Review of The Force Awakens

Awful Nostalgia Dependent Fan-Fic

Force Awakens

Heavy on nostalgia, light on substance.

This film had so many problems, that the Sequel Trilogy now has the potential to make the Prequel Trilogy look like the Original Trilogy.

The Star Wars saga has both a macro, and a micro story. The macro story is about the rise and fall of democracies and empires, while the micro story is about the Skywalker family’s journey into and out of darkness.

The macro story here was perhaps the most disappointing. I was intensely interested to see what happened to the galaxy in the power vacuum that the decimated Empire left behind. Many will argue that just because the Emperor was dead, that the Empire wouldn’t necessarily die with him. But I’d argue that when you have any kind of centrally planned fascist government when you take out the center, the rest caves in like a house of cards.

But we’re stuck with a remnant of the Empire 35 years later nonetheless, in the form of the First Order. What is their relationship to the Resistance, and the Republic? Apparently, there’s a new Republic formed? If so, then how does this First Order operate so freely, and where and how does it raise the capital to build its ships and maintain troops? Why is the Resistance, presumably funded by the Republic, operating out of a tiny rec-room as though the good guys are still in hiding? Frankly the First Order and the Resistance sound like names given to similarly themed entities in Star Wars knock-off films from the 1978 to 1985 era.

The micro story about the Skywalker family attempts to rekindle the same devastating twist/revelation with regards to who is related to whom, but it mostly falls flat here. We simply aren’t familiar enough with any of the new characters for it to have any real weight.

The plot of this particular film is the same plot from Episode IV. There’s a new, bigger, badder Death Star, this time capable of destroying entire systems. Why on Earth didn’t the Republic deal with these people before they became a real threat? And why does the new super weapon have to be so derivative of the old super weapon in terms of design?

The characters are mostly boring.

Both Poe and Finn have a chance at developing some chemistry, but there’s never enough interaction between them to fully realize that.

Rey is dreadfully boring, with two primary facial expressions; deer in a headlight stare, and gritting teeth. The writers were so anxious to prove that girls can be “even more so” than men, that they’ve forgotten the first phase in the hero’s journey. When we first meet Luke, he’s a naive inexperienced farm boy, who complains about wanting to hang out with friends, gets scolded by his Uncle, gets knocked unconscious by a Tusken Raider, gets pushed down in a bar by a drunkard, has to be defended by an elderly Jedi, and gets his hand cut off during his very first lightsaber duel.

Not Rey though. She gets to skip the first phase of the hero’s journey so hear her roar! Somehow, she can pilot the Millennium Falcon and use a lightsaber all without any training at all. Sure she fumbles a bit getting the Falcon off the ground, but in only a couple of minutes, she’s evading Tie Fighters and deftly flying through the tight spaces of wrecked Star Destroyers. Not only is she Han Solo, but she’s Luke Skywalker too! Effectively fighting off a trained Knight of Ren, whatever that is, in her very first lightsaber battle. But don’t you dare question her girl power you misogynist, even though it doesn’t leave much left for Finn to shine with. At least Disney will be selling plenty of Cover Girl Star Wars make-up.

The final lightsaber battle reeked of parental finger-wagging, which dictated that each of the kids got to play with Luke’s lightsaber equally. So silly.

Han Solo was Han Solo. But nearly every line of dialogue was some Original Trilogy in-joke, and his interaction with an aged Leia was facilitated with painful on-the-nose dialogue.

R2D2 and C3PO are absent nearly the entire film, replaced with BB-8 for no apparent reason other than to generate a new design for toys.

Captain Phasma doesn’t seem to have any real function in the storyline, except to hang around for when the shields need to be shut down.

Lupita Nyong’o’s character was probably the most interesting new character, and criminally underdeveloped.

Hux and Kylo; who would follow these kids, or obey their orders? Aren’t there any adults with more experience to lead this First Order?

Snoke looks like a rejected Grendel concept from Zemeckis’ Beowulf.

Most of the film felt like Star Wars went to TV series, with the feeling of a small contained-within-a-movie-set universe. Many of the sets reminded me of the Draconian sets from 1979’s Buck Rogers series. In fact, much of the art design had that Ralph McQuarrie leftovers feel which late 1970s/early 1980s sci-fi television utilized.

At no point did this film feel like a genuine Star Wars movie. Disney should consider giving Star Wars back to Lucas.