Abrams’ takes lead from classics in new Star Wars

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Abrams’ takes lead from classics in new Star Wars

DIRECTOR JJ Abrams has done more than give Star Wars the reboot that fans have hoped for – he has reminded us what a restorative, joyful experience a great night at the cinema can be.

It’s writ large in every frame of this lovingly made film – in the opening credits so magically reminiscent of the early films, in the electrical charge of a loaded light sabre, in the Wall:E-like twitterings of new droid BB8.

It’s certainly evident in the spine-tingling aerial shots of Kerry’s Skelligs, which must surely rank among the most specular in the entire series. 

The Force Awakens is so steeped in nostalgia you almost feel if you reached out and touched the screen, you would be seven again.

That Abrams has gone full retro yet manages to give us a movie that feels fresh and new is the film’s great victory.

Casual film goers will find plenty to entertain them. If you’re a serious fan, prepare for two hours of moviegasms.

It’s a good thing there are so many cinematic pleasures to be had, for the plotting is thin and the pace at times drags around the middle of the film.

But an impressive young cast, aided and abetted by some returning legends, carry it through.

Set 30 years following Ret-urn of the Jedi, this galaxy far away is ruled by a violent, oppressive body known as The First Order. A group of resistance fighters plot to overthrow them but with limited success.

After all, these are people struggling to survive. Among them are Rey (Daisy Ridley, terrific) who makes a living selling scrap metal on the planet of Jakku along with her a rolling droid named BB8.

When exstormtrooper Finn (Boyega) goes rogue and arrives dramatically into Rey’s life, they – along with a fighter pilot (an underused Oscar Isaac) decide to redouble their resistance efforts.

It’ll be a big ask. The First Order includes the masked, mysterious and merciless Kylo Ren (Driver, essentially a new-generation Darth Vader), and at his side, the dour army man General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson, left) who has the tactics and the firepower to take on any threat. But there are some very experienced space cowboys waiting in the wings.

From the nostalgic opening wording to a jaw-dropping finale accompanied by John Williams’ rousing score, The Force Awakens never forgets that its audience should be having fun.

This is impressive filmmaking but primarily a film with real affection for its characters old and new, which is unabashed in its determination to entertain.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A)