Friday, 18 December 2015

Review: Star Wars - The Force Awakens (second-pass / spoiler-free)

World of Blackout Film Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Poster

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (second-pass / 2D / SPOILER-FREE)
Cert: 12A / 135 mins / Dir. J.J.Abrams / Trailer

"Questions…" When Nexus-6 replicant Roy Batty loitered in Hannibal Chew's workshop and barked his opening gambit at the hapless genetic engineer, it was clear that the word itself was not in fact a question, just a statement of intent. And as much as I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I had a similar tone in my voice when discussing it afterward, and when going in to watch it for a second time. "Questions."

If I could give a word of warning to those who haven't yet seen the film, it would be against expecting the film to answer those questions it raises. Hell, TFA doesn't even answer most of the questions the trailers raised. Now a certain amount of this is to be expected, this is the first episode in a new trilogy, after all. But the niggling questions ~ not the big ones that you know are being saved for future installments ~ give the impression that most audiences may not ever know the answer.

By way of example, the Prequel Trilogy (Attack of the Clones, in particular) raised two posers: 1) Who put the coverings on C-3PO, and 2) Who's this Sifo-Dyas that placed the order for the clone army? Now the first of those is fairly inconsequential, and just the sort of thing that the fans want to know. But the second is a one that characters in the film should have been asking, never mind the audience. As it turns out, both of them were answered. The droid-plating issue was raised in R.A.Salvatore's novelisation of AotC, and more light was finally shone on Sifo-Dyas in the Clone Wars TV series (although not until the Season 6 Netflix-exlcusive episodes, after it had been cancelled). My point being that your average, casual Star Wars fan probably never found out. Although since they're casual, they're arguably not too bothered.

Anyhow, fast-forward thirteen years and The Force Awakens has put Tease-Mode™ into overdrive. Barely a scene goes by without some query raised as to the backstory or resolution of a character or scenario. And don't get me wrong, I love that. The recently-rebooted tie-in continuity has given me the chance to draw a line under all the Star Wars books I never got round to reading (although I will still read them, eventually), and has started everyone on a new, blank page. And I suspect it's in these upcoming pages - whether they be novels, comics or games - that we'll get many of the answers to questions which are already being asked.

So, when you salivated over the trailers and wondered how/why/when, and J.J. told you 'all would be explained', maybe don't expect it to be during the two and a quarter hours when you're watching The Force Awakens. And when you do finally find out why she said that, or how that got there, or does that mean this was always like that, maybe you could come and fill me in too, just to make sure I've got my answers from the right place...

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
It is.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Buy it.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Not in the case of all the leads

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I probably will.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Seriously, I can't hear one in there, but I don't know if that's because it's getting lost in the deafening-level sound mix
I was fairly certain I'd called it back in April when the second teaser came out, but I haven't even seen that particular trooper-flip in the final movie, let alone heard the scream. Must try harder…

Who'd have thought that the Wilhelm Scream would become the Macguffin of The Force Awakens?

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Okay, Star Wars: The Force Awakens features a brief appearance from Harriet Walter, who also starred in 2012's A Royal Affair alongside Mads Mikkelsen, who lent his voice to Moomins and the Comet Chase, as did Max Von Sydow, who starred in Flash Gordon of course, alongside Brian Blessed, who was in 1997's The History Of Tom Jones, as was Celia Imrie, who appeared in What We Did On Our Holiday, in a supporting role to David Tennant, who starred in 2003's Bright Young Things, which also featured Harriet Walter, who appears in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

You get it this time, right?

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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