Film - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars poster

With absolutely NO SPOILERS, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was watched by our own Dark Lord, Chris Sith...er...Smith...

Dear reader, I have a confession to make: I have never been a fan of Star Wars.

 Before you tie me to an X-Wing and burn me with lightsabres, allow me to explain. I like Star Wars and the films, with the "pew pew", "punch it, Chewie!" and " I am your father" are enjoyable, but a fan? No. My fondness for stellar adventures has always been of the Trekking kind.

What made me so excited for The Force Awakens was JJ Abrams. After Star Trek had been whipped bloody by successive TV Series before the Shotgun of Cancellation was levelled at its head, ol' JJ did the impossible. He made me a fan again, someone proud to say, "I am a Trekkie". With The Force Awakens, I am now proud to say I am a fan of Star Wars.

At its heart, the original trilogy of Episodes IV to VI were a fairy tale, where a plucky farmhand saves a Kingdom (in this case, a galaxy) from an evil ruler and his henchman. However, the "and they all live happily ever after" we expected after Return of the Jedi never happened. 30 years have past and the galaxy is once again at war. Yes, the Galactic Empire has fallen but has been replaced by a collection of warring Imperial factions - including the First Order -while the Rebel Alliance has become the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa. Luke Skywalker - the last of the Jedi - has vanished, hunted by everyone while Han and Chewie....are still Han and Chewie, frankly (this is a good thing).

If JJ Abrams has a talent for anything, it's injecting freshness into established franchises in a way that doesn't seem forced. Here, we have Rey, a scavenger living hand-to-mouth, a "Finn" a stormtrooper who makes a choice and in doing so sets the film's events in motion. It's difficult to speak about either without spoilers so all I will say is that both quickly become an essential part to this chapter of the saga. Both can stand by themselves but yet embody the characteristics that made Han, Luke, and Leia so beloved by fans.

And the fact that this the start of a new chapter is key. Yes, The Force Awakens builds upon what has gone before but not in a way that shackles it to the past. Fans can rest easy, however. There aren't any sweeping changes to the lore but more an evolution to the stories that lore has created. Kylo Ren may be the new generation's Darth Vader but he's more complex than that, and certainly more interesting because of it.

No small part of the beauty of Star Wars lies in its effects and here The Force Awakens delivers in abundance. An ageing, battered Millennium Falcon crash landing and crash taking-off (I didn't know it was possible either): amazing. A squadron of X-Wings skimming the surface of a lake as they assault an enemy position: jaw-dropping. X-Wings engaging TIE Fighters in a planet's skies in a desperate dogfight to buy Finn, Han and Chewie enough time to sneak into a First Order installation: oh, baby! This is what Star Wars is about.

If you're already a paid-up fan of the saga, this is the film you deserve. If - by some perverse twist of fate - you've never seen Star Wars before or have never understood the fuss, this is the film that will change your mind. Don't worry about knowing what's come before because this is the film for you.

Watching The Force Awakens is to watch A New Hope for the very first time - and I cannot wait for what comes next.

Image - IMDb