We list down the confirmed facts of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".
It is still hard to believe that "Star Wars" fans around the world would live to feel the return of the Force after the saga was completed with "The Revenge of the Sith" ten years ago. However, even with less than eight months before "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is about to send this far, far away galaxy back to its cinematic roots, details have been sketchy at best.
This is all thanks to the director, J.J Abrams, who is widely known in the industry (besides Christopher Nolan) for trying to maintain the 'magic' of his movies by making sure that we go into the cinemas without knowing what to expect.
A real warning poster for the crew of J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
While anyone who hears the name Abrams attached to any recent franchises (see: "Star Trek") would come to expect the high level of security of information allowed to pass through, Abram's clampdown on loose lips for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" may yet be his harshest, given what is at stake for the first "Star Wars" movie to ever come out after the acquisition of LucasFilm.
As we celebrate Star Wars Day today (May the Force be with you!), we are putting together an easier list of things we have pieced together about "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" from events-'allowed' snippets to circulate (most likely after thorough strict marketing supervision).
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
It certainly does feel that the last Star Wars movie was a long time ago and its galaxy is becoming more and more distant with each passing year. That space in time would be taken into account for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Upon the announcement date of its shoot, it is also announced that it would take place 30 years after the events of "Return of the Jedi", which will explain the wrinkled heroes of the original trilogy. Not much has changed though since the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader, with the remnants of the Empire reorganising themselves to a new entity known as The First Order. Meanwhile, the Rebel Alliance will be collectively known as The Resistance.
This is not the universe you are looking for...
If you are a Star Wars fan who has been expanding your love into the Expanded Universe beyond "Return of the Jedi", then you are about to know as much as to what will happen in "The Force Awakens" as the young Padawans who are just about to get their first feel of The Force. After the acquisition from Disney, new LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy had clarified that "The Force Awakens" and subsequent movies and tie-ins would not be adhering to the Expanded Universe, in order to give current and future filmmakers 'creative freedom' to expand this new universe. This means that everyone, except for those at the new LucasFilm and Disney who are setting the new directions, will be on the same blank page when they see "The Force Awakens". Only the previous six films and the current "Rebels" TV series would be considered canon in this new universe.
That doesn't mean that hardcore Star Wars fans should start burning their novels and comics, however, as "The Force Awakens" and future movies in the sequel trilogy could be using certain elements such as worlds, characters and plot points for future use. To look on the bright side, at least Chewwy is not dead.
Old Heroes Strike Back
One of the biggest news of "The Force Awakens" was that it would honour those who had come before in the original trilogy and there will be heaps of nostalgia to see the aged cast returning back together for a silverscreen reunion. We can be sure that many fans had similar reactions to Matthew McConaughey in "Interstellar", with the teaser featuring Han Solo and Chewbacca saying their homecoming line. The good news is that, aside from Solo and Chewwy, all the main characters from the Original Trilogy have confirmed their return for "The Force Awakens" in various capacities. Mark Hamil (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C3PO) and Kenny Baker (R2D2) have all confirmed to be reprising their respective roles. The only known character who is not returning is Rebel X-Wing pilot Wedge Antilles when actor Denis Lawson had declined the offer to return.
A New Hope
However much fans may clamour to wish that the adventures would continue with Luke Skywalker, the Sequel Trilogy would be focused on a new batch of heroes (and villains). During the recent 10th Star Wars Celebration at Anaheim, the new batch of heroes of "The Force Awakens" was officially introduced. Leading the pack is Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), a self-sufficient and independent scavenger who lives on the desert planet of Jakku (often mistaken for Tatooine). She will meet up with Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper who is in incredible danger by the time he meets Rey and will be forced to join her on her mission. Then lastly there is Poe Dameron; the best pilot in the universe (unless Han Solo has something to say about that) who is tasked with a mission by a certain princess but his fate becomes intertwined with Finn's.
Return of the Practical Effects
If there was one main reason to love about the Star Wars movies, it is certainly the effects that are seen on screen. While arguably the excessive use of CG in the Prequel Trilogy may have lessened the charms as compared to the Original Trilogy, J.J. Abrams has pledged to return to relying on practical effects over digital ones for "The Force Awakens". That doesn't just mean the expansive sets and the fine detailed props, but it also extends to the droids being used. Most notably a new R2-D2 that was built by the R2-D2 Builders Club, and his new companion / rival, the free-rolling BB-8, which is an actual new droid built with new technology.
Attack of the Scores
Aside from the lightsabers, X-Wing battles, and diverse planets, one of the most definitive elements of any Star Wars movie would be the score by John Williams, who composed that opening theme that will forever echo in the minds of anyone after they have seen any instalment from the saga. That tradition would live on in "The Force Awakens" as J.J. Abrams has opted to bring back John Williams to score for the 7th episode, instead of having his long-time musical collaborator Michael Giacchino stir up a new tune.
The Female Menace
If female fans of Star Wars are delighted that a woman is stepping up to take a leading role in "The Force Awakens", then they would have more things to be delighted about. Ever since LucasFilms was acquired, female characters have been getting the attention to take center stage to bring balance to what was arguably a boy's fantasy (slave suits notwithstanding). Although the hair buns have retired, LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy has said that we can expect to see more women who can get the job done, especially with the casting of Academy winner Lupita Nyong'o and Gwedonline Christie in "The Force Awakens", and Felicity Jones for the spin-off "Rogue One".
Cinema Online, 04 May 2015