I’ve been meaning to write down my first impressions of movies for posterity. I remember how I feel about movies, but when questioned why, I can’t remember.
Reasons I disliked The Force Awakens:
- There were too many questions raised for one movie, and very little answers. Why are the different factions looking for Luke Skywalker? For revenge? Protection? Where did the First Order come from, since the Empire was defeated? How can they operate a giant planet of doom in secret? Where is the Republic in all this, the ones supposedly in charge? It felt like the first act of another movie.
- Incoherent rhyming with the original trilogy for the sake of rhyming. There’s a fully operational Empire-like organization running around. They don’t appear to be harmed in any way since the Empire days. No lack of resources or manpower. There’s the Resistance, but what are they resisting if the good guys won? Another desert planet, but not Tatooine. Another ice planet, but not Hoth. Another forest planet, but not Yavin. Solo is back to smuggling. Leia leads a ragtag rebellion on a remote planet. It felt like a reboot of A New Hope instead of a continuation a saga.
- No character growth. BB8 has an important mission, then fades into the background. Finn deserts after his first battle. He was never evil to begin with. Rey begins good and doesn’t seek or need guidance. Poe is a crackshot pilot and saves the day every time he’s put in a cockpit.
- Characters have quick (or no) in-movie reasons to care for another. Finn and Poe are suddenly bestest buddies. Solo is suddenly a father-figure to Rey. Leia and Rey bond together over Solo’s death, but weren’t previously that close.
- Too many coincidences. The Millenium Falcon is left unperturbed in a TIE fighter assault. Han is in orbit and promptly captures his ship. They then go straight to a planet where Luke’s lightsaber happens to be, and then run outside to witness planets blowing up, which happen to have been blown up by the same people hunting them down.
- No sense of a galaxy. The Star Killer fires, and a few minutes later five planets we’ve never heard of are destroyed. Solo et al are apparently in the same system as those other planets, as they can see the destruction by simply looking up. Where exactly is everybody? Where are they coming from, and where are they going? Might as well give everyone teleportation devices.
- Obi-Wan in ANH explains lightsabers as such: “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon… for a more civilized age.” The mystery and magic is gone. Finn and Rey haphazardly wield them just fine. Stormtroopers can now block sabers. Most importantly, none of the lightsaber duels mean anything to the viewer like they did in Episodes IV, V, and VI. Master vs old Apprentice, Father vs Son, Son vs Father. It’s like the write thought you can’t have Star Wars without lightsaber duels, so better include one. Good and bad guys can’t be good and bad unless they have a saber (appropriately colored) in their hand.
- The entire ‘death of Han Solo’ scene made no sense. His plan was to simply ask his son to come home? That’s it? Why hasn’t this been tried before? And what was Ren’s conflict in killing his father? Why are Finn and Rey watching from above?
- Death Star III. Even Han wanted to get the destruction over quickly. Nobody doubted it would blow up. That the First Order would think it would work this time around was laughable.
- The force as mind-reading. Characters don’t sense things about each other anymore. They literally read minds.
- The entire character of Poe. He appeared three times, and in every instance he manages to independently help out the main characters as a deus ex machina. He disappears as quick as he arrived. This applies to the entire Black Squadron.
- Major past events were revealed to us in dialogue, not shown. Luke trained new Jedi, but is now in hiding. Han and Leia had a kid, but are now split up. Their child trained under Luke and eventually betrayed him, becoming a leader of the First Order.
Things I liked about the movie:
- The humor was consistent and truly funny. I genuinely laughed many times.
- Seeing the First Republic’s inner operation was both visceral and interesting. I really felt the fear of an attack from troopers and TIE fighters. The movie subtly portrayed Kylo Ren in competition with his imperial counterpart, both vying for Snoke’s approval.
- Kylo Ren was a believable antagonist. His impatience was frightening, and his obsession with Vader gave him a clear goal to work towards.
Things I expect from Star Wars that I thought this movie was lacking:
- The mythology of the Force
- Conflict between good and evil. What it means to be good or evil.
- Galactic wonder
- A notion of what to expect in the next movie
Things I thought would’ve been cool to explore in Episode VII in particular:
- Old guard passing down the torch to the new generation. Perhaps some resist giving up their power, even the “good” ones. What worked before doesn’t necessarily work again. Or the new characters believe they’re in the right and mess everything up.
- The struggle of planets returning back to local rule, as opposed to a united Empire. Genocides galore! Refugees too.
- Luke’s unity of the light and dark sides. The struggle to keep a balance, and not let one side reign supreme. Maybe have the new characters argue against him, for one side or the other. IMO the Jedi’s purity (forbidding emotion, including love) was their downfall. Luke realized life requires both wisdom and emotion.
- An outside evil that the emperor was uniting the galaxy for, which now has little resistance (hey look! that’s in the movie!) so the planets have to find common ground and fight together. Though this is in the Expanded Universe already. It just sounds cool.
- The dangers of family dynasties
- Darth Jar Jar. To redeem the prequels and bring balance back to the trilogies.