JJ Abrams is such a safe pair of hands, it’s a wonder he wasn't steering Paris climate change negotiations, last week. And that is simultaneously Episode VII’s greatest strength and weakness: a huge amount of boxes are ticked, both large and small, in a herculean effort to avoid the pitfalls of the disastrous prequel trilogy, but in the process the eccentricity of George Lucas is somewhat lost. Abrams and his team have produced a superb modern blockbuster, one that can prompt tears just from its goddamn title appearing on the screen, but there is little here that has that spark of idiosyncratic invention than even the prequels’ worst moments could boast. Much is familiar. And you know what? Who cares?
You want Star Wars? How’s about Harrison Ford bickering over how best to fix the Falcon? How’s about a severely overmatched kid stepping up to duel a dark side type? How’s about X-wings, Chewbacca, Force-led mysticism and an Imperial officer nervily offering his master bad news? The chief innovation is a focus on character that elegantly ups the stakes across two key relationships, and at times there won’t be a dry eye in the house – and since it’s been 32 years since a decent trip to this galaxy, that’s more than enough. You’ll see this regardless of what we say, but you know what? You’ll like it.
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