13 things we know about Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens will be released on December 17.

The Force Awakens will be released on December 17.

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After months of hype and build-up, The Force Awakens is almost here.

Hollywood is gearing up for one of the biggest movie premieres in its history when the hugely anticipated seventh entry in the blockbusting franchise is screened tonight.

Original stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are on board as Luke Skywalker, General Leia - she’s no longer Princess Leia - and Han Solo, respectively.

The film also welcomes back Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2 and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca.

Flying in the face of this information age, director and co-writer JJ Abrams has given very few plot details away.

But it is refreshing to watch trailer after trailer and remain pretty much in the dark.

Here are 13 things we do know so far. Minor spoilers follow...

1. The new generation

Actors Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) are the new kids on the block.

2. Boo, hiss! for the villains

Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Andy Serkis (Supreme Lord Snoke) and Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) portray the wrongdoers.

Ladies and gentlemen, be upstanding for the first major female villain in Star Wars - Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame plays Captain Phasma.

3. The story

The Force Awakens picks up 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. As any fan knows, Luke had a final showdown with his father, Darth Vader, in that instalment.

Han, Leia and Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, led the Rebels to victory as they blew up the Death Star.

4. There is a new planet called Jakku

Desert planet Jakku is where Finn, Rey, and BB-8 are introduced, according to the trailers.

5. The two sides have different names

The Empire is now The First Order, while the Rebel Alliance has become the Resistance.

6. The Stormtroopers have had a makeover

As various promotional material reveals, the helmet looks sleeker and less bulky. Backstory information says the rise of the First Order ushers in “the next chapter in the Stormtrooper’s legacy”.

7. Rey was abandoned

Rey’s family left her on Jakku when she was five. She has no idea why, but the most popular theory is her suspected Skywalker-Solo parentage.

8. Everything about Luke Skywalker is a secret

New characters have been unveiled and trailers are online, but anything to do with Luke is firmly under wraps.

9. John Boyega is playing a Stormtrooper

He can do so because Stormtroopers are only clones in the prequels.

10. Watching the alien

Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o plays Maz Kanata, an alien with eyes that hold mysterious depths.

11. The Millennium Falcon is the same as ever

Han Solo and Chewie are seen piloting the Falcon in the trailer released in China. “C’mon, baby. Don’t let me down!” he cries.

12. New robot BB-8 will be a hit

If the trailers are anything to go by, BB-8 will banish painful memories of Jar Jar Binks. This new character is sure to become a favourite with children - and even many adults.

He appears to have a mission of some sort, which feels like a nice homage to the original 1977 Star Wars movie.

13. The Millennium Falcon crashes

Fans can see the Falcon crash into a snow bank in the new trailer released in China.

It has been a long time coming, but we will soon find out if this seventh entry lives up to the enormous hype.

Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens is released in the UK on December 17.