After a year of tense anticipation during which we have been tantalised by cleverly crafted trailers and TV spots which gave very little away, today was the day I finally got to see Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Since the news broke that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm to Disney and that Episode VII would begin production, I had caught between between contrasting emotions: giddy with excitement at the prospect of a new Star Wars film, haunted by the spectre of the immense disappointment that was Prometheus (the last film I anticipated with such great expectations), worried that the mistakes of the prequels would be repeated in the sequels. The trailers were a resounding success, the character and look of the originals leapt of the screen, so I dared to dream; I am happy to report that Star Wars: The Force awakens is a resounding success.
The real triumph of Episode VII is that it manages to maintain the spirit and tone of the original movies as it integrates the new characters into the legacy created by the old. When I realised that the film was coming to it's climax, I found myself thinking that I could quite happily have continued watching the film for another four hours. The pace is enthralling, the action sequences are a visual feast, the dialogue is light years away from clunkiness of the prequels and a perfect balance is achieved between answering questions raised by the 30 year gap from Return of the Jedi and raising new ones to be addressed in Episode VIII.
Being hyper critical, one could argue that Episode VII is a little too deferential to the original films; many of the plot devices (and one could argue some of the minor characters) are recycled and tweaked ever so slightly. An attack on a First Order base which should be a gargantuan undertaking is actually accomplished with relative ease, perhaps because it is simply a stage on which to set the emotional finale.
Star Wars: The Force awakens is a welcome addition to the Star Wars cinematic universe and I look forward to seeing it again, and again, and again and again. In case you're wondering, yes, I did cry during the film. I'll wait for you to watch it and see if you can guess where and why!