Wednesday 16 December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens ... Sith happens

STAR Wars: The Force Awakens is neither bad nor good. The film introduces a new cast of characters
and smartly retains the old cast of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. There's enough time for the old and new ones to shine.
  I liked the fact that director J.J. Abrams chose a multicultural line-up of actors to spearhead the seventh instalment of this franchise. 
   It's nice to see a strong white female upending a bunch of males and showing them that she's got the panache and style to be the face of the new Star Wars. 
   Abrams delivered a coup by picking unknown British actress Daisy Ridley as his lead, Rey, a scavenger who lives from day to day but knows how to take out male fighters in hand-to-hand combat, fly spaceships such as the Millennium Falcon and show the first blushes of love with another British newcomer John Boyega. 
  Rey exhibits single-mindedness in her daily tasks yet maintains a youthful ardor and innocence. Watching her in action of simply watching her gaze into the distance is pure bliss. She, like Luke Skywalker (Hamill), doesn't have a family but she says that she's waiting for them to return.
    Her partner in crime is Fenn (Boyega), an Imperial stormtrooper who develops a conscience during his first assignment killing villagers. He, too, doesn't have a family as he says he was removed from his family at a young age and imbued with an ideology of hatred.
Daisy Riley and John Boyega run for their lives.
   Then there's Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac of last year's A Most Violent Year), a Latino who's the best jet pilot in the Resistance. 
  The dandy alliance of a woman, a black and a Latino, with the help of a few elderly white foggies, must beat back the growing threat of the Dark side.
  The film is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. A new robot, BB-8, is entrusted with information that it must deliver to the Rebel leadership. See, even R2-D2 has a younger counterpart, who's as cute and lovable as the former.
   The information concerns a map of the location of Skywalker, who has gone underground but who's perceived as a threat by the Dark force, which includes Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his protege Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). 
   Ren's a wannabe Darth Vader who lacks the breathy voice of the latter but is so ravishingly handsome that his looks will bring hordes of women to the cineplexes.
   However, is it really that hard to find a reclusive old man? In an age where the baddies can harness the power of the sun and use it as death ray to blow up planets, it's unfathomable why everyone would need a map to find Skywalker.
  Han Solo's (Ford) presence is a delight and I loved his dry humour and wisecracks. Solo may be old but he hasn't lost any of his charm and ruggedness. Chewbacca and Princess Leia return to make up the numbers. 
   I found this plot similar to Star Wars IV, in that the young ingenue is forced to help the Resistance. Like most films, the plot requires the gang to break into a humongous Death Star-like military installation and which, only in movies, can be easily penetrated by a small ragtag bunch of people.
Chewbacca and Han Solo make a great team. 
  Rey discovers that she has amazing powers, but instead of being gradually introduced to it, like Skywalker, she takes to it like a duck to water. I found her transformation for this part hard to believe.
   And even when Ren could have been killed, I expected him not to be done in so early in the new series. His roots may surprise people, but it's in line with the conflicted father-son routine in Star Wars.

2½ out of 5 stars

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