It's very difficult to summarise the plot of this film without giving away any plot details. I could just mention what's said in the opening crawl, but it's best you don't know what that says. So, instead, I'm going to tell you what the trailer tells you (and trust me when I say that's not a lot of information). The film revolves around two leads, Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley). Rey is living on the desert planet of Jakku where she runs into Finn. Thanks to a series of action packed events, the two cross paths with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Also in the mix is Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the best damn pilot in the galaxy. So yeah, I think that's all I need to tell you about the plot of this movie. When you go see it, you can find out just what's going on for yourself.
Expectations were high, and once the Lucasfilms logo had appeared, I'd already decided that I was in love with the film. It was a foolish thing to do, but I did it anyway. As the film went on, I was still in love, but I couldn't help but nitpick. There were certain things that were annoying me about the movie, simply because it was different to what I expected it to be. When the film came to a close, I knew I had a great time with it, but it wasn't perfect. It wasn't my favourite film of the year. I knew I had to see it again. So, I did. Two more times. I've now seen the film three times and let's just say that I was very overwhelmed the first time I saw it. This film is going to be a classic, on par with the original trilogy. Film of the year? I think so.
Why is this, you ask? Why, because most of this film was done using practical effects, recreating the magic of the original trilogy. With the prequels, everything in that film looks computerised and fake, dating horribly despite not actually being that old. The original trilogy has dated far better than they have, and if you watch the theatrical cuts this is evident even more. It doesn't have the pointless edits and changes of the special editions. But away, with this new trilogy, J.J. wanted to make something that would last, and his efforts payed off. It feels like a real world with real people and real creatures. The use of practical effects helps with the believability.
It's all good to use the effects well, but at the time, the prequels had good visual effects. They just needed good screenplays. With The Force Awakens, the film was co-written by J.J. Abrams, the director, and Lawrence Kasdan, the writer of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, an earlier (but unused) draft written by Michael Arndt, the writer of Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3. Their screenplay is mind blowing, covering the last thirty years while also focussing on setting up these new characters and the new plot. Plus, they really understand what makes Star Wars Star Wars. It ticks off all the boxes of being a Star Wars movie.
Leia (Carrie Fisher) is given a considerable amount of screen time as well, as is C3P0 (Anthony Daniels). R2D2 (Kenny Baker) isn't quite as lucky and neither is Luke (Mark Hamill), but those are for good reasons. I can't say why, but you'll understand when you see the movie. There's a reason some characters didn't show up in the advertising and because of that, I don't wish to discuss why they're not given much screen time. They're just not. End of story. Moving on. Remember that time when Han shot Greedo first? Same.
While she's the best in terms of humans, the real stand out is the new droid, BB8. He's a round, child-like droid who we essentially follow the story of. He's the reason we get to go on this journey, much like R2D2 and C3P0 in the original film. And boy is he cute. BB8 made me fall in love, laugh out loud and smile harder than I've ever smiled before. He's the best thing about this film, and yes, he is a he. Two separate characters refer to him as a he, so I'm trusting them on that. Even J.J. Abrams says he, if that means anything.
Our final hero in this tale is Poe Dameron, a Resitance fighter who's sent on a mission from a certain Princess.... or a certain General, as she's now referred to. Oscar Isaac is quickly making his way through Hollywood and he's becoming one of my favourite actors. It'll be a strange day when he's in a movie where his performance isn't excellent and with The Force Awakens, he's sensational. He brings a lot of humour to this story, but his character is never there for comic relief. He's a Han Solo type, always doing what must be done, although if I'm perfectly honest, Poe appears to be a little more enthusiastic than Han was in the original film. But that's all part of his character, and I guess Han's character, too.
Helping Ren with his dark side duties are two characters who I love, despite neither of them getting too much to do. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is a little shit. He has complete faith in his stormtroopers and his weaponry and he's willing to do anything to get what he wants. Captain Phasma, on the other hand, is more of a follower, doing what she's told and doing it well. She may look cool, but she's really just a stormtrooper. She was a fan favourite before the film came out, but she won't be now that it is. That's not to say she's a bad character though, if you were at all getting that impression. I quite liked her.
When you place all of these distinct and very different characters into the one movie, nothing short of excellence occurs. The Force Awakens is a film that's funny, action packed, thrilling and everything a blockbuster should be. As a matter of fact, it really is the perfect blockbuster. 2015 has been the year of the let down, most movies ending up being pretty good, rather than excellent. Then Star Wars came along and changed everything. It's a constant blast from start to finish and I really can't emphasise enough how much fun I had watching this movie.
To sum up, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a triumphant return to form for the Star Wars franchise, serving as a great standalone movie and setting up the films to come. J.J, you've done good, kid. You've done good. Episode 8, I'm coming for you.