The time has finally arrived. The seventh film in the generation-spanning saga has hit the screens. You’ll enter your local cinema screen either excited or stubborn due to your loyalty and protective feelings over the franchise.
JJ Abrams is faithful to the original films, maintaining their core feeling and crafting a film that does feel like it fits into the series. There is very minimal (practically unnoticeable) usage of lens flares, and a lot of variations on the slide transitions, as well as other iconic Star Wars visuals. There are many, many points in the film where you may find yourself grinning like an idiot, no matter what your opinion is of the film as a whole.
Star Wars is a phenomenon that spans generations meaning that the fans flocking to the cinemas to witness this latest installment will be an assortment of those who remember the release of the originals as a significant moment in their childhood, those who have loved the films all of their adult lives, teenagers and young adults who consider Star Wars a staple of their childhood (despite its relatively recent occurrence), and the new fans, both young and old, who have only recently discovered the saga. The films have been passed down from parent to child, creating a cross-generational love that is rarely found. While this film will be enjoyable to all, part of its sentiment will be lost on those completely new to the series as they will miss out on the nods, both big and small, to the previous films. They also won’t fully experience the incredible lift given to the cinema when one of the original characters comes on screen for the first time. The power of these moments is really a testament to the series’ long-lasting impact and the love the fans have for it.
There are those who didn’t want this film to happen, and who haven’t come around to the idea in anticipation of its release, however there is no sense in arguing it shouldn’t have been made now. Although the fact that Episode VII is actually here may still seem surreal, there will be little mass criticism. Put another way, this film will not be reviled and ignored like the Star Wars prequels. Whether you believe the franchise should have been continued or not, for what this film had to do to continue the story, it does it well.
The plot follows predictable beats that borrow immensely from the original trilogy, however, the fresh view with which they are looked at makes this forgivable, if at times the intense similarities do become slightly frustrating. The film in its plot as well as execution (especially the shots) does not really produce the sense of grandeur to create the type of spectacle that the original films were, yet the legacy it inherits helps to add more to what is lacking. A certain incident in the plot may leave you reeling for the remainder of the film, potentially damaging your experience of the events that occur after this. The film is definitely a set-up for the rest of the trilogy, one that cannot really be looked at individually but as part of a bigger picture.
The new characters are a welcome addition to the cast list. The presence of a strong female protagonist is welcomed as she often leads the way and never really falls into a ‘damsel in distress’ role. Rey is played with gusto by Daisy Ridley, creating a kick-ass, determined character, yet maintaining a more gentle side as well. John Boyega is arguably the stand out as a comic force to be reckoned with. He elicits some of the biggest laughs in the film, yet is also fantastic in the more dramatic moments. His chemistry with Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron creates a brilliant relationship on screen (with Isaac on form as the cocky pilot). The presence of new droid BB-8 also adds an extra something to the film without really feeling like an R2-D2 stand in. The characters certainly earn their places in the audience’s hearts and minds as worthy successors within the franchise (although none of them reach the iconic heights of the principle characters of the original saga).
Regardless of whether you still see this film as unnecessary, the film does an effective job of passing on the torch to a new generation of characters as well as providing moments of nostalgia and delight to fans of all ages.