There's a danger that, in appealing to the fanbase as hard as they do, Abrams and co might have gone a little too far. A lot that happens in The Force Awakens is suspiciously familiar: a hero entrusts vital information to a droid and packs it off to be unwittingly discovered by a simple youth with untapped, supernatural potential; a motley band of rebels attack the spherical, planet-smashing base of an evil army; the de facto leader of that army force-chokes minions and chats to his boss via hologram; fathers and sons have issues that are worked through traumatically, and so on. The film could have done with a little less of this and a little more Oscar Isaac, but to be fair that's true of almost any film ever made.
Other new characters are equally successful: Adam Driver's Kylo Ren, who could easily have been Diet Vader, is a fascinating addition. The childlike petulance that bubbles away beneath the surface of his fearsome warrior makes him thrillingly dangerous, and his connection to the saga's existing inhabitants adds invaluable emotional depth; a key scene uses literal and metaphorical light and dark to devastating effect. Meanwhile the embarrassingly-named Poe Dameron is the charismatic hero the prequels so tragically lacked, and Oscar Isaac and his magnificent hair have a ruddy ball with him. Speaking of balls, new droid and blatant Christmas toy ad BB-8 is delightful, although he does seem to have ported his vocal software over from a Waste Allocation Load Lifter (Earth class) he evidently met on his travels.
A near-relentless chase movie with a genius MacGuffin and character beats which span every emotion you ever felt watching these films, The Force Awakens successfully completes its primary objective - not to fuck itself up - with knobs on. Its own backstory may be a little vague (the genesis of both the evil First Order and the Resistance are glossed over with troubling alacrity), but what it lacks in exposition it makes up for in just being really, really Star Warsy. Arguably its greater responsibility, though, is to ramp up the demand for two further episodes, plus the Anthology films that will briefly, and hopefully, take the franchise out of its comfort zone. Well I don't know about you but post-Episode VII, four more Star Wars films doesn't feel like nearly enough. I am frothing at the cock for more, and I'm not sure it's a froth I can easily contain. The force has indeed awakened, and it's testing my underpant elastic to its limits.
Are you remotely interested in what I thought about Episodes I-VI? Then step this way, you weirdo
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