A forceful awakening

A certain smugness tainted my footsteps for the two days where I was among one of the first people in the world to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “Oh just you wait,” I thought as I overheard people discussing it in cafes, bars and supermarket queues. One of the best things about TFA is that we can now no longer speak of those horrid prequels, which this film makes look even more tedious and limp than we remember them. Here’s the Sunday Indo review I penned.

***

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Cert: 12A 

A LONG time ago, in a studio far, far away, a bunch of yes-men let George Lucas desecrate the vastly adored space opera that he once created. Luckily, The Phantom Menace (1999) and its two turgid, soulless fellow prequels failed to fatally wound the legacy of Star Wars, a trilogy that had defined an entire generation 40-odd years ago.

Fans thus rejoiced when it emerged JJ Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8) was to direct a new chapter following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. Golden oldies like Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford would return alongside young guns such as Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Domhnall Gleeson as nostalgia and fresh-faced pep intertwined. Trailers were pored over and experts predicted a box office to match any Avatar or Titanic.

I’m happy to report that The Force Awakens is not only a sigh of relief to all who hold the brand dear but also a whoop of celebration for lovers of smart, multi-coloured sci-fi with an epic sweep.

The spoiler police are circling, but know this: The First Order has replaced the Empire, with Gleeson’s nasty general and Adam Driver’s Sith lord at the helm. General Leia’s Resistance are out to stop them with help from a defected storm trooper (Boyega) and a granite-strength heroine (Ridley).

Abrams and original screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan pay homage – stooping aerial battles, blood revelations, Jedi mysticism, tangible set design, a John Williams score – but add real substance between while freshening up the dusty corners. Humour and heart are prominent amid some breathtaking action set pieces. 4/5

First published in the Sunday Independent

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Published by

Hilary A White

Dublin-based arts journalist and reviewer, specialising in film, books, music and human-interest stories. Sunday Independent / Irish Independent / State.ie / RTE Radio 1 / Today FM

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