Spoilerific Thoughts on The Force Awakens
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Wow, I can’t believe Jar Jar is in this one!
Just kidding. So now that I’ve written the review for The Force Awakens and told you pretty much nothing about what’s on screen, this post is focused on thoughts I had about the movie that leave no spoiling stone unturned. If you’ve watched the movie, keep reading. If you don’t want anything ruined- do the opposite of keeping reading.
So the closest thing I said in the review that would spoil anything is that it feels like we got a few details thrown switched around but this movie is pretty much A New Hope. It’s as much A New Hope as these movies are taking from the ones that came before it.
Although Star Wars has more rights to take from its own lore and the films, specifically with the prequels in mind, are much about history repeating itself, I don’t necessarily see this on being done purpose as much as it was just written in and accepted because, given the details changed around, it’s still really good. How? Why?
“How” as in, how can it still be good when I’m also saying it’s a revised version of Episode IV? Well, the details changed around are what make it it’s own and the pacing is so fast without feeling rushed, there’s only so much time to think, and you just go with it which is what the movie does so well. When critics and hardcore fans go back over this after a few views or a few years, it might be one to find some mistakes here or there, but when you’re watching it, you’re in the moment.
The New Kids
Daisy Ridley and John Boydega play Rey and Finn. I liked’em. The performances were great/hilarious, and I don’t really have anything negative to say about them in that respect, though I don’t know how well they fit into the overall story at this point. Right now, as the movie leaves us, with Finn in some kind of coma and Rey having found Luke, we only have questions.
Yes, we need new characters. I don’t expect the grizzled remaining cast to revitalize the franchise by themselves nor would I want a new Star Wars movie about the old cast continuing the fight against the Empire- sorry, First Order- by themselves with no new blood. But right now, they’re just rounding out the cast and not in any way that makes me think it’s expanding the world we’re so used to. It’s more so to let us see through the eyes of younger characters that will go on to keep the movies going in an untold number of sequels we’ll be getting.
I have more to say about their roles but in a point I’ll be making later. Overall though, I liked their performances, I’m just a bit confused on how they fit into the grand scheme of the movie and movies to come.
Every Star Wars needs needs an awesome villain. In the form of bounty hunter or Sith Lord, the bad guys are arguably a bigger draw than the heroes. Kylo Ren has got the look for sure and I like young Darth Vader look they’ve given him. It was an interesting angle that he looks up to Vader as well, wanting, pretty much, to be as bad as him. His inner conflict is in attempting to fully convert to the Dark Side is an interesting one and his turning point is especially nasty and effective, cementing his place in Star Wars history by being the son of Han Solo and his murderer. So I like his role as a villain, cool connection to the rest of the cast.
Who would have guessed Princess Leia and Han Solo’s son would not only be a main character but the villain? I’m sure most guesses would have been on a closer connection to Luke than Han. I stayed away from most trailers and anything online that might have guessed too closely to anything having to do with the story but I’d even heard some people thought it Ren would actually be Luke.
I’m also kind of surprised they showed him without a mask and once they did, I expected someone scarred or rough looking at the very least- but no, we get long-haired Adam Driver looking younger than he ever as, and the character is revealed to not only be unsure of his own abilities and confidence in himself, but he’s even kind of a baby about it.
It’s interesting in the Star Wars universe that the villains are irredeemable entirely and die all too soon (Darth Maul and Boba Fett, namely) or they stick around for more than a few minutes and we’ll find them to be conflicted and even whiny like in the case of Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. Whiny, not necessarily as in annoying, but we’ll find out their reasons for turning to the Dark Side were more out of a lust for power rather than unrelenting evil they were born with. More so, products of bad situations and bad decisions.
I’ve always hated this as I’ve just wanted Vader to be as cool as I thought he was when we’re first introduced to him. But given the original trilogy and The Force Awakens’ Kylo Ren, it says something about the Dark Side itself that all the characters to give into it are either destined to die quick, ungraceful deaths devoid of any kind of glory or they lead a life gripped by a twisted, inconsistent mind set that haunts them until their inevitable end. We know Vader hated himself and the life he was living but his change at the last moment to save Luke showed us his commitment to the Dark Side finally giving way and he, to a point, redeems himself. He may have done horrible things, but he could do this one good thing.
Ren, however, is shown to be going down the path to the Dark Side as sort of an antithesis to Luke. Rather than help to save his dad as Luke did, Ren goes out of his way to kill his father letting us know that he’s not a character we’re going to see saved any time soon as this was his moment of no turning back. I mean, jeez. I kind of saw it coming but it was still horrible to watch. It kind of reminds me of Anakin’s lethal rampage in Episode III, wrapped up in a scene. Ren’s got the aggression of Darth Maul but hasn’t yet made the cold, empty decision to Dark Side like Vader up until this point. I thought the series would be a little on the optimistic side when we’re shown Snoke and Ren’s interaction where Snoke seems to doubt Ren’s commitment to him…but we eventually see how hard he’s willing to try.
So an interesting character, one that has aspects to him I don’t like, but I think it’s cool we’ve got a villain who’s not only bad, but isn’t necessarily meant to be looked at as a character we should want to emulate. Villains have a fine line to walk in needing to be threatening yet charismatic. We need to be interested in what they do and what they want but they shouldn’t outshine the heroes nor should we like them more than the heroes. A pretty sweet addition to the Star Wars’ rogues’ gallery.
Death of Han Solo
Guuh. This was tough to swallow. Ford’s performance was one of the better parts of the movie, to see Solo still at it, ripping people off and I don’t know, flying around in space with Chewbacca. Y’know- Han Solo stuff. But once we see him approach Ren on the bridge inside the Starkiller (Sound familiar?), we know this isn’t going to be good.
Take the fact that this series needed to assert itself in some way, which can often be found in the death of a major character, Harrison Ford revealed years ago that he and Empire, Jedi, and The Force Awakens screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan thought Solo should die in Return of the Jedi. It’s not what Lucas wanted, so it didn’t happen and we got Ewoks playing bongos on Stormtrooper helmets. The link above is to just one of the times he’d mentioned the death of the smuggler, not the first time he’s said it.
Interesting the way he bit it in the end also, almost like it was having a kid and being tied down in anyway that leads to his death. It was the only way he could die in a sense, as the character is one whose major draw is being the loose cannon that they are. To see him die by the hands of a bounty hunter or some thug that wants his money wouldn’t be giving Solo the credit he deserves as the criminal he is, but for his only son (That we know of) to do in him says a lot about the character and in a sense deepens his legend rather than simply ends it.
Hat’s off to Ford given that he’s another actor in a long line of them to play a character whose fans are much more invested in the role than the actor playing it is. So now everybody’s gotten what they want- fans get more Han Solo while the ending of him is something Ford has wanted for a long time. It’s also an interesting touch that he would go from the skeptic in A New Hope to the one encouraging the kids in A Force Awakens. The character’s been around long enough, seeing some evolution is a good thing.
As a heads up, Kasdan is also writing some kind of Solo spin-off film with his son.
The Look of the Thing
The whole movie just looked awesome. You can’t go back to 1977 and recreate everything nor should you want to. But with Lucas’ prequels being a clear guide on what fans don’t want in a Star Wars movie, that probably gave JJ Abrams and his team a much clearer perspective on what should be included in the movies.
There’s not a lot of “Wah-wah” falling flat-on-your-face humor in this, but strange characters put in even stranger environments that make you realize how normal our protagonists are in their universe and the humor just comes naturally. There’s a nice mix of practical and digital effects, weird aliens speaking weirder tongues and it doesn’t serve the plot past telling you that this isn’t our universe. It’s a lot of what made the original films so great.
And this is what the movie does so well. It throws you in and excites you, the story is simple without being stupid, good versus evil, it’s what we want in a Star Wars movie. Because of this aspect alone, I can possibly see a fan being disappointed in the new movie but not disliking it.
The Stupid Ending/Parallels to A New Hope
Alright so, I’m cool with this movie overall if I’m not making that clear. The action, humor, the effects being scaled back from the prequels- it’s all there, it’s cool. What isn’t cool is that we’re definitely being set up for sequels at the expense of elements in this movie. It’s frikkin’ Star Wars, we know they’re doing sequels and spin-offs and whatever else they want to do and they’re going to make billions of dollars from it. But if this movie is going to stand on its own two feet, it needs to have its own story resolved by the end or at least do what Empire did and make it feel resolved but with the promise of return. The Force Awakens feels like a television episode that may as well have ended with “Tune in two and a half years from now!” and I hated that.
The movie had a nice flow to it but kind of in a way that always felt like it was just getting started. But by the time we’re coming to an end, I want an end. We all know it’s going to keep going, there’s no reason to leave us hanging is all I’m saying. At the very least, give us an ending that lets us know there’s another adventure, not ending it as we’re getting to the interesting part. Rey and Luke were looking at each other for too long for it to end right there. Whatever, I just didn’t like it.
Another thing before we end this right hurrr, is that it’s the same freaking story as A New Hope. A conflicted Sith Lord clad in black, serving a higher, uglier Sith Lord is looking for a droid with vital information the Rebellion/Resistance could use concerning a hermit Jedi that helped in previous battles. The leader of the military side and the sub-commander of the true antagonist don’t exactly do things the same way. Along the way, a young adult wants to escape a barren wasteland planet full miscreants and does so with the help of the Millennium Falcon and is eventually aided by Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Ultimately the Rebellion/Resistance makes it’s stand against the Death Star/Star Killer; the Imperial weapon the destroys planets. But before the weapon itself is destroyed, dog fights happen in the sky and our main heroes infiltrate the weapon/planet and a main character is killed by the Sith Lord who previously looked at them as a father as our naive protagonists watch helplessly.
You see what I mean. It didn’t ruin the movie but it became noticeable after a while.