1-7 January 2016 #789

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens has taken its life from the imagination of the gifted writer/director and its new talents.
Sophia Pande

How do you reboot what is arguably the most beloved cinematic franchise in the world? These days it seems all you have to do is call in J.J. Abrams, the man responsible for the excellent Star Trek (2009) origins film, its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and before that a number of smash TV hits such as Fringe, Lost, and Alias, some of the most talked about, wildly inventive sci-fi shows in the past 15 years.

Abrams helms this seventh installment (the plan is to make another trilogy) of the Star Wars films with great skill, co-writing and directing with an ease and confidence that stems from being a lifelong fan of the original core material. The 49-year-old film savant (he writes, composes musical scores for his material, and produces) is adept at sifting through and separating the key ingredients of old favourites, adapting the best elements into tight, action packed, humour filled scripts that are tailored as homages to the films that inspired him through his childhood.

This is a very good thing for all of us who grew up loving the original Star Wars films, because while there’s plenty for the Millennial generation in terms of cool spaceships (there is another Death Star), and operatic intergalactic warfare, there is also more than enough for those who have an incurable nostalgia for light sabers, cute beeping robots, exaggerated, intricate hairdos, black masked villains with altered voices, and, of course, some very furry aliens that communicate largely by wailing and roaring.

That is probably the most I can say without entering into the now dangerous territory known as “spoiling” – but I cannot really leave you with just a paean to Abrams. The Force Awakens has taken its life from the imagination of the gifted writer/director, but it also boasts a number of new talents that spin it out of the realm of being just a continuation of the Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo’s stories (all these roles are reprised by the original cast that really need not be named individually) bringing in new, fascinating character arcs that introduce a fresh line of Jedis, some of whom have already gone over to the dark side.

Much has already been made of the new ensemble cast members, hyperbolising their potential to become the new stars of their generation. While time will indeed tell, after all Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are immortalised by the original Star Wars films but never achieved much subsequently, the fresh faces, in particular that of Daisy Ridley who plays the gamine, naturally gifted pilot Rey (there’s a hint for you right there), leaves you at the end of a breath-taking film really wanting more.

Read also:

Guardians of the galaxy

Interstellar

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