The Force has finally awakened, and the seventh episode of the Star Wars trilogy has hit movie theatres across the world. But does Star Wars: The Force Awakens live up to the hype and recapture the spirit of Star Wars?
Firstly, a word of warning: While this article intends to be free of spoilers, please be aware that any external links or related articles may not be.
The Force Awakens was viewed with caution by many fans who wanted a return to the spirit of the classic Star Wars trilogy which many felt was missing from the prequel trilogy, released 15 years previously. As reactions sink in the general feeling seems to be that it has for the most part lived up to the hype, and that director JJ Abrams and his team at Lucasfilm and Disney have delivered on their promise to make Star Wars great again.
According to reports, The Force Awakens has already destroyed the UK opening day box office record, with a £9.6 million (US$14.3m) take that smashes the previous record set by Spectre only two months ago. A quarter of these sales where from the midnight release alone, and gives Episode VII of the Star Wars saga a boost to breaking further records as it continues it's run on the big screen.
The film itself is holding up well in reviews too, with film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes scoring The Force Awakens an admirable 95% fresh and user reviews showing that 93% of viewers enjoyed the film (at time of writing).
While some reviewers have criticised the film for playing fan-service and reusing old ideas, others have praised it for bringing back the feelings of joy they experienced the first time they watched the original trilogy, and carrying with it a sense not only of nostalgia but also of hope for the future.
Even the good reviews cast light on the moments where dialogue gets a little cheesy, but for every negative there are more positives; and one of these positives is the casting. Rey (Daisy Ridley), and Finn (John Boyega) work great together on screen and have us rooting for them throughout the action, and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) was not just another copy-and-paste villain as we saw all too often in the prequel trilogy, but a complex character with his own ambitions that occasionally seemed to set him at odds with his superior, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and other members of the First Order. General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is menacing as one of the officers of the First Order and parallels can certainly be drawn between him and figures from real world history. BB-8 and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) are sure to be new fan favourites, as they both brings familiar humor and general badass-ness to the film.
Familiar faces also make a return, and we discover what Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) have been up to while we were away. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is central to the plot of The Force Awakens, but his role is clearly going to be more prominent in future films. Overall the film delivers much but ultimately leaves us wanting more, and with future films and spin-offs already on the way it is only a matter of time before we return to a galaxy far far away once more.
The Force truly is strong with this one.