‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ (Film)

‘STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS’

Please feel free to comment on this review.

The Ways of the Force

The ‘Star Wars’ saga continues…again!

‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ is the seventh film in the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga and was the seventh made in the series! The film was released in 2015. It was directed by J.J Abrams (of rebooted ‘Star Trek’ fame) with the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.

I saw this ‘Star Wars’ movie at the cinema in January 2016! It was my first ‘Star Wars’ movie-going cinema experience! I greatly enjoyed seeing this movie! As I said before, I’m not really a ‘Star Wars’ fan, but I enjoyed watching the preceding six movies set a long time ago in that galaxy, far, far away.

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So I knew I was going to enjoy seeing this movie at the cinema. ‘The Force Awakens’ is the beginning of a new chapter in the ‘Star Wars’ saga for a new generation of fans. This was exciting for me, as I could get to watch these ‘Star Wars’ movies and to experience what they’d be like on the big screen.

I waited to see this movie after Christmas 2015 after the hype building up to its release. I saw it in the New Year of 2016. ‘The Force Awakens’ brings back the best that was in the original ‘Star Wars’ movie trilogy. This included the space battles; Stormtroopers and a Jedi lightsaber battle at the end.

The film is well-directed by J.J. Abrams, who directed the ‘Star Trek’ 2009 film and ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ of the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ film series. I think J.J. Abrams is more suited to the ‘Star Wars’ film series compared to ‘Star Trek’, since he can direct fast-paced, action-packed movies in this one.

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When I came to re-watching and reviewing the first six ‘Star Wars’ movies for ‘Bradley’s Basement’ in 2017, my Dad purchased ‘The Force Awakens’ on DVD for us to watch as a family in November. This was great for me, as I got up-to-date before watching ‘The Last Jedi’ at the cinema in December.

Like I’ve done before with previous reviews on the first six ‘Star Wars’ films, I will identify what’s good and what’s bad about this movie. There’s bound to be plenty of positives and negatives identified in this review as well as sharing nostalgic memories of watching this movie at the cinema.

‘The Force Awakens’ takes place 30 years after ‘Return of the Jedi’. Luke Skywalker has gone missing and a remnant of the fallen Galactic Empire called the First Order is looking for him. I’m guessing the First Order is like a rogue group of Empire glory-seekers who want to bring back the ‘good old days’.

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On the planet Jakku, Poe Dameron, a pilot for the Resistance, backed by the New Republic, acquires a map to Luke Skywalker’s location. The village on Jakku gets attacked by Stormtroopers, commanded by the mysterious and evil Kylo Ren. They capture Poe before they kill everybody else.

But Poe has managed to give the map on Skywalker’s location to a little droid named BB-8. Escaping with the map on Jakku, BB-8 runs into a scavenger named Rey. Rey soon meets up with a defective Stormtrooper named Finn and they both go off with BB-8 on a mission to search for Luke Skywalker.

Now there’s something I’d like to address here with regards to this movie. Jakku is a desert-like planet, very similar to Tatooine in all the other ‘Star Wars’ movies. So why couldn’t they have just called this planet Tatooine instead of Jakku? It would have made sense, concerning Rey’s backstory.

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It was good to see some new faces in the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga for ‘The Force Awakens’. These new characters are ones for a new generation of ‘Star Wars’ fans to engage with and to see how their journeys develop. This is well-balanced by having the addition of characters from the original trilogy.

Adam Driver stars as the villainous Kylo Ren. He’s like the new Darth Vader for the ‘Star Wars’ sequels movies. He’s a masked leader of the First Order and even aspires to be like Darth Vader from the ‘good old days’. Kylo Ren has this bad temper and lashes out, especially when things fail to plan.

Kylo Ren lashes out with his cross-bladed red lightsaber, ruining a room’s walls in the process. 😀 He also happens to be a good-looking guy with no disfigurements or scars, which begs the question ‘Why does he need to wear a mask?’ Perhaps his obsession to be like Darth Vader has gone too far.

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There’s no explanation given why Kylo Ren is so obsessed with wanting to be a part of the Dark Side of the Force, although he’s clearly misguided, torn between good and evil and has been seduced by Supreme Leader Snoke. Kylo Ren also happens to be the son of Han Solo and General Leia Organa. 😮

Originally named Ben Solo (I assume Han and Leia named him after Obi-Wan Kenobi who was also called Ben Kenobi), Kylo Ren used to be a Jedi apprentice under Luke Skywalker’s guidance. But it all went horribly wrong and Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side of the Force, thus why Luke had vanished.

The lovely Daisy Ridley stars as Rey, a scavenger on the planet Jakku. For your interest, Daisy happens to be the great-niece of Arnold Ridley, who played Godfrey in ‘Dad’s Army’. I enjoyed seeing Daisy in this ‘Star Wars’ film. She was also in the 2017 movie, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

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Rey is waiting for the return of her family and has been scavenging on Jakku for a long time. She meets up with the droid BB-8 and soon meets up with Finn as they go off in the Millenium Falcon to escape the First Order chasing them. Rey also happens to be a trained pilot as she and Finn escape.

In this movie, it transpires that Rey has the Force within her. This is demonstrated when Luke’s blue lightsaber calls out to her and she receives visions from it. One wonders though why the lightsaber’s blue and not green. Didn’t Luke lose that when he fought Darth Vader in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’?

Rey’s connection with the Force is also demonstrated when she resists Kylo Ren’s Force mind-tricks on her, as he interrogates her and she questions his motives. She also manages to use a Jedi mind-trick on a nearby a Stormtrooper to set her free. I actually laughed when I watched that great scene.

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John Boyega stars as FN-2187, a defective Stormtrooper who is reformed and renamed as ‘Finn’ by Poe Dameron in the movie. Finn is shocked and horrified when he sees his group of Stormtroopers kill the villagers on Jakku. Not wanting anything more to do with the First Order, Finn soon escapes.

Finn helps Poe Dameron to escape from the First Order’s spaceship in a stolen TIE fighter before they crash-land on Jakku. I like Finn as a character. It’s interesting how one Stormtrooper manages to see his way through the horrors of what the First Order are doing and he decides to defect them.

Getting rid of his Stormtrooper uniform and donning Poe’s jacket (when he disappears), Finn soon meets up with Rey and BB-8. Finn accompanies Rey and BB-8 aboard the Millennium Falcon as they escape Jakku from the First Order. Finn is not a pilot and gets easily anxious when getting in trouble.

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I like it when Finn is given the blue lightsaber and he tries to use it to fight against Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren during the movie. Finn at least has a good go in trying to use the lightsaber, but he clearly isn’t one with the Force. So it isn’t a surprise that the lightsaber ended up being held by Rey.

I really like the friendship formed between Rey and Finn during the movie. There’s a close attachment developed between the two in the movie. Finn is ashamed when he reveals to Rey he’s not of the Resistance but a defective Stormtrooper. He receives a hug from Rey when rescuing her.

It was great to see Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher return to their original roles of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa in ‘The Force Awakens’ after 30 years. It brings a nice balance for those who are new to the ‘Star Wars’ films as well as bring back nostalgia for them hardcore fans.

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It was exciting when Rey, Finn and BB-8 find the Millennium Falcon, which they steal from a junkyard on Jakku. The Millennium Falcon is still the same cranky old spaceship that can fire weapons on enemy ships, especially when Rey and Finn use it to fire upon on the First Order ships chasing them.

Very soon, Rey and Finn meet up with Han Solo and Chewbacca, who come aboard the Millennium Falcon when they acquire it inside their new larger ship. Rey and Finn ask for Han and Chewy to help them out with getting BB-8 back to the Resistance base. Han and Chewy help out through obstacles.

Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo in this movie. Han is now older compared to when we last saw him in ‘Return of the Jedi’. He’s gone back to his old ways of being a smuggler, especially when he has angry men coming on board his new ship who want their money as well as gigantic octopus monster.

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Han Solo however seems to have become wiser and is almost like a mentor for Rey and Finn during the movie. It turns out that Han and Leia broke up, following the fall of their son Ben Solo who became Kylo Ren. Han reunites with Leia and attempts to win their son back when off to rescue Rey.

Peter Mayhew returns as Chewbacca, the long-time Wookie friend of Han Solo. I’m not sure if Chewy has become older as well as Han since the last time we saw him. But it was good to see Chewbacca back in this movie and he still gets to help out Han with his outer-space smuggling in this.

Chewy also assists Han Solo when they plant detonation devices all over the Starkiller Base in order to blow it up. I liked it when Chewy gives a bear hug to Leia when they reunite on Takodana. Chewy gets really upset when something terrible happens to Han. He joins Rey when they go to find Luke.

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There’s something else I’d like to address here with this movie. The First Order’s terrible weapon in this movie…is the Starkiller Base. Which is just like the Death Star except bigger. What is it with evil Empire and First Order weapons that look like giant spheres that kill planets? Can’t they be square?! 😀

Carrie Fisher returns as General Leia Organa in this movie. Not sure what happened to her title of Princess, unless it’s to do with the prequel films. ARGH!!! Anyway, Leia is again in charge of the Resistance fighting the First Order. She desperately wants her brother Luke Skywalker to help them.

I like how the reunion between Leia and Han Solo is handled in this movie. It’s uneasy, but it’s not done with the two bitterly arguing with each other. They share how they had good times during their relationship before they lost the son. I like how Leia seems wiser and strong during this movie.

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It was good to see Anthony Daniels return as C-3PO in this movie. C-3PO now has a red right-arm. What happened to his original gold right arm is unexplained. Perhaps it got blown-off. Anyway, C-3PO is still the same over-polite, protocol droid. I like it when he first appears between Han and Leia.

C-3PO also becomes instrumental in relaying vital information to Resistance forces in destroying the Starkiller Base. I liked those scenes where C-3PO informs BB-8 that R2-D2 has been asleep for a long while and doesn’t know when he’ll awake. I liked it when C-3PO was very pleased to see R2-D2 back.

R2-D2 returns and now played by Jimmy Vee, well-known for many roles in the new series of ‘Doctor Who’. R2-D2 has been asleep for some time and was with Luke Skywalker between ‘Return of the Jedi’ and ‘The Force Awakens’. R2 reawakens to give the complete map to Luke Skywalker’s location.

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I like the new little droid BB-8 in this movie. BB-8 is like the new R2-D2 for the ‘Star Wars’ sequels but not to replace him. BB-8 is a combination of a rod puppet and a remote-controlled robotic unit, since he’s spherical with a free-moving domed head. The special effects for BB-8 are very impressive.

Oscar Issac stars as Poe Dameron in the movie. For me, Oscar Issac played Joseph in ‘The Nativity Story’ film in 2006. Poe is a Resistance X-wing fighter pilot who gets rescued by Finn when they escape from the First Order. He vanishes for most of the film when he and Finn crash-land to Jakku.

But somehow he returns in the second half of the movie when he leads a group of Resistance X-wing fighters to rescue Han Solo, Chewbacca and Finn on the planet Takodana from the First Order. How he survived is not fully explored, but he’s pleased to see Finn as the two become good friends in this.

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Lupita Nyong’o stars as Maz Kanata in the movie. Maz Kanata owns an interstellar tavern in a castle on the planet Takonda. She was once a former pirate and smuggler and is over 1000 years old. Oh and Maz Kanata happens to be CGI character, voiced and performed via the motion capture method.

Maz happens to know Han Solo pretty well when he, Rey and Finn come to her tavern on Takonda. She helps the three in their search for Luke Skywalker and has been keeping his blue lightsaber in a small chest. Maz offers the blue lightsaber to Rey for her to take, as the Force is very strong with her.

Andy Serkis stars as Supreme Leader Snoke in the movie. For me, Andy Serkis is very well-known for playing Gollum in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie trilogy as well as in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’. Here Andy Serkis plays the new Emperor-like character for the ‘Star Wars’ sequels movies.

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Snoke appears gigantic when Kylo Ren and General Hux talk to him. But it turns out they happen to be talking to him via a gigantic hologram, which was disappointing. I wonder what Snoke really looks like in size and whether he’s a spawn of Darth Sidious. Snoke had seduced Kylo Ren to the Dark Side.

Domhnall Gleeson stars as General Hux in the movie. General Hux is like the new Peter Cushing/Grand Moff Tarkin character for the ‘Star Wars’ sequels. He happens to be a ruthless commander of the Starkiller Base and is in a power struggle with Kylo Ren for the First Order leader.

I’m not sure whether General Hux will become a vital character to the ‘Star Wars’ sequels, considering he’s that of a typical Empire/First Order ruthless character by this point. But he seems to communicate a lot with Snoke in the movie, even when the Starkiller Base gets blown up by the end.

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Max von Sydow stars as Lor San Tekka, a retired adventurer on Jakku who’s aiding the Resistance in locating Skywalker by giving the map to Poe Dameron. Sydow has appeared in many films and TV shows over the years, such as ‘Games of Thrones’ and the James Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again’.

So it’s rather shocking that Max von Sydow has a seemingly small role in ‘The Force Awakens’. It would have been interesting to learn more about why Lor San Tekka is helping the Resistance and how he knows about Kylo Ren’s history when he comes to attack the villagers on Jakku at the start.

The cast also includes Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma and Simon Pegg (I didn’t realise it was him in that monster make-up for this movie) as Unkar Plut. The film also features Harriet Walter as Dr. Kalonia. I was delighted to see Harriet in this, especially when she was tending Chewy’s wounds.

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The movie features a shocking twist. Han Solo attempts to win his son Kylo Ren back. But in the process, Kylo Ren stabs Han Solo with his red cross-bladed lightsaber. I didn’t like that when I saw the movie at the cinema. This will mean no more Han Solo in the rest of the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga.

It also shows how cruel Kylo Ren has become and how he dismisses his past life and wants to hold onto the Dark Side and become like Darth Vader. It seems Kylo Ren isn’t clear on the facts about the circumstances of his grandfather. He’s become a monster, but he doesn’t seem to realise that fact.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a good ‘Star Wars’ film without a lighsaber duel between Rey and Kylo Ren in a snowy forest. Rey is not used to fighting with a lightsaber, but she soon manages to become one with the Force and overcome Kylo Ren and resist his offer to be trained by him to learn of the Force.

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The movie ends with Rey, joined by Chewbacca and R2-D2, as they journey to the planet Ahch-To. There, Rey finds Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on top of a mountain, older and bearded like Obi-Wan Kenobi. The film closes with Rey handing out Luke Skywalker’s blue lightsaber for him to take.

I was disappointed we didn’t see enough of Luke in this film. He’d been talked about and it was great to have that build-up in revealing him at the end. But for my first ‘Star Wars’ movie at the cinema, it was disappointing and he didn’t say anything. I hope to see more of Luke Skywalker in ‘The Last Jedi’.

John Williams returns to compose the music for ‘The Force Awakens’. I’m pleased John Williams came back to do this seventh instalment of the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga. He reuses some of his classic ‘Star Wars’ music from the original trilogy as well as introducing new themes for the new characters.

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There are sadly no special features for ‘The Force Awakens’ DVD. This is very disappointing for me, as all the special features are on ‘The Force Awakens’ Blu-ray. I know how times have changed since then, but the producers could’ve kept things consistent with the previous ‘Star Wars’ movies on DVD.

The special features on the Blu-ray are as follows. There’s ‘Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey’; ‘The Story Awakens: The Table Read’; ‘Building BB-8’; ‘Crafting Creatures’; ‘Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight’; ‘The Visual Magic Of The Force’; ‘John Williams: The Seventh Symphony’; deleted scenes and ‘Force For Change’.

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‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ is a great new beginning to a series of sequel movies in the ‘Star Wars’ saga. I enjoyed this movie when I saw it in the cinema. I’m very glad to have seen it again on DVD, especially since I’ve been able to revisit and review the ‘Star Wars’ saga from scratch.

I wondered what would happen next and how the ‘Star Wars’ saga would continue with all of the unanswered questions left hanging in the air involving characters like Luke Skywalker; Rey; Kylo Ren; etc. Thankfully I didn’t need to wait long as the next instalment in the ‘Star Wars’ saga was to come!

Rey is now with Luke Skywalker! Will she become a Jedi like him in the next movie?

‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ rating – 8/10


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6 thoughts on “‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’ (Film)

  1. I have mixed feelings on Force Awakens Tim, can’t fault the effects & action sequences but to set this 30 yrs later & give no backstory about the first order & there rise to power is quite jarring, i hope we get more information about these events in Last Jedi.

    The plot is basically A New Hope, BB8 is R2D2, Starkiller Base is Death Star Mk3, attack on Starkiller Base then blow it up etc etc, (note to New Order try something new these Death Star Starkiller Base ain’t working) it does lack originality & i found the film only picked up when Han Solo & Chewie appeared.

    Kylo Ren is a poor mans Darth Vader, his tantrum smashing equipment was pathetic, Vader would’ve just choked someone but i do think theres potential for the character in the next two instalments, after all Kylo (Ben Solo) Ren murdered his father Han Solo, i can’t repeat my original comments or reactions to this scene when i seen it at the cinema but take the worst swear words you can think of & X it by 100, although i loved how Chewbacca went rambo on the Stormtroopers.

    Not a fan of either Finn or Poe, why has the conditioning not worked on Finn? Why is it happened now that he develops a conscience? & Poe is a bit smug for me & i hope he gets blown up in Last Jedi lol.

    Daisy Ridley is the best of the new characters, i didn’t know she was Arnold Ridleys great niece so thanks for that Tim, she’s obviously a Skywalker or some clone from Anakins DNA as a potential weapon which Luke found out about & banished Rey for her own protection wiping her memories.

    Snoke i think is Darth Plagueis, makes sense as he was tricked by Palpatine but obviously cheated death & no relys on the souls of Jedis to feed his aura & keep him alive, again these are just my theories Tim, i think Andy Serkis will flesh out the character more in Last Jedi.

    I didn’t mind Lukes absence & he’ll obviously features more in Last Jedi & recall events of what happened to Ben, i can’t see what you could’ve done with Luke in this film so his appearance at the end looking a broken man left me intrigued to see what happens next.

    As ever a excellent review Tim, i enjoyed your thoughts & opinions on this & you now have only one more movie to review Rogue One lol.

    Or you could review The Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978 which is on You Tube, George Lucas said if he had the time he’d track down every copy & burn it lol, trust me Tim you need to see this to believe just how bad it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this movie. Interesting you have mixed feelings about it. I recall you saying you went to see this movie 5 times at the cinema. 😀

      Yeah it does seem rather forced upon us to have the First Order as the new enemy with no backstory to them. Hopefully we will get more information about the First Order in ‘The Last Jedi’, unless we get some prequel movies to the sequels trilogy. 😀

      I can see that the film does have a similar plot to ‘A New Hope’. I don’t begrudge them that. I can see they’re playing it safe with starting a new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, considering the disappointment fans have had with the prequels trilogy. I hope something new will come in ‘The Last Jedi’. It seems to be the case from watching the trailer already.

      I would like to see some more character development for Kylo Ren in the next two instalments of this ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. I would like to know more on why he was driven to the Dark Side of the Force by Snoke. I was shocked when he killed his father Han Solo in the movie. I’m sure your original comments about that scene were very colourful when you watched it at the cinema. 😀

      Yeah that is a good point there about how Finn’s backstory and why he defected to the First Order is never explained in this movie. I hope it gets explained in the next two instalments. Now I can’t be that harsh on Poe Dameron. I don’t think he’s a standout character in the movie, even though that was the impression given in the early part of the movie. It’ll be interesting to see how Poe turns out in ‘The Last Jedi’.

      That’s okay, Simon. I’m glad I shared that Daisy Ridley is Arnold Ridley’s great niece. It seemed to make sense when I checked up on her biography. I look forward to finding out the truth of Rey and her connection to Luke Skywalker in ‘The Last Jedi’. Interesting theory of yours that she’s a clone of Anakin. I wonder if that’s the truth next time!

      I don’t know who Darth Plageuis is, but I’m guessing that’s one of the characters from the ‘Star Wars’ novels that I’ve not read. I take it Darth Pleageuis was a spawn of Darth Sideous then. Interesting theories you have, Simon. You know more about ‘Star Wars’ than I do! 😀 I hope we’ll see what Snoke looks like in his true form and it’ll be great to see Andy Serkis more in his performance for the film.

      Oh I’m being nitpicky about Luke’s absence in the movie since I was looking forward to seeing him and seeing at the end with him not talking was a bit disappointing. He could have said “Hello!” to Rey when she came to him at the end of the movie before giving him his lightsaber. I look forward to seeing more of him in ‘The Last Jedi’. I’m sure his backstory in the gap between ‘Return of the Jedi’ and ‘The Force Awakens’ will be very interesting.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘The Force Awakens’, Simon. I’m glad I saw this movie before ‘The Last Jedi’ gets released at the cinema, as I’m really looking forward to seeing that in December.

      I hope I’ll get to review ‘Rogue One’ sometime in the New Year when I get a chance. Perhaps I can couple reviewing ‘Rogue One’ with ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ (when that comes out on DVD).

      I have seen a little of ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’ after watching a review of it by the Nostalgia Critic. For those of you who don’t know what Simon and I are talking about, check out NC’s review on ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’ here –

      Simon, could you give me a link to the best quality version of ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’ on YouTube? I can find it from there so that I can watch in order to give it a review.

      Thanks again for your comments, Simon. Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Force Awakens’.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

      • Darth Plagueis was Palpatines master who he betrayed, he told Anakin about him in Revenge Of The Sithso I make sense as he as powerful as the Emperor.

        He is a link to Star Wars Holiday Special, remember it never been released & this is a tv recording (your brave watching this).

        To make up heres a link to the audiobook Lords Of The Sith, it’s one of my favourite Star Wars audiobooks.

        Hope you enjoy it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for these, Simon. Really appreciate it.

    I look forward to watching ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’, having a laugh and making fun of it in my review when I come to do it in the New Year!

    Tim. 🙂

    Like

    • Will Tim Bradley survive the full 90 minutes of the Star Wars Holiday Special or will he turn to the dark side of the force & unleash his anger in his review at just how awful it is lol.

      Stay tuned Folks.

      P.s tell yourself Tim it’s a special & it’s not canon lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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