J.J. Abrams: A new hope

2015-12-21 14:24
Daisy Ridley as Rey and BB-8 in a scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Daisy Ridley as Rey and BB-8 in a scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (Lucasfilm/AP)

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Pietermaritzburg - There has truly been an awakening.

The newest instalment of the 38-year-old film franchise was surrounded with astronomic hype, and after the failed attempt of the prequel series, there was much pressure on director J.J. Abrams to bring Star Wars back to its former glory.

And it is safe to say that there is a new hope.

Abrams has pulled it off, delivering a powerful and thoughtful addition to the Star Wars saga.

The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi (1983) where a new foe — The First Order — wants control of the galaxy. When pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) acquires information that could possible bring hope for the Rebel Alliance, events escalate, with The First Order in hot pursuit of this information.

The marketing for the film was handled with great care (which is a great achievement these days) and to say anything else about the synopsis would be spoiling it for people who want to stay in the dark before watching the film.

John Boyega, who plays Finn, a Stormtrooper with a crisis of conscience, teams up with scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) on the desert planet of Jakku and they set off on a mission that could alter the power balance in the galaxy.

The chemistry and relationship between these two characters is central in the narrative in The Force Awakens. They are also accompanied by the football-like droid BB-8 whose charm and personality serve as highlight of the film.

Basically, the computer-generated droid is a superior actor to Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005). These characters collide with some familiar faces, and together they set off to save the day, each armed with their own specific skills.

And this is what makes The Forces Awakens an entertaining film — it is the collaboration of these different characters whoare literally worlds apart. Their interactions are the driving force for the progression of the story.

With the chance of sounding clichéd, I found myself on a rollercoaster of emotion, but more like a spaceship flight of emotion — at light speed.

There were times when I was in a fit of side-spilling laughter, other times I could feel the tears collecting in my eyes, but for the most part I had goosebumps every time I heard the iconic Star Wars theme or the mere mention of a character’s name.

I could feel the pressure that Finn and Rey wore on their shoulders and believed their motivation of continuing on their mission.

Villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) also plays a key part in the story. His character is perhaps the most fascinating as his origins and incentives are only revealed halfway through the film.

He is threatening and menacing as a practitioner of the dark side of the force, but he still has character depth.

The mere sound of his fire-like lightsabre is intimidating and will have audiences in awe during the climactic battle.

The Force Awakens implements respectable script writing to consider a pivotal female lead character in Rey, but despite rigorous marketing for evil hench [wo]man Captain Phasma — played by Game of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie — her character is underplayed and is forgettable as soon as you walk out of the theatre.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will definitely reward life-time fans and will cater for young viewers, although most of the story will go over the heads of 10-year-olds and below.

Young British actress Daisy Ridley does a fantastic job at the centre of the film, and looks like her career will reach new heights. Oh, and did I mention her good looks?

The Force Awakens is sincerely a well balanced film that handles the battle scenes with great excitement and leaves some unanswered questions that will hopefully be answered in the sequels.

I only feel sorry for parents that will have to fork out hundreds of rands to buy their children Star Wars toys for Christmas.

Hopefully Santa will leave me a Chewbacca costume in my stocking.

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