Probably a bit late to the party (late enough that significant spoilers were coming up in my Facebook feed in a highly visible, everyone is already aware of this kind of way), here's a quick take of my thoughts on Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens.
I imagine almost everything here has been said elsewhere. Oh well...
- It is
very much a re-hash of A New Hope - just touching on some of
the more obvious notes hit in both films, you've got a droid with vital
information for the resistance against a tyrannical regime which is
discovered by an orphan on a desert planet with latent skills in the
Force. They escape on the Millennium Falcon with the droid. The regime
destroys their home, pretty much killing everyone they know. The brutal
regime is building a huge spherical superweapon, capable of destroying
planets, which is later brought down by a small team of pilots exploiting
a known vulnerability. The protagonist's mentor is killed by the primary
antagonist (who is subservient to a shadowy figure, also expert in the
dark side). I'm sure people more attuned to the Star Wars universe
could name plenty more.
that there are a number of throwbacks to the original trilogy, such as the
rescue by someone in a Storm Trooper's outfit, and the inclusion of
characters like Admiral Ackbar. On the whole, these didn’t feel as forced
as similar instances in the prequel trilogy (when Yoda met Chewie?). I
expect this will have helped gain a lot of good will for the sequels, and
will help with acceptance of the film once the hype has died away amongst
the fanboy and fangirls.
of me wonders how much the talk (before the films were released) around
"where's Luke?" was organic, or how much of it was used as a
marketing campaign (or tease?) by JJ Abrams.
liked the character of Rey – you could relate to her motivation and
struggles, similar to that of Luke in the original trilogy. That she was
able to master the force, and fly the Millennium Falcon with no training
or experience (apparently…) did stretch the credibility somewhat. Negative
points though for her general exclusion from the original
batch of merchandising.
character of Kylo Ren seems to greatly take after his grand-father… he’s a
whiny, jealous, unpredictable brat similar to Anikin Skywalker. Some of
this is played well for lighter moments (such as the storm troopers
backing away while he’s having a tantrum). Sure he may have killed a
beloved character, but I don’t feel the overwhelming sense of menace about
him yet. I suspect this is a deliberate choice on the part of the film
big spoiler that I had seen on Facebook was of Han’s death (and Chewie, at
least, surviving). Even if I hadn’t seen that, the echoes back to A New
Hope weren’t subtle about that eventuality.
motivations largely are unclear (aside from the lusting for Rey). But he
does serve as an interesting example of how the First Order members are
“recruited”. And raises the morality of killing a bunch of them on the
Starkiller. These weren’t contractors who knew the risks
involved after all.
of the things The Force Awakens did right was develop the
friendship/rapport between Finn and Rey – this was much more akin to Luke,
Leia and Han rather than Obi Wan and Anikin.
Poe abandons his mission to recover the map (and his droid) because he
wakes up and can’t find Finn, assuming that the Storm Trooper who rescued
him will finish the job? I guess at least they knew it wasn’t in the hands
of the First Order, but it very much was a case of waiting for them to
come to him, rather than being proactive.
of the things that was missing was the background around the new enemy…
who are the First Order, how did they arise; how was Kylo Ren tempted to
the dark side? Similarly, how (and why) did Lor San Tekka know Luke’s
location? Typical Abrams pilot really, where there’s some good concepts,
but a lack of information about some of the crucial ingredients. More $$
for the upcoming sequels I guess.
to the prequels things don’t feel so staged/constrained – a lack of
repetitive scenes of people sitting and talking, or walking a short
distance and talking. Chalk this one up as a tick.
criticising Carrie Fisher for not being twenty still really needs to get a
grip on reality.
just walking past Leia after returning to the resistance base… is he still
bitter about not getting a medal? I’m guessing something was edited out
the speech being given around destroying the Republic and the chaos, part
of me was wondering whether any of the First Order were having their own “are we the baddies?” moment.
After all – they’d established that some of them break their programming
and are capable of independent thought.
However, they’re still not fully aware independent contractors who should be evaluating the risks.
ground breaking apart during the fight between Rey and Kylo Ren really
screamed, “we need a way to have this end without them both being killed”.
- The map to Luke Skywalker’s last known location wasn't a bad Macguffin in and of itself; but that map segment fitting in so neatly with R2D2 felt too convenient. This will probably be explored later, with Luke or someone else having deleted that part of the map from R2D2’s memory, but for the moment, it felt more about giving an established character an important moment.
I have low expectations, but I was actually somewhat surprised that
Supreme Leader Snoke didn’t demand the execution of Hux or Kylo Ren for
their failures. Maybe he knows the value of a good trusted lieutenant.
also kind of liked the rivalry going on there between Hux and Kylo Ren.
Much potential there for the future sequels.
Critics Choice Awards should not have retrospectively added The
Force Awakens to the best picture nominations. If it hadn’t been seen
at the time of nominations, so be it. If they really wanted to include a
Disney film in the list, it should have been Pixar’s Inside Out.
- As it currently stands, The Force Awakens is on 94% at Rottentomatoes - the same as A New Hope and Empire Strokes Back (and substantially more than the 80% positive rating for Return of the Jedi). On initial reaction this doesn't sit right. It's a well enough made film, but draws too heavily from Episode 4 (and to a degree 5). It likely won't age as badly as Episode 1, so there's that in it's favour. But it's more of an (entertaining enough) event film, rather than it is a ground-breaking film landmark.