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By Sam Moir. LAST UPDATED December 17th, 2015

Star Wars: 6 things to know before seeing The Force Awakens

The Empire is no more

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One of the most anticipated films of the year arrives at cinemas today and early reviews indicate that Star Wars fans will be massively satisfied with J.J. Abrams’ seventh instalment in the legendary trilogy.

Most Stars Wars enthusiasts have jumped at the chance to relive the seminal trilogy, from the 70s and 80s, and then prequel from the 90s and 2000s, but the best news for all film lovers is that you don’t need to have watched the previous six to follow the plot of the new film.

Here’s six things to know about The Force Awakens to set you up nicely for you trip to the cinema in the coming days. Enjoy.

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The Empire doesn’t exist anymore

Return of the Jedi, the film set before The Force Awakens, saw the all-powerful galactic Empire destroyed. The previous enemy of the last six films has now been replaced by The First Order. Led by Kylo Ren – more about him later – they are inspired by the Empire and looking to rescale the heights of its predecessor.

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From Dubai to Ireland via… Buckinghamshire

One of the best received aspects of the film is that practical effects and puppetry, much like the original trilogy, have been used again as opposed to the large amount of CGI used in the prequels. Much of these practical effects took place at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire but shooting also occurred in the Abu Dhabi desert and Irish island Skellig Michael.

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Where’s Luke?

Ahead of the release, a host of old characters, including Han Solo, General Leia and Chewbacca were revealed to be returning. There was one name missing from the adverts, teasers and posters: Luke Skywalker.

Bosses kept anything to do with him under lock and key. But, in a spoiler of sorts, it’s been confirmed that one of the greatest Jedi ever returns for the movie.

Kylo Ren

Gone are the days of Darth Maul and Darth Vadar. The primary villain in this film goes by the name of Kylo Ren, played Adam Driver, who unleashes his unorthodox lightsaber in violent outbursts when he loses his temper.

Some of his character’s best moments come towards the end of the film, and that’s all we’ll say about that. Oh, and he’s not technically a Sith like previous enemies in the films.

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More new faces

A host of new names are introduced in The Force Awakens. Stormtrooper-defector Finn, played by John Boyega, is joined by scrap scavenger Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, and with Oscar Isaac taking up the role of Poe, the Resistance’s highly talented pilot. Over on the dark side – pun intended – there’s Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), General Hux (Domhall Gleeson) and Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o).

One for the record books

We all know the hype surrounding this film but – to put into perspective – the second trailer for the new movie set a new Guinness World record for the most viewed film trailer on YouTube. The teaser racked up over 30 million views in its first day.

And on that note, we’ll whet your appetite with the below.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out now

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