Movie review – The force is stronger than ever

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Star Wars
Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Directed by JJ Abrams

4/5

Young Padawans, the long wait is over. For 30 years, you’ve held that plastic sabre in your hand, satiating yourselves with prequels and teasers, but no more. The seventh instalment is here.

Come out of whatever dark hole you’ve been hiding in, don your finest Jedi hood and warm up your most guttural Ewok grunt, because I can say with confidence that The Force Awakens is quite simply the freshest thing to happen since Padmé Amidala.

I geeked out when I saw the movie this week with some of Johannesburg’s biggest Star Wars fans at the new Imax theatre in Eastgate.

There’s nothing quite like a 3-D Imax eye explosion to bring out the wonder of the world’s biggest intergalactic franchise, particularly when a lot of the scenes were actually filmed using Imax cameras.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend going to watch at your nearest Imax – you might feel like you’re going to throw up in the beginning, but it really is just too epic to pass up.

Grown men and women were literally squealing behind me when the iconic crawl started on the screen: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Then, when that unmistakable soundtrack intro began ... well, they lost it. But just as you get that feeling going, that Star Wars feeling, you realise that things aren’t what they once were.

Kylo Ren, the new dark lord (played by the terrific Adam Driver), has chilled out, and he even has a sense of humour this time around.

Sure, he has a bit of a bratty temper, but the darkness that used to consume him, and most of the narrative of the films preceding this one, has been kept to a minimum.

It’s part of what makes director JJ Abrams’ first Star Wars film so damn cool. It isn’t trying so hard – it maintains the shadowy undertone by playing up the lighter moments, the ones that make you identify with this truly interstellar cast of newbies.

But I’m sure that won’t be for long – if the white-knuckle ending of the film is anything to go by, he’s just getting us warmed up.

Rey, this film’s lead, has some major force inside her. Her character, played by Daisy Ridley, takes all the power back from the shrinking-violet style of her heroine predecessor, Princess Leia (who appears as a military general in this film).

You definitely won’t see her in a gold bikini and flailing around for help any time soon.

But the shooting star of the show is British actor John Boyega as Finn. He’s a swashbuckling antihero with a heart of gold who you just can’t help but fall in love with.

He’s the perfect partner to go on this journey with Rey as they save the galaxy together, and the perfect addition to the films. I just hope she will be enough to keep him on the good side – you just never know with Star Wars.

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