So as good as “The Force Awakens” was, it wasn’t without it’s flaws. There were things in the movie that just didn’t feel right to me and I feel like I need to write about it or else it’ll drive me crazy.
Now these aren’t things I hated but more things I just felt…Luke-warm about…
Not every film is going to be perfect and I applaud JJ Abrams for taking on this franchise and its crazy high expectations head on and creating something very much worth seeing but it is a flawed movie. It’s not the kind of blasphemous bad choices that were made in “Into Darkness” but it does have issues so let’s jump in shall we…
I find your lack of exposition disturbing…
I understand that you can’t overload your movie with too much exposition and backstory or else you end up with a three and a half hour mess but there needed to be at least SOME explanation in parts instead of not at all and this was particularly a problem with The Resistance and The First Order.
The main two factions of the film are left almost completely unexplained; the most we really understand about either is one side is good and the other is evil. We understand that The First Order rose from the ashes of the Empire but how the hell did they become so God damn powerful? It almost negates the events of Return of the Jedi because it feels like The Empire never fell and is just as powerful as before. That’s an awfully big military for something that survived the fall of The Empire. Does this mean they are the ones in charge? It’s not clear who’s attacking who because of this.
Also how the hell did this military create such a huge weapon such as The Starkiller under the nose of The New Republic??
(”Short answer: MAGIC!”)
The Resistance is also quite strange. Despite being a part of The New Republic, again something we don’t really understand a whole lot about, they seem to just have a small rag tag military operation instead of a huge functioning military like The First Order. If anything it feels like the roles should be reversed with The First Order being more like radical insurgents and The Resistance being the large military trying to squash the last remnants of evil in the galaxy.
This wasn’t super distracting for me, at the end of the day this just needed to be a battle between good and evil, but it was still an odd choice to leave so much mystery there. I understand that there is a book that details some of this but I shouldn’t have to do homework before seeing a movie.
Hokiness and the suspension of disbelief
I understand that this is a science fiction film and the laws of reality are going to be twisted out of control constantly buuuut some things in this movie were a little much for me.
For starters Rey is a great character and I can buy her as an engineering genius of some kind based on her life as a scavenger but expert fighter pilot in five minutes too? Especially since she seemed to barely grasp the controls of The Millennium Falcon at first in the scene on Jakku it was a bit of stretch that she was able to fly it through a Star Destroyer without scratching her front fenders. It was also a little nutty than she seemed to fully grasp how to wield a lightsaber and the Force with ease against supposedly this expert Kylo Ren who was trained by Luke Skywalker. I understand that he was wounded in the pervious scene but c’mon. Yes, this may be explained in the next movie somehow but it once again goes back to the first problem here.
She was at times just a little too good to be true and I’m not talking about how drop dead gorgeous she is.
(I’m sorry what were we talking about?…)
The Starkiller is easily the most absurd thing about the movie even though it’s the setting of probably the best action sequence. As mentioned before it’s a bit much for me to believe that this First Order was able to build this giant weapon under the noses of The New Republic without being discovered but absorbing suns? On top of that not only do they absorb said sun, once it’s gone nobody on the planet freezes to death instantly. You can chalk it up to it being more a ship than a planet all you want or that now it has a sun in it it’s not cold anymore but they do eventually fire the damn thing and the planet/ship has an atmosphere. I’m pretty sure everything dies immediately on the planet once it goes out.
There were other less egregious problems in the film but these two stood out to me.
Star Wars The Force Awakens aka A New New Hope
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but if you loved the plot line to “A New Hope” chances are you’ll like this one because it’s pretty much the same thing. From recovering crucial military data which is then given to a droid, which then coincidentally finds the hero of our film, to blowing up a giant killer space station, again it’s almost plagiaristic how similar they are. The Starkiller even has a similar exhaust port weak point that will destroy the whole damn thing again!
All in all it’s not very original and it makes the film a tad bit predictable because of it. The movie is still enjoyable despite this but it still had me going “Really? Another fucking Death Star?” while I was sitting in the theater.
In terms of the sequencing of the plot it’s almost beat for beat the same movie but once again this is not necessarily a bad thing. Rehash/fan service is fine as long as it’s entertaining; I didn’t want a rehash of “A New Hope” but I was entertained by the ride regardless. I feel more original ideas will be introduced as the new trilogy goes on but at least for this movie it could’ve used more.
Kylo Ren reminds me too much of J.P. from “Grandma’s Boy”
A long time ago in a high school not terribly far away I used watch Adam Sandler films.
(Yesss, walk closer to the light, Sandler…)
One of these films was “Grandma’s Boy.” In it there is self-proclaimed genius, video game developing, man-child named JP who thinks he’s cooler than he actually is and is prone to psychotic hissy fits during the film when things don’t go his way.
Unfortunately this is who Kylo Ren reminds me of when his helmet is off.
I hate to say it, but for me personally the intimidation factor drops drastically when Kylo takes his helmet off. I know it’s meant to make him appear more vulnerable and sympathetic but it just made me laugh.
(Sorry, Adam, you’re just kind of a weird looking dude.)
Driver is a fine actor and he does have some pretty great scenes here but whenever he spoke without the helmet on it was a little distracting for me because of how wimpy he came across. This is supposed to be the son of Han Solo, the manliess character in the franchise??
This is more of a subjective criticism that may not apply to everyone else but it was a bit of a weird casting decision in my point of view. I just can’t shake the image of JP when I see him. It didn’t help that he had a scene where he actually throws a hissy fit and the scene is even played as comedic which once again downplays his intimidation factor.
One again though, he does have some great moments and is not even a bad character, even when he doesn’t have his helmet on, but it was a bit awkward for me at times looking at him as the villain. Simply put Adam Driver doesn’t look like the bad guy in a feature blockbuster but to his credit he does kick some ass in the film despite this.
That about does it for my two-part review of the film. Despite my heavy criticisms I must reiterate I did like this movie and my grievances are more frustrations than they are hatreds. It’s a film worth watching for film-goers everywhere and I think most people will leave the theater satisfied upon seeing it. It’s not perfect, no film is, but for what it’s worth it delivers on a decade’s worth of waiting and I think all us fans are excited that the galaxy far far away is back on the big screen.
Thank you JJ Abrams for exorcising the demons of the prequels from our memories.
Suck it, George!