Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Feel like the first line of the film must be a dig at Lucas – it's an awkward bit of dialogue in the context of the scene itself. No wonder he's a bit grumpy. Say what you like about the prequels, at least they were trying out something new. Episode VII just lifts the plot points and character arcs wholesale from Episode IV. You could almost call it a remake. Giving the fans what they want, but not what they need.

I'm one of those weirdos that rather likes the prequels, which may just be down to the fact that they came out when I was at prime Star Wars age (i.e. 10 to 15 years old). I still think the pile-up of lightsaber duel, laser shoot-out, pitched battle and space battle at the end of Episode I was an ambitious and well executed set-piece (even if the "I am Queen Amidala" stuff flew over my head). Plus don't forget podracing and Darth Maul. And Episode III had some cool church vs state, order vs liberty currents running through it. The problem wasn't that Lucas didn't have ideas, it was that he had no sense of character, making the love story in Episode II embarrassing to watch.

J.J. Abrams is a pastiche artist, but at least he can give his actors lines they can deliver without wincing. The Strong Female Character is becoming overused by male directors trying to do feminism (they need a personality as well, guys!). But Rey is still an improvement on the complete lack of prominent female Jedi thus far in the films. And the co-star is not only black but a renegade stormtrooper rebelling against fascist oppressors – although he is occasionally pushed into comedy sidekick mode.

Oscar Issac's reheated Han Solo and Adam Driver's one-man Darth Vader fanclub are also very watchable. And when Rey starts pushing into Kylo Ren's mind, and finally whups his ass at the end, it's difficult not to get a little bit excited. There's enough there for the new Star Wars to sink its claws into you for one more trilogy, but I'm hoping Rian Johnson can come up with something a little more novel for Episode VIII.

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