Friday, 18 December 2015

The Force Awakens soars with Star Wars magic of old



This is the Star Wars movie fans are looking for. Over the summer Jurassic World took an ageing franchise and reinvigorated it into box office gold. Now, the granddaddy of them all enjoys a yuletide homecoming without equal following a ten year absence.

Time enough for the prequels to fade, a change of ownership and fans to focus on events following Return of the Jedi over thirty years ago. Marvel Comics couldn't satiate my yearning to see beloved heroes in new adventures on the big screen. What happened to Luke Skywalker and friends after the defeat of Darth Vader and his Emperor?



Director JJ Abrams had already captured the magic of Steven Spielberg in Super 8 and now George Lucas' saga sees him graduate into the top flight of Hollywood directors.

Fresh from rebooting Star Trek. Abrams' supernatural grasp of the mythology of the original trilogy delivers spectacularly in a superlative sequel brushing shoulders with The Empire Strikes Back during its bleakest moments and equalling A New Hope.

In Abrams' galactic odyssey we witness Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) rage surpassing sulky Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy and Rey's (Daisy Ridley) reluctance to fathom her mysterious past as she befriends Finn (John Boyega), a disenfranchised First Order Stormtrooper, and leaves behind life as a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku after rescuing BB-8. The spherical droid newcomer is truly a marvel to behold and takes its rightful place alongside R2-D2 and C-3PO.



Amidst the Arthurian storytelling and beguiling vistas shot on Kodak film, John Williams' sweeping soundtrack for The Force Awakens is triumphant. More than once it prompted bittersweet feelings of nostalgia at seeing Star Wars for the first time with my late mother. A transcendental experience in the wake of childhood trauma in 1977.



Star Wars hadn't opened in the UK when I was admitted into children's hospital following a serious head injury. But, I remember the American neurosurgeon - who saved my life alongside a talented team - saying I had to promise him I'd see Star Wars and gave me a poster of R2-D2 and C-3PO as a parting gift! The promise was kept.

What of Luke Skywalker's fate? That's for fans to discover for themselves. The old and new cast shine with charisma and Daisy Ridley, beautiful and effervescent, carries the movie with an aplomb belying her freshman acting career. The sight of a squadron of X-Wings was met with whoops and cries of delight.



I laughed, cheered and cried watching my most cherished film franchise soar once more. The emotional stakes are raised in a galaxy far, far away...

Thank you for an incredible Christmas gift, JJ!