When Disney bought Lucasfilm three years ago, a lot of people, myself included, were expecting terrible things to happen to Star Wars (I remember a lot of jokes about Mickey Mouse swinging a lightsaber). Then, when I heard J. J. Abrams was going to direct it, I thought that things couldn’t have looked worse. After all, that was the same director who ruined Star Trek. Who would have thought that this new direction would turn out to be exactly what Star Wars needed?
Rather than alienating the fanbase, as the prequel trilogy did, the producers thought it would be best to try and recapture the spirit of the classic Star Wars films, and not only did they do that, they brought new life to Star Wars with a cast of strong new characters. In essence, this film takes the best aspects of the first three films and brings new elements into the mix. It’s also good that the film uses Luke Skywalker as a plot element rather than making him the star yet again, otherwise he’d overshadow the newer characters. Besides, with this approach, the Star Wars narrative has never been stronger. In fact, I firmly believe that this film has the strongest narrative since The Empire Strikes Back. However, there are still a lot of unresolved questions that, to avoid giving away spoilers, I won’t mention here in this review.
As for the characters themselves, there’s a fresh mix of old characters and new characters, all of which blend in really well with each other. It’s very refreshing to see the older characters again, but on the hand, I’m far more interested in the newer characters, and what potential they have for the upcoming sequels. In fact, the newer characters tend to outshine the older characters in this film, complete with the introduction a better villain. At the beginning, it can seem like the newer characters are trying to imitate the roles of the previous characters, but as the film progresses, they emerge as brilliant characters worthy of a place alongside the most beloved of the original characters. What helps is that the producers seem to have done a very good job at finding worthy actors to play the newer characters, and it pays off spectacularly well.
The film also boasts magnificent, cutting-edge visuals that absolutely dwarf those of the older films. The film also boasts several stunning set pieces and superb special effects, and they work very well with not just the spectacularly choreographed fight scenes, but also the darker the tone of the film as a whole. To be very honest, the only real complaint I have about the film is its use of the old transition wipes, which I would have thought went out of style ages ago. Other than that, it looks as though the force has made a thunderous return, and given that this film is meant to set up the rest of a whole trilogy, I’m very much anticipating what’s coming next in what I suspect will be a strong Star Wars trilogy for the next generation.
- Score: 94%
- Grade: A