Caution: Spoilers Below!
It’s now “been” two weeks since Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released and while it hasn’t been a 1000 year Sarlaac digestion, there’s been enough time to sift through the rumors and theories and we have a discussion.
First, 3 things I liked/loved
Kylo Ren and Poe Dameron’s Introductions
In the opening scene, after Poe gets the map piece from from Lor San Tekka, we see Ren, Phasma, and a squad take over the village. Poe, from cover, fires a blaster rifle bolt towards Ren, who stops the fucking bolt mid-air, and keeps it there, with The Force.
This is a power we hadn’t seen before in the 6 previous films (cartoon canon is out of my realm of nerd-knowledge), and it immediately presents us with an incredibly powerful Force user. We know nothing about Ren at that point. It sets the audience up with a powerful, mysterious villain. Which, after the Slooooooooowwwwwwwwww burn that was Palpatine in EPS 1-3, was refreshing. He also has the cognizance to sense doubt and confusion in Finn’s mind among dozens of troopers/villagers there.
And then we come to Poe. He’s captured, and brought before Ren, and the first line he says to the villain is “So who talks first, do I talk first?”
And the audience laughs.
And instantly, there’s a tone shift from the prequels. Lucas tried to be humorous in the prequels with slapstick (Jar Jar), poop jokes (Bantha poodoo!), and C-3PO’s obnoxiousness.
Abrams gives us some sly sarcasm dripping in charisma and confidence in a way only Oscar Isaac can present.
A Strong Female Character
With one line (don’t let the Beatles know), about 20 minutes into the movie, Rey instantly becomes the strongest female character in 6 movies. The most socially influential film series ever needed a strong female character for a new generation. And we got one.
She has moments of independence, doubt, strength, kicking ass, and going on an emotional journey – and not in a “female” way. I mean she’s waiting for her family, and when she touches Anakin’s lightsaber, her mind is flooded with ghosts of the past. And despite her previous showings of resolve, she flees into the forest. She’s human.
Kylo Ren’s Petulance
Some have said that Ren’s “whiny fits” of twice lightsabering the shit out of control panels is whiny angsty behavior not suitable for the Star Wars universe.
Anakin/Vader flat out kills people when he gets pissed off.
A New Hope (2):
- Physically chokes the guy in the ship Leia is on when he asks “where is the ambassador?
- Force Chokes dude who questions “The Force”
- Force Chokes the admiral coming out of hyperspace into Hoth and the Captain who “apologizes” for losing the Falcon.
- Strangely, just The Emperor
Attack of the Clones:
- The entire village of Sand people. Let’s call that 30?
No, i’m not counting those in the Jedi Temple (won’t someone PLEASE think of the children?!?!?!?!)
So Vader/Anakin, when pissed off, kills people. Ren destroys shit.
What I didn’t like as much
Finn is here only because we don’t know how he fits into this universe. He doesn’t fit any archetype from the known universe, which is fine. But taking his character as it’s presented, he is a plot device that progresses the story. He mutinies. He has a crush on Rey that leads them to the Falcon and some out-of-place-in-the-universe dialogue – ie “You got a boyfriend, a cute boyfriend, that you make out with?”
*Finn is more of an “incomplete” than a “dislike,” but it’s a sliding scale.
It wasn’t until about 2/3 (at least) of the way through the movie we get a hint of what Starkiller Base is, or what it can do. We’re supposed to be intimidated by a hologram? Yeah, it’s bigger, so what?
The Death Star blew up a planet in the same system like it was nothing.
The Starkiller base could what, blow up 5 at once from further away by draining the energy of a star? Wouldn’t that cause more destructive repercussions than blowing up a planet? You’d be affecting light, heat, and gravity for dozens of planets, if not more.
Oh – and I really didn’t like the “oh they have fractal shield harmonics and the only way we can get through them is by going into hyperspace and pulling out just in time” line, but then just showing us crashing into snow. I get it, they need a way to get in without adding 10-15 minutes to the run time, but it was a cop-out.
Too Much Ambiguity
Elements of backstory presented in A New Hope:
- Obi-Wan trained Vader (who was a Jedi before he turned), knew Luke’s father, and was watching over Luke.
- Han was a smuggler
- Leia was a part of the Galactic government and loyal to the Rebellion
What questions did people have after A New Hope? Who is Luke’s father? Does Han stay with the rebellion? Where does Vader go? How did Vader get turned to the Dark side and why did he kill Luke’s Father?
That’s 4 questions. I’m sure there are more.
But after The Force Awakens, here are the questions I’m left asking:
- How does Lor San Tekka fit into the whole story? (If he’s a one-off character, then they wasted a tremendous talent in Max von Sydow)
- Who left Rey on Jakku and why?
- How did Kylo Ren get turned to the Dark side?
- What happened to Finn’s family?
- How did Maz Kanata get Anakin’s lightsaber? (and she literally tells everyone “that’s a story for another time)
- How did Kylo Ren get Vader’s helmet?
- What does Kylo Ren want to finish what Vader started? Balance to the Force? Keeping someone from dying? Becoming the greatest of all the Jedi? Resurrect grandma?
- Was it just a coincidence that the Falcon was abandoned on Jakku?
- Who is Rey related to?
- What is Snoke’s role? He has a force-sensitive apprentice (they never say Sith) and a General who are both trying to appease him. Why?
Clearly they have a story to tell over three movies, whereas A New Hope was supposed to stand on its own. I get that. But the only closure on rumor we have is that Kylo Ren is actually Ben Solo and was somehow corrupted by Snoke, turned against Luke, and joined the First Order.
I’m closing in on 1,100 words. Theories and predictions will have to wait for another post.