‘Star Wars – A Force Awakens’ Re-View

Star Wars – The Force Awakens (No spoilers!)

I must disclose here, I was a huge Star Wars fan as a kid. As most were. It probably sparked my love for movies. So I couldn’t help but go into Star Wars – The Force Awakens with a lot of baggage and a little hope that it would live up to some sort of expectations of being not…bad.
So to the relief of millions of fans worldwide, Star Wars – The Force Awakens is not only not bad it is…good. Very good. Well, very enjoyable anyway.

The original was the first truly global ‘Blockbuster’ which was so successful it has ruined most Hollywood output ever since, as the profit-seeking-shareholder-driven studios try to replicate it’s financial windfall from box office takings, merchandise and spin-offs.

But what is the Star Wars phenom? Why did Disney pay George Lucas $4.1 Billion for the rights? A sweeping, sci-fi melodrama with mild action and mild laughs. Multi-character storylines, love, jealousy, ambition, revenge. Simple relatable emotions with lots of chase scenes. But really, as the new episode resonates, it is above all, about family. Brothers and Sisters, Fathers and Sons, Families and their ancestral legacy and attempting to meet generational expectations. And droids.

Although the two leads are female and African American so maybe they’re trying to broaden their already substantial base. Not that they’re greedy. However it seems to be working, as the movie is now predictably beginning to smash all box office records to the relief of many Disney Executives.

The question though, is do you need to see the six previous prequels/sequels to understand it? Well the truth is many parts of the originals are so ingrained in pop culture that you probably recognise them anyway. Everyone knows Darth Vadar and lightsabers, right? So I don’t see the need to visit the other six first.

Would it stand alone as a great film? Probably not, because these type of blockbusters are a dime a dozen now and too familiar to be a cultural phenomenon as the first was. I would imagine the main demographic for this would be teen boys (all Hollywood films are) who were too young to remember the prequels (lucky them) and may watch the originals and their ‘innovative yet primitive special effects’ with some amusement. I sat in front of a middle aged man and his son together, sharing the experience, passing on the ‘tradition’. Multi generational just like the film. Awwww, isn’t that nice.

But this is just soap opera set in space. Pure indulgent fantasy movie making. Good vs Evil. Does this resonate more these days as we are confronted with the ‘evil’ of ISIS or does this purely help us escape from it. I guess every age has it’s evil. The influence of Nazism is clear in the ‘New Order’ as it was in the originals with their SS like black cut uniforms and squadrons of ‘Stormtroopers’. But think more Hogan’s Heroes than Schindler’s List.

It’s a heady mix, required. Some old, some new but somehow familiar. The current Director , J.J Abrahams, is clearly a massive fan. The Prequels (Episodes I, II and III) diverted from this world slightly, films set earlier but were more technically advanced than the late seventies made original. The irked quite a few to say the least. They still made a fortune however.

Although very familiar (just add 30 years) is it fair to A Force Awakens is a blatant rip off of the original when that’s what all of us wanted from the prequels anyway?. How about – “A faithful re-awakening of the series that evokes the spirit of the original with enough new stuff to make you want to see the next one.” Perfect says the Disney CEO.

Yes I’ve rambled onto some other tangents here, but it’s hard to stay focused with all the hype. All things are connected and overlap in our modern times. All people and living things connected by some sort of…’force.’

“The saga continues…”

Published in The Daily Examiner 31st December 2015.