Trying to make a review topic spoiler-free would be a major pain, especially when quoting each other. If you haven't seen the movie, then DANGER! THIS THREAD WILL SPOIL THE MOVIE FOR YOU. TURN BACK NOW, BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
Ok, with that out of the way...
Cottontail's Thoughts On Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I went and saw The Force Awakens last night, and left the theater with very mixed feelings. Having liked J. J. Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise, my expectations for Star Wars: The Force Awakens were sky-high—this despite my having been seriously underwhelmed by the Prequel Trilogy.
Unfortunately, The Force Awakens seems to suffer from an equal-but-opposite problem when compared to the Prequel Trilogy: It’s fabulously executed, but the story is a near total rip-off of A New Hope. How’s this for a plot synopsis (You won’t see this in the promotional literature!): Top-secret information, key to the success of a rebellion, is stashed in a droid, which must then traverse a desert planet while fleeing enemy forces that are searching for it. The droid is ultimately intercepted by a Jedi-to-be, who, after a brief run-in with the enemy, manages to escape the desert planet on the Millennium Falcon. Sound familiar so far? Well, it continues: The enemy, led by a dark lord and his master, possesses a planet-killing super-weapon, which is used to destroy a planet belonging to the rebellion. Our Jedi-to-be and friends must battle the enemy to destroy this super-weapon. And they succeed.
A New Hope, right? WRONG! It’s The Force Awakens! O. M. G. So yeah, that was super disappointing. Of course, it wasn’t a perfect rip-off: Where A New Hope ends in a jubilation that enables it to stand alone as a film, The Force Awakens makes no secret of the fact that it’s the first of a new trilogy—or perhaps quadrilogy—and spends its last few minutes plunging us into darkness.
And therein lies perhaps my single most coherent gripe about the movie: Its treatment of Han and Leia. Those two characters are, for me, the heart and soul of the original trilogy. Their relationship adds so much warmth and light. Of course, J. J. Abrams wisely limited their appearances in The Force Awakens—man, Harrison Ford looks old!—but what we see of them just seems so thoughtless. Their once-warm relationship is revealed to be in a shambles, their son has become evil, and to make matters worse, Han is killed before any of this can be resolved, leaving the whole situation feeling rather hopeless. Honestly, I’d have preferred it if neither Han nor Leia appeared in the movie at all. We could have found out in movie #2 or #3 who Kylo Ren’s parents were, and that would have been fine.
Lastly, while the casting and acting in The Force Awakens were, I think, quite good, there remain a few bits and pieces that really bothered me. Kylo Ren is one of these. In his first few scenes, he has tremendous presence—like Darth Vader in A New Hope. And then he becomes a conflicted cry-baby, a bit like Anakin in the latter two films of the Prequel Trilogy. What’s up with that?! Save that “inner struggle” stuff for later! The fact that Han dies while in poor standing with Leia is bad enough, but did he really have to get impaled on a lightsaber by a cry-baby wimp who is then almost killed by Rey? Don’t get me wrong; I actually like Rey’s character quite a bit, but when she picks up a lightsaber for the first time and almost defeats Kylo Ren… I just found that to be rather ridiculous.
The Supreme Leader is also rather ridiculous—like something I’d expect to see in Harry Potter, not Star Wars. I mean, we all now understand where the Emperor of the Original Trilogy got his good looks: He was disfigured by rebounding force-lightning. What about this Snoke guy? Why does he look like a cross between Lord Voldemort and an orc (and a zombie)? Will we ever know why, and where he even came from? Maybe J. J. is setting us up for another in-between trilogy. God, I hope not! Really, Kylo Ren should have been Supreme Leader and remained in Bad-ass Mode the whole movie, freezing blaster beams in mid-air and all... Sigh.
Poe’s character was a bit iffy, too—like a cross between Han Solo and Rocky Balboa. I mean, with Han dying, it’s clear we needed to get a new pilot character in there, but there was just a bit too much of a “dumb jock” component to Poe. I ended up not liking him.
Ok, I’ve done enough complaining. In the end, I’d rather watch the Prequel Trilogy again than re-watch The Force Awakens. The casting and acting might suck, and the comic relief might be out of control, but the story is at least original and interesting.
So how about you? What are your thoughts? Did you like it? Hate it? ...