You would really have to be living in an ice cave on Hoth for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens hype train to have passed you by. The fans of George Lucas’ sci-fi saga are some of the most loyal in the galaxy, and after the general disappointment of the last three films, we have been crossing our fingers that JJ Abrams’ reboot would serve as a new hope (sorry).
In the cinema, the first note of the iconic opening theme coupled with the retro rolling text sends shivers down the spine and, happily, I do not think I caught my breath again until the closing credits. To this superfan’s delight, Abrams seems to have captured what so many of us wanted from Episode VII: a host of exciting, fresh-faced characters, plenty of homage paid to old favourites and, crucially, not a single shot of Jar Jar Binks.
Andy Serkis’ consistently brilliant Imaginarium Studios pick up where Jim Henson’s Creature Shop left off with the conception of some crazy new aliens, and special mention must be made of The Force Awakens’ costume design; the Stormtroopers, for example, remain instantly recognisable but never feel dated, thanks to their slick new armour. This is a drone army that looks fresh from the Apple Store and somehow it just works. With the stylish new aesthetic comes a trailblazing series of casting choices, most notably in the charismatic lead pairing of Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. In a genre that so frequently fails to enfranchise women and people of colour, Abrams’s decision to centralise these characters’ stories is a long overdue step in the right direction for science fiction.
Watch out for fantastically nerdy details like the lightsaber training equipment and the holographic Dejarik game on the Millenium Falcon; you do not get cool points for noticing them, but they will make you all kinds of nostalgic. As expected, the spaceship chases are more intense than ever, the lightsaber effects are simply phenomenal, and, naturally, Chewbacca remains one of the best-loved characters to star in anything, ever. Watch it, celebrate, then watch it again.
Image: Gage Skidmore; Flickr.com