I've been waiting for this film for a long time.
A very long time in fact.
I want to be honest from the outset before I leap into my review. I don't like the prequel films. Apart from a brief section during the latter stages of Revenge of the Sith they are basically unwatchable in my honest opinion. Sorry George, but they are shit.
This brings me to The Force Awakens. Prior to watching the movie I had done my utmost to avoid any spoilers or online discussion about it (made much more difficult by the fact that I didn't see the movie until Boxing Day). I wanted to go into the movie relatively blind, and enjoy it for what it was. And damn, I wasn't disappointed.
I loved it. I loved it so much that if I didn't have to go and pick my daughter up from a babysitter afterwards I would have immediately bought another ticket and gone back in to watch it all over again. It was everything I wanted in a movie. Swashbuckling adventure, brilliantly executed action, and great characters who genuinely gave me all the feels I wanted along with a large bout of nostalgia that had me mentally soaring for days afterwards.
In fact there were so many things that blew my mind it's hard to compact them all into one single review. But here are the highlights for me:
Rey and Finn... they are AMAZING. I cannot emphasise this enough. Rey brings a brilliant sensitivity and vulnerability to the story, and Finn a cracking sense of wit and fun. Their relationship sets the bar high and is the beating heart of The Force Awakens. And damn it was awesome to finally see a female and black man headline a movie. Welcome to the modern world Disney... now don't fuck it up.
The Finalizer... Star Destroyer on steroids (Resurgent-class for you fellow nerds)... oh my... I got chills seeing this baby in all of it's glory. As someone who plays Star Wars: Armada I have a bit of a fetish for all things spaceship... and it was awesome to get more of an insight into the layout and function of this massive war machine in the movie.
Han, Chewie, Leia and Luke (well Luke is in it for what... 30 seconds)... like every fan of the franchise I got a huge thrill seeing my old favourites grace the screen yet again. Han was scathingly funny and full of great lines, Chewie loomed and provided awesome scenes with his bowcaster, and it was wonderful to see an aged and weary Leia leading the remnants of the Resistance against the First Order.
Kylo Ren... I know there has been a lot of criticism but to be honest 99% of it is shit (The Emo Kylo Ren account is hilarious though I must admit). Ren is a psychopath... powerful yet incredibly unhinged mentally. His emotional bursts of anger and outrage were great to see, and seeing him struggle to control and direct his power felt a little more natural to me. The scene where he punches his massive gut wound (after being hit by Chewbacca's bowcaster) to increase his rage was just freaking awesome.. and I love the design and story behind his lightsaber. A great new villain in my opinion.
The battles, oh the battles... from X-Wing's charging across a lake to attack the First Order to lightsaber duels in a snowy forest... The Force Awakens has it all. I adored these scenes, and the little nods they made to the original trilogy (Finn shooting down TIE's using the Falcon's turrets for example) were great.
I could go on and on about what I loved, but alas I'd be typing for days. There were some things that could have been improved on (people have been annoyed by the similarities to A New Hope for example, or the lack of Luke until literally the last 30 seconds), but overall The Force Awakens is a brilliant next instalment in the franchise. I for one cannot wait to see what direction they take with the next movie. Go and see The Force Awakens, you won't be disappointed.
4.5 out of 5 Stars.