My inner 10-year-old and I review ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

The Millennium Falcon goes upside down and the screen goes upside down! BB-8 is the cutest! New Star Wars is the best! Pew pew!

Um, sorry. My inner 10-year-old is just a little bit excited right now because I just saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. Few things make you feel like a kid the way Star Wars does, so as the film finally zooms into theatres, I took my younger self along to help review it. What did 10-year-old Rich think of the new film, and did jaded adult Rich agree?

Directed by J.J. Abrams, “The Force Awakens” is the first Star Wars film in a new trilogy set some years after “Return of the Jedi” brought the curtain down on the original series. The film sees new characters Rey, Finn and Poe teaming up to take on the evil First Order, risen from the ashes of the Empire and led by the dastardly Kylo Ren. Along the way they meet…

10-year-old Rich: No spoilers!

Adult Rich: Oh right, sorry. We’ve avoided spoilers, but if you want to see the film with entirely fresh eyes, come back to this review afterwards. Anyway, the good news is that Abrams has obviously learned from the much-maligned CGI-heavy Star Wars prequels and returns instead to the practical effects of the classic trilogy. “Force Awakens” is anchored in lush, concrete locations, teeming with very real-feeling creatures of all shapes and sizes. It’s pretty glorious after the bobbing video game sprites of the prequels.

10-year-old Rich: The aliens are so cool. They’re better when they look real.

Adult Rich: The jarring exception is when one major character, not seen in the trailers, turns out to be an all-CGI creation that really stands out from the satisfyingly physical beings seen elsewhere in the film. It’s a shame the CGI undermines the gravity of a crucial character.

But while it’s harking back to the feel of the original films, “The Force Awakens” also comes down to earth rather than lingering in the rarified setting of the Jedi council and the Galactic Senate like the prequels. “The Force Awakens” hangs out in the dusty, junky underbelly of the galaxy, filled with clunker spaceships and the scummy, villainous dregs of galactic society.

10-year-old Rich: There’s smugglers and space pirates and monsters! There’s running around and shooting stuff and blowing stuff up and fighting and chasing. It’s not like those other ones where they’re all just talking

Adult Rich: The prequels, yes. Thankfully, Abrams clearly gets Star Wars in a way he doesn’t get Star Trek, the other venerable series he recently took charge of. This is, after all, the guy who took the adventures of the Starship Enterprise and casually threw in a way for people to travel without starships. Oh, and he cured death. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that there are no such clanging missteps in his vision for the Star Wars universe. Well, apart from the bit where someone who isn’t a Jedi manages to successfully use a lightsaber, which doesn’t feel quite right.

Abrams does follow his Star Trek formula though. In his Trek reboot, Abrams reinvented the familiar characters and stories with a 21st-century face-lift, and he’s basically done the same thing here — only instead of the torturous time-travel nonsense that holed “Star Trek” and “Star Trek into Darkness” below the waterline, he simply dumps a load of information in the introductory title crawl and cracks on with it before you can ask too many questions. For instance, the rebels are the rebels again, even though they won last time.

10-year-old Rich: They’re called the Resistance now, so it’s different.

Adult Rich: I see. The bad guys are snooty, sneering uniformed types, but they’re called the First Order now so that’s different too. TIE fighters and X-Wings do dogfights but it’s totally different because they’re not in space. There’s lots of Stormtroopers too but apparently they’re different because some of them are silver.

A plucky little droid holds the key to defeating the baddies. A masked black-clad devotee of the Dark Side kneels before a shadowy master. The Force is awakened by…

10-year-old Rich: Oooh, here’s a funny bit with Chewbacca!

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