When I’m really looking forward to seeing a film I try my best to avoid any mention of it before going to see it. I don’t want to know If people enjoyed it, didn’t enjoy it, and I certainly don’t want to know any plot details. In this post I won’t mention any plot points or give anything away, however I will mention how it made me feel. If this is too much for you, please stop reading now and come back once you’ve seen the film.
I mean it, this is your very last chance.
Good, then let me begin with some context.
I was six years old when I first saw Star Wars in early 1978. It wasn’t the first film I’d seen at the cinema but it was the one that left the greatest impression. My father, having just worked a long shift in the local paint factory, took me and my older sister to our local cinema. My memories of the occasion are a little vague having been blurred by repeated viewings but the main thing I remember is the sheer fun and adrenaline rush of it all. It was all my childhood adventures thrown up onto the big screen but much cooler than what my imagination could conjure up. It was big, brash and exciting. I really wanted to be Luke Skywalker. He was young, handsome, got to fly X-wing fighters and fought with a lightsaber. What was not to like?
My father, meanwhile, slept through the whole thing.
For months afterwards all I did was play Star Wars, and although I didn’t know it at the time, a life-long love affair with Star Wars was born. Star Wars had a major impact on my life in other ways, too. I first became close to my best friend (who became my best man) because he had an X-wing fighter and Tie-fighter toys.
As I got older my I came to appreciate the whole trilogy. My allegiance changed to Han Solo, wishing I could be as cool as him with his rebellious streak and his witty one-liners, and I found myself preferring the darker, more nuanced, Empire Strike Back over both Star Wars and Return of the Jedi. There were some parts of the later prequels I enjoyed but generally they were a disappointment. They were plodding, poe-faced, and took themselves far too seriously. Story and emotion were replaced by CGI special effects and set piece battles; snappy dialogue replaced by long, dull exposition. The films were interesting from a completist’s perspective, but somewhere along the way George Lucas had mislaid his creation’s heart and soul.
With Star Wars – The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams has delivered a film that is fun, funny and exhilarating, and made this middle-aged man feel like a six-year-old again.
From the moment the classic Star Wars text slowly made its way up the screen until the final credits (the one piece of information I will give away is that you don’t need to stay until the credits finish rolling, there’s no sneak clip at the end), I was enthralled. I laughed, giggled, even let out the odd squee – something a middle-aged man shouldn’t do when attending a cinema on his own – as this unashamedly nostalgic ride progressed. This was the Star Wars movie I’d been waiting for for over thirty years.
It isn’t a perfect piece of film-making – neither were the original trilogy. It is gloriously bonkers in places, breaks many storytelling rules, and there are some parts that won’t hold up well to too much scrutiny, but it does perfectly capture the essence of what made that original trilogy so successful. Finally the moribund prequels are consigned to history. Star Wars – The Force Awakens brings back everything I loved about the original film. It has heart, it has soul, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a cinema for a long time.
The force is strong with this one.
So what do you think? Have you seen Star Wars – The Force Awakens? Did you enjoy it? Are you looking forward to seeing it or are you really not bothered? I’d love to hear from you.
Please keep things spoiler free and respect those that have yet to see the film. I will be moderating the comments more than usual.
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