A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

Star Wars fans celebrate release of The Force Awakens.

“There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Dark side, and the Light.”

These words, heard in the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, have had Star Wars fans waiting in untameable anticipation for the release of the new movie.

Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, the third movie in the original trilogy, The Force Awakens returns to the galaxy far, far away, and brings back old favourites Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia to yet again take on the Dark side of The Force.

The movie, slated for release on 18 December, is expected by many pundits to become one of the highest grossing movies of all time.

South African audiences are among the few fortunate enough to be able to watch the new movie on 16 December, two full days before the rest of the world.

Rekord was invited along to the special event screening of the movie on Tuesday night, held by Disney Africa. Read our review of the movie later on in this article. The showing was held at Eastgate shopping centre in Johannesburg.

Celebrities such as Joey Rasdien, Tamara Dey and Grant Hinds joined Star Wars superfans, many of whom arrived in full Jedi and Sith regalia, to be the first South Africans to enjoy the long-awaited release.

The shopping centre’s brand new IMAX theatre, where the event took place, boasts the biggest screen in Africa (a massive 22 metres). Giovanni Dolci, vice president of theatre development of IMAX in Africa and Europe, said IMAX cameras were used to film parts of the new Star Wars movie.

“The best place to experience the new movie is in an IMAX theatre,” he said.

Wanda Matandela, CEO of Ster Kinekor, said IMAX will continue to expand in South Africa (there are currently six theatres in operation) as the market for it grows.

“We hope South Africa film-makers will also one day be able to exhibit in these theatres and make use of the IMAX format,” said Matandela.

The evening was an incredible opportunity for a lucky few of the many who love the Star Wars universe to experience the new movie before its international release. The excitement and passion for these movies was no more evident than on the faces of those in attendance.

REVIEW: The Force Awakens

To guests at the South African special event screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Tuesday night, the message was clear: “Do not ruin the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. NO SPOILERS!”

Star Wars is a franchise so deeply rooted in the popular culture of the world, that revealing any spoilers beforehand will surely summon a mob of angry sci-fi nerds to your front door. So the following review is 100% spoiler-free.

Set 30 years after the stunning end of Return of the Jedi, when Luke Skywalker defeated the evil Empire, vindicated his once-vilified father Darth Vader and returned balance to The Force, the movie heralds the return of some of the most iconic characters in movie history.

Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 all return alongside a host of new characters.

Finn, Rey, Poe Dameron and the instantly loveable droid BB-8 are the new generation of heroes taking on the nefarious First Order, a sinister organisation risen from the ashes of the fallen Empire.

Some of the new villains, such as Kylo Ren, General Hux and Captain Phasma are guaranteed to become just as iconic as Darth Vader and the evil Emperor.

The new movie blends the best of the original movies with the best of the prequel trilogy (agree or don’t agree, but the prequels weren’t all bad), culminating in an incredible movie.

Gone is the stiff, emotionless dialogue that plagued Episodes I-III, welcoming back the heart and humour that made the characters we love so relatable.

Director J.J. Abrams, working alongside Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, has finally managed to create something once thought impossible – a new Star Wars movie that is actually good. No, scratch that, a new Star Wars movie that is incredibly well constructed, truly mesmerising in its attention to detail, deeply loyal to the ethos of the first movies and an utter joy to watch.

It’s a love letter to Star Wars fans.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in South African cinemas on 16 December.

CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW OF THE FORCE AWAKENS

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