Through The Force Awakens, things you will see, other places. The future….the past. Old friends long gone. Friends like Han Solo, Luke, Leia and Chewbacca. Even the Millennium Falcon is back in action (and being disrespected) again.
Thirty years after Return of the Jedi, the New Republic has formed a Resistance under Princess-turned-General Leia to do battle with the First Order, an organisation birthed from the evil Empire and led by a Supreme Leader Snoke.
Unlike the video game demo experience of the prequels, everything onscreen looks tangible again. The force is refreshed with a blazing lightsabre duel in a snow-covered forest, and performances from new actors who form the core of director J.J Abrams’ movie.
Ex Machina’s Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson appear on opposite sides – Gleeson as sneering Snoke underling General Hux, and Isaac as wisecracking Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, who makes fun of Vader wannabe Kylo Ren straight to his (masked) face.
Poe’s trolling of Ren (Adam Driver) is the first clue that the new dark side force-user isn’t a cool killing machine like Vader (although he could teach a master class on throwing a good tantrum).
Gwendoline Christie’s stormtrooper Captain Phasma is underused – although Game of Thrones fans will no doubt recognise steadfast warrior Brienne’s distinctive voice under that chrome bucket.
Lupita Nyong’o brings warmth and eccentricity to the picture as stop motion character Maz Kanata, and not one person could walk out of a movie theatre and not be a fan of adorable roly-poly droid BB8.
The freshest face, Daisy Ridley, as Rey, is revealed to be the main protagonist, and she leaps off the screen with her athleticism and energy. Abandoned on a tough planet as a child, she befriends runaway stormtrooper Finn (a lively John Boyega) and comes into her own in a way that will send fans into a tailspin, either good or bad.
The dialogue occasionally feels a little clunky, and you could accuse Abrams of playing it safe and echoing A New Hope too closely, but only if you ignore the new mysteries set in motion here.
If this is the force when it awakens, it will be interesting to see it when it strikes into darker, more alien territory with Episode VIII.
Not perfect, but entertaining and fun.