#75 & 76 STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Starring (big breath) John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Max von Sydow, Domhnall Gleeson, lupita Nyong'o and Kenny Baker.
Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt. Directed by J.J. Abrams. Budget $200 million dollars. Money taken since it opened three days ago - $250 million!
So here we are. 32.5 years since episode 6 comes Chapter 7, but the big question is 'was it worth the wait?'
It's been a long time since I've seen a film arrive with so much riding on it, with the expectations of so many hanging to its coat tails, and I cannot imagine the pressure that director JJ Abrams must have been living under to make it, nor of Disney who have invested a staggering 4.5 billion dollars into buying the franchise from Georgie boy, they're clearly in it for the long haul. So is it any good?
Well, normally I'd leave a score at the end but on this occasion I'm going to front end it, a little like this film's box office haul. In terms of entertainment, this film is a solid, unapologetic 8/10, no question of it. It's packed with relentless incident, top quality effects, more explosions than you could shake a stick at, some simply excellent characters, great acting and action, action with a capital A,C,T,I,O,N. Boy does it have action, indeed if action were spades and you were playing that great card game Chase The Bitch, then I have good news for you, play to win every hand of this round and you'll walk away, with a score of zero pts and your opponents cursing your name.
JJ Abrams knows what a modern audience wants, they want incident and action and the promise that nothing will stop, not even for an old lady crossing the road, because today, action is KING!
From the moment the classic recap caption slowly slides up the screen and ends and the camera tracks down to reveal the ubiquitous planet and a space ship slides into view we're off like a bloody rocket! From then on, characters run into view, shout, interact, shot something, while something explodes and we are dazzled by seamless special effects and ACTION.
Whatever you do don't hope for a quiet part for a quick toilet break, you won't get one, so go before you go, if you get my drift.
The new cast are, to a man, woman and round robot excellent and big thumbs up have to go to both Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, as our two heroes, Rey and Finn, who practically carry this movie as the main focus. But equally as good are the likes of Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
But despite all this I have a problem with the film, I
wish it hadn't been so referential to the first three, at times the
nods and homages to those movies drag you out of the moment, reminding
you that you're watching a movie and it becomes a little frustrating ...
(THIS NEXT BIT CONTAINS A POSSIBLE SPOILER, ALTHOUGH IT'S UP THERE BIG ON THE POSTER AT THE TOP OF THIS LISTING, SO IF YOU'VE ALREADY LOOKED AT THAT POSTER THEN YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD THE FILM INADVERTENTLY SPOILED FOR YOU, IN WHICH CASE I CAN'T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE, BUT.)
... similarly are you telling me that the Empire, or First Order, if you will are so bereft of new ideas that they're going to build a third Death Star type, space-based weapon platform? I mean seriously, they're tried this trick twice before and it didn't work, are the Empire firm believers of the old adage, 'third time lucky'? Is this really the best they can come up with after 32 years? It's like the old Lex Luthor of the Superman movies, constantly obsessed with real estate schemes, try coming up with something new, guys. I mean just logistically speaking the cost of making these vast battle stations must be astronomical, all the rebellion has to do is wait for the Empire to bankrupt itself, a little like the US did with the old USSR in the Star Wars initiative of the 1980s and they'll win the war.
And if you are going to make one of these things then for goodness sake make sure you don't leave some little exhaust port exposed that if shot can cause your entire base to explode, you know armour it or protect it for goodness sake, spend a little of your build budget on defense or perhaps sack the architect and get someone new in.
(RANT OVER, NORMAL SERVICE HAS BEEN RESUMED.)
However this isn't a perfect film, there are things it gets wrong or things that don't work, there's an horrendous bit with some horrible CGI multiple tentacled monsters, and some characters who just disappear for long stretches and then return without explanation. But the main feeling is, and it grows as the film goes on that when all is said and done, this does feel, just a little like, well... well a remake of Star Wars. There I said it. I can't take it back. When all is said and done, this is a 21st century remake of Star Wars.
But I realise that this is the start of a new chapter in the life of Star Wars and as new starts goes, it's not a bad way of doing it. Let's just hope the next film in this new era, Star Wars: Rogue One, comes up with something more interesting than just another bloody Death Star.
Thoroughly entertaining, great fun, huge and exciting but still just a movie and not the second coming.