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Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars : The Force Awakens | Review (Spoiler free)

(Courtesy: Wikimedia)
A long time ago in a galaxy... well in our own galaxy and our very own planet Earth, George Lucas wrote and directed an epic space opera film called Star Wars which grew into a hugely popular franchise and a global pop cultural phenomenon with a cult following spanning generations. The first movie was released more than 32 years back and it's been 27 years since release of the last installment of the original trilogy (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)  which is indeed "a long time ago" as sequels and prequels go, even the last installment of the much less appreciated prequel trilogy (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) came out 10 years back but Star Wars franchise continued to command huge fan following. The announcement of the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the huge marketing campaign made it one of the most anticipated movie releases in recent times if not of all times. However, one of the issues eager fans had to deal with was avoiding exposure to spoilers and leaks proliferating on the Internet. I assiduously avoided every piece of information that had anything to do with  Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so my review of the movie includes NO SPOILERS, or so I hope.


Director JJ Abrams has already shown his calibre by making thrillers like MI3 and visually stimulating scenes of space battles in his two Star Trek movies but it did seem doubtful if he could match the myth making skill of George Lucas. Further the tag line "Every generation has a story" further raised the question if the movie was aimed at a complete new generation or sought to satisfy the legions of fans of the original trilogy. Of course, he had at least one of the original writers, Lawrence Kasdan as a co-writer but one must confess that Abrams has been able to bring balance to the force, metaphorically speaking.

  Is it a reboot? The Force Awakens does use the template of A New Hope as well as a bit of Return of the Jedi but the content is definitely fresh. As this is Episode XII, it is obvious that the story begins after the events of the Return of the Jedi and it does introduces a whole lot of new characters, places and powers of the force. The plot is fast paced, at times faster than one can absorb it fully, which thankfully gives me reasons for second viewing. At the same time there is enough emotional drama and tense sequences which could have you glued to the screen but there is very little long-drawn melodramatic sequences that partly bogged down the narrative in the prequel trilogy. The slick action sequences including those involving lightsabres while using latest CGI maintain elements of the original trilogy which both suits the script as well as the expectations of the original Star Wars fans. As shown in the trailers, the droids, X-wing fighters, TIE fighters, spacecrafts and other props are not squeaky clean but look rugged like those used in the original trilogy to give the fans feel of the classic Star Wars action.

Besides there are plenty of references and homages but the best comes in the form of Harrison Ford (I don't believe this is a spoiler as Ford and Chewbacca have been prominent in the film posters and trailers). Even after 30 years, Harrison Ford as Hans Solo blows you off with his performance although he doesn't use blasters as freely :p Among the new ones, Daisy Ridley as the protagonist has delivered an incredible performance winning accolades from fans and critics alike. Other key actors like Adam Driver, John Bogeya, Oscar Issac and Carrie Fischer have done justice to their respective roles. The chemistry between the protagonist and the antagonist is surprisingly strong and is likely to get more intense in the next episode. I would love to go into details but do not wish to give away anything. An ambitious project of this magnitude and executed so brilliantly deserves to be seen on the big screen first, so I will probably wait for the DVD release and follow up with a post-review delving deeper into the plot as I have done previously with my favourite movies .

Till then the only bit I am willing to give away is that it seems in this episode the Force is no longer as passive and there couldn't have been a better title than - The  Force Awakens.

Rating : 4.5/5

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