‘Star Wars’ is fun, its exciting, its inspirational, and people respond to that. It’s what they want’ – George Lucas
When you grow up on an Army base in the 80’s with an older brother and no girls in the street to play Barbies with, you pretty much buy into the Star Wars franchise from an early age. Between the original 3 movies, and the Indiana Jones and Back to the Future trilogies, that’s pretty much all that was ever on in our house.
I kept the later 3 films at arms length for a long time. I saw Phantom Menace at the cinema and it was 2 hours of my life I would never get back (although controversially, I actually quite like Jar Jar Binks). So when The Force Awakens was to be released in the cinema, we re-watched all 6 films in preparation.
Aside from the obvious shit-ness of the ‘new three’ (the fact you get to see Yoda unleash merry hell with a lightsabre aside), Ewan McGregor’s appallingly wooden acting, too much talk about the Senate and CGI that looks like it’s been done on a Commodore 64, what really struck me about the films is the lack of strong female characters. Padme starts off promising, she’s large and in charge in the Phantom Menace but by Revenge of the Sith she’s been reduced to a whiny pregnant woman who just wants her husband to stay at home and look after her. Then there’s Leia, who, although can handle a weapon (ooh err) she really only seems to serve as a love interest to Han (and worryingly, Luke in the early ones) and she has no control of the force whatsoever.
So enter Star Wars: The Force Awakens and enter Rey, a lowly orphan scavenger who joins forces with a bunch of other misfits to thwart the First Order’s attempts to rule the galaxy. And she properly kicks ass. According to interviews with JJ Abrams, having a strong female lead character in this movie was something important to him, and with her as well as Leia’s new found position of responsibility it’s nice to see women doing more than fawning over the hunky heroes. Rey is fiercely independent, so much so that she won’t even allow her hand to be held in times of peril. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for gender equality as much as the next gal but if John Boyega is offering to hold my hand, you can bet your last lightsabre I’m holding it, you know, for balance and stuff…
I’m not going to give anything away in terms of spoilers form the film, although I think you’re going to have to accept that it’s going to get to a point in time where if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re really not trying hard enough, and I’m going to want to talk about the fact Yoda was Chewie’s mum all along (woops! sorry, couldn’t keep that one to myself haha I kid, I kid).
Seriously though the casting is brilliant and I love that along with all the class of ’77, they’ve used some relative unknowns. Daisy Ridley is fantastic as Rey; strong, independent, passionate, beautiful without being intimidating and really likable. John Boyego is equally brilliant as Finn and gets all the funny one liners. Adam Driver from Girls fame is an interesting choice as new meanie on the block Kylo Ren although when he takes off his Vader 2.0 mask, he’s a bit too much of a pretty boy to be believable as the next slayer of Resistance.
It is of course great to have old faves Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher back who reprise their roles admirably. Harrison’s clearly not as agile as he once was, and it’s a massive bug bear of mine that both he and Leia are now grey yet Chewbacca remains absolutely chestnut brown some 30 years on. Perhaps he picked up some ‘Just for Wookiee’ whilst over on Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi. Seeing C3PO, R2D2 and new super cutie droid BB8 also makes it feel more like the original movies.
Plot wise I can’t give much away without some major spoilers so all I’ll say is The Force Awakens is up there with The Empire Strikes Back as one of the best Star Wars films in the franchise. They’ve made it more like the original three, made it funny again and thrown it lots of little nods to the previous films. It’s well documented that I have the attention span of a gnat so the fact it kept my attention for 2hrs 16mins is nye on a christmas miracle. I would also recommend seeing it in 3D as we did, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen BB8 roll towards you and look you square in the eyes.
Even if you’re not a star wars fan I reckon you’d still be able to enjoy this, I’ve spent the last 72 hours since trying to perfect my Wookiee impression with the help of dubsmash….