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Star Wars – The Force Awakens Review

I saw The Force Awakens on December 24th when visiting family for the holiday. That was 19 days ago. Since then many people have asked me what thought about it. I liked the movie. It is fun to watch, and I’m glad that I saw it. It ‘feels’ more like a Star Wars movie than the prequels did. I particularly enjoyed the X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter battle during the second act. There was something about that which felt like I was a teenager again playing one of the X-Wing video games. It was awesome.

That being said The Force Awakens is not without its head-scratching moments. I’m not a fan of Star Trek, but I did enjoy the first J.J. Abrams Stark Trek movie. The second one though, is one of the worst possible abominations of all movie-dom. The plot holes were enormous, self-contradictory actions abounded, and universe defying tricks moved along the plot too conveniently. The big fear I had going into The Force Awakens was that J.J. Abrams would do the same to Star Wars, and he kind of did. But not too much to make the overall movie unenjoyable. When done it left me with a sense of lazy writing. The producers of the show wanted a bunch of cool scenes, but didn’t know how to tie them together.

The following list is a list of grievances I had myself while watching The Force Awakens, or my thoughts to ones which others have shared with me.

Han Solo Hyperspaces into the Atmosphere of the Star Killer Base

This to me is ultimate sin in the movie. It’s very well setup in the rest of the Star Wars movies that you can’t be in hyperspace too close to a large object; ie anything large enough to have a gravitational pull of at least a small moon. You can’t enter hyperspace if you’re too close, and you get ripped from hyperspace if too close. But what do they do when they can’t figure out a way to get Han onto the base, due to a shield around the base? He just takes a ship he hasn’t used in years, and manually pulls out of hyperspace meters away from a mountain top, beneath the shield. If it was possible to do that, there wouldn’t be a need for a Death Star or Star Killer Base. All weapons would become warhead armed hyperspace rockets. Say what you will about the prequels, none of them did anything as universe destroying as this.

Rey Becomes too Powerful too Fast

I know lots of people like Rey, and I don’t mind the character, but she became too powerful too fast. The rest of the movies go over how it takes years of training to use the Light side of the Force. Lots of meditation to not fall into the Dark side of the Force. Then with nothing but being told she might be able to access the Force Rey is mind controlling storm troopers, pulling objects to herself and away from Kylo Ren, and other feats. I didn’t mind so much at the very end that she could use the Force to come to a draw in the duel with Kylo Ren, I more was bothered by the fact that Kylo Ren seemed to be fine to let her do it. Seriously, there’s nearly a minute where she’s standing there with her eyes closed and Kylo doesn’t take a swipe at her. Some people will say that Rey learned Force lessons as a child, but then had her memories erased. Guess what, if you don’t have memories of doing something, and haven’t done it in years, you can’t do it. I don’t care if they explain that in a later movie, it’s a poor explanation. Plus, any needed explanation needs to occur in the same movie, or it’s bad movie! Either way, Rey’s rise to power was extremely inconsistent with all that we learn about the Force in the other movies. Say what you will about the prequels, none of them were this glaringly inconsistent with their use of the Force.

There’s a Map to Luke Skywalker

He’s a human, not a location. There shouldn’t be a map to him. Plus, when they look at the part of the map that BB-8 is holding they say “This doesn’t match with anything we have”. Then when R2-D2 wakes up with the rest of the map, you see that it’s containing about 1/12th of the known galaxy. How did that not match any known part of the galaxy? Every time they said “map to Luke Skywalker” it just felt so dumb.

Deus Ex-Machina

There are two really bad Dues Ex-Machina’s. One is when the planet creates a chasm between Rey and Kylo when it looks like Rey might beat Kylo, but they want the villain for another movie. The second is when R2-D2 conveniently wakes up, at just the time when the Resistance has a break (just defeated the Star Killer base), and they have the remaining section of the map. There’s no reason why Luke wouldn’t have had R2 with him.

Kylo Rens Fluctuating Power

One thing that was introduced was Kylo Ren talking about how he’s feeling a tug from the Light side of the Force. That’s never come up in either of the movies, or the Expanded Universe, and it doesn’t feel out of place. That being said, everything else about it was odd. He starts out super powerful; stops a blaster bolt he didn’t see coming, so arguably more powerful than Darth Vader; it’s established that he’s killed off the other Jedi trainees; and yet after killing his father (which is established in Return of the Jedi as a guaranteed way of becoming very powerful in the Dark Side of the Force), he gets hit with a blaster bolt he sees coming, while holding his light saber, and then doesn’t defeat someone in a lightsaber duel the first time they’ve picked up a light saber. They made him too powerful, and then didn’t know what to do with him at the end.

It’s Watching A New Hope Over Again

Yes. Annoying. Every other Star Wars movie is quite unique (including prequels). This was bothersome.

Han Solo Finding the Millennium Falcon

I know that Han says something along the lines that a sensor went off and so he hopped on over. I’m glad they at least through that line in. Lots of people are bothered by how convenient he shows up. I am a little, but I don’t mind it for the sake of the movie. What bothers me is how the First Order then never shows up. The First Order is chasing the Millennium Falcon off of Jakku, the Falcon can’t go to hyperspace, so the First Order should have been right on their tails. I’m fine with Han grabbing it first in his other ship, but then the First Order should have been right there! Especially since Han declared it the most detectable ship in the galaxy or something like that.

The Music

The music is good. But none of it feels like it’s Star Wars good. John Williams did the score again, but I’ve listened to the soundtrack over and over, and none of it feels like it has the staying power of any of the music from the other movies. Thankfully none of it was distracting, but watch The Phantom Menace; the worst of the Star Wars movies, and it’s easy to enjoy the music.

So, I liked the Force Awakens. But it has plot holes an inconsistency issues that no other Star Wars movie has had. I don’t care if some issues get explained in sequels. That’s never been needed before, and shouldn’t ever be needed. So it’s the first Star Wars which missed their usual success of knowing what needs explaining and what doesn’t.

Categories: Entertainment
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