Genre: sci-fi, space opera, adventure, action
30 years after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire, Rey, a scavenger from the planet Jakku, finds a BB-8 droid that knows the whereabouts of the long lost Luke Skywalker. Rey, as well as a rogue stormtrooper and two smugglers, are thrown into the middle of a battle between the resistance and the daunting legions of the First Order.
Review (with lots of questions)
This movie can be summed up like this: the “wow, amazing” start turned into “meh, I’ve seen this before” middle, to “wtf just went down” at the end. They had this amazing opportunity to create something truly spectacular but they just basically reheated the old Death Star scenario. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?! I know the prequels (Episodes I to III) have serious flaws and a couple of aggravating characters but they were original and not afraid to experiment. There the conflict felt so real and you clearly rooted for the Jedi, but this movie gives you just an endless list of already seen scenarios and a ton of unanswered questions. So, sorry, I wasn’t satisfied with what we’re given and the next movies better step up their game or they could turn out worse than anything produced before, and end the franchise as Disney envisions it. I certainly won’t go see the next movie at the cinema when it comes out before reading a few reviews that clearly state it got better. I know now where to go for an honest opinion at least.
First off let me say that I like the new characters and their potential. I hoped to see more of them and not the “Han Solo takes over the movie” we got going on here. I’m all for older generations giving the baton to the younger ones, reviving the franchise, but I was slightly annoyed at the way the movie focus suddenly turned completely around, but ok, I rolled with it. (They could have taken a lesson from Star Trek and how the late Leonard Nimoy played Old Spock – is all I’m saying.)
Rey was a welcome change from the male dominated cast in the past although her being some super force wielder ticked me off because using the force is supposed to be hard and only possible after lots of training. I mean – the Jedi trained from infancy for force’s sake! It just annoyed me and made it patently unbelievable, especially when she faces off with Kylo Ren. What just happened there – explain it to me. How is a complete unknown (that never showed her use of the force before that unbelievable influence on a stormtropper) able to beat him? Did she use the light side of the force or the dark side – it was kind of ambiguous to me at that point. It would have been so much better if their fight remained undecided; they could have just used the collapsing of the planet as a convenient way to separate them before Kylo Ren killed or seriously injured her. She is an amazing mechanic, she knows the inside of a ship she never flew before, and she’s better at using the force than Luke was. Just no. I’m all for competent female characters but there are limits – she’s either a whiz at mechanics or she’s a whiz at using the force. Pick one and only one, especially if you make other characters visibly less competent. It smacks of lazy writing.
Kylo Ren is another character they botched in the middle of the movie – he’s got an amazing start, appearing super menacing and all dark side then he transforms into a whiny teenager. What?! The unmasking just completely killed it for me because it happened way too early. And since he’s supposed to be one to defeat an entire group of potential Jedi, he had to be a great swordsman, no? That is not what we saw in the movie because his handling of that ridiculous lightsaber appeared a bit too pedestrian to me. I know Jedi are extinct and a lot of knowledge was lost, but seriously. I really liked the acrobatics of Episodes I-III. There we clearly saw why Jedi were so influential and even feared – they were a mini-battalion basically. Nothing of the sort here but he’s got Vader’s choking trick down pat. So clearly he’s able to master the force – why not sword fighting? And when talking about Vader – his force ghost was around by the time of the last movie. How the hell did this kid grow up believing Vader was betrayed or seduced away from the right path – the dark side? Why aren’t we shown more of the past and the way the dark returned again after the fall of the Emperor. I want details, not the chases and constant explosions. I want an original script not a rehash of an old Episode, which this movie basically was.
How come ordinary soldiers are wielding lightsabers all of a sudden? It was a big WTF moment for me when our stormtrooper with a conscience suddenly started to use it to fight. I thought maybe Finn was supposed to be the next generation of Jedi. And how could he break his conditioning in the first place? What is going on here? I could have believed if a high-ranking stormtrooper or better yet one of the people in the control rooms became disillusioned with the First Order’s plans and ideology and helped the Resistance (why still a Resistance, aren’t they part of the New Republic now? What did I miss?). If such a person later on defected when events demanded that of them, it would make so much sense. Even better – why not say there is a hidden group of resistance inside the stormtrooper ranks and they are trying to break free. That would be awesome. A high-ranking soldier would also know where the vulnerable point of the whole Star Destroyer is located. That a cleaning crew man knew of this fatal liability makes zero sense and makes me question the competence of the whole First Order. If you’re just a cog in a system, you don’t get to see the whole picture. Isn’t this the basic philosophy of the dark side – some people rule, the rest follow orders? Where does revealing crucial information to disposable soldiers come into play? But I like Finn and think him charming. His friendship with Dameron is inspiring although I was ticked off they resurrected the pilot. It takes away the gravitas of his supposed death – just NO to any resurrections, please.
As for the Star Destroyer – how could they destroy a star and remain in place when a powerful source of gravity is suddenly missing in space? What happens to surrounding planets – do they gravitate towards the Star Destroyer now or do they drift away? How come the atmosphere on the Star Destroyer was intact when they sucked in that star? How come they didn’t combust? The whole mechanics of this escape me and the timeline of its construction as well. Why waste so many resources on building a super weapon when you could make an entire fleet of ships and take over planets, not destroy them. I mean, what is the point of ruling if you kill off entire planets and therefore potential subjects? Is the dark side suddenly interested in total annihilation of the galaxy? Removing planets from orbits must send shock-waves through the gravitational fabric of the surrounding solar systems, no? All these questions made my head hurt while I was watching The Force Awakens. No wonder it was over for me and all I could see from then on was one impossible thing after another. The EXPLANATIONS were missing and sci-fi movies are fabulous exactly for the way they try to explain everything. Yes, the force itself is just like magic, but the philosophy behind it is complex and further developed by myriad of books and games. You can swallow down one unbelievable thing or fit it into a new belief system but not so many. I may not have played the PC games set in the Star Wars universe, like my brother and sister, but I was around for the amazing short film sequences. Their recaps of what went down in the games made me a fan of the complex universe with Sith and Jedi figuring out the grey areas in the Force. None of this is what we got in this movie. Why the hell not? Why settle for an old scenario with new characters, for clichés and tropes you see coming a mile away?
So the bottom line is: I like the new crisp special effects and new alien beings, but I was not satisfied with a rehash of old scenarios and underdeveloped characters. This franchise may make a ton of money now but I’ll bet that may change next year unless they fixed the gaping holes we have to deal with here. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.