We arrived at the movies with a fair bit of expectation for this one. My sister and I grew up on Episodes 4, 5 & 6 and could probably recite all the dialogue along with each, and as I said December I tend to have an emotional reaction to the music. Episodes 1, 2 & 3 were seen, but quickly forgotten and ignored. I managed to hear & know nothing about it beforehand, except seeing the trailers, which was exactly as I planned!
If you are a fan of Episodes 4, 5 & 6, you will like The Force Awakens. It harkens back to the originals, with similar humour, concepts and characters. It is surprising at points how much the story echoes episode 4. The opening scenes with the scrolling words of explanation, the stirring music score and scenes of large spaceships remind you that going back to the past is the future for the Star Wars franchise.
I was very pleased to see Harrison Ford again as Han Solo, in a major role. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are also briefly present. With reprises also by Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO and the Millennium Falcon, there is much appeal and crossover for long term fans. Wisely accepting that time has passed for the actors, the story is set some 20-30 years later, the Force has been forgotten and the Empire is on the rise again in a new form, called The First Order.
The new character we meet include a young woman desert scavenger Rey who comes across a wandering droid with the key to Luke’s whereabouts; Finn, an unwilling and soon renegade Stormtrooper; and the new acolyte of the Dark Side, Kylo Ren, following in the footsteps of Darth Vader.
I wonder if part of the appeal with Star Wars has been that there is always had a clear distinction between good and evil – the dark and the light – and this time it is interesting to hear Leia says things like “I know there is still light in him”. The ruler of the First Order in Supreme Leader and in scenes reminiscent of Hitler and the Third Reich, all the stormtroopers line up to pay homage to their first commander.
All in all, for existing fans, a great movie and a great reminder of why you loved the first movies. It’s also entirely possible that a whole new generation of fans will enjoy them too, although I suspect they aren’t likely to be newcomers to the franchise, but rather the children of previous fans – our older two were keen to see it too.