4.5 out of 5 stars
In one word: Balance.
The balance between action and expositions; between adventure and comedy; between nostalgia for returning characters and the introduction of new ones; between CGI and old school animation; between special effects and a human story; between remaking Episode IV and paying homage to it and of course between light and dark. It is this balance that JJ Abrams and the brains behind this film have to find and it is to their credit, and to every fanboy’s collective sigh of relief, that they have manage to succeed in carrying out this exercise of fine-tuning and balancing all these elements in a 2hrs plus thrill ride that never stop, never falter, and never overcomplicate things. There are narrative flaws that are probably more conveniences, and deliberately preposterous setups to evoke particular reactions that might be labelled manipulative but, I believe, forgivable. (Yes, that’s me dancing around so there are no spoilers in this review.) But in the end, I think it is fair to say it was a job particularly well done, especially in light of the almost insurmountable expectations. They have chosen the new casts well, given the script enough thought and care to make it a worthy reboot/remake *delete as appropriate and the film is technically flawless (and almost flareless). It is a pleasure to say that I end my lacklustre cinematic year with one of the best – and one of the best in its franchise so far. Roll on, Episode VIII.