Star Wars Star Wars Episode VII
The Force Awakens
5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir JJ Abrams
scr Lawrence Kasdan, JJ Abrams, Michael Arndt
prd Kathleen Kennedy, JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk
with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels
release UK/US 18.Dec.15
15/UK Lucasfilm 1h15
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The next generation: Ridley and Boyega (above), Mayhew and Ford (below)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

driver isaac gleeson

35th Shadows Awards

See also:
episode vi: return of the jedi episode viii: the last jedi

R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Star Wars: The Force Awakens There's a strong next-generation feeling about this film, which not only shifts the story to younger characters but also sees George Lucas passing the baton to JJ Abrams. So while it's perhaps overly reverential, this raucously entertaining action adventure recaptures the original trilogy's tone with a story set 30 years later. Fans will be in heaven, while newcomers will find plenty to engage with.

With Luke (Hamill) missing, the Empire's leader Snoke (Serkis) and his ruthless First Order acolyte Kylo Ren (Driver) want to pounce on the Resistance led by General Leia (Fisher). But other events are shifting the balance of power, as disaffected storm trooper Finn (Boyega) teams up first with rebel pilot Poe (Isaac) and then scavenger Rey (Ridley) and cheeky robot BB-8. A fateful meeting with Han Solo and Chewbacca (Ford and Mayhew) drags everyone into the middle of Ren's quest for power. But a stirring in the force threatens his focus, and his dominance.

Events unfold with urgency and unpredictability, each involving a twist that sends characters in another new direction. This exhilarating storytelling drags the viewer into the action, as the characters' strong personalities drive their messy inter-relationships. This means that everything that happens has a huge impact both on the screen and in the audience. And the saga's usual themes (accidental heroism, parent-child issues, the temptation of power) get a great workout.

Ridley and Boyega shine in the lead roles, driving the story with witty banter, energetic action and a feisty sense of independence. Of the returnees, Ford has the most to do here, and he's magnetic in the role that made him a household name. Fisher and Hamill have their moments too, while Isaac is a terrific mix of Luke's heroic optimism and Han's roguish charm. But the most fascinating character is Ren, and Driver brings unexpected nuance to this conflicted villain.

Intriguingly (sometimes annoyingly), virtually each scene and character has a reference point in the original trilogy. This alerts fans to forthcoming revelations, while providing connective tissue to the saga (the prequel trilogy now seems like a hazy memory, half a century ago). Abrams adds his usual light touch, including plenty of snappy banter, clanky mechanics and unfussy effects that create fully authentic environments. But it's in the characters themselves get under the skin, finding energy and hope, laughter and even tears along the way to an ending that reminds us that this is the introduction to a new trilogy.

cert 12 themes, violence 15.Dec.15

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
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