Reviews

General Grievances: My Thoughts on The Force Awakens.

Alright, now to take on the most anticipated movie of at least the last decade. I am going to shy away from a full on review, I had a great time with the film. I will see it again. There are tears, laughs, almost non-stop action, and every Star Wars trope you would ever want. This musing is only going to focus on the plot elements that I felt were short coming, or at least rushed. Obviously there are spoilers ahead.

My first and biggest grievance with the movie was all the plot surrounding Starkiller. So, 30 years after the second Deathstar blew up, they’ve built another one. But this is one is like 30x bigger and can destroy an entire planetary system in one go. Instead of this being a really major, scary plot point it is brought down in a very rushed, and seemingly lucky conversation. (This is my retelling after a single watching, it may have gone subtly different.) After the big reveal on a holographic screen, the heros lament that the only way to destroy the Starkiller is if it had a thing. Then Fin, whose job was sanitation, chimed in “It’s got a thing!” and points it out. Then they’re like “But damn…sheilds.” and Fin goes “I got that too! No worries!” The second half of the conversation ends up being a lie, and leads to the climax of the film. But let’s focus on the Starkiller for a moment. A lot of people died, hell the entire planet of Alderaan was blown up, for the plans to the Deathstar. It took A LOT of effort and risk to just get that information. The Deathstar, not Darth Vader, is the biggest threat of the entire first (fourth) movie! And this, which is bigger and badder, is practically a footnote and setting to the rest of the plot. Also, when will the builders of these things quit making kill switches on these things? It’s like the soft-spot on a baby’s head. They really need better engineers. I feel like it would have been much more interesting to have seen the rebel alliance fail to blow it up and to have this threat looming ahead.

For that matter, who are the First Order? Why are they different than the empire? I really would’ve appreciated just a few lines of explanation. The minor details could be revealed in comics, novels, and video games. But it seems silly to expect any film goer to do any more research than what is presented in the film. Why should I even care about them, except that they seem to have it out for my friends?

Granted, this might all be cured by reveals in the next films, but Rey’s ability to absorb the force seems strange and like nothing we’ve encountered so far. As far as we know she has no training, but manages to successfully trick a stormtrooper into freeing her, and defeating a formally trained jedi, Kylo Ren, in both combat with the force and with the lightsaber. I can believe that, like Anakin and podracing, that she could be naturally endowed with the emotional trust to be very good, naturally at lightsaber combat. But did she just intuit that Jedi Mind Tricks are a thing? Did she take the inspiration from the fact that Kylo tried to use that against her? It seems suspicious to believe that she is simply a random person, destined to this story. Also, I might add that the rebels send her, alone, to Luke at the end. That in of itself is an odd decision. Is there a chance that she and Luke already know each other? I will say I love her as a character. That girl can climb! She is constantly climbing! Go girl Go! Climb into my heart!

I am currently pretty blase about Kylo Ren as a bad guy. I understand the character choices here, but I never like whiney bad guys. It is interesting that he is still in training, and obviously has much more to accomplish. And I really like that he is tempted by the light. Which takes away from the absolutism the darkside typically embodies. Kylo seems to be chasing this darkside dragon, praying to Vader to just once more show him the power of the darkside. Kylo is probably best thought of as this new Supreme Ruler Snoke’s bitch. Obviously under his thumb, he is desperate for is master’s approval. Slaying his own father; which seems to be an important part of dark side training, cleansing the past to have nothing to hold you back. But I suppose, that might also be good reason for him to eventually turn back towards the light. It is ironic that Ren’s biggest fear is not being as strong as Vader, and as a character isn’t. I am optimistic, and would love to believe this is just the groundwork for the future.

Ok, after writing that paragraph I do find him to be an interesting character. I just don’t like whiney bitches. Hopefully that changes.

There are a few questions about Fin as well. Mostly, I’m just curious why the First Order had a janitor become a stormtrooper in battle. He’s not a clone. And spent his whole life so far (25-30 years?) being trained. But did he spend all that time in sanitation, then they just throw a blaster in his hand? No wonder he freaked out. That’s a pretty strong argument about not arming the mentally unstable.

Why has it taken 30 years for Han to try out Chewbacca’s crossbow? After decades of floating around space and being in gun fights, Han was never once been interested in, or in a situation where that experience happened? I find that as unbelievable as Han and Chewie’s big entrance. I was glad to have them back in my life, but that is the most outrageous and unbelievable encounter ever! I would very happily trade that 15 minutes of dialogue and action against two rival gangs, and some sort of dangerous beasts for further exploration of what the First Order is really all about, where they get their soldiers, the alliance plotting to get information about the Starkiller, or even wookie porn (Thanks Star Wars Christmas special!)  

Again mistake none of this as complaints. I had a great time! The will-he, won’t-he moment preceding Han’s death is a one of a kind moment of suspense that will never be able to be relived. The tear in my eye was real.  The action sequences are amazing. The chemistry between Rey and Fin is intoxicating. It is not a perfect film, but it does live up to the hype, as well as any movie could.

 

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