Dec 19, 2015


'Let’s get verdicts out of the way: Star Wars Episode VII; The Force Awakens is probably the best in the series since The Empire Strikes Back. It is first-rate entertainment, fast and funny, yet filled with the prickly sense of fate a saga like this needs, and also surprisingly moving. Indeed, Abrams is pretty much peerless in channeling our collective warmth for past pop culture. He has made five films so far — Mission Impossible 3, Star Trek, Star Trek 2: Into Darkness, Super 8 and now this — two sequels, two reboots and one homage to his mentor Steven Spielberg. His hit reel is a mass of other’s mens copyrights. Somewhere between a remixer and a cover artist, he is expert at smuggling his virtues into the pre-existing grooves of other’s formats and franchises. And yet you know a J J Abrams movie when you see it — the dynamic framing, the unfakeable sense of pep and optimism, the fascination with mystery-box plots in which characters stumble out of aliases and into their true vocation. The identity crisis of multi-taskers: it’s a very Abrams theme. It’s the theme, too, of The Force Awakens, which is full of track-switchers,  unexpected alliances, reinventions, sudden reveals.  The experience of watching the film is a fascinatingly novel one, almost uncanny, in the true sense of the word: to see life breathed into elements so familiar  bordering on the eerie, like seeing a puppet move by itself. It’s magic in its purest form. Here they all are, all the old tropes: The sand planet. The hot-shot pilot. The father set against son. The opportunist who may or may not grow a conscience. But all seen from pleasingly unfamiliar angles. Lucas pretty much exhausted the typology of planets — ice, water, snow, desert — so Abrams wisely seeks out new contexts for the key pieces of eye candy: light sabres in rain,  x-wings churning up spray over a lake, the Millennium Falcon skimming sand, an Imperial battle destroyers rusting in the desert. He’s a master defamiliariser.' — from my review for Intelligent Life

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