Five spoiler-free reasons why 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' will be a smash hit

Five spoiler-free reasons why 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' will be a smash hit

It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the decade and Star Wars fans can finally see what director JJ Abrams has done with The Force Awakens when it opens here this week.

Sunday World movie critic Esther McCarthy caught an early preview of the new blockbuster and was mightily impressed.

Here are her five (spoiler-free) reasons why the new movie in the epic series is destined to be a smash hit. 

1. JJ Abrams Goes Delightfully Retro

In the same way as the forthcoming Creed reboots Rocky, Abrams has updated the Star Wars saga but kept a great many of the references and characters which fans loved so much about the early films. That he manages to do so without ever making the film mawkish or unoriginal is one of the movie’s great victories. For younger audiences it’s a great film in its own right. For those who grew up with the early films, it’s like revisiting your childhood. 

2. The Young Cast Bring It

Ford, Fisher and co are as great as you’d expect, but it’s the film’s new young cast who carry the story and propel it into a new generation. Everyone’s upped their game  -  and why wouldn’t they, it’s Star Wars  -  but there are two standout performances. Young British actor John Boyega, who first caught our eye in Attack the Block, comes of age as a fighter named Finn. He’s charismatic and funny. 

But Daisy Ridley is simply terrific as the newcomer, Rey. She has more screen time than any other cast member  -  and boy, does she make the most of it. 

3. The Baddies

The film’s antagonists are menacing and threatening, which ups the ante on the drama front and injects plenty of tension into the film. American actor Adam Driver is excellent as the mysterious Kylo Ren, while our own Domhnall Gleeson (above) gives good dour as General Hux, a grim authoritarian figure. 

4. The Surprises (which we’re not giving away here)

If you’ve booked tickets to see The Force Awakens as soon as possible, it’s a wise move. In keeping with the tradition of the series, there are a couple of jaw-dropping plot twists. It’s a credit to the filmmakers and cast involved that they have managed to keep the plotting largely secret so that fans can experience the film as the experience it’s meant to be.

5. Skellig Looks Amazing

There was much fuss when it was revealed that Skellig island in Co Kerry was to feature in the new Star Wars and that filming would take place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Without revealing its context in the film, we can say that Skellig looks incredible on the big screen. JJ Abrams knows how to create great special effects, but nothing can compare to the use of real, dramatic locations like the Irish monastic site.