"Worst...Cosmic Wars...Ever! I will only see it three more times. Today."
[Warning: Major Force Awakens spoilers below! If you haven't seen the new movie yet, run away!]
By all accounts, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a pretty rad movie. It has likable and engaging new characters, brilliantly choreographed action sequences and plenty of knowing winks to lifelong fans. Plus, it actually felt fun -- an element that was sorely lacking from the prequels.
However, this Jabba-sized success story is not without its warts. We have a few issues with the movie and some of them are fairly significant.
We think its important to talk about this stuff. By calling out the flaws now, there's a chance we can make the next chapter in the trilogy even better. After all, nobody told Lucas that Jedi kind of sucked, and look what happened next.
So without further ado, here are ten things that Star Wars: The Force Awakens completely fumbled.
A New Hope 2.0
Episode VII's "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to screenwriting often bordered on derivative. We basically got a xerox of the first movie with a few character rearrangements. From the cute droid on a secret recon mission to the destruction of the Star Killer/Death Star, most of the key plot points felt incredibly familiar. I was half-expecting Han Solo to whisper "Use the Force, Rey!" during her climactic battle with Kylo Ren.
Hopefully, the next chapter will move in a fresher direction. What we don't want is a tired retread of Empire. If Kylo drops an "I am your brother" bombshell on Rey, I'm totally going to walk out of the cinema.
Plot holes a-go go!
Yeah, yeah, we get that you're supposed to leave your brain at the door with these kinds of movies. Nevertheless, some of the story inconsistencies and leaps of logic are difficult to ignore. Here are some examples off the top of our head:
How does Rey understand Wookie and why does nobody else comment on this? Why does everyone in the First Order seem to instantly recognise Finn, a lowly janitor who always wore a helmet in battle? Why was Rey guarded by a single M19 agent/Stormtrooper? Why did the bad guys build another super weapon with an easily exploitable flaw? How did Phasma and Kylo escape the exploding planet after being tossed in a trash compactor and disappearing into the woods, respectively? Why does R2-D2 suddenly wake up at the end? Why did the good guys send some random girl to give Luke his lightsaber rather than, say, his sister or any notable member of the Resistance?
Also, if you want to get really nerdy, it's not possible to suck all of a star’s energy into a terrestrial weapon. As Neil Degrasse Tyson explains, this would vaporize the planet.
Too much trilogy setup
Like most other modern movie franchises, The Force Awakens was too preoccupied with setting up the next installment when it should have been telling a standalone story. Too many plot points were left unexplained or were alluded to via a sprinkling of obnoxious breadcrumbs. It's okay to do this in sequels, but the first movie in your trilogy should be all about the here and now.
Take A New Hope, for example -- there were no cameos from the Emperor, no vague magical foretellings and no allusions to future events. Instead, it just got on with the present adventure. The only nod to a sequel it made was the escape of Darth Vader: otherwise, you could happily just watch that one movie and feel like you'd seen a complete story.
Way too many in-jokes
We're all for "fan service" when it serves the story -- the Millennium Falcon reveal was a great fist-pumping moment, for example. However, we can't help but feel that the movie went way overboard in this department. From Finn messing around with the Holochess board to "I have a bad feeling about this", the constant barrage of in-jokes and OT references felt cheesy and unnecessary. If a first-time Star Wars viewer is confused or distracted by something, it's probably too on the nose.
The Force Awakens had some fascinating villains - we particularly liked the mercurial Kylo Ren and acerbic General Hux. But the highly-touted Captain Phasma was a complete waste. It makes zero sense to hire a phenomenal actress with major "geek cred" like Gwendoline Christie and then barely use her. She also failed to do anything remotely menacing and capitulated at the first sign of trouble.
Her general uselessness in all things has been compared to Boba Fett, but at least that character had some central bearing to Empire's plot (he captured Han Solo, after all.) By contrast, you could remove all of Phasma's scenes without affecting the story in the slightest. Cool armour, rubbish character.
At the end of Return Of The Jedi, the Empire was defeated and a new age of peace was ushered in by the Republic. In The Force Awakens, the political climate is never properly explained. Is the First Order in control of the galaxy or are they just a newly emerged threat? Why are the Resistance called "the Resistance" if the Republic is still in power? What is the First Order actually trying to achieve?
The Star Wars prequels were roundly criticised for being overly preoccupied with political maneuvering, but The Force Awakens went too far in the other direction. It's hard to care about the stakes when the playing field is a mystery.
Casting the guys from The Raid and then never using them
This one is just annoying to chop-socky fans. For those who don't prescribe to martial arts movies, the Kanjiklub mercenaries who hijack Han Solo's ship included Yayan Ruhian and Iko Uwais; two of the principle ass-kickers from Gareth Evans' The Raid and its sequel. In addition to starring in those movies, they also coordinated the astonishing fight scenes. And yet all they did here was run away from a CGI squid monster. Tch.
Harrison was ancient
There's no getting around the fact that Harrison Ford is getting too old for this shit. He looked comically decrepit for an action hero in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- and that was seven years ago. In every action sequence there were moments where his advanced age was painfully obvious. The filmmakers should have CGI'd his noggin onto a stunt double for all the running scenes. (Given the budget, this easily could have been pulled off convincingly.) Presumably, J.J was too scared/respectful to broach the topic with Ford. A shame.
Rey was too perfect
Whoa, put down the pitch forks, people! I like Rey as much as the next person. The Star Wars universe was in sore need of a capable, proactive and take-no-shit heroine. I just think they overdid it a bit. She can speak "droid" and Wookie. She's a bad ass with a staff. She is a mechanic prodigy. She even teaches herself the Force and beats Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel. Plus, she is physically, morally and intellectually flawless.
Granted, we don't know her full backstory yet, but as a standalone movie character, Rey is too damn perfect. By contrast, Han, Luke, Leia and even Obi-Wan had notable flaws. Rey feels like she was designed by committee to have as much mass appeal as possible. Along the way, she lost some of her believability.
They killed off my childhood hero
The heartless bastards. *Sniff*
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments section below.