(Spoilers up ahead if you haven’t yet seen The Force Awakens. Read at your own risk.)
So, this is my fourth official review, and yes, again, it’s on S.W. (Don’t worry, fellow Pokegeeks, I’ll get to Pokemon, too. Eventually.) This time, it’s about The Force Awakens, highlighting both good and bad aspects of the movie, as well as some questions and the like to help get more gears grinding in the theories department. Also, if you have theories of your own, after this article, that you’d like to share, then fire away! 🙂
I’ll start with the cons first, so we can get the negatives out of the way, and move on to the better stuff.
The main problems I had with The Force Awakens was that it was sometimes too predictable, the plot line was a bit weak, and that too much of the plot was obviously based off of A New Hope. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE S.W. …. but the plot really made me think they weren’t trying all too hard. Solo’s “Qui-Gon Jin death”? Seen it. The larger, more powerful version of the Death Star? A bit of a yawn. The “droid [they] were looking for”, because it contained vital information? Even the location of where the droid, BB-8, was found, Jakku, was pretty much an almost identical Tattooine, biome-wise– and both it and Artoo were found by Force-Sensitive people.
Anyone else seeing a pattern of deja vu here?
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I liked the hunt for Luke. I did. But I honestly felt like it wasn’t, well… STRONG enough of a plot to grip its S.W. fanatics in its clutches. Like it still lacked substance. You look at almost all the previous S.W. films in the franchise; all of them at least have lengthier prologues to kick-start the movies. Not really so much the case here, to my disappointment. And it’s very unlike most S.W. movies, which usually seem to emphasize the good underdogs versus a corrupted government, in more ways than one– this one’s more like a “good” government versus a bad one. No one’s really in charge of the galaxy at this point, just bits and pieces of it. Which makes the story not only somewhat weak, but also confusing, as well. Is the New Republic mostly in charge, or The First Order? You can’t really tell if it’s a situation more like that of the original S.W. trilogy, or the stuff of the prequel S.W., in short.
To increase the critical point of view, some of it was also somewhat predictable, at some points. You know Rey won’t turn in that BB-8 unit because both it and she are key protagonists who wouldn’t do that to each other. Similarly, you also know that, obviously, it is WAY too early in the series for Kylo Ren to turn back to the Light Side, if he is to eventually become redeemed (this isn’t The Clone Wars, after all). You know, heartbreakingly, that his father won’t make it; however, this is a common theme in almost all S.W. movies, save The Empire Strikes Back: a key figure has to die (Episode 1: Qui-Gon Jin, Episode 2: Shmi Skywalker, Episode 3: Padme Amidala, Windu, and millions of innocent Jedi, Episode 4: Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Episode 6: Darth “Hideous”, Yoda, and Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. See my point?).
Speaking of Ren and his dad, I was, however, very surprised at Ren removing his mask/helmet so early in the series– you’d think that someone who idolized Vader and his being a “man of mystery,” would’ve kept it on until at least Episode 8… but nope, gotta cram it into The Force Awakens. Same goes for the revelation that he’s related to the Solos… as many may recall, Vader never revealed Luke’s true paternal parentage until Episode 5. Too early for all those important pieces of info, Abrams, waaaaay too early. It does not compensate for a lacking storyline, sadly. You need to break it up a little, add suspense, build more tension and more action, a rising climax, before just tossing that kind of revelation at us. It makes for a greater movie.
The movie is around average S.W. length, yet so much true potential for the plot remains bound and locked up tightly. If they unleashed the movie’s “force,” or a much improved plot line, I think, in many ways, it could have been better.
However, despite these things, there were also quite a few positives in the movie, and I will begin with one of my personal favorites (and yes, to those who actually read my previous The Force Awakens post about a certain theory, I MIGHT be squealing like a little girl. Might.):
My theory was RIGHT (!!!!!). Ren was both Luke’s nephew, AND, at one point, his padawan learner. This then, makes perfect sense as to how Ren obtained Vader’s helmet, and learned about his grandfather’s tragic, albeit violent and disturbing, past. The final piece of that puzzle has slid in perfectly, and in that sense, I couldn’t be more satisfied.
The graphics were amazing. We’ve come a long way since the 90’s. In this aspect, Abrams is kinda working it, a bit. I love especially how Ren’s lightsaber was portrayed– like fiery blasts, to match up with his obviously fiery little temper tantrums.
Rey. I love her “can-do” attitude, her outfit, her almost daughterly-like connection with Han Solo… simply, everything. At first, judging by the trailers (which one should be very, very careful in doing), I naively assumed Finn would be the Force Wielder, simply because he was in possession of Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber. Boy, was I wrong. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that it was her, though the full revelation didn’t hit me until she used her powers on a stormtrooper. (Although, I personally think a green lightsaber would look far better on her, but to each his own, I guess) Initially, I didn’t even really care for her name much, but the more I heard it, the more it grew on me, especially spoken softly. I view it like “ray”. A hopeful beam of sunshine in a big, darkened galaxy. I really like it.
Finn and Rey’s “potential relationship”. It is clearly obvious from Day 1 that Finn has something of a thing for Rey, insisting on holding her hand as they run from stormtroopers and asking afterwards if she was OK; eventually, it gets to the point where he’s actually willing to lie a little to try to break into The First Order’s base just to rescue her. It takes a while for Rey to reciprocate the feeling, but she soon does, saving him from monstrous Rathtars, and feeling shocked and betrayed that he would abandon the mission to get away from the First Order. She fights to defend both herself and him near the end of the movie, and, when Finn remains unconscious in the Resistance’s hospital, she lightly kisses his forehead, thanking him for his help. As we all know by now, I am a sucker for just tidbits of romance, and I look forward to, with great anticipation, the development of their future relationship. I get the feeling we’ll be having yet another “Han and Leia” thing on our hands, pretty soon. :3
The overall membership and empathy of the characters. As always, I love, love, LOVE it when the characters interact, bonding-style, with each other– whether it’s Han giving Finn girl advice, or Leia embracing Rey and telling her, “May the Force be with you,” at the end. Finn’s empathy with those his fellow soldiers gunned down is what even turned him against The First Order. And who doesn’t love Chewie, and the way he relates to characters?!
All these things are awesome, but they sometimes lead us to more questions, and theories:
Does the ending of “The Force Awakens” mean that Rey will be trained as Luke’s newest padawan? Most likely yes, BUT (key word), Luke might at least be more hesitant. After all, the last time he did such one of his pupils, his own nephew, turned on him and killed all remaining students. Maybe he’ll be worried the same will happen to her– would she turn or be destroyed, too?
Who are Rey’s parents, and why did they leave her on Jakku? Why not take her with them? Are they still alive? Oh my heavens, this is deep. I’ve heard everything from her being Luke’s daughter (because, if Luke knew she was a Force-sensitive, maybe he wanted to protect her?), to being Obi-Wan’s daughter (because the Jedi Order was non-existent, its rules for chastity no longer apply to Jedi, and also her British accent and lightsaber-defensive fighting style are very similar to his…. also, it was his voice that called out to her in the vision.), to the one my best friends all favored, after seeing it together: Han and Leia’s long-lost daughter (getting her spunk and beauty from Leia, and piloting and resourcefulness skills from Han). If I had play favorites, I’d say I’m torn between the last two theories (but I’ll be honest, I’m biased; Obi-Wan is my favorite Jedi :3 I’d love to see someone like him on-screen again), but hey, you never know…
Team Finn or… Team Kylo? I’m Team Finn (for obvious reasons), but one of my besties is Team Kylo; however, if the whole “Rey-is-secretly-the-Solos’-daughter” thing turns out true, it’d be incredibly awkward between them (about as awkward as Luke learning Leia’s his sis… AFTER being kissed by her)…. although I’ve countered her theory numerous times with: “He tried to kill her. Repeatedly. I don’t think she’d jump at the chance to go out with him.” BUT, I will say that there are subtle– repeat, SUBTLE– implications that he MIGHT be attracted to HER, albeit in a distasteful manner, or perhaps uses this in his favor, to intimidate her. Instead of going to the trouble to find BB-8, he makes her faint, and carries her, damsel-in-distress style, aboard his ship to interrogate her. A lot of what he tells her is interesting, too. He says, at one point, that he always gets what he wants, most likely referring to the images of the map, but could also be hinting to her. He takes off his mask/helmet thingy, just for her, when she icily quips that her wanting to kill him “happens when [she’s] chased by a creature in a mask.”– something he most certainly didn’t do for the likes of Poe, who claimed he couldn’t understand Ren because of it. He also treats her more gently than he does Poe, when interrogating; Poe is shown as treated more harshly, and less of a “guest”, as Ren refers to Rey as. At one point, Ren even tells her not to be afraid of him, and simply give him the information, though it is also noted he still taunts her all the while, within relatively intimate distance. Naturally, Rey refuses, and not only uses the Force to resist his mind-probe, but uses it to escape. Ren is absolutely furious at this, and, after climatic events, gives chase to Finn and Rey through the snowy woodland of the Starkiller. He knocks Rey out, not killing her, and he and Finn engage in a brief lightsaber duel, only for Finn to be knocked comatose and left for dead. Thinking he had won, he Force-reaches for Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, which flies out and lands… in REY’S hand. She and Ren then duel, getting closer and closer to a cliffedge, and at one point it looks as though they’re evenly matched– it is here that Ren outright OFFERS TO TEACH HER (when I saw that, I was all, wait, how’d I know that was coming?? HOW’D I know that was coming??), revealing he doesn’t think she’d be a good Force-wielder without the likes of him. Fortunately, she chooses good over evil, defeats him (leaving him badly wounded but very much alive– another Vader parallel– waaaaaaiiiiiitttt, does this mean she IS Obi’s daughter??? O.O ), and escapes with BB, comatose Finn, and Chewie. I’m willing to bet that old Snoke, whoever he is, will give Ren a huge rebuttal for his weakness concerning her, if Ren is in fact at all attracted to her, but then again that might not be the case– to declare “Team Kylo’s” theories as factual, we must have solid, sufficient evidence, which for the most part we lack. On Team Finn’s end, however, there is more evidence–Finn has a canonical crush on Rey, etc– and thus I am more supportive of it (plus, I usually root for the underdog good guys anyways). But only time and plot complexities will tell.
Overall, I will say that The Force Awakens had good characters, decent character development, decent transitions, and excellent filmwork; however, plotline-wise, Abrams needs to get more serious and creative about this. Yes, it’s certainly nice that he pays a tribute/homage to Episode 4 and bits of 5 and 3, but if it gets to the point where it’s TOO predictable, with too little of a new story, then you run into a problem. The fans want old mixed with new; traditional mixed with FRESH (or at least, from what I’ve seen). If he heeds such advice (not only from me but possibly from others as well), I honestly think this new S.W. trilogy could be BEHEMOTH. GARGANTUAN. It’d have the fans’s eyeballs glued to the screen, half clutching their popcorn bucket, half-squeezing their armrest so hard their knuckles are white with exertion, because of the thrills, chills and anticipation. Make that kind of movie.
Now to my fellow fans… what did you think of Episode 7? Anything in particular you liked? Favorite characters? Favorite theories?