In Germany there is a black and white 1963 British film called Dinner for One, which is shown across most of the major TV stations, every New Year’s Eve. Up to half the German population watch it, every year. It is quite pointless to review Dinner for One in isolation, as just any other film. Indeed, what it is like as a film is almost irrelevant. It is part of the cultural fabric of Germany, its lines are well known, shorthand pieces of social glue that are shared by all.
The same is true of the Force Awakens to some extent. It is more than the film. It is also about the joy of cinema itself. With this reboot much more than the prequels we have cross generational excitement. Parents have raised children on the original films and both are equally excited to see the new version.
But even so it was important that they didn’t blow it. And Abrams is the ideal candidate for not blowing it. He may not give you an innovative vision, but he does know how to handle this stuff with love and care. In Rey the audience finally (after the abysmal missteps of the prequels) gets the hero they deserve. Feisty, likeable and with a cool steampunk, graphic novel look she is a direct descendant in tone from the well delineated characters of the original. Finn is a good foil, and the use of old characters treads just the right side of nostalgia. Maybe the whole thing does have a feel of being produced by focus group, but it bundles along decently enough. The point is not whether it’s a great film on its own, but whether it is good enough to sustain the social momentum. And it is.
You could criticise this film – I mean, another death star type thing gets blown up? Come up with a different ending, FFS. But it would be churlish to do so. Incidentally, the 40 Star Wars Plot Holes are not plot holes, they’re plot devices used in nearly all films. I’m not in love with Star Wars the way the 9 year old me was, but you’d have to hate cinema not to be warmed by the sight of so many people across all generations and cultures queuing up to see a film. And I don’t. Hate cinema that is.