Monday, January 04, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Thoughts

I finally got to see the new Star Wars movie on the holidays and I enjoyed it a lot. Its not a perfect movie but none of the previous six were (excepting maybe Empire Strikes Back).

I have some thoughts to share but they cannot be spoiler free so....


Turn back now if you have not seen the movie.

OK, ready? Here we go.


- The pacing was much better than the prequels. I realize that Lucas was trying to fill in a lot of the rationalization of why there was an Empire and a rebellion, but the political backstory was very boring in the grand scheme of things when what we really wanted was Jedi versus Sith fighting.

- The acting was so much better, the dialogue was better. The characters were more realistic and less cardboard cutouts to act out George's fan fiction. No Jar Jar.

- The improved camerawork and less reliance on CGI was noticable and appreciated. The movie LOOKS amazing.

- I thought I would be annoyed to hell by BB-8 and his cutesiness, like a combined Jar Jar and R2D2, but I was pleasantly surprised he was much more low key than expected.

- I loved the Finn and Rey and Poe characters, I emphasized with them so much more than any of the prequel characters.

- The light sabre work was very nice and much more subtle, very enjoyable.

- The First Order Storm Troopers and star ships were top notch on the aesthetic side of things.

- The Light Sabre of Doom!


- I realize we don't want to descend into the political chicanery of the Prequels but some explanation of the First Order, the New Republic, and the Resistance and their relationships to each other would have been nice. I looked it all up after the movie on the internet so I understand now but at the time I was very confused. Resistance, what are you resisting? (1)

- Similar note, why was there so many wrecks on Jakku? (See 1)

- Kylo Ren as the Bad Guy Stand In for Darth Vader (like Darth Maul, Darth Tyrannous) was not horrible, but failed to resonate with me. Seeing him start so evil at times yet so conflicted made him seem very non-threatening to me. It didn't help his helmet was unnecessary and he just looked too damn slim in his outfit. HOWEVER, I liked him a lot more after he killed his father Han Solo. Full Evil Kylo Ren much better than Emo Kylo Ren.

- Supreme Leader Snokes has a bad name, looks like a horrible Gollum clone, and evokes no menace to me.

- Starkiller planet was borderline too cheesy "Its even more deadly than a Death Star! OMG!!" but worked for me as a set location for the climax. And the parallel between the sun going out and Kylo Ren losing any light side he had left was well done.

- Captain Phasma got a raw deal. Awesome look, but no cool action, dialogue, scenes, and gets captured and used as a patsy to disable the shields like a weak idiot. FAIL!

- I did not like the Maz character. Not sure exactly why/ Too much like ancient Asian woman caricature maybe? Too much plot device? Hope she's dead.

- As much as I liked the Rey character, I think they overloaded too much ability on to her. Survive on harsh desert planet alone, altruistic droid saviour, force sensitive and able to mind trick a storm trooper right away, able to defeat (an admittedly badly injure) Kylo Ren in a light sabre duel, AND a freaking amazing pilot capable of taking the Millennium Falcon through near impossible maneuvers we've only see Han Solo and Lando Calrissian do? Just too much.

- Gah, J J Abrams, I hate you. In the Star Trek reboot, the thing that nearly killed me was Spock seeing Vulcan get consumed in the sky from that ice planet in another solar system. Like fuck me. And here in star wars he does it again when the Starkiller destroys those planets in the Hosnian Prime system while the characters at the resistance base on D'Qar see it happen, in the sky. Fuck me. I hate that shit.

- Need more Luke Skywalker!

* * * * * *

Overall, like I said, I enjoyed the movie and will watch it again when I get it on DVD. And I'm really looking forward to the next one in a way that the prequels never made me feel. So good job.

(1) - After the battle of Jakku where the New Republic and the remaining Empire forces had a large battle, the two sides signed a treaty of sorts with military limitations and such. The First Order rose out of the ashes on the imperial side of that treaty and started rebuilding breaking parts of the treaty, but the New Republic remained ignorant (in some cases willfully) of the transgressions to avoid new hostilities. The Resistance are those who do now want the First Order to get away with their transgressions and are resisting in First Order territory with some illicit aid of the New Republic.


  1. I agree with most of your comments to one degree or another. Certainly there have always been borderline silly moments in Star Wars, it is kind of the whole pulp side of things. Sometimes those get really stoopid, like Ewoks, or Jar Jar, and sometimes they just get sorta silly. I found a lot of this new movie sorta silly. But very little stoopid silly. If that makes sense.

    What I hope is that this serves as a nice fan-service base against which we can all move on and go tell some better stories in the coming movies. This will obviously never end, so hopefully this one will make better sense in hindsight as a good, solid launching pad to even better Star Wars adventures.

  2. It bugged me that we only see standard TIEs and X-Wings. I am assuming that this is to keep to the iconic ships. But no A, B or Y-Wings?

    Why do the jedi run away from their problems and hide? Peace and Order in the galaxy does not come when you are under a rock.

    I did not mind the Maz character - I like that she provided insight to the heroes without it seeming like dull exposition.

    Stereotyped pirates boarding the freighter was cheesy.

    Also enjoyed the lost of the light scene - which I really only appreciated on the second viewing (in 3D).

    Despite some nitpicks, I also look forward to the DVD, and hope for an excellent commentary track being included.

  3. Why does this story YET AGAIN focus on parents dumping their kids somewhere else and other kids having daddy issues ?

    I was totally hoping (for the first part of the movie) that it was Luke under that mask, trying very hard to use the First Order to replace the Old Republic, and that it had gotten away from him. To have Luke unwittingly be the bad guy who was trying to be good would have been a nice change of pace.

  4. I had two Eve thoughts when I saw the movie. First, when Poe does that absolutely ridiculous bit of flying, I think I actually said out lod, "Can't blunt the Stunt." Second, when the MF does that loooong flight at the end to find Luke, I envied their lack of having to use jump gates.

  5. I've been pondering on commenting on this.

    I think, my problem is that I found it ideologically bankrupt. It was a rehash of popular elements of the previous film, with sections stolen from the expanded universe.

    All the reviews I've seen focus on one thing: nostalgia. "If you're looking for a 'Star Wars' film, this is it!" and so on. It didn't seem to risk anything: the prequels were Star Wars, but different. This is Star Wars, but rehashed.

    The themes are basic the writing unoriginal. It seems more designed to sell toys than build a universe. Phasma is the obvious thought here. Obviously she was meant to do something, but we didn't get anything.

    I share your distaste for the 'Abrams does imagery 101' scenes, and did laugh when the 'New Republic' was destroyed. Did anyone care? They destroyed a system. So what?

    Which leads me to my main disagreement with your post: the pacing struggled. This is another tradition in a J J Abrams film. He loves action scenes, and despises, as far as I can tell, the progression between them.

    Every scene that I thought could end calmly, launched into chaos and inanity: the 'Meet the Old Timers' scene; then suddenly aliens, gangsters and horror, when Finn and Rey meet; TIE Fighters attack! and the worst of all, the 'Cantina homage' scene; couldn't end calmly, no, we had to have another attack.

    It needed the political backstory, just so the rest of the film makes sense!

    I feel that this is just another example of how J J Abrams plays (ruins) with source material to make the 'coolest' film he can.

    1. And, to back up my disappointment:

      All the backstory that should've been included properly .