Let's Review "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (SPOILERS!)

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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? ...
I completely 100% agree, it was a majot disappointment. Kylo turned into a pretty cool bad guy, into the biggest wimp of a sith lord ever. I was okay with them killing Han off, it was a great way to go out, trying to save his son. But the fact that the entire movie felt so rushed and it was just a new hope all over again was pretty lame. I loved some of the scenes where Kylo loses his temper, pulls out his saber and starts just freaking out. Added some humor (like when the two stormtroopers, were like "nope" and turned and walked away." But I felt like it added a bit to the character to show that he lacked control over his emotions.

I think the whole her being able to pick up a lightsaber and beat Kylo wasn't the worst thing, they did mention she would get stronger as she discovered her powers and she knew how to fight already, so it's not completely illogical that she would be able to fight with a saber.

But the character interactions felt forced as did the introduction of any of the older characters like R2D2 and C3PO.

I would also like to discuss a major plot hole that got to me, Luke should have been able to sense a disturbance in the force when the planet got blown up or when Kylo-Ren was coming to power. Luke should have gotten his ass back to the action, fuck this come find me because I am sad bullshit. They made Luke out to be a pussy in the end of the movie.
FauxPas said:
I loved some of the scenes where Kylo loses his temper, pulls out his saber and starts just freaking out. Added some humor (like when the two stormtroopers, were like "nope" and turned and walked away." But I felt like it added a bit to the character to show that he lacked control over his emotions.

Agreed. I liked those bits too.

FauxPas said:
I would also like to discuss a major plot hole that got to me, Luke should have been able to sense a disturbance in the force when the planet got blown up or when Kylo-Ren was coming to power. Luke should have gotten his ass back to the action, fuck this come find me because I am sad bullshit. They made Luke out to be a pussy in the end of the movie.

Yes, I meant to say something about that also. That really bothered me. Basically, they (permanently) screwed over Han and Leia's relationship, and made Luke out to be a bit of a baby. Again, I really didn't expect those old characters to carry the movie. Allowing that to happen would have been a major failure on J. J.'s part. But the treatment they did get was just... bad! Ugh. I need to go and watch the Original Trilogy to cleanse my brain.
Maxx said:
Trying to review this seriously is like reviewing any superhero movie.
Well... But I think you have to acknowledge the exceptionally large fandom surrounding Star Wars, even if it's not your thing. For many people, it goes way beyond the mindless superhero genre, and so there are more expectations placed on it than there are on any given X-Men flick. And I can appreciate how hellish it must be for a director to try to confront that and meet those expectations.

I think J. J. Abrams played to his strengths: Reboots and remakes. The trouble with this, for me, is that Star Wars is inherently episodic. It didn't need a remake. What it needed, IMO, was an imaginative "What would happen next?" sort of treatment. Instead, we got what the bean counters probably wanted: A safe plot arc that would go the distance--because it had done so before.
Cottontail - spot on perfect review! I couldn't agree more. I did like the Tie and X-Wing fight scenes, however, and appreciated the more realistic appearance of explosions and crashes. I also rather like the character Rey, but agree that it is a bit of a stretch to think anyone could pick up a light saber and master it on their FIRST try! Given that she is so powerful in the Force, I suspect she must be the love-child of Luke and someone.

Speaking of Luke, I am equally disappointed IF his actual reason for running away was sadness or depression. This is total speculation on my part, but what IF his reason for leaving was because he was "pissed off", furious about what happened to his new Jedi Order as well as Han and Leia's kid becoming evil. Perhaps he was so angry that he was afraid he would become a dark lord himself if he stayed, so he removed himself for the safety of everyone.

Anyway, something to think about, and perhaps give us reason to hope for better movies to follow.
I actually loved it! There were a few parts the were like "Okay?" but I think it was one of my favorites!
Maxx said:
All this leads one to wonder how something like this becomes a huge winner, while others with better concept and execution fail miserably.

It seems there's a lot of luck involved, like with pop tunes. Right place, right time, right person hears the right three chords....

The first Star Wars was certainly a breakthrough in terms of special effects, and that had a lot to do with it, but after....

I thought John Carter should have been a lot bigger than it was, and spawned at least a few sequels. Lord knows Burroughs wrote enough materials for it. Heck, a lot of the stuff in Star Wars, from landspeeders to swordplay was borrowed from Burroughs.

John Carter was better than a number of more successful movies that year. It wasn't perfect but it deserved better. I think many of the reviews here are pretty harsh. TFA was another stealth remake (Abrams seems to have a fetish for those) but it introduced characters I can care about for the first time in 32 years, and it was fun without being stupid or childish.

I don't really want to get into the nitty gritty, but I think Kylo Ren is more interesting for his flaws and weaknesses rather than appearing fully formed and we should get to see the building of a dark Jedi and/or some possible redemption. I'm enthusiastic for the future of Star Wars for the first time in what seems like forever. I'd say it's a new hope, but that movie is always just Star Wars to me, so I'm loathe to quip the name.
Please be careful! Despite your spoiler warning, when I check my news feed on my home page, I see the first sentence of whatever my friends are writing. Maybe start off your posts with *******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************?

Off to see it Christmas eve evening at my cine world which has only been open a few months
Starrunner said:
I'm kind of in agreement with you, Trevor, in spite of my criticism of the movie. I actually enjoyed it. I was just hoping to see something a bit more original that built on the mythology rather than just regurgitating it. This is why I thought The Empire Strikes Back was so good. It took the foundation from A New Hope and set off in a completely new direction with it. That's what I hope to see in the next movie.

I have fundamental problems with the nature of Empire Strikes Back as a sequel. I think it's a great movie but it doesn't build well on what was done before. I have to take everything other than the original movie with a huge grain of salt to get any enjoyment out of it. For whatever reason, a soft sort of reboot for a new generation doesn't hit me so wrong.
Starrunner said:

To my thinking, due largely to the text in the opening crawl and the post-battle reaction, the Empire should be largely broken as a result of the destruction of the Death Star. That may not be reasonable but it's what the story indicated. There shouldn't really be an Empire to strike back, much less be scarier than ever and buffing up Vader's helmet. Plus, making Vader Luke's father throws a monkeywrench into things that makes Obi-Wan a manipulative liar (not buying the "certain point of view" crap) that led to the catastrophic re-imagining of the whole series as the tragedy of Darth Vader. On the other hand, amazing use of FX in the service of the story, best character development, introduction of Yoda and Lando, first appearance of the emperor, etc. Great movie, poor sequel. It's a mixed bag.
Starrunner said:
True, but I think these issues were already being set up for the sequel in the first movie: firstly when Vader's Tie fighter is last seen spinning out of control as he escapes into outer space, so that he can live to fight another day instead of getting blown into smithereens, and secondly when Luke is asking his aunt and uncle about his father, they appeared very uncomfortable about discussing it. So I think Lucas had already set up Vader's fatherhood in the event of a sequel. But, yeah, Obi Wan's answer was just showed what a weasel he was, and if you can't trust a Jedi, who can you trust? :dunno:

Also, it was three years between Empire and A New Hope. In Sci-Fi that's an eternity to rebuild an army. When the Borg destroyed the Federation at the end of the third Season in Star Trek TNG, the world was doomed, but by the beginning of the fourth season, everything was pretty much the same old same old. They killed off Spock in The Wrath of Kahn and just resurrected him in the next movie. Nothing is permanent or forever in Sci-Fi.

Vader lives but there was no clear notion at the time of the threat he would represent. No expectation on my part or any of my friends that he was off to come back with a bigger Star destroyer, a fleet, and a polished helm.

I take the scene with his aunt and uncle as evidence in the other direction. No one is going to say "he has too much of his father in him" with a wistful smile when father is a mass murdering tool of an oppressive regime. They were afraid of the danger represented by a Jedi to stay at home dirt farmers.

As to the rebuild, I'm not talking practicality bit what the story told us. That movie was a finished story. The Empire's hold on the galaxy was broken, as indicated by the omniscient narrator in the text crawl. I can get past it to enjoy ESB, but it does not follow from what was laid down.
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