Do whatever you can to quarantine yourself for the next month or so while Star Wars madness – and spoilers – rule the planet. The thing to do is to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens while it’s fresh, minty, and everybody hasn’t talked the damn thing to death. Stay away from all comments sections. And see the movie on the most gigantic screen with the best sound system for miles around. It’s worth it. We’re not going to spill even a hint of the plot; here’s all you need to know for now.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars movie we’ve had since 1983. It’s also one of the three best Star Wars movies ever made. Moments after the opening titles, from the very canny, resonant first line spoken – “This will begin to make things right” – you may find yourself relaxing in your seat and letting yourself become a wide-eyed, open-hearted kid again seeing Star Wars for the first time with your best friend. Things hum, whirr and click with such precision that you know the franchise is now in the right hands: these people, led by director-writer J.J. Abrams, know what exactly they’re doing. It starts with the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, Abrams and Michael Arndt: it’s swift, witty, full of zingers, action-heavy, but loaded with heart. Maybe the script reworks the story beats of Star Wars a bit too obviously and occasionally trades heavily on nostalgia, like when certain indelible characters repeat lines from earlier films. But the screenplay is satisfying and old-fashioned in the best sense.
The good decisions continue with the new cast additions of Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver (who skulks and roars like Richard III), Domhnall Gleeson and Luipita Nyong'o (who voices one of the film’s most quirky and endearing new characters). Not a misstep among them. They’re all strong actors and vivid screen presences and we’d be willing to bet that a lot of people are going to leave the theater half in love with the hugely likable Ridley and Boyega. The cocky, charismatic Poe Dameron (Isaac) and dark, tortured Kylo Ren (Driver) are sketched in so powerfully that we can’t wait to see what’s in store for them. As for the returning cast, there shouldn’t be a dry eye in the house once Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher reunite in their wry, emotionally resonant scenes – scenes that are equaled by the film’s reintroductions of creatures like Chewbacca and those Laurel and Hardy-esque droids, C-3PO and R2-D2.
The fast-moving film looks fantastic, too, shot on film by Daniel Mindel (Star Trek Into Darkness), using practical special effects and locations wherever possible, with vast-looking and epic production design (Rick Carter and Darren Gilford going delightfully heavy on the Nazi imagery) and featuring one hell of a many-tentacled-space-creatures-on-the-loose sequence done via glorious and defiantly old-school stop-motion. Sure, the action sags and wheezes now and then, but the movie is fun, breezy, joyously entertaining and anxious to please. Abrams and company have brought Star Wars home again by reigniting the soul, spirit and sense of wonder of the three original films.