TL;DR – “Sing Hallelujah!, Sing it, Sing Hallelujah!, Sing it, yeah, Sing Hallelujah! … Sing Hallelujah!” – Dr. Alban
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Ok before we start I am going to try my best to have no spoilers in this review, but you should be warned that while I may try my best there may be a couple of little tidbits throughout this review. Anyway, this is a great film and you should go into with as little information as possible, go see it before someone spoils it for you.
Look I am not going to start this review by ranting about the Prequels, I know they’re bad, you know they’re bad, so bad, and we could spend a lot of time talking about just why they are bad, so bad, but we won’t. That being said, it was the prequels and how bad they are which made me hesitant about jumping back into this universe again. But wow, it is like they did an autopsy on the prequels, found out where they went wrong, and had a concerted effort to avoid those same mistakes, and it pays off. So I walked into the film being cautiously optimistic and walked out convinced that JJ Abrams knows how to make a good Star Wars film, now if only … something, something, Star Trek Reboot.
So where are we with the story, well it’s been 30 years since the Death Star went boom, Luke’s missing, Leia is a General, the Empire has been replaced by the First Order which is on a resurgence, and now everyone is out there looking for the last Jedi. Now of course none of that was a spoiler, as it was all in the title crawl at the start of the film. It’s a good place to start the film out, it gives mystery, starts name dropping key players and gets you into the action almost immediately, which is a nice change. As well as this good start SW:TFA also takes a more show then tell approach to storytelling, which is a refreshing change. Instead of a long monologue describing how a character is feeling, emotion is conveyed through facial expression, through moments of quiet. This gives the emotional moments of the story more weight so that the highs of this film will have you soaring through the sky, but also the feels will punch you in the heart. I may have cried next to a perfect stranger, which would be weird if he was not also wiping back the tears. It’s a story you want to see to the end, not suffer through to get to the action bits. Also, it is hella funny in places, the whole cinema was laughing out loud, which is not something that is easy to pull off.
The production design is simply amazing, focusing on practical sets, location shoots and models over CGI (where possible), is something that not only better reflects the tone of the original films, but also gives TFA a sense of reality something missing in the Prequels and the Hobbit films. This focus on physicality leads to some wonderful set design, the planets, and places they visit feel like real worlds, not sets. The sound effects are perfect, things sound like they should, and the music is, well it’s John Williams, he is a master at this. While there is a clear practical focus (which I love, see my Mad Max Review) in this film, it also uses CGI really well to craft some amazing actions scenes, but also to create some really interesting characters.
Also BB-8, I am all aboard the BB-8 train. This is how you do a comic relief character right, screw you Jar Jar. But what’s most impressive is that BB-8 is a physical prop, not CGI which is so cool. It is one of my favourite characters all year.
Look I can’t really talk about the rest of the cast without getting into spoilers, so let me just talk in broad strokes, rather than details. The old cast is amazing, and the new cast brings an energy to the film that is infectious. It allows you to have those moments of nostalgia, but still allows everything to feel fresh.
A couple of small issues, while one of the big issues with the prequels was it spent so much time on world building … so much time, in TFA they paired back on that, which is good, but I think they went a bit too far, and once again poor Gwendoline Christie is underused, come on everyone, she kicks ass, let her kick ass.
Overall the film is funny, poignant, moving, well acted, well designed, well directed and well written. It is one of my movies of the year, and for the first time in a long time, I am excited about the next Star Wars film.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – J. J. Abrams
Written by – Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams & Michael Arndt
Based on – Characters created by George Lucas
Music by – John Williams
Starring – Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels & Peter Mayhew
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13