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Star Wars: The Force Awakens PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
14 01 2016

ImageDirected by J J Abrams

Star Wars was always going to be about nostalgia as much as plot or action or character. But two young London-born actors actually give you hope that it might, just like its original forebear, become a launching pad for new stars. Daisy Ridley, great niece of actor and playwright Arnold Ridley (soon to be portrayed by Michel Gambon in the upcoming Dad's Army), is the spirited and resourceful Rey, and John Boyega, already nominated as an upcoming star in the baftas, is Finn, the new version of Luke Skywalker, a good boy with a conscience, a former stormtrooper who's seen the light. This new departure, the fact that people can change and no one, not even a guy enclosed in white plastic, doesn't have the power to make a moral choice, perhaps says something good about our times in comparison with what we somewhat sloppily think was the golden age into which the very first Star Wars movie so spectacularly broke, with all its enhanced B picture values.

Oscar Isaac takes the dashing Han Solo part, shaking off the bumbling Llewyn Davis for ever as ace pilot Poe Dameron. Lots of great new talent on show, then, and the visuals are super, imaginative, all looking terribly real and tangible, other than a very peculiar hologram of Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke. (Snoke, are they having a laugh? It sounds like something 15-year-olds are discovered having behind the bike sheds.) But the audible sigh of pleasure when Han and Chewy burst into the now very decrepit Millennium Falcon speaks so much for the longing we have for those innocent, pre-cgi days.

ImageWookies don't get wrinkles, but Harrison Ford's face, a pretty constant presence onscreen ever since that film, has rumpled and coarsened more alarmingly than you realise when you see him back in the old place. Haven't we all. It isn't just the young folk who watched the original trilogy as children who hanker after that comfortable and exciting place they were in back in the day. It's us baby boomers too. Star Wars was the first film I saw using a babysitter, a few weeks after the birth of my first son, in a closed-down cinema in Hull that had reopened specially because of its superior sound system. And that baby's, and his brothers', subsequent childhood was peppered with the film - in cinemas, on video at home, an all-night sitting we tried to make it through, as well as playing with the merchandise. We desperately trawled the shops of Hull one Christmas for the much prized AT-AT, and I recall Snaggletooth initiating a scene of-crime style search across a portion of Anlaby Common after the figure slipped from a 4-year-old hand.

The set of prequels were, as my mother would have said, too daft to laugh at, and certainly too daft to be thrilled by. Never that innocence again, perhaps, but this is almost as much fun as the original, with a good sense of place and enough peril to make you worry for the characters, all played for real. It's a bit of a yawn that the old father v son business rears its head again. You can have too much of an archetypal struggle. In fact this film is a great cementer of generations, it's a great family film. Seems like the entire nation has seen it already, but if you haven't, I urge you to treat yourselves.

Seen at Cineworld, Boldon, December 30 2015

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