A new hope has officially come with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Right from the opening credits, it’s clear that director JJ Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan have successfully created a knowing, affectionate (i.e. nerdy in a really, really good way) reboot of the original 1977 Star Wars.
Unlike the previous three films — The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith — The Force Awakens is reassuringly low-fi, yet slick enough for millennial audiences. This is Star Wars remixed, a heady combo of recognised characters, situational setups and familiar tropes, including the Franklin Gothic-type font in the opening crawl: Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…
This time, the universe is dominated by The First Order, the evil successor to the Empire, whose overlords are on a quest to find and kill Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi who is in hiding. Information about his location is hidden in a droid.
What else do you need to know about The Force Awakens?
1. There’s a kickass new heroine
Newcomer Daisy Ridley plays Rey, a scrappy scavenger on the remote desert planet of Jakku. She is thrust into the adventure of a lifetime when she saves an abandoned droid. Vulnerable yet steely, she more than holds her own against the men. She’s an adept mechanic and knows how to fight her way out of a skirmish — even rescuing Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper who has defected from The First Order.
2. It features Han Solo and Chewbacca
And, of course, Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2D2, too. All the iconic characters from the very first Star Wars movie are here. General Leia is the leader of The Resistance on the planet D’Qar, with C-3PO and R2D2 by her side. Han is doing what he does best: Smuggling, with trusty Chewie.
3. The new Dark Lord is no Darth Vader
The Dark Lord now is Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Cruel, spiteful and prone to petulant temper tantrums, he is unlike Darth Vader — and harbours a dark secret that’s actually not that shocking.
4. There’s lots of old and something new
New droid BB-8 is just this side of adorable. But mostly, there are plenty of scenes referencing the first Star Wars movie, from the high-octane space battles and fight scenes, to a bar run by the wizened Pirate Queen Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o).
5. Two words: Oscar Isaac
The brooding star of Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), A Most Violent Year (2014) and Ex Machina (2015) plays hotshot X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, who strikes up a friendship with Finn. Watch out for him too as the supervillain Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse next year.
Movie images: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures