Where Star Wars: TFA messed up

Bstar-wars-force-awakens-official-posterefore anyone gets any ideas, I’m going to start this piece by briefly stating my stand on Star Wars in general and then move onto the meat of the article and thereafter you are free to assume whatever you want: I am a Star Wars fan, I watched all of the original three when I was a kid with my Dad who liked them (though only a little) and read quite a few of the old novels from my school library – it’s a franchise that regardless of anything else was always a fun and iconic thing for me and had many great concepts, the jedi and their lightsabers of course being just one huge example. BUT, I’ve always felt that the franchise as a whole has just as many fantastic entries to it as it does rubbish ones, across mediums. So, I do love Star Wars for a lot of reasons but no, I don’t defend it tooth and nail because that makes no sense to me and I choose to enjoy the good and be honest about the bad because that’s how we get better – in fact that’s part of why TFA is so much better than the prequel trilogies that preceded it.

NOW! On to the meat and bones of what this post is about, me basically listing the things that spoiled (for me) what was otherwise a very entertaining movie filled with lots of humour, action and nostalgia. Bear with me a little as I have elected to write the following in a slightly stream of consciousness way so it is not in order of the story:

  1. What. The fuck. Is with the Starkiller base? I’m sorry, it’s cool and all, but it is literally just that. Cool. Nothing more and in fact (a) the sheer randomness of the way it just pops into the story and (b) the shameless way it’s undeniably just a bigger, badder Death Star and panders to creating nostalgia. Plus the way it seems to work is just ludicrous to a level not necessary and blowing up multiple planets the way it did, it was just too stupid for words.

  2. The fact that Finn, who pretty much explains that he was a janitor, knows a great way to blow up a weapon the size of a planet? Stretching it.

  3. Following up from the last point in regards to Finn – if he’s a janitor, why in the name of Kenobi was he on the battlefield at the start of the movie? Felt totally illogical because they really are not short on soldiers at all as we can see later in the movie. PLUS, given how much he was pretty much crapping his pants and hyperventilating at the start of the movie during and post that fight, how does he do some of the stuff he does toward the end? Sure, we can go with the inner bravery and finding your strength and all that but we’re talking over what was possibly not more than a couple of days, at most. Should have been less freaked out at the start and tried to make him more horrified at what he was seeing – or at least portrayed it more like that. Not questioning the acting skills, he was good, just that bit of the characters portrayal.

  4. What the hell happened to the Republic? I know that people were annoyed at the time-wasting politics and such in the last 3 movies – but I think they went too, too far the other way here basically making the Republic non-existent. You could have blown up a portion of it, had Leia’s role be increased through her role in the Republic as has been done in some of the extended universe in the past. It felt like they put them in as an after-thought, as a convenient thing to bow up with that ridiculous planet-gun.

  5. The last point brings me to a point I suppose is largely personal, what is it with Abrams and clean-slates? I suppose in a way I get it, like with Trek, they do start with the old rather than an outright reboot but basically end with a clean slare and that has its merits – just feel bad at in this case so much of what the previous movies were building just basically ending up over and done with, leaving maybe just the comics coming out from Marvel right now and maybe some of the cartoon series to fill in, something that’s not a habit or interest of a section of movie-goers.

  6. Coming back to Leia whom I mentioned before: I really wish they had given her some more of a solid presence. She, like the Republic feels like an after-thought in that you could have replaced her with a new character and cut down bits and you wouldn’t even miss the character if you’ve not seen the old movies. Also, no real indication of her abilities with the Force in any way were a big fail to my mind, in some small way with a little work on the story I think she could have in her own way been to Rey what Ben was to Luke in the first trilogy.

  7. And her army! Fuck! There is no reason why this couldn’t have just been the army of the Republic that is fighting back the remains of the Empire they just defeated? I’m sure there will be an explanation given, I just think it’s unnecesary and is again just disconnecting by force from the predecessors too much.

  8. On to Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi Master, General of the Rebel army, defeater of the Emperor, redeemer/saviour of Darth Vader, beloved hero. I get sadness and guilt, but even setting aside the inordinately convoluted split-map route that led to him which I found more than a little silly and video-game-ish, what is with his self-exile? He had some pupils, they got turned to the Dark Side, there was some Jedi-warring (which might have been a better movie than this one possibly, just saying) and despite the new bad-guys not WINNING and the Republic still fighting the remains of the Empire and his friends and family still needing his help – he decides to disappear and leave them all in the lurch? That was literally the only option? I’m hoping for a good reason (or at least good enough for some suspension of disbelief) but not terribly optimistic.

  9. Luke and Kylo – it’s clear ot anyone who watches this movie that Ben/Kylo is definitely still conflicted and it’s odd to me that Luke would leave him to the Dark Side when he’s someone who has (a) defeated the Dark Side himself and (b) has literally seen Darth Vader spend decades as a Sith and walk away and Kylo seems to know Anakin was his grand-father. Why would you not keep trying to find a way to bring that person back instead of leaving him in the clutches of the Sith Lord? Again, I hope for explanations in the sequels to be not disappointing.

  10. Kylo leads me to the fight with him and Finn and Rey – firstly I find it hard to believe that even injured, they were able to hold off as well as either of them did.

  11. This leads me to the choices with Rey that bugged me and there is a hint of Mary-Sue-ing. Now before any anger, I don’t mean as a character, I mean in specific moments, most specifically being her ability to do the Jedi-influencing on the guard and her burst of Jedi-ness at the end of her fight with Ren. For any untrained Jedi who never knew they even were a Jedi in all the Star Wars anything I’ve seen, her ability is dangerously expanded at certain points that were too much and were actually a down-moment for a character otherwise well crafted as intelligent, resourceful and very effective.

  12. Why didn’t the “Resistence” abandon the base they knew was going to be a target? Even a mention somewhere in all the proceedings that they were going to try and covertly evacuate, something, anything – is that gun so amazing that say, 50 ships, headed in multiple directions at warp be all tracked and shot? Yeah, no. This wasn’t like New Hope where the Death Star was right next door with a full complement of enemy fighters, etc to attack ships and even there they tried to run.

  13. The wise-old-lady Maz. All I can say is that she is one of the most wasted interesting characters I’ve seen in a long time.

  14. I really, really disliked the R2D2 deus-ex for the map. Just really made me sit in the hall and go “fuck off!” literally.

  15. A little pointlessly over-hyped Phasma and Luke which undoubtedly led to some expectation and disappointment. But in fairness, some of that is on the fandom going ape-shit about it and building up their own expectation. This ones on both sides.

  16. Snoke = snooooore. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  17. Kylo Ren at the start was the only truly awesome showing of the Force which was a bit sad but for it was, it was utterly awesome/badass.

  18. Poe survived his escape but didn’t seem to spend any time at all looking for BB8 on Jaaku? Seems strange considering how important that data was just before that.

  19. I just want to note that I have no negativity regarding BB8 – was it silly, impractical and goofy? Yes but it was something that was exactly what it was meant to be and like R2 in the originals, he did what he was meant to do and didn’t jump the coolness-shark like R2 did in the prequels.

  20. Also for the record, while I appreciated a lot of callbacks and such, this movie made the Superman Returns error (another movie that like this one is not bad, just deeply flawed in certain ways, largely this one) in that it tries too hard to be like a predecessor and starts to creep dangerously from homage and callback to pandering and uninspired copy.

  21. Let’s see, what’s left… Oh yes, Kylo Ren I felt was a mostly well acted character with a lot of potential (albiet certain bits made him a whiney twit) but I felt his backstory was a little poorly explored and iffy and also felt like they dragged the reveal too long. Maybe it was again trying to ape the originals with the reveal of Vaders character but didn’t come off as well maybe because there was too much focus on it.

  22. Who in the name of whatever-ever-you-like actually went out and found Vaders helmet? And does Ren not believe his own Uncle about Vaders redemption? I’m assuming Luke told him because if he didn’t, that’s some stupid shit.

  23. The map to Luke felt odd – why not just a single spot instead of a trail? Did Rey literally have to follow the steps or she wouldn’t reach him? Like finding the end of the world in Pirates of the Caribbean?

  24. Why wasn’t Leia, the mom, the one who tried to reach out to her son if the failures were Hans? This one’s just a random wonder, not a complaint.

  25. After the garbage chute and planet-boom, how is Phasma to be alive in the sequel?

  26. The Leia-Han part of the narrative felt… stilted a bit. Can’t exactly say why, just a general feeling.2534

  27. I really, REALLY hope that the fan-speculation that Finn is Lando’s son in the sequels is dead wrong because that would be such a terrible choice. I love Lando but it would be nice to not force the only two prominent Black-actors in the whole franchise (aside from Mace Windu) not be related. Him being a clone/brainwashed soldier makes for so much more of an interesting story.

Well, I’m done, and to round this post out as the movie review that it is in its own way inevitably going to be seen as by some. Keeping in mind the handful of holes I’m poking above, keep in mind that for me, EVERYTHING that is not mentioned above, was awesome and exciting and absolutely great fun to watch and be entertained by from start to finish. What’s listed here is just what bugged me as a fan of the franchise considering how long this was in development and all the time, effort, talent and passion that clearly has gone into the movie.

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