Yes, we realise Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out nearly two months ago. Yes, we know you’re all sick to death of it. Nevertheless, here are the only reviews of JJ Abrams’ reboot you’ll ever need – courtesy of LUNKHEAD’s Dom Patry, Will Cross and James Arnold.
1) “The exact same plot used before in one of the good ones”
While The Force Awakens can be called a good film, it does feel like an exercise in convincing people, particularly Star Wars fans, that a good Star Wars film can be made in the modern age. While not a bad motivation to have during production, as it has resulted in a fantastic romp, the film seems to teach us that the only way to make another good Star Wars film is to repurpose the exact same plot used before in one of the good ones. The droid carrying precious data regarding an old Jedi Master being dropped on a desert planet where it is found by our unassuming hero, the existence of a planet-destroying superweapon that the good guys can destroy by exploiting a vulnerability in its design, even a reinvention of the famous “trench run” all could have felt cheap had it not been for the vast technological advances in cinematography between Episode IV and JJ Abrams’ instalment. However, when done subtly, the recycling of the original trilogy did help return that Star Wars “feel” to the franchise that was so lacking from the prequel trilogy, namely the way Han Solo ventured round the Starkiller base being reminiscent of the way Alec Guinness’ Obi Wan explored the Death Star in A New Hope. DOM PATRY
2) “A cinematic experience in the truest sense”
Here’s the thing, I’ve never really been a Star Wars fan.
It holds a culturally important place in my heart, enjoying conversations about its finer details and big moments, but unlike a whole bunch of friends, am I a fan? Not really. So my original excitement for The Force Awakens wasn’t that of my normal over-excitement for things, intrigue but nothing else really. Then people started talking, then the trailers came, people started talking even more. Suddenly it began to feel like a proper event, a cultural shockwave, something that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should these days. It began to feel like this was something uniting people and locking in conversations on all fronts, and it reached fever pitch. All my friends, family, colleagues were talking about it, the excitement was real, it felt like something was really making an impact.
And then the film itself turned out to be one of the most exciting things of 2015. Not only jumping the impossible with the franchise being saved by JJ Abrams, the film itself is a cinematic experience in the truest sense, exciting, funny and even pretty shocking, with the audience (and we’re talking a British audience) here audibly reacting. The writing is superb and impeccably sequenced (people saying it’s too much like A New Hope, really?), but maybe most impressive of all is the strong and bright new cast of faces it brings with it, again not easily done these days, all bringing an A-game to bring a franchise back to life. Oscar Isaac is brilliant as fast-becoming-household-name Poe Dameron but, hands down stealing the show is Adam Driver as Kylo Ren. A genuinely menacing, interesting and magnetic villain (no trace of silly here) while also remaining crucially ambiguous, embodying facets that nod to my (“the anxious”) generation (the lightsaber angst-out!).
Maybe the jewel in the crown here, though, is the fact that, like all the best art, it doesn’t compromise, and in terms of jumping the gun and not keeping things safe, it actually does that. Like they really went there, just think about it! WILL CROSS
3) “Just watch the damned thing”
I would hope that, after a certain series of articles, you all know my background in Star Wars by now. So, as you can imagine, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached The Force Awakens. I was expecting a good film, but I was not expecting something to grab my heart by the hand and tell it to shut up and dance. But shut up and dance my heart did.
Now I’m not going to declare The Force Awakens an instant classic like A New Hope was, it relies a little too much on cameos for that, although in a minor self-contraction I would suggest this may be the best entry point into the franchise, especially for those who might judge A New Hope superficially on its 70s effects and budget.
What’s truly remarkable is that I feel no need to defend or praise The Force Awakens as it does that for itself, and far more eloquently than I can. Just watch the damn thing if you happen to be the only person with access to a cinema who hasn’t. The only thing I have to add to my colleagues would be some weak-kneed worship for the soundtrack. Dear gods, the soundtrack. It’s the best Star Wars has ever had and perhaps even some of the best work John Williams has ever done. March of the Resistance is my personal standout, introduced phenomenally in what I consider one of the film’s iconic scenes and then used as a leitmotif for the Resistance thereafter. Seriously good stuff. Well played Disney, well played. JAMES ARNOLD