Complaints, Praise, and Questions for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (spoilers!)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens is almost impossible to discuss without spoiling something, which meant that my review had to be necessarily vague, constraining itself to what we’ve seen in the trailers and basic general knowledge about the film. But I have lots of thoughts still to share, so this article will be filled with spoilers. There’s a lot to discuss in The Force Awakens, both good and bad, and yes there’s actually a bit of bad. I may have given the film an A in my review but I have more than a few complaints, some of which are entirely a reflection of my own views of the franchise but others are legitimate issues with the film itself. I’m not going to dive back into the fact that I consider The Force Awakens to be (really good) fanfiction, but it’s safe to say that the events in the film felt somewhat inconsequential to me knowing that we weren’t seeing the true vision of George Lucas. But I don’t want this to turn into a nitpicky, whining article, because there were many things I loved about the film. And then there are just some observations and questions I was left with after my first viewing. Of course, my feelings on all of these might change the more I see the film, but let’s take a look at some spoiler filled thoughts about The Force Awakens.

SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS AHEAD…

 

ARE YOU SURE?…

 

OK, HERE COME THE SPOILERS!

 

Praise:

  • I can’t say enough about Finn and Rey, both as individuals and as a pair. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega have great chemistry, and they really helped make the movie for me. I loved the way Finn wears his heart on his sleeve, whether it’s his shame and fear participating in the First Order slaughter of the village at the beginning of the film, or his excitement at shooting down TIE fighters in the Falcon. As for Rey, her appeal as a character is more subtle. It’s great that she’s so handy as a pilot and mechanic, but she has a soulful quality to her. But I really liked them together. One of my favorite moments was right after they escaped in the Falcon, and they rushed to meet and heap praise on each other for doing such a great job. It was such a sweet bit of genuine emotion, and I’m very curious to see more of them side by side in future films.
  • I also really liked Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Maz Katana, one of the few CG characters in the film. She was a good change of pace in the movie, coming at just the right moment in the story to offer some sagely wisdom and advice, but was also just a fun character. It’s great to see someone like Han a bit intimidated by such a small figure. I hope we see more of her, because there’s definitely some mystery to the character. I’m certainly very curious how she came to be in possession of Anakin’s lightsaber.
  • BB-8 was simply a lot of fun. He’s got so much personality and it’s such a different personality than other droids we’ve seen, though he’s still no R2-D2, and having him as a practical effect really helped the quality of the acting from those sharing a scene with the little droid. But I especially got a kick out of his devices and gadgets. The little blowtorch thumbs up he gave Finn was adorable, but I really loved the way he shot out lines to secure himself as the Falcon looped and twisted through the sky. Of course a ball-shaped droid couldn’t hold onto things, so he’d need a way to secure himself in times like that.
  • There was a lot of fan service in the film, a bit too much for my taste, but I did love C-3PO’s (re)introduction occur while interrupting a tender moment between Han and Leia. Some things never change.
  • The Falcon escape sequence, with Rey and Finn at the controls, was brilliantly executed. It was the perfect way to bring the pair of characters together emotionally, but beyond that it was just downright visually impressive. It really felt like they were escaping by the seat of their pants, rather than some elaborately choreographed action sequence. Every moment, from Rey dragging the Falcon along the ground before she got a handle of the controls, to the final brilliant maneuver where she positioned the ship so Finn could take out the final TIE was simply gripping, highlighted of course by the acting of the two leads. The rest of the ship-based action may have actually paled a bit in comparison, especially as the larger battles tended to descend into visual chaos at times (by design I imagine).
  • The key returning member from the original trilogy might have been John Williams. From start to finish Williams turned in another masterful score (which I have been listening to all day). His music is the glue of these films, and I hope they can at least keep him involved for the main entries in the saga if not for the spin-offs. No one can capture the emotion of a moment the way Williams can, and he crafted some excellent new cues for the film. Rey’s theme in particular is a highlight, capturing both the resourcefulness of the character as well as the deeper mystery within. The music of Star Wars has always been about more than just hummable themes, and if the day ever comes when Williams isn’t involved the movies will shine a bit less brightly because of his absence.
  • One little moment that I really enjoyed was the reunion of Finn and Poe. I love that these two men, former enemies who spent only a few minutes together, greeted each other with a big hug, and kindness and happiness at seeing the other one alive. It’s not the sort of thing with cosmic significance, but little touches like that in a movie make me happy. So many films shy away from showing emotion, so I was happy to see some from these two characters.
  • I liked the premise of Luke as the film’s MacGuffin, the plot device which sets the film in motion. It added the right amount of mystery to proceedings, wondering not only where he might be but why he left. I also appreciated how everyone knew his (and Han’s) name, as legendary figures from the rebellion. I assumed pretty quickly that Luke had been Kylo Ren’s master once upon a time, and that Ren’s turn to the dark side had driven Luke away in remorse, but its predictability didn’t make the development any less fitting. Of course Luke would take the Yoda/Obi-wan route upon failure, going into exile until called back into service.
  • Speaking of Luke, the film’s final scene was probably also my favorite part of the whole thing, especially the moment where he and Rey finally meet. There’s so much emotion in that moment, both for the characters and the audience. Rey is wondering whether she’ll be accepted and her questions will finally be answered, while Luke isn’t sure if he’s up to the task of taking on another apprentice (I hope to god he calls her a Padawan at some point in the next film, having found the term in a book somewhere) after what happened with Kylo Ren. They’re both full of self-doubt, and they can both help make each other whole. As for the audience, after spending the entire film talking about Luke, it’s an emotional release to see him at last, especially after the death of Han.
  • Ok, so let’s get to Han. He was really the third leg of the stool upon which the film sat, along with Finn and Rey. Harrison Ford slid so easily into the role it was uncanny, and he anchored the film’s attempt to return to the feel of the original trilogy. I appreciate that J.J. Abrams and company were willing to kill off one of the original members of the saga, and it made the most sense that it’d be Han. Han’s death would have the most impact on fans (he’s the most popular among the original trilogy’s heroes), but it’s also hard to imagine Harrison Ford signing on for a three movie (or more) deal. I’d be willing to bet that if the script hadn’t originally called for Han to die off he would have requested it, given the fact that he wanted Han to die back in Empire Strikes Back. While I don’t want to see a character I love die, I’m actually somewhat satisfied that he’s gone. It clears up space for Rey and Finn to take on more of the storytelling load, and also for Luke to return to the fold in a big way. If you’ve got Harrison Ford in your movie, he’s got to be the star, and Han’s death actually makes things much simpler going forward. But above all else, I loved the emotion Ford put into Han. Han was never my favorite (I preferred Luke) because I felt like he wasn’t particularly relatable, but seeing Han struggle with the fallout of losing his son to the dark side, and being estranged from Leia, made him much more human than he ever was before.
  • Rey is definitely my favorite character in the film, and I got a kick out of seeing her experiment with the force. Her repeated attempts to “mind trick” the stormtrooper were hilarious, and got some of the biggest laughs in the theater, but simply watching her figure out that she has powers and can use them was an emotional experience. And obviously when she force snatched Anakin’s lightsaber out of Kylo Ren’s grasp and proceeded to kick his ass, it was the moment we were all waiting for….

Complaints

  • Having said that, Rey’s discovery of her powers did not mesh at all with what we’ve seen before. She goes from not knowing anything about the force and thinking the Jedi were a myth to pulling lightsabers through the air and doing the mind trick in a day with no guidance? I don’t buy it, and it was way too convenient for the story. It worked in the flow of the moment, but looking back on it her sudden mastery of her abilities makes no sense.
  • Speaking of things that make no sense, the Starkiller Base was a disappointment. I felt like none of the aspects of this “new Death Star” worked. It’s design is supposed to be a planet hollowed out and converted into a weapon, but that was never clearly portrayed, making some of the early moments that combined Death Star like corridors with open air mountains and landscapes confusing. Its weapon was beyond silly, soaking up a star to fire its energy across the galaxy to destroy other solar systems is pretty convoluted. Not to mention the visual inconsistencies in people from multiple planets being able to see the Starkiller’s weapon firing across space as well as the destruction of another solar system, despite presumably being light years away. And assuming the weapon is some sort of beam, how does it curve and split at the last moment to hit multiple planets at once? If the wanted a space station that can destroy entire star systems, why not make something that targets that system’s star and causes a chain reaction that sends it supernova (see Star Trek: Generations). Really, the Starkiller Base was perhaps the most fanfictiony thing about the film, a blatant attempt to one-up the Death Star by giving us something bigger and “more impressive” but functionally equivalent. It was too over-the-top for my tastes.
  • I said in my review that The Force Awakens had too many characters, and I felt like a few specific characters suffered a lot from lack of screen time. Captain Phasma, heavily marketed in the leadup to the film, was basically pointless, simply a part of the First Order command structure rather than some sort of interesting character. Supreme leader Snoke (Andy Serkis’s character) is obviously being set up for larger things down the line, but he was pretty uninteresting this time out in his few scenes as a hologram. And I certainly don’t understand the secrecy around his character in the conversations before the film was released. Even Poe Dameron felt underused. But the character who suffered most was Leia. I didn’t like the way she took a backseat to Han after they were reunited. I would have liked to have seen her go with Han, Chewie, and Finn to rescue Rey. She is a General after all. I mean, I get it. This was Han’s story, but I feel like she should at least have been there when he confronted Kylo Ren. I’m sure we’ll see more from her in the next film, but Leia should never be put on the sidelines like that.
  • For the most part, I thought all of the story beats worked, but there was one sequence that I felt could have been completely skipped (maybe in favor of more character time). The showdown aboard Han and Chewie’s cargo ship felt completely superfluous and out of place. I’m all for the way in which Han and Chewie were reintroduced, but fighting the two bands of smugglers in addition to the Rathars felt like it went on forever. And I especially felt that after so much complaining about computer effects in the prequels and trying to keep things practical, the Rathar attack sequence undid a lot of that. It felt a lot like the unnecessary snow monster sequence in the first Star Trek reboot film, also directed by J.J. Abrams. At that point in The Force Awakens all I wanted was for Han, Rey, and Finn to get right to the conversation they eventually had on the Falcon, but instead it was delayed for an action-comedy sequence of no importance.
  • Now we come to the point where I lose anyone who is still reading this. I didn’t like Kylo Ren. I’ve never been one for villains in the first place, and while my school friends obsessed over Vader and Boba Fett I was always much more interested in Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie. But I appreciate a good villain, whether menacing and invincible like Vader or scheming and manipulative like Palpatine. But Kylo Ren just didn’t do it for me. I understand him, I just didn’t find him compelling. I get that he idolizes his grandfather, at least partly because he’s trying to block out his father’s influence, hence the mask and voice modifier, but his imitation of Vader felt silly to me. I found him much more interesting with the mask off. But even then, he’s supposed to be this conflicted character, and his confrontation with Han is supposed to be this great pivotal moment in his life, perhaps his last chance to choose the light side once and for all, but I didn’t feel like that moment was earned. It’s supposed to be an emotional moment, but he came off as whiny and childish. Whiny and childish are fine aspects for a character to have (look at the prequels, or real life), but they don’t translate very well to big emotional decisions. Perhaps if his murder of Han had come at the end of Episode VIII or IX it would have had more punch, because we would have seen more of his journey to that moment, but as it was it felt too soon. He had some moments I enjoyed, particularly between him and Rey, but overall I felt Kylo Ren was a disappointment. (I did, however, appreciate the fact that the Kylo Ren is Ben Solo twist was revealed early in the film.)
  • To be honest, my issues with Kylo Ren highlight a general issue I had with the film: it didn’t feel like it did anything new. Love or hate the prequels, you have to admit that they’re different than the original trilogy, both in style and substance. They have different themes, a different setting, and a different message, to which some Star Wars fans strenuously objected. But that’s part of what I love them so much, and which shows the potential of the Star Wars universe. It’s such a rich playground, and there are so many things that can be done with it, it’s a shame that a lot of The Force Awakens felt like a bit of a retread. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it unoriginal, but it definitely felt like it had nothing new to say. I honestly found the idea of watching Luke train Ben Solo, the film that might have taken place between Return of the Jediand this one, to be more compelling than the story we got. I wouldn’t trade Finn or Rey (or Poe, for that matter) for the world, and I think there’s enormous potential going forward, but I think The Force Awakens spent too much time looking backwards and not enough time pushing the envelope.
  • I really liked the humor level in the film, which was a return to the style of the original trilogy, but I did feel like the humor itself was a bit too “jokey” for me. I know that’s kind of a vague term, and I’m not sure how to describe it, but many of the laughs felt like “jokes” rather than character-based humor. Han’s enthusiasm for Chewie’s bowcaster, for instance, or the sequence when Finn didn’t understand that Han was gesturing to Rey behind him, both felt stiffly written, as though the goal was to make the audience laugh rather than to let the characters act naturally. There were plenty of perfectly executed laughs (anything involving BB-8, Han giving Chewie crap for being cold, etc.), but there were some that just came off as awkward to me.

Questions and Observations

  • Do you think that the First Order destroying the Republic Senate and a planet that looked a lot like Coruscant (but wasn’t) was a shot at George Lucas and the prequels? It certainly felt like a pointed statement about how they’re wiping out people’s memories of the prequels, full of Senate negotiations at the heart of the Republic, allowing the movies to move forward without the burden of government and political wranglings? It didn’t seem to serve any emotional or plot-based purpose in the movie other than to show how powerful the Starkiller Base was, so my only other guess was its symbolic significance to audiences.
  • Do you see a romance developing down the line? If so, between whom? Clearly Rey and Finn have a connection, and she gave him a kiss on the cheek, so things certainly seem to be leaning that way. But I also felt like they were setting things up for a potential connection between Kylo Ren and Rey, which I sincerely hope doesn’t happen. He seemed so intrigued by her, and she’s very much his equal/opposite, so it’s definitely possible. There’s a trend these days towards tortured villains who are just a step away from redemption, especially when they’re tall, thin, pale, and have dark hair (see Loki), but I hope that’s not the direction the films go. Finn and Rey are compelling enough, we don’t need some kind of love triangle in there too. (I am, of course, assuming that Kylo Ren survived. But I figure everyone assumes that at this point.)
  • Why did the First Order care about finding Luke? If he’s been vanished for years, he’s clearly not causing them any trouble. I would say it’s a personal vendetta by Kylo Ren, but Snoke is the one calling the shots. Why does Snoke need Luke found? It has to be more than just wiping out the last of the Jedi, as was suggested in the opening crawl.
  • So Rey is Luke’s daughter, right? I feel like all signs point to yes. Abrams said they deliberately withheld Rey’s last name, and it just seems so likely that it’s Skywalker. Luke and Rey’s mother (Mara Jade? Probably not) could have abandoned her to head off on some dangerous mission, and then for some reason were never able to return. Her abilities would make some sense if she were Luke’s daughter, as would the feeling I got from her vision that she had a connection to him and Anakin. I even felt like he might have been watching out for her and guiding her through the force. Of course, if she is a Skywalker, they hopefully won’t play up any romance between her and Kylo Ren. The series has had enough incestuous kisses already.
  • There was an awful lot of blood in The Force Awakens. After decades of bloodless violence, since blasters and lightsabers theoretically cauterize wounds, blood has returned for really the first time since Obi-wan slicing off an arm in the Mos Eisley Cantina. I don’t have a problem with that, it was just an interesting choice to see wounds bleed that hadn’t bled before.

What did you think of The Force Awakens? Who were your favorite characters and who do you wish we’d seen more of? What’d you think of the various twists? How well did it mesh with the previous films in the franchise? What are you excited to see going forward? If you could make one change to the film, what would it be? Or is it perfect as-is and I’m just crazy? Let me know all of your spoiler-filled thoughts in the comments!

37 thoughts on “Complaints, Praise, and Questions for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (spoilers!)

  1. Yay spoiler discussion! I haven’t had a time to do that effectively yet, so this will be pretty long (apologies already!) I love that interpretation of the last scene! It’s really the crux of the whole movie in that case with Rey finding a new purpose in finding Luke who can find a new purpose in returning. The film itself could be a deeper theme of people finding their true purpose or at least who they think they should be. They are parallels in people making a choice like Finn, people who feel forced onto a path like Kylo Ren, people who are sure of their path like Poe, and people who continuously question their view like Rey. Then again, I can’t stop thinking about some of those characters, but I’ll get to that later.

    I honestly didn’t really care for Kylo Ren either, mostly because I’m not a big fan of those kind of villains anyway. However, I do admit that I liked him more than I thought I would considering he is one of the few remaining characters who can tap into the Force and use it for evil. That’s always intriguing for me. Plus, he does become immensely more interesting as an antagonist to Rey. I adore how heroes and villains can parallel each other in a way of showing the different paths a person go (Lord knows I’ve talked about Skye and Ward that way). Both characters are people carving their own paths while inevitably being tied to their family history. While Rey must overcome her attachments to the family who abandoned her, Kylo Ren is torn between being Han Solo’s son and Anakin’s grandson and ultimately chooses to be Anakin’s legacy rather than his own. This conflict of self ultimately reveals why Rey can be a Jedi while Kylo Ren chooses to be a Sith.

    That’s also the reason that I believe that Rey is Luke’s daughter. The whole realization adds another wrinkle to the concept of being one’s own person as well as Rey’s history. Not only are the parallels to Luke, her abilities, and her visions a sign of that, but it would just also be an interesting story. Honestly, my own impossible theory is that not even Luke truly knows that Rey is his daughter. What could have happened was that Luke possibly had a relationship with a woman but likely had to abandon the relationship, or simply grew too distant, as he began training a new generation of Jedi. That woman, without his knowledge, then gave birth to Rey and chose to raise her unbeknownst to Luke. I can’t really understand the reason for leaving Rey on Jakku as a child, though I can wonder if it had anything to do with Ben turning to the dark side. It could lead to an interesting conflict for Rey as it brings back her feelings of abandonment from her family once again and adds a sense of doubt in trusting a Jedi master like that, even if it wasn’t his fault. Plus, what could be another better connection to the story of Anakin Skywalker than his grandchildren fighting each other as representatives of both the light and dark side of the force within him?

    If it’s any consolation, I thought the Starkiller Base was also a bit overrated too. If it wasn’t the setting for the climax, I wouldn’t really care for it as a Death Star copy. It only makes me wonder what kind of idea they would have for future films considering the original trilogy already tried the Death Star twice. I should hope that they don’t try this again. I felt a similar kind of feeling towards Rey’s abilities, except for the mind trick scene. I just thought that Rey, if she knew of the Jedi through legends, would attempt to try something she heard from rumors like a Jedi mind trick. Being in a desperate situation, it would probably end up working if she tried hard enough and believed in it sincerely (which was confirmed by her running away). I don’t understand her almost winning the fight between her and Kylo Ren, but I felt that it would be enough for that one scene.

    I also don’t know what to think about the possible romance between Rey and Finn. It could be an interesting factor as Rey becomes a Jedi (why wouldn’t she?), and Finn’s desires as the movie goes on revolve around his feelings for Rey going so far as to lie to the Resistance in order to have some semblance of rescuing her. In an odd way, there’s also an odd parallel in their relationship as Rey shows genuine consideration and compassion to certain characters like rescuing BB-8 or whereas Finn still has a few selfish conflicts in wanting to run and risking an entire Resistance mission just to rescue her. His feelings for her are genuine since he was willing to fight off Kylo Ren to protect both of them, but they are definitely some edges to them that will have to be settled should their relationship continue. Otherwise, Rey’s status could be severely tainted as a Jedi with this relationship or Finn could end up doing something pretty reckless…again. Though in the midst of this, I also would like to keep an eye out for Poe Dameron getting pretty chummy with Finn. I mean, he did let him keep the jacket after all 😉
    Those are all my thoughts for now, but I probably still have a bunch of others that will just pop in at random times. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about them!

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    • Never apologize for having a lot to say! I hadn’t really considered Kylo Ren as a direct antagonist to Rey, but I agree that that interpretation works better. I’m still not a fan, but I’ll have to watch it next time from that perspective. And you’re right that it ties in nicely to Rey being Luke’s daughter. It’d make for an interesting set of parallels, especially with the Anakin Skywalker connection.
      I’m really hoping the future films try to do something different, rather than retreading the same path as the original trilogy. A certain amount of history repeating itself I can take, but I don’t want a remake of Empire Strikes Back for the next film.
      You bring up a point specifically about Rey and Kylo Ren fighting that I didn’t make in the article. It was more than a little ridiculous that both Rey and Finn (who doesn’t have the force) were able to fight so well with a lightsaber despite never having used one before. Especially fighting well enough to beat Kylo Ren, who was trained by Luke and able to take out many other Jedis in training.
      I’m all for a romance between Finn and Rey, as long as neither character suffers or is reduced by it. Actually, I’d be all for a romance between Poe and Finn too!
      If you’ve got any more thoughts, feel free to dump them here! I love reading what you have to say!

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      • Thanks for the reply. I do want to add some wrinkles to the whole Kylo Ren vs. Finn and Rey fight if it would help. Other people have had a similar problem with their fight as well, but some have pretty good arguments for it. For example, throughout the fight, we’re reminded that Kylo Ren has been injured by Chewie’s shot since he keeps beating the wound. Therefore, he would never be at his full capacity in the first place, especially against two people who have demonstrated decent fighting capabilities throughout the movie (especially Rey!). Also, we’ve seen Kylo Ren have remarkable skills in the Force, but we’ve rarely seen him in direct combat and almost never in combat with someone who uses the Force until the end. In that case, we can assume he’s had good training in wielding the Force from both Luke and Snoke but likely hardly received a challenging opponent in fighting that Finn and Rey have grown up in (the Jedi are supposed to be peaceful and any work through the Dark Side can only go so far before real combat). Given new Force abilities in someone as skilled as Rey, Kylo Ren would at least have a rougher fight than usual. Finally, there’s also the style of fighting that they have which I thought was impressive. For most of the fight, Finn and Rey are fighting on the defensive while trying to run away. It’s not until Rey taps into the Force that she’s really fighting against him and pretty rough too. It’s surrounding the aspect that Kylo Ren in the end wasn’t fighting to kill Rey while Rey was fighting to kill him which makes a huge difference in the outcome. None of that eliminated the brief instinct that something is off about the fight which I agree, but it strangely helps me when I think about it.

        I only talk about it because I really enjoyed the scene and also what it means in the long run. From Rey’s perspective, she’s fighting the man who has killed Han Solo, not only a father figure to her but his actually father. She’s spent almost 15 years waiting for a family that never came back for her while he (however conflicted) chooses to kill the parent that beseeches him. Coupled that with the fact that he attacked Finn, the one person in her life who ever came back for her (even though it was a deadly risk to himself), Rey probably hates his guts. I’m really fascinated by the brief moment after she scars him when there is a bit of conflict with her, whether or not to kill Kylo Ren. I’m not sure if that’s just wishful thinking or Daisy Ridley’s brilliant facial expressions, but there is a sense of frightening rage in Rey’s character that I hope they address in the sequel. It’s one of the many facets to her character that make her really human and makes her arc more rewarding. It could be an interesting story for her to rightfully become a Jedi when we are shown parts of her personality like rage and emotional attachments that conflict with this image.

        Then again, I have no idea how the sequel would approach the rest of the story and do hope that it can try to move past ESB. Except for maybe someone revealing who Rey’s real parents are, I don’t think there are many things that have to be the same. That doesn’t necessarily reassure me from any possibility that there may be a few too many parallels, but I at least look forward to what they can do.

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  2. I agree with most of what you say here, except your feelings about Kylo Ren. I thought it was pretty obvious from the beginning that he is not the main villain (yet), but rather a young man lost and formed by his rage. I felt he was portrayed in a much more relateable way than the transformation of Anakin in episodes I and II. Talk about losing your readers 😉

    The Starkiller Base *weapon* made sense in the sci-fi kind of way, for me, including how it could be seen from other planets. I didn’t get the impression it was visible from other systems and I keep away from wookieepedia so I am not going to check 😀 But the idea of building *yet another* super massive weapon (bigger! stronger!) felt a bit stupid. Quite a lot like what one nation kept doing during WWII, and oh my goodness, didn’t the First Order give us a bit of a vibe calling back to that war?

    OK, and I don’t think the destruction of the Republic Senate was a stab at Lucas or the prequels. It would have been unnecessary anyway and why would anyone on the film have a grudge against Lucas? He wasn’t around and couldn’t interfere.

    Your review was great, this analysis also. It is a joy to read your blog and this time I had to endure a wait because I had seen the movie before you. That was tough 🙂

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      • It was a red herring until the Rey action figure was released that had the lightsaber with it, so I can’t say I was too surprised. But I appreciated the misdirection anyway, and I thought it was a great twist in the film and a great way to end the confrontation with Kylo Ren.

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    • True, Kylo Ren isn’t the main villain, but he has to be able to hold his own as a compelling character (like Vader) even if he has a Palpatine-esque character pulling his strings. Of course, I love the way Anakin was portrayed in the prequels, but I realize that makes me crazy.
      Boy the First Order was straight out of WWII. It might have been a little heavy handed, but I thought it worked well. I knew the imagery would be there, but I didn’t expect General Hux’s speech to be so Hitler-like. It was intense!
      You’re probably right about the destruction of the Senate not being a shot at Lucas, I just thought it was an interesting theory. Abrams and the others have gone out of their way to pay homage to Lucas, even as they disregarded his story, so it’s not in their nature to take pot-shots at him. If they really wanted to, all they would have had to do is make some sort of “Han shot first” reference, but it would have felt cheap.
      Thanks for the compliments, and for reading and commenting so often! It’s really nice to have blogging friends like you, even if you did get to see the movie first!

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      • Regarding paying homage and, in my view, very much respecting the origins, I absolutely loved the mentioning of the 12 parsecs. All this time we have ridiculed Lucas for that mistake, and now we got the sequels sticking to it. I loved it.

        Ah, I got to see this movie again.

        BTW, I am glad you liked Anakin’s story and really, I should be careful with my critique as I have only seen episode I (quite a few times) and II (once). I have heard that III was the best of the prequels but by that time I had fallen out of love with Star Wars and when I have later tried to rewatch the original trilogy, the Special Edition IV ruins too much (not just scenes but also the rythm of the movie) within the first act for me to continue.

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  3. I loved Finn. He’s the Luke Skywalker of this film, more or less. He’s got a sort of unfiltered sense of wonder, “emotions on his sleeve”, and comes off as a great character that anyone can identify with. You even see this in the posters for the film. Can I just mention that I grew up in an age of total (augh!) whitebread TV… Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek) was the only black person we knew… she projected classiness and intelligence and strength and changed more hearts than she knows. Finn is part of a more diverse filmaking world, but the fact that his character rises far beyond any lingering stereotypes is still important. He’s a character every kid will be emulating with good reason. John Boyega is just wonderful. Also I hear he’s a total fanboy?

    Rey is the character I would have identified with if she had been there in 1977. Daisy is wonderful.

    We were reading the credits trying to find Lupita Nyong’o’s cahracter. Wow! take the most beautiful woman in the world and hide her under CG. Now that’s gutsy! And fun! What a great character!

    BB8 is one of the Great Designs of All Time. So, take R2’s head and stick it on top of a beach ball… and make it emote. Yaaaaaas, they did that, and it’s amazing.

    Hey I just loved the “fan service”. At one point in the final battle I’m sitting there going “so what happened to that bit of the Falcon flying out of the sun. then the Big Nasty Thing of Doom explodes and… Falcon flying out of the ball of light. Whoot!

    The Falcon escape sequence….. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And John Williams. When I saw the first film in 1977, I was “what’s with the classical music???”. I was expecting some sort of spacey synthesizer or something. Then the soundtrack caught hold of me. Now it is inextricably intertwined with the stories. (you know we all can hum parts of it; dah dah dah duh duh dah dah dah DAAAAAAAAAH).

    I too related to Luke, and took awhile to warm up to Han. I was the nerd in the back of the class with my nose in a book and the smartass quality of Han put me off for awhile… until he heroically comes to save the day, flying out of the sun and all… Han’s meeting with his son is iconic, part of the Hero Journey, “atonement with the father” … in this case, an attempt at it… like Luke telling Vader “there is good in you”. Only here, there is epic fail, and fall. Will the Dark Lord turn to Light eventually? or is this a sign that he has turned forever to the Dark?

    You did not really just kill off Han…

    Oh yes you did.

    Crap.

    It does leave some interesting room open for Rey and Chewie and the Falcon. And I too could not see Harrison Ford continuing the Han role (he was kind of not doing a lot of running either, seems like action hero is not what he needs to do now).

    Rey is certainly the center of this, the character I would have related to if she’d been there in the 70s. Her journey is well told, we see her early capabilities and her learning curve with things like blasters and lightsabers and the ship and her powers. That was revealed neatly. Can'[t wait to see what she does next.

    Does the sudden mastery of her abilities make no sense? Some people need years of training, but this film has no time for that. Perhaps she is a bit of a savant here…

    Not sure about the Giant Planet of Doom either. Perhaps best summed up with the holographic visuals in the control room: here’s the Death Star….(soccer ball)… here’s this new thing… (giant honkin beach ball of doom). Hmmm. I assumed the people watching stuff blowing up were seeing their own moons destroyed, and were about to get blasted by the last photon torpedo…

    Leia on the sidelines might be a result of having to spread character screen time out among three films. After all, Han is gone, so next episode… yes, lots of characters who might have had more development, but that’s what you can get in a book. (still vaguely annoyed that much of Legolas’ character was left out of the films, see book) Should they have had fewer minor characters? Shown less of them? is there an uncanny valley that characterization falls into: either not enough screen time to develop them or too much development without adequate screen time to fully explain them? Or is it the hype preceeding thefilm that makes us expect that character to have more screen time and development when they are merely there as a background character.

    Hmmmm, not sure about the Rathar sequence. it did show a nice bit of seat of the pants ingenuity by Rey in banging the blast doors down on the tentacly thing at the right moment. And the fact that she didn’t say anything about doing it to Finn… “open the blast doors, open the blast doors!!! Close the blast doors, close the blast doors!!!” Also neat nod to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as the Rathar gnoshes on the Falcon…

    nah, you haven’t lost me yet…

    Ah yes, I was never a fan of the villain either. In fact, I don’t even get the idea of really being into the villain. OK, it’s kind of like exorcising the Dark Side… you play villain, you relish the villain, you let the dragon out of the basement and into the light, instead of locking it away until it breaks down the door and eats you. The Villain has to exist as the Dark has to exist to show the Light. I rather liked the evocation of Vader (villainy likes black and weird helmets apparently), and the reveal that this kid is … a kid… and following Vader’s legend. Perhaps the biggest fanfic moment of all. Adam Driver is a wonderfully ravenish face, and much prettier than I expected. To pull off the helmet and reveal, not a disfigured mess, but a pretty face, echoes Tolkien (and Biblical stuff) about evil being beautiful enough to fool you into following it. Beautiful until it takes The Fall and becomes disfigured. Vader remains mysteriously evil under the black robes and helmet until the Big Reveal at the end of all three films. Kylo Ren reveals right away that he is human, fairly ordinary, and fallable. it may make, ultimately for a more human villain.

    or will he yet turn to the Light?

    It is certainly true that Force Awakens does not push the envelope or offer up a totally new vision. This occurred to me but didn’t bug me… I felt like this is a reboot, a reintroduction to the Star Wars saga and a way to reconnect with fans again (especially after the controversy of the last set)(which i liked)(even Phantom Menace)(Liam Neeson… what can I say). Yes it offered up a shipload of familiar moments… I suspect with a purpose. I can hope that future episodes will offer up some unique and new moments and storylines.

    Humor is such a personal flavor thing. There’s a lot of sitcom stuff I simply hate. I have a friend, who is a cartoonist, and is likely on the autism spectrum, who simply hates slapstick. The film’s humor is perhaps a bit “jokey” (as good a word as any to describe it), and I too would prefer humor that arises out of character (I prefer anything… plot, humor, action… to arise out of character), and I have to go see it again to see what I really think about the way humor was used.

    Perhaps reading too much into blowing up a planet. Probably just “let’s put a big action set piece in here and show how evil the Evil Guys are”. We have to see the stakes, and how awesomely horrible the Evil is that we are up against.

    Coming down on the side of WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE A ROMANCE?!?!? Rey and Finn are adorable but really… can’t we just do Doctor Who and have other kinds of relationships?

    Tortured Dark Heroes are an archetype. Only a stereotype if there’s no character development. I happen to think both Tom Hiddleston and whatizface are hot. I thought he looked a bit like a young Snape. I also assumed…uh…wait… is Rey Luke’s kid? Leia’s other kid???? What was that whole scene with the lightsaber and her remembering stuff???? Are they twins? Brother and sister? cousins? Why does she look like Leia? She could look like Leia if she was Luke’s daughter, because, twins, same DNA…

    Maybe finding Luke is all about finding the Last of the Jedi. Then that last flame is extinguished. except, as Obi-Wan showed us, you can never extinguish the Flame of Light.

    Blood: a sign of the times, and changing ideas about film. When I was watching TV in the 60s, there was shoot’em-ups but no real blood. Think Lone ranger, the original one. Times have changed. I think it grounded the whole film in a bit more realism. Let’s hope they don’t get into gritty realism like some of the recent DC Comics films. The Star Wars universe is still one of myth, not gritty realism. It’s more akin to Lord of the Rings than a gritty comic.

    And what’s with Kylo banging himself on the side to make himself bleed more??????????????

    Once more, fascinating analysis. Carry on and may the winds be always at your back.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So much of the film is fuelled by Hux and Ren, their rivalry, their desperation to impress Snoke and their desire to be the biggest and the best. For Kylo Ren this means being more Vader than Vader, hence the lightsaber with three blades, the mask, the force control and the determination to get past ties to family. Hux on the other hand wants to his First Order to be a bigger and better version of The Empire which is why he built that stupidly big Deathstar. He scooped out a planet for gods sake, this isn’t going to do things by half no matter the consequences or practicalities. Anything they can do he can do better (apart from shield defences and access ports that fighters can get in to, he still can’t get them right).

    Liked by 2 people

    • The rivalry between the pair is interesting, and it definitely drove the plot. I didn’t find either of them particularly compelling as characters, though, especially not compared to Finn, Rey, or Poe. But I’ve never been big on villains.

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  7. I enjoyed it while I was watching it, but I did wonder how well it all worked together, afterwards. It’s best when Finn and Rey are on screen. Both characters add to the series. But I can’t forgive what they did to Han Solo. I’d like them to find a way to fix that, in the next movie. Frankly, I didn’t think about it much after the credits rolled, except that everyone else wants to talk about it.

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    • What can’t you forgive about Han? Is it his death, or something else? Did you feel like they mishandle the character in some way? Thanks for reading and commenting! I agree that the movie was best when Rey and Finn are on the screen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Both the way the death was done – leaving it open for a resurrection – and the character running around, rather than working with others. I felt his plot line, unlike Leia’s, all felt a bit contrived and unlikely. It wasted the actor’s strengths, for me.

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        • I can understand that. The death didn’t bother me so much, but I did feel like the story didn’t play to Ford’s strengths much, and I would have liked to see him work with the others more.

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