'The Force Awakens' is a hugely entertaining return to form for 'Star Wars'

Newstalk's resident film critic takes a look at what is almost certainly the biggest film of the year...

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Image: Ian West / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A)

The Force Awakens is the seventh movie in the Star Wars franchise and the first in a new trilogy of space adventures, set around 30 years after the events of The Return Of The Jedi.

(this review reveals a few general plot details, but is otherwise spoiler-free)

It introduces three new main characters: a young scavenger called Rey (the striking Daisy Ridley); Finn (John Boyega), a stormtrooper with a conscience; and a Han Solo-like buccaneering pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac) in Princess Leia’s - or General Leia as she is now called – Resistance.

We are told in the opening scroll that Luke Skywalker - the last of the jedi knights - has disappeared. Rey and Finn become part of an effort to find him, thwart a Nazi-like organisation called the First Order, and restore balance to The Force.

The Force Awakens, the first Star Wars movie made without the direct involvement of George Lucas, is dramatically better than the last three “prequels” and one of the best written entries in the saga so far. It is largely a chase adventure that cleverly re-introduces characters from the franchise’s past, most especially Han Solo (Harrison Ford) who - once again - endows the storyline with a swashbuckling personality.

At 2 hours 10 minutes, they could probably have shaved a little time off the movie’s length, but that is a mere quibble in a feature that has balance and pace, half a dozen major action set pieces and a grand screen-filling sense of cinema. Of the cast, Ford, Ridley and Adam Driver (as a young Darth Vader–like villain, Kylo Ren) stand-out in a hugely entertaining return to form for Star Wars.

Every Wednesday on The Right Hook, Philip joins George to talk movies and TV. Listen back to the podcast below: