In all honesty, The Force Awakens is probably a better film than A New Hope, I just can’t bring myself to admit it. Hitting all the same notes as A New Hope, what it has is style, humour and entertainment in spades. What is doesn’t have is George Lucas dicking about with it, sticking in pointless GG creatures going “Bwaaak” or redundant Hutts, or Rodians that can’t shoot a smuggler from across a bar table!
With that off my chest, I will first say that I’m sooo glad I didn’t see any of the trailers. Not that there were any massive spoilers; but seeing the Falcon swoop through the crashed Star Destroyers shooting Tie Fighters, or seeing Kylo Ren for the first time not knowing they were coming made everything far more exciting.
Speaking of which, Adam Driver was excellent. Is that not how Anakin should have been in the prequels? Seemingly in control of proceedings, Driver nevertheless is able to also show his stroppy teenager side, as well as his fear, uncertainty but ruthless determination. Certainly the star of the show. I’m just baffled as to how he got all that hair into his mask!
I thought Daisy Ridley was very good too, though it took me a while to be convinced that it wasn’t Keira Knightley. As her first big movie role I thought she did very well, and her banter with Han Solo (Ford has still got it) and Finn was perhaps one of the highlights of the film. John Boyega was fun too (good to see stormtroopers humanised), and his accent was very good. It might have been fun for him to use his accent from Attack the Block, but I guess the novelty would have worn off quickly.
To talk about all the cast would be overkill, suffice to say that a fair few old favourites are there (Mark Hamill rocks a big beard), as well as some new faces and fun cameos. Of course the great score is by John Williams, and Ben Burtt is still producing some amazing sounds, while some excellent photography was supplied by previous Abrams collaborator Daniel Mindel. In particular I noticed cockpit interiors were exquisitely lit and the laser fire reflecting in pilots’ helmets looked tremendous.
Generally I feel there was a conscious effort to distance the film from the endless GL tinkering. I’m sure there were several moments when I thought that Lucas would have had a computer generated establishing wide shot with lots of pointless creatures, and they were conspicuously absent. Instead it seems that Abrams opted for some lovely tracking shots to establish scenes (such as approaching and entering Maz’s temple/cantina) or in the middle of action sequences giving them a superb fluidity.
It may not be wise to upset a Wookiee, but it was a wise and very astute move to secure the services of writer Lawrence Kasdan. I feel that perhaps a lot of the success of the script could be down to the guy who wrote the screenplay for Empire, Jedi and Raiders; and the sense of fun and adventure in those titles is also apparent in Awakens.
I’m sure other people have said much more than me (better and more succinct) about Awakens, but after all, I’ve only seen it twice! However, I will say that the film is tremendous fun, how the prequels should really have been and a hopeful sign of things to come. And no grating Disney intro! But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.