Ten Things That Star Wars: The Force Awakens Completely Nailed

Yesterday, we looked at ten things that sucked about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now it's time to explore the light side of the Force. Here are ten things that the new movie nailed perfectly.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead, natch.]

The new guard

For all the fanfare surrounding Ford, Hamill and Fisher, this movie was very much about the next generation of heroes -- and the younglings delivered in spades. The three new principals all have the instant charisma of their forebears and we can't wait to see their stories unfold in future adventures. Rey seems destined to become one of the most iconic characters in the history of franchise, while Finn and Poe both had some great moments. This is probably the most crucial thing that The Force Awakens got right: the passing of the lightsaber/torch could not have been more assured.

The action

With J.J Abrahms at the helm, it was never in doubt that Force Awakens would deliver on the action front. The climactic set piece was a perfect fusion of classic Star Wars combat and Abrahms' kinetic style. Even when hundreds of things were exploding at once it was easy to keep track of who was where and what was going on. We also like how the lightsaber duels were deliberately reigned in: there were no stupid CGI acrobatics like in the prequels.

BB-8

BB-8 could have been a complete disaster: he's basically an electronic Scrappy Doo shoehorned into nearly every scene. Somehow, not only was the plucky droid not irritating, he was hugely likeable and often hilarious. (The lighter "thumbs up" moment always gets the biggest laugh from the crowd.) The decision to give him a beeping voice box really made all the difference: if he had spoken English in a cutesy/annoying robot voice the entire film would have been ruined. Lessons from Jar-Jar learned.

Spot the cameo!

For cinema buffs, the famous faces behind various aliens and stormtroopers were like fun little Easter eggs. Over the course of the film, Daniel Craig (Spectre), Simon Pegg (Shaun Of The Dead), Iko Uwais (The Raid), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game Of Thrones), Bill Hader (Superbad ) and Warwick Davis (Willow) all show up in one form or another, to name just a few. Crucially, most of them were entirely hidden from view so it didn't become distracting or annoying. It was just a cute thing to tell your friends about.

It was funny

If it's been a while since you watched the originals, you may have forgotten how funny they are. Luke and Han's bickering, Leila's comical toying with of Han, the many one-liners in the face of death: it's a hoot. This is something that the prequels failed at: each scene was either overly dour or filled with juvenile slapstick. The Force Awakens is a definite return to form -- Finn had a bunch of very funny moments, Chewie frequently brought the house down and BB-8 capered like a pro. The "nope!" stormtrooper moment during Kylo's tanty was also hilarious.

Kylo Ren

The new big bad guy seems to have divided audiences, but we found him to be utterly fascinating. He's one of the most layered villains in Star Wars' history; and we're not just talking about his struggle between the light and dark sides of the Force. He is at turns menacing, seductive, vulnerable, brooding, volatile and hilariously immature. We also like that he has a weird Darth Vader fetish which explains the voice and mask. It will be interesting to see how his character develops over the course of the trilogy. We suspect the spoiled brat moments will give way to something far more sinister. After his encounter with Han, there can be no redemption.

Diversity

For a story that encompasses hundreds of diverse planets and civilistions, the first Star Wars sure had a lot of white guys in it. The sequels and prequels weren't much better. The Force Awakens bucked this unfortunate trend and was all the richer for it. We love that the two main characters fall outside of the standard Star Wars tropes. The supporting cast was similarly varied. Inclusiveness always makes things better, even in a galaxy far, far away.

The cinematography

By Abrahm's own admission, the look of The Force Awakens was partially influenced by the films of Terrence Malick and John Ford. This is especially apparent during Rey's quiet desert moments which appear to have been shot in the "golden hour" just before sunset. It gives these scenes a tranquil realism that makes you want to be there. (Even though Jakku sounds like a horrible place to live.)

Maz Kanata (AKA orange Yoda)

The scenes in Maz Kanata's bar were among the weakest from a storytelling perspective -- it's all exposition, mystical mumbo-jombo and frustrating visions that reveal next to nothing. But we still love the character of Maz Kanata. Her design, ultra-dry line delivery and sexual penchant for big walking carpets were all wonderful. We just wish the movie hadn't forgot she existed after the First Order ambush. Tch.

The return of old friends

We know we ragged on Han Solo for looking too old yesterday, but we've got to admit -- it was nice to see beloved characters from our childhoods once again. The ending with Luke Skywalker was particularly effective: it was arguably Mark Hamill's best performance as Luke and he didn't even speak! We're excited to see what's in store for the old heroes -- R2-D2 and CP30 better be in the thick of it or they'll be trouble.


What did you love most about the new movie? Tell us in the comments!


Comments

    Cool, I was hoping to see the other side of the coin as well. Nice work!

    I hated Maz, or as I like to call her, Mandarin head, that whole section was really annoying

      I just call her "Orange Yoda" because that is her only purpose in the plot.

    Ren reminded me of Tom Higgenson.

    Anyway, the movie was awesome, but Ren himself ruined much of the movie for me. I might be disappointed because not all of the background story has been told, and I'll most likely change my opinion of him after episode 8 and 9 come out, but Ren's reason for turning to the darkside thus far was stupid, and emo, just like Tom Higgenson's Hate (I Really Don't Like You) song.

      I found Ren to be comical. He has 'I'm not as evil as grandpa' syndrome, throws tantrums, and wears a mask, pretty much, just because Vader did.

      BUT, I do think the character will be better in followups because he had his development happen late in the movie, letting him become fully realized and less conflicted etc, etc.

      Young people do stupid emo things.

      I'm pretty sure we aren't aware of Ren's "reason" for turning to the dark side yet?

        His mom and dad's divorce, not having wholesome family Christmases, teen angsk, probably rap music.

        On a serious note though, the first movie just shows his obsession of his grandfather's legacy. I'm dying to know what other reasons he has.

        I think Luke started training Rey, and Ren realised he was never going to be a strong as her so he turned to the Dark Side for more power. Luke then hid Rey away on Jakku

          Rey is around 10 years younger than Kylo apparently, making her about 8 or 9 when Kylo turned on the order, whilst he would have been about 20 at that time.
          Kylo supposedly around 29-30 in the film and his massacre of Luke's Jedi Order was ten years prior. So I'm not sure that's the case.

          Last edited 28/12/15 2:04 am

    I agree on all of the above, the only thing that looked wrong to me in the movie was C3PO, he sounded a bit off and his suit looked all matte and odd, and the new Emperor type dude looked silly.
    Absolutely loved everything else, can't wait to see it again next week!
    It is so much fun to be excited about a movie again, and discussing it left-right-and-centre and wanting to see it again. It has been years and years since that has happened for me.

      This is actually one of the really off-putting things about the movie. Threepio's voices was seriously messed up. He had this particularly bizarre sing-song quality to his voice that never existed in the OT.

        That's because Anthony Daniels has become completely eccentric in the past 10 years and has apparently built up an idealised version of C-3PO in his head where it's the most important character to the saga.

        Watch that guy in interviews, he practically lives 3PO and makes the most veiled neg comments about his co-stars constantly haha.

          That's... hilarious. Maybe he can do the Star Wars Holiday Special Part 2 starring C3PO and that's it.

            I honestly wouldn't put it past him. "Lets think back to the time C-3PO destroyed the deathstar this holiday season."

      Yeah, that supreme commander dude was a bit shit. Why couldn't they just put a dude in makeup, maybe with some CG enhancements? When I first saw him I thought of Gollum and Thanos. Unnecessary.

      Last edited 25/12/15 7:48 pm

      "the new Emperor type dude looked silly"

      You mean Space Voldemort? Cause that's all I could think of in those scenes...
      Well that, and "how arrogant do you have to be to make your hologram so freakin huge?!" :P

    Rey seems destined to become one of the most iconic characters in the history of franchise
    Yes, but for all the wrong reasons. Currently my friends and I can only remember her as the monotonal Mary Sue character. I sincerely hope the sequels give her some flaws and better (more gradual) development.

      Monotonal? Are you serious? You need to watch the movie again, because Rey is very layered. Fierce, hopeful, unsure, proud, agitated, awe-inspired, overwhelmed, fearful, stern, assured. She was all those things at different times. The Mary Sue thing is a whole different argument (one that people are giving way too much weight anyway), but the idea that she was monotonal is ludicrous.

        Only negging cos "very layered. Fierce, hopeful, unsure, proud, agitated, awe-inspired, overwhelmed, fearful, stern, assured" sound ridiculous. Please restrain your nerd boner.

    As cool as the various action scenes were, for some reason I couldn't really get into the fact that so much of that hot, hot X-Wing on TIE fighter action that I had been hanging out for was happening over planet surfaces... a bit more spaceship combat in space would have been nice. I have no idea WHY I feel this way, but there you have it, I do. Bite me.

      by the end I was thinking that was JJ's new lens flare. Especially when going to meet up with luke and they HAD to fly low and spray up water for the effects.
      That and the tie fighter army never looked overwhelming, it was like they sent just enough tie fighters to be beaten, not enough to completely swarm the skirmishes.

      Last edited 24/12/15 3:41 pm

        To be honest, if I were flying the Falcon I'd be skimming the water too. Why take the mundane path when you can add a little thrill to the flight? I do that kind of thing in pretty much any game that lets me fly.

    Honestly, cant Say it really nailed anyting really.
    Rei was a good charactor, played by an excellant actor. Finn and Poe, well ..either their acting skills need a lot of work, or the director had em doing weird shit.
    BB8 was no where near as bad as Jar Jar binks, but was up there wiht Ewoks (cute toy marketing op).
    Kylo was good and bad (char wise), but really, if I wanna see a petulant spoiled teenager, there's no shortage of those walking around.
    Overall better than the last 3, but nowhere as good as the 1st, and just an "average" sorta film.

      Yah I felt the same. I'd give it 2.5/5. It was okay. But just okay.

    I can't recall why, it's been a while but does anyone know the story behind C3PO having a red arm, and why he pointed it out to R2?

      I'm sure that and quite a few other things (Death Star 4.0 construction work permit issues, E.T. is Yoda's grandson, nobody on Jakku likes Nutella, Rey is originally a Drummond from Diff'rent Strokes) will be revealed in 8 & 9.

      I think it was mostly just for humour, "You probably don't recognize me with my red arm".

      That's going to be revealed in an upcoming Marvel comic:

      http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/C-3PO_Vol_1_1

    I was waiting for her to open an oven "Smell good, don't they"

    Last edited 24/12/15 4:16 pm

    It was arguably Mark Hamill’s best performance as Luke and he didn’t even speak!

    What? Was this a stab at humour?

    Last edited 24/12/15 5:35 pm

    God. How typical that a certain group of Kotaku readers can't cope with a female protagonist. The "Mary-Sue" critique is veiled sexism.

      I don't think Rey is a Mary Sue, but I think you're overreacting. Mary Sue isn't a gendered literary trope, it's something that can apply to any and all characters. There are no functional differences between Mary Sue and Marty Stu/Gary Stu, and a lot of places only use the original term to refer to characters of both genders.

      There was only one post that even mentioned the Mary Sue trope and nothing in it was even remotely gender-based. If you're not sure what someone meant, the intelligent thing to do is ask for clarification, not level accusations of sexism at people on such flimsy grounds.

      You seem at face value to be supporting the notion that any criticism of a female character is 'veiled sexism', which is plainly absurd and would be sexist itself. Maybe you can clarify if that's what you meant, because that's how it came across.

      Last edited 24/12/15 10:47 pm

      I didn't like her character because she had no struggle no moments of weakness and no sense of danger, I was kind of ok with it until she self taught herself jedi mind tricks, and she just snowballed from there. There's such a thing as being to good, I get she's force sensitive, but that means a natural edge over most people, not being as good or better than trained professionals.
      Also Finn should of been injured in minimum in the battle scene on orange yoda world, dude standing with shiney saber and no one shoots or attempt to shoot down a possible threat? At no point did I feel like anyone's actions had risk except for Finn fighting Kylo. But to the topic Rey could of been male and I'd have the same issue.

    Damn I'd hate to be some of you... So critical and unfulfilled! I absolutely loved this addition to the Star Wars family.. That being 4-6 forget 1-3....

    I think the acting was amazing all round and there was the right amount of action:quiet moment ratio...

    Only thing I didn't like was how easy Rey was able to control her powers, and Luke struggled with this for years, especially having no parents (or not know who they are) was a big part of that struggle.. Rey had one chat with Kanata and seemed to control it completely.

    Other than that, very very satisfied!

    I called Maz "Plot Wagon," because that's the purpose she served in the film. Get the plot moving!

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