5 Things We Learned From Watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens (A Spoiler-free Guide)

You can breathe easy

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It took years of planning, cost $200m to produce (not including the $4bn to buy the rights from George Lucas) and has unrivalled status as the most hyped movie in the history of movies (and hype). And the initial verdict is? That you can breathe easy. Because it definitely isn’t a turkey like those prequels. And it might even be a modern classic. Here are a few things we learned, (without giving it all away, promise):

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It’s (super) faithful to the spirit of the original

From the opening scene, there can be no doubt that JJ Abrams made keeping the original trilogy's look and feel a priority - despite over 30 years of technological advances. So there's an almost retro aesthetic to some of the sets, and a tattiness to some of the detailing that envokes the original's low-budget charm. The battle scenes are visually impressive of course, but it never strays too far into the realms of over-polished CGI.

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But it still takes its cues from the modern blockbuster romp

There are jokes, comedy bickering and sarcey wisecracks in abundance. Even during scenes of deathly seriousness and intense battles, there are light moments. Where the originals weren’t afraid to play it straight, here there are even gags being played out on the (new and improved) Death Star between stormtroopers. JJ Abrams knows what the modern day blockbuster audience has come to expect and delivers it skillfully. Whether it strays too far into the elbow in the ribs territory will depend on your tastes but there are plenty of dark moments to balance the japes.

There are some fairly epic set-pieces

One feature of the first films were the sheer number of memorable sequences and set-pieces ("the bit when.."), helped by dozens of repeated viewings of course. It may only be the first view, but it’s safe to say there are numerous 'chapters' and backdrops that will stick in the memory, from eye-watering chase scenes to depserate ground battles and individual duels. And ultimately, this is what turns these huge-scale movies into classics you want to repeat watch.

The young cast is uniformly good

If you were worried that the new cast of relative unknowns might not be able to carry forward this new generation of films, you can relax. There are no weak links here. Brits John Boyega and Daisy Ridley are both excellent as the two leads, capable of delivering humour, action and emotion in just the right doses. Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac get the supporting plaudits but right down to the cameos, there are no weak links here.

There are more in-jokes and references than anyone thought even possible

It was always ging to be tempting tp throw in a million in-jokes, quotes and affectionate lingering shots over returning characters and long-awaited reunions – that’s just what happens when a series this popular makes a much-hyped comeback with a good few years in between. But did the makers have a little too much fun and get carried away? Was the movie too derivative and not enough of its own thing? Well, it’s defintely fun on the first run. The only way to be know is if the in-jokes stick out a little too much on a second viewing. And, let's be clear, there will definitely be one of them.

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