Despite the secrecy of concealed plot details and mysterious new protagonists, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is already one of the biggest blockbusters of 2015
New villains rise and new heroes join the old to combat them in the return of the epic Star Wars saga.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already broken records even before opening in theatres.
A month before its release, the film had already raked in more than US$50m ($70.5m) in advanced ticket sales, making it the top movie in history to do so, reported The Wall Street Journal.
But not all fans are sold on the series’ seventh instalment yet. This sequel, like any other, has two main camps — the more easy-going fans who would fawn over any child of the franchise like a besotted parent, and sceptics convinced that nothing can do justice to the earlier films helmed by George Lucas himself.
With such high expectations riding on director JJ Abrams, will he be successful in preserving and even enhancing the legacy of Lucas’ epic saga?
A MYSTERY FAR, FAR AWAY
Rey (front, played by Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) take over as the movie’s main heroes, accompanied by new droid BB-8.
While some ardent fans have figured out several plot details from the trailers, other more casual fans may find themselves still squinting at a story obscured in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes us some 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi (which, incidentally, was released about 30 years ago, in 1983). New characters Rey and Finn take over as the new leads. The former (played by Daisy Ridley) is a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku.
Ridley had shed some light on her character and said that Rey was “completely self-sufficient and does everything for herself, until she meets [Finn] and an adventure begins.”
Finn (John Boyega) is a redeemed First Order Stormtrooper who possesses the lightsaber that once belonged to Luke and Anakin Skywalker — or, as most of you might know him as, Darth Vader.
We can also look out for a stylish new villain, the somewhat Darth Vader-like Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), a dark warrior strong with the Force. He was originally a member of the Knights of Ren and commander of the First Order.
How these three key characters will cross paths remains a mystery but their eventual standoff is definitely a scene I can’t wait to watch.
RETURN OF THE KINGS
This seventh instalment also sees the return of bounty hunter Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his sidekick Chewbacca (voiced by Peter Mayhew).
If you’re feeling lost or confused amid this secrecy, don’t worry; familiar iconic faces from the previous films will reappear to welcome you back.
For one, Mark Hamill is reprising his role as the original hero, Luke Skywalker, as is Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa.
But this won’t be the lively Princess Leia fans know from the original trilogy; she is now referred to as “General Organa”, and has become “defeated, tired and pi**ed”, described Fisher.
Loveable sidekicks, like robot C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and the furry Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), will also return to the intergalactic battlefield.
Of course, who can forget the much-anticipated homecoming of Han Solo?
Back to star as the interstellar smuggler, Harrison Ford (also of the Indiana Jones series) may have aged considerably, but he said, “There’s a lot of the rogue still left in Solo. Some things don’t change.”
Old and new worlds collide in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
We’d like to be as optimistic as Ford and hope that some things indeed don’t change but a large population of Star Wars fans remain cynical that Disney’s buyout of Lucasfilm in 2012 may mean it will not retain the spirit of the original series.
Already, Lucas has had several run-ins with the new creatives behind Star Wars. He said, “[They] don’t realise it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems — it’s not about spaceships.”
But it seems like a shift is exactly what’s in store. Abrams has hinted that his new direction will depart from the stories of Luke, Han and Leia as we know them. He stated that “they would be characters who [fans] may have heard of, but maybe not”.
Ultimately, the fans share Lucas’ biggest concern: That “the Force doesn’t get muddled into a bunch of gobbledygook”. After all, The Force Awakens is only the first film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy under Disney. May the Force be with us all.
By Pamela Chow
Star Wars: The Force Awakens [pg]
Director: JJ Abrams
Starring: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill & Andy Serkis
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Action
Run length: 136 min
Release: 17 Dec