Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – When this film blared out the famous John Williams theme and the initial elemnts of the story crawled up the screen in traditional style, I let out a little bit of wee… but that’s a medical condition and nothing to do with the sci-fi series returning to the big screen (I’m here all week, tip your waitress).
This film starts a third and, supposedly final, trilogy, and reminds me that I read many moons ago that there were originally nine books in the Star Wars canon, and that the middle three were the most action-packed, so they started at No.4 and went on to make 5 and 6 because the first movie was a huge success.
It seems this is basically nonsense, however, otherwise the plot for Episode VII would be the worst-kept secret. And somehow, after all this time, the plot has been kept under wraps – not bad for the internet age.
Occasionally, in this review, I’ll mention something that, if you’re going to watch it, you’re probably best skipping, so I’ll enclose spoiler tags around those, so you actively have to click on them to read them.
Also, if you put something in the comments below which is likely to be considered a spoiler, then please flag it up first with “SPOILER ALERT” at the top of your comment.
So the basics of the plot are…
There’s a fair smattering of action, and the same goes for humour, but it’s also fairly baggy. I’m well aware that action has to take a back seat sometimes for plot exposition, but some of these scenes didn’t half go on. On the plus side, The Force Awakens always managed to counter those with a pick-me-up and bring you back into excitement-ville.
As always in Star Wars, the characters and locations are frequently unpronounceable and look like they’ve been derived by pulling out random letters from a Scrabble bag. But that’s not a major issue otherwise I’d have stopped watching them a long time ago. More importantly, how are the cast faring? Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, X-Men Apocalypse) is always worth a watch, while his Ex Machina co-star Domhnall Gleeson turns up on the Dark Side as big baddie General Hux.
However, the main cast members – Daisy Ridley and John Boyega – are simply just ‘okay’ when they’re not coming up with the occasional wisecrack. And it takes a fair while before Harrison Ford turns up with Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the eventual expected scenes between him and Carrie Fisher really lack the sparkle I was expecting. They’re meant to be like a bickering old couple at times, but they look like they can’t really be bothered to do the bickering. Andy Serkis is always entertaining in CGI form, and this time round he’s the Supreme Leader Snoke, telling Kylo what to do.
As for JJ Abrams, I don’t really rate him as a director. Mission Impossible III was good, but for the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Chris Pine was wooden (pun intended), Simon Pegg was woefully miscast. Zachary Quinto (Spock) and Karl Urban (Bones) are spot-on, though. Pine had a tough row to hoe, though. You can’t even begin to top Shatner. And Pegg didn’t even bother to put on the accent half the time, such as the first time you see him, banging on about needing a towel.
For the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, Benedict Cumberbatch was wasted, and his deal was given away in the trailers when it should’ve been saved for the film. And when I recently saw the trailer for Star Trek Beyond, it should be renamed Beyond Boredom. Never has a trailer offered so little. I know JJ isn’t directing, but he’s still pulling all the strings in the background.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film…
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.