We’ve had that before, don’t forget. At the end of Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo was captured in corbonite, Luke Skywalker was reeling from the revelation that his Father was Darth Vader, and the Rebels limped off into the sunset seemingly worse for wear.
There are also things that I feel Lucasfilm is holding onto for the novels and comics. Possibly the TV shows they’re working on. Questions relating to events that happened in the past, in the time between Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens. I’m sure all of those questions will get put to bed eventually.
We were let into the theater an hour before the film, and as every seat was rapidly filled, you could sense the expectation and excitement. When a guy walked in dressed as a Jedi and brandishing a glowing blue lightsabre, the entire audience cheered for him. As the trailers finished, and the Lucasfilm logo appeared, a silence fell over the theater.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . .
Then: BOOM! Everyone cheered, clapped, as STAR WARS burst onto the screen and the film began. I’m not even going to divulge the opening crawl, because I deem that a spoiler. But you’re literally thrown straight into the story. And JJ Abrams provides the most unique opening to a Star Wars film thus far.
The film is funny, and Harrison Ford is great in it. The new cast is great, also. Particularly Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. He literally steals the show, and you get the feeling we’ve never had a Star Wars villain quite like him – he’s not Darth Vader, not completely evil, but he’s almost there. Kylo Ren is a villain for a modern Star Wars audience. What we love about characters like Hannibal Lecter and Walter White is what audience will love about Kylo Ren; that he’s a mixture of shades, a maelstrom of emotion. He’s caught between the darkness and the light, and Adam Driver wrenches everything out of that conflict that he can in a performance that is jaw dropping, to be honest.
The Force Awakens is JJ Abrams’ best film to date, and the sequel to Return Of The Jedi we’ve all waited decades for. Forget the prequels. You don’t need them. There has been an awakening.