‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ – A visual magnum opus (IANS Rating: ***1/2)

Film: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”; Director: J.J. Abrams; Cast: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow; Rating: ***1/2

The much-hyped and anticipated “The Force Awakens” is the seventh chapter of the Galactic epic “Star Wars” which is magnificently mounted. Filled with a wide variety of perfectly-paced set action pieces, it simply dazzles.

The saga begins on a familiar note, “Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, followed by an informational scroll which gives an insight into the Galactic War and the rise of the evil First Order from the remains of the fallen Galactic Empire.

After the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi who vanished 30 years ago, is thought to be a myth by the next generation.

This edition follows a Stormtrooper, FN-2187 (John Boyega) also known as Finn, whose conscience does not permit him to follow the diktats of the First Order now commanded by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

His chance meeting with the Resistance Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on the planet Jakku, followed by helping him escape from Kylo’s clutches, leads Finn on to fight against the evil forces and thereby search for the last Jedi.

With a thin derivative story that lacks imagination, director J.J. Abrams’s script, co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt, is an action-packed drama with a fair amount of humour thrown in. It feels like a rehash of the original trilogy and is a bit disappointing. But with unexpected twists and revisiting some old characters makes, the narration interesting.

The script suffers from heavy exposition, as well as an overdose of long-drawn action sequences, that makes viewing a fatigued experience.

The performances of every character are stereotypical and everyone has a decent amount of screen time to shine. But it is the line-up of new individuals who add to the film’s novelty factor.

John Boyega as Finn is earnestly convincing. He is enigmatic, as well as charismatic as the disillusioned Stormtrooper who must figure out what he believes in and then choose to find the strength to fight for it.

Daisy Ridley, as the scavenger who assists Finn in his endeavour, is energetic and lively. She, with a combination of electrifying looks and down-to-earth accessibility, is swift and graceful in her action scenes. Her character gets a bounce when she realises that she is endowed with some interesting powers, unfortunately, this mystery is not explained in the narration.

The duo are ably supported by Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Peter Mayhew as his buddy Chewbacca, along with Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Andy Serkis as the Supreme Leader Snoke.

But it is the circular red and white robot, droit BB-8, voiced by various members of the cast, who steals the show with its anthropomorphised act. Also, it is the appealing character named Maz Kanata wonderfully voiced by Lupita Nyong’o, who is worth a mention.

Shuttling between vast sand dunes and elaborate spaceships, Dan Mindel’s cinematography captures the drama with flourish. His frames are picture perfect and his camera movements are smooth. They seamlessly merge with computer generated images which are adroitly lined up by the editors, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey. The 3D effects as well as John Williams’ music naturally enhances the viewing experience.

Overall, the film is not to be missed by “Star Wars” fans and lovers of adventure and sci-fiction.

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