I saw Star Wars VII: the Force Awakens a few weeks ago. And this is my review.
In so many ways I was thrilled. And in so many ways, my post thrilldom adrenaline drop could do nothing to impede the oncoming storm of criticism.
If ya haven’t seen it yet… I can’t save you from the spoilers below…
I like Star Wars, I have since before I can remember. I played that I was Luke Skywalker, my friend was Jabba, and his sister sat on him because she was Princess Leia. It was hysterical; and then she got in trouble for sitting on her brother.
I enjoyed this film more than the prequals, which just goes to show that—like many other people—I like Star Wars best when George Lucas is not running the bulk of it. But what ground the Force Awakens gave us in authenticity, continuity, and quality acting, it lost large tracts of with the over-abundance of nostalgia and plot holes. The plot holes were so big, I felt I was once again watching Frozen!
I’m not surprised, though. J.J. Abrams definition of science fiction is “magic fiction.” Every single Trekkie (or Trekker) will agree, as his Star Trek reboot effectively did away with the need for space travel since now we have Scotty’s new “Super-Transporter” that can beam you across the universe. (Did ANYONE think that through…???)
And just because you have the budget for an amazing sequence, doesn’t mean logic need not apply. Han Solo going to hyper-speed from the docking bay of a freighter sounds dangerous to me. I buy that. If hyper-speed technology runs on propulsion, even vaguely, it should tear the freighter to bits. Trying to land on a planet at hyper-speed is both gutsy and interesting for similar reasons. NOT BRINGING A COMMANDO UNIT WITH YOU TO STORM A MILITARY TARGET…!?!?!?! Writers? Writers? Is anyone here? Where’d everybody go…?
If Kylo Ren can rip information from people’s minds without even hurting them… why waste time torturing them? Get the info. You can torture them for no reason at your leisure another time. You’ll still be sadistic and evil, and you won’t be behind schedule.
And least sciency of all the fiction: a planet with a magical suction hole that can syphon off an entire sun with, what, two doses? Then store that energy. THEN emit that energy faster than light speed to another solar system, where it splits (???), and instantly destroys every planet it touches. Nice. Just one question though: how is the Starkiller ever going to shoot anything ever again? You just used up your energy source, and you don’t seem to have engines. Or even an eco system anymore. Because your sun is gone.
My biggest complaint is that I had no idea where I was in the movie at any given time. I mean this in two respects.
1) With the exception of Jakkur, and a quick shot on Corusant, we have no idea where any of the planets are, or what they’re called. Hoth was on a distant rim world. Yavin was secluded secret location. Bespin was the only place close enough to the asteroids for Han and Leia to get to. In Force Awakens, everybody felt like a bus ride away. And did Han go to the Resistance, or did the Resistance set up in Maz’s basement?
2) The story telling was so rushed in places, I didn’t know if I was in the beginning, middle, or end of the movie most of the time. Despite the comically nostalgic pilot-briefing scene, that for some reason Han and his underqualified, non-background-checked teenager companion are invited too, I had no warning that we were coming up on the climax. Rather than preparing for a dangerous mission with (I say again) a team of trained commandos, Han, Chewie, and Fin bundle into the Falcon and fly to the Starkiller planet by themselves, without briefing the Resistance on what they’re going to do, or even Han himself knowing. And like magic they arrive. And like magic the find Fin’s old boss. And like magic they get her to give them the codes (really? You didn’t put up any fight?)! It was going so smoothly, I frankly didn’t realize it was the climax at all.
Now the climax did come with Kylo and Han, and then the subsequent saber fights in response from Fin and Rey. Which. I. Liked! I had heard an original Star Wars character was getting killed off. I pretty much figured it was Harrison, since he was having the coolest part (and walked out on that bridge all alone). I thought it was well done, that scene (but I had to photoshop a whole platoon of commandos into the background of my mindscape, fighting off hordes of Stormtroopers to make it so). Only after killing Han did I actually believe Kylo to be evil enough to be the bad guy of a Star Wars trilogy. After all, so far all he’s done is play second fiddle to the young commander of the Starkiller, trash a few control panels, and harmlessly read one mind.
I also loved Chewbacca shooting him in the side with the bowcaster, and weakening him enough that an untrained rookie could stand up to him and do him any damage.
But once again, I lost the plot after the awards ceremony. Rey gets into the pilot seat with Chewie for a pilot team up for a whole new generation…! And then they fly to somewhere (we don’t know where, but easy to get to, as usual…) and meet, NO! Not a cool new team up of gritty young adventurers in Han Solo’s stead, but the latest Master-Padawan arrangement. It was so unlikely that they would send these people to find Luke Skywalker that I still wasn’t expecting to see the last cameo of the movie, even though the whole movie was about trying to find Luke Skywalker…!
Which is the plot hole that drives me the most crazy: if Luke Skywalker is the only one who can possibly avert this latest galactic disaster, and EVERYBODY’s been looking for him for decades; AND you have a map of the whole galaxy (which looks a lot like ours), but somehow you’ve never charted any of the stars in this suspiciously missing chunk in the middle… and now you and the whole Resistance have found it…
WHY did you send a teenager he’s never met, with a Wookie he can’t understand, and a droid (who’s battery charge is faultier than an iPhone 6s) TO GET HIM???
Is it any wonder that when some stranger walks up to him and shoves a lightsaber at him, even he’s unsure of how to respond, and gives us the 2015 Quote of the Year. Thanks, Luke. You perfectly expressed my sentiments… Obviously the writers left before they got to your line, too.
I liked it. But I also feel like the movie was so bogged down with the compulsion to look like the original Star Wars movies, that we barely got a new movie at all. My only hope is that now we can move on with the new characters and story in new locations, without rehashing old cinematography and plotlines. My both nerd-happy and artist-respecting sides left the movie theater saying, “I’m glad that’s over. Now hopefully we can have new Star Wars movies.”
I give it a Nogrometer of 7. Mostly because you have to light Star Wars, and I hope it bodes well of greater days ahead.