Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I saw this film yesterday. I had deliberately managed to avoid spoilers as I wanted to watch it fresh and that was definitely the right way to go. I was suitably shocked by some events (no spoilers above the cut) and I didn’t have any preconceptions going in.

I remember when I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’d watched the trailer so many times that I had an image in my mind of how the movie would play out. In actual fact the movie plot was not what I had imagined and it took me several viewings before the disappointment faded.

With this Episode 7, I had no theories or whispers of what happened, I didn’t have anything but “It’s Star Wars” and that was good, and that also was bad. I suppose I did have some preconceptions because I had a wishlist, I had some things that I hoped I would see, things that I hoped had happened and there was a twinge of disappointment there.

Under the cut for the full review. Spoiler warning, spoilers inbound.

Star Wars and Plot
I have to start here simply to make it clear where I’m coming from. I love the Star Wars Universe, the lightsabers, the jedi, the sith, the republic vs empire, the whole thing is extremely cool. All the aliens and the spaceships and the droids, it’s a rich, wonderful world. However, the plot has always left something to be desired.

I suppose it’s a bit like Harry Potter. The wizarding world is so vast and holds so much potential, it’s the actual books that have holes bigger than the grand canyon if you look too closely. However, the issues with Harry Potter are for the most part different than the issues Star Wars has (and not relevant to this post).

I read somewhere that Star Wars utilized ‘Forced March’ plotting. Where the author had decided on an ending, and then made up events to force that ending, even though it didn’t make sense. I tried to explain this to somebody yesterday and they said “well if the author says it happened, then it happened” but I disagree with that. Yes the author can decide whatever they please, but it should be logical, it should fit with the rules of the universe, with the personality of the characters etc. otherwise it breaks immersion, it’s something for the sake of it and it’s lazy storytelling.

By far the biggest example of this is the death of Padme. “She’s dying and we can’t explain why” just because she had to die. She was in a high tech medical facility, surrounded by the best technology of the time, she wasn’t injured severely enough to die, there was no explanation except she had to die for the story.

I have issues with the whole Anakin turning to the dark side and becoming Darth Vader story arc in the first place, but again that’s probably another post.

The main villain in Episode 7 is Kylo Ren, he’s like the Darth Vader of the new film and his real name was Ben Solo/Organa, the son of Leia and Han Solo. Now Luke apparently set up a new Jedi training school, Leia and Han sent Ben to be trained, hoping that the training would fix the fact that he “had too much Vader in him” and Ben after a while turned to the dark side. He killed all his fellow students and ran off to the First Order, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Kylo Ren has Vader’s burned up mask, “Grandfather show me the power of the dark side again” and it was said that his fear would be that he would “never be as powerful as Darth Vader”. Where do I even start? The origin story for Darth Vader wasn’t bad, he was Anakin Skywalker and he was driven to the dark side out of fear for those he loved. However, he came back from the dark side at the end. “There is still good in him” and he was given a Jedi burial and when he’s a force ghost, he’s back looking like Anakin.

Right so I can’t see why Vader/Anakin would communicate with his Grandson, even though he could as a force ghost, and turn him to the dark side. 1) Ben/Kylo Ren has no reason (I suppose that we’ve seen yet) to turn. 2) Vader/Anakin regretted it, and had been twisted to it by the Chancellor/Emperor for his own purposes, what purpose would Vader/Anakin have to do that?

I do not get the motivation for Kylo Ren being a bad guy. I guess they want to leave something for Episode 8, 9 and onwards (as I’m sure they will make a lot more if they can) but still it should have been a fundamental part of the film and it wasn’t.

Now, one of the things I was hoping for was that Leia and Han had got their happy ending. Obviously given they had a son they were together for a while but seriously why split them up? I know the loss of a child is hard on a couple but I just don’t get the point. What without Luke to mediate they just split?

Oh and don’t get me started on the shocker of the film – Han Solo’s death. Now I suppose if I’d thought about it before hand, Harrison Ford has wanted to be killed off for ages. Killing off one of the original characters – big moment – and it sort of starts to clear the field for the new guys. However, his death made no sense. Leia told him to “bring their son home” but seriously the guy has gone to the dark side, he has mental issues. She basically sent Han out to get killed, I mean it was an impossible mission. What was the damn point?

The whole main story arc of the movie was “finding Luke”, that was the macguffin for this film and in itself makes no sense. How would some old guy, I’m presuming an Alderaan noble or servant who escaped the planets destruction, given that he viewed Leia as a Princess. How would he have the partial map, and how would it be the exact missing piece to what R2-D2 had all along? How did R2-D2 have that? Why was R2-D2 in a robot coma until a very convenient moment? Oh and randomly what is with C-3PO’s red arm? Like what’s the point, what happened to his regular one?

Given how unimaginably huge a galaxy is, it’s also a little convenient that Rey and the old guy with the map were hiding on the same backwater planet, rather coincidentally the same planet that the Millennium Falcon had been stashed on by a thief. Oh yeah about the Falcon, how did it come to be stolen? how was it still in working order e.g. life support, weapons etc. all functional, after being in a junk yard for years? Seriously, what was the point of it ever leaving Han’s ownership?

Also, what are the chances that Han ‘suddenly found the Falcon’? Although I suppose it was flying again for the first time in a while. However, Luke’s lightsaber being in a box, in the basement of a random smuggler bar? Yeah, how does that even happen?

Another thing, what’s with Luke’s disappearing act? How long had he been gone for and why did he run away in the first place? I mean sure your student went mental and killed all your other students, plus he was your nephew – tough break. However, running away from responsibilities, to a remote island with no obvious shelter, supplies or transport – I mean how did he get there and how did he survive? – does not make sense. Oh and why would there be this map floating around? Seriously, why would he draw a damn map?

Oh and what is with all this ‘First Order’ business? I get it they replaced the Empire when the Empire got run out of town with the death of the Emperor/Darth Vader and destruction of the second death star. However, they are obviously a damn big deal – look at all those Stormtroopers. So how legitimate are they as a ruling force? Are they like the Empire in that they control planets? They said that the Republic existed and this is what I seriously don’t get – if the Republic is in charge and the First Order are bad, why is there even a Resistance? Surely it should just be the Republic army because a Resistance implies that there is no official support, it’s like a Rebellion. I don’t understand.

I also don’t get how their Star Killer planet works. I know, I know, I shouldn’t think too much on it. However, if it sucks up a sun then 1) most planets aren’t surrounded by all that many suns, sometimes more than one but still they are going to be limited to how many there are. 2) if they destroy a freaking sun every time they charge the weapon, won’t they destroy the planet itself because without a sun everything on the planet would die, suns are kind of important. 3) they can’t fly a planet so they can only fire from the one place, galaxies are huge, how are they destroying planets so far away? I mean even with the power of the sun that’s stupid, plus how could the weapon be aimed and what about stuff in between them and the target. I mean at least the death star moved next to what it was destroying.

Seriously, the entire film is a big “what? why? how does that even …? that does not make sense.” That comment sums up the entire film. Which brings me back to my original point about Star Wars. It’s not for analyzing, it’s not for plot, it’s for enjoying with the droids and the Jedi and the lightsabers because there is no way to make that mess make sense.

Theory – Rey is a Skywalker
I’m almost positive this has to be right but I don’t know whether she is Luke’s daughter, or Leia’s daughter (Kylo Ren’s sister) but she has Skywalker written all over her. She looks like Padme, she has all the Skywalker traits e.g. skilled pilot, genius with machines, extreme Jedi powers and she was dumped on Jakku by someone who said they were coming back.

Now I don’t like this theory because “why dump the kid in the desert?” I mean she was not having a good life, and she was so young when she was left, she could have died from lack of water/food/shelter/dangerous scavenging. Plus what is with dumping people on desert planets? First Tatooine, now Jakku, somewhere with trees and water might be nicer. Seriously, the Skywalkers are definitely in the running for worst parents in the world.

I’m hoping that if Rey is a Skywalker that means she was trained at an early age to be a Jedi. I mean I get power but she is untrained and Kylo Ren is trained, so how would she 1) beat him in a force power faceoff. 2) beat him with a lightsaber. 3) be able to use powers to do advanced things like force persuade. She might not remember the training because she kind of didn’t even believe the force existed until Han confirmed it.

To quote Hawkeye – “none of this makes any sense.”

Maybe try and fix it
There are possibilities, which mainly involve Han, Luke and Leia running a scheme, so everything that appears like it just happened ‘by accident’ was actually carefully thought out.

  • Like Han left the Millennium Falcon on Jakku because Rey was there
  • Luke left the lightsaber and the map as a test/way to steer the conflict to a particular place at a particular time.
  • Maybe Kylo Ren isn’t actually a bad guy, or conflicted, maybe he’s a double agent in place to destroy the First Order.
  • Perhaps Han and Leia hadn’t been separated for ages, they were just working different angles of the fight.
  • Maybe Han was already dying from something else so his death had meaning, his sacrifice had a purpose.
  • Perhaps the Republic and the Empire had a peace treaty like they did in Swtor, preventing them from fighting one another openly, which is why the Resistance is fighting the First Order.
  • Maybe if Kylo Ren is a bad guy, he thinks he’s talking to his grandfather but actually it’s the Emperor who is just pretending.
  • That pre-supposes the Emperor is dead but maybe he’s not, maybe he has returned and is operating in the shadows like how he started because there was always theories that him being thrown down that shaft wasn’t the end.
  • Hopefully Rey wasn’t left abandoned and alone on Jakku, though she thought she was, perhaps Luke was there all along watching out for her and only went to the island at the end.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a Star Wars film, it was enjoyable and it was definitely spine tingling. When the blue text “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” came up and then that iconic music, the yellow scrolling text. It was awesome to see that on the big screen. I remember when I first got Swtor, the game and everytime you create a new character it begins like that. The first time it happened, I wasn’t expecting it and it is fairly magical.

The lightsabers graphics in this film seemed weird. I swear they were more fuzzy around the blade than in the prequels. Plus the wounds and the sparking when they hit, it was nothing like I remember from the original films. Oh and what is with that weird lightsaber of Kylo Ren’s, that has like the handle blade parts making it more like a sword. I get it, new film, different iconic weapon but seriously?

Plus the battles didn’t seem as smooth, I suppose both Rey and Finn had never fought with a blade before but they stood up well, and beat Kylo Ren who had training. Plus Finn used the lightsaber more than Rey but I don’t think he has force powers. I know Han used it to save Luke at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back on Hoth, but using it to cut something open and fighting with it are different. I always assumed that the Jedi didn’t cut themselves/their own limbs off because of the force. However, Finn didn’t injure himself. With how Rey was spinning it about and letting it drop, I swear she should have cut her leg but didn’t.

I know the prequels get a lot of flack. However, aside from the incredibly annoying mistake that was Jar Jar Binks, I actually thought the prequels were pretty damn good. I liked them as films, and perhaps because they were shiny, in many ways I liked them just as much, if not more than the originals. I know, I know, how could I say such a thing, such sacrilege but that’s just my opinion.

This film was good, it really was, it was a Star Wars film but it didn’t hit the right buttons with me. I’d say I liked the prequels more. Perhaps Episode 8 given things will be more established, and they have something to build on, will be better. We know nothing about that film yet, not the title and definitely not the plot. It’s not coming till 2017, so there’s a long wait but it’ll only be a year till another Star Wars film.

Rogue One will be out next December and is set in the timeline before Episode 4 (the original film) showing the events of the Rebellion stealing the plans to the first Death Star. That should be interesting. Given how good the Star Wars universe is, I think they should make as many films as the market will accept. Hell, bring on a Cinematic ‘all connected’ universe like Marvel is running with TV shows etc. I would definitely be up for that.

I would definitely recommend watching the film, just don’t be me when you watch it. The best way to watch it is definitely switch off the brain and just enjoy what it is. It’s a galaxy far, far away and it’s still very cool.