Not long to go and 2015 will already go down as the year of the Franchise.
Whether it was the mega-successful AVENGERS – AGE OF ULTRON or the not so FANTASTIC FOUR. It was clearly a build-up to the ultimate battle at the end of the year as two long-respected and highly anticipated continuations of the greatest of them all, Bond and STAR WARS, arrive again.
Back in 1983, it was ‘Battle of the Bonds’ as both Connery and Moore offered NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, the rogue rebel against the official OCTOPUSSY.
This year, it is the Force versus 007 as SPECTRE and THE FORCE AWAKENS battle it out for the Christmas audience.
No series have generated more division and opinion as these two – the former is Daniel Craig’s last outing in the role, a pretty good run for someone who was resisted by many before the release of CASINO ROYALE. In the case of the latter, most are erring on the side of caution following the reaction to the prequels in 1999 and the muted reaction to Jar Jar and co. Personally, I found virtue in all the prequels –the Tatooine sequences in Episode I, Obi-Wan’s pursuit of Jango Fett in Episode II and almost all of Episode III, especially that fantastic space-battle at the outset.
THE FORCE AWAKENS does have a touch of STAR WARS – GENERATIONS about it and the reference may not be far off, given director JJ Abrams has already successfully rebooted STAR TREK for a new generation. However, the general feeling is that this could actually revitalise the saga in a big way – and with both ROGUE ONE and the untitled Han Solo spin-off imminent, it could be that the principles and ideas that defined a generation of fans from 1977 onwards could be back to their key strengths.
UK fans get a bonus as FORCE AWAKENS bows in cinemas here a day before the US release on December 17th.