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 named ‘Snoke’.
Unlike the video game demo experience of the prequels, everything onscreen looks real again. After a nap, the force is refreshed, with a blazing lightsabre duel in a snow-covered forest, and performances from the new actors who form the core of director J.J Abrams’ movie.
Stars of the excellent sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson, appear on opposite sides. Gleeson plays sneering Snoke underling General Hux, and Isaac is 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). Actually, Driver may be a bit of a culture shock to Star Wars fans.
A tall, spindly figure with a very unique look, the actor’s intensity lends itself to the most subversive, feral creation in the saga.
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. Rey isn’t signposted as a Strong Female Character – she is literally and figuratively left to fight for her own existence.
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, for 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.