Firstly, let me preface this by saying that I REALLY enjoyed Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Having recently viewed The Force Awakens this past Sunday, I walked out of the theater positively aglow, emanating a soft, blue, electrified joy which pervaded my attitude and colored my perspective for the rest of the day. I was happy, satisfied and thankful; the movie touched me in all the right places and hit all the right notes, playing my body like an especially emotive saxophone spurting out the sweetest notes for perfectly executed homages.
There were a few moments when I thought to myself, “Waitasecond, this is waaay too convenient,” but those moments quickly passed as the movie continued to enchant, re-igniting my suspension of disbelief. Anyway, yes, I enjoyed (and still like) The Force Awakens, HOWEVER….Well, it’s been a few days, and the spell has lifted. And with the dream-state instigated by the film almost completely dissipated, I find myself recollecting those moments where doubt crept into my mind. The mind-numbing mescaline of the homage-injecting film was no longer being mainlined through my tear ducts, and a film that seemed note perfect was now rife with a few undeniable chasms of plot and character. What’s got my britches in a marginally belligerent bunch? Why, these 4 little observations hammering against my usually impervious Star Wars armor like tiny little woodpeckers juiced up on a Monster/Rockstar/Jet-fuel cocktail.
1. The Force Awakens was EXTREMELY SIMILAR to Star Wars: A New Hope
New Hope started with a young person struggling to survive on a harsh, desert planet; Rey on Jakku, and Luke on Tatooine. Both characters were removed from their depressing doldrums and cyclical despair after being introduced to robots carrying incredibly important information, information that could change the course of a vast, intergalactic conflict. After the protagonists are introduced to the conflict, it pretty much ends with the destruction of a massive war-planet set to extinguish any fleet or planet-cluster allied with the burgeoning resistance. Oh, don’t forget; before you can destroy a giant war-planet, you must first disable its shield. The Rebellion accomplished this in 1977 during A New Hope, again in 1983 during Return of the Jedi, and one more freaking time in 2015 during Force Awakens. Hmmmm. The Empire (or any comparable offshoot) needs to seriously tweak the defensive designs for any and all future Death Star-class, planet-killing warships.
Yes, we know there were a lot of similarities, and in some cases they were endearing, but there were waaaay too many instances in this film where genuinely offered homages became painfully obtrusive derivatives. Luke Skywalker rides a Landspeeder? Rey sees your Landspeeder, and raises you a…smaller landspeeder-thing.
How about the the scene where Rey scales the walls of the new Deathstar? Well, this reminded me of old Ben Kenobi disabling Death Star counter measures, or Luke skulking about with Leia, attempting to stealthily rendezvous with his crew-mates and disembark on the Millennium Falcon; we saw all of this before in Star Wars: A New Hope.
2. Kylo Ren is a Tantrum-Throwing B*tch
When Kylo Ren gets angry, he gets really angry. Lost the location of a BB-8 unit? He asks for the room and cuts the hell out of the nearest computer bank. Lost a Force-sensitive, female desert savage? He’s going to cut the hell out of a previously uncut computer bank. The first time was righteous, violent and effecting; Kylo doesn’t appreciate disappointment, and deals with it poorly. It was actually a little terrifying seeing a powerful character display such chaotic responses to failure. I mean, you don’t EVER want to lose the droid/girl if you’re reporting to him to at the end of your shift.
The second time….the second time was silly. Yes, we all know who Kylo Ren is at this point – nothing more than a scared, whimpering, conflicted young man – but really, you would think intensive Jedi training might lead to some well learned self-restraint. When he received the news of losing Rey, he bashed the hell out of things and caused quite a ruckus; it’s a bust-up witnessed by 2 passing Stormtroopers who made note of the chaos, and slowly sauntered away. Obviously, Kylo’s reactions were nothing new, and at this point, were reduced to excruciating comic relief.
3. The Force Makes You Capable of Performing Tasks You Never Attempted Before
Rey, being Force-sensitive, could fly the Millennium Falcon without ever flying it before. Not only could she fly it, she flew it with a seasoned pilot’s accumulated expertise. Sure, she spent some quality time with the Falcon over the years when no one was looking, but she never actually flew the thing.
When Rey fought Kylo, she focused on connecting with the Force and immediately became an experienced combatant. So, if Rey wanted to make a chocolate cake without ever having made a chocolate cake before, could she tap into the Force and make the best chocolate cake ever? And if this is a Jedi’s ability, why wasn’t Luke able to tap into this super-fighting ability, becoming Vader’s equal during that harrowing, hand-misplacing battle in Cloud City??
4. Very Conveniently Occurring Plot Devices
How do Rey and Finn escape Jakku? Why, by flying away on an old, broken down ship just lying around with the rest of the antiquated, space-faring garbage- the Millennium Falcon! How serendipitous!
Rey, Finn and the gang follow Han to an old cantina to find less conspicuous transportation. Rey is drawn down a flight of stairs leading to a an extremely importation Jedi Artifact- Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber! Waitasecond! Yes, it makes sense that she would be drawn to this item, but….HOW IN THE HELL DID IT END UP HERE!!???
R2 won’t power back up until he’s reunited with Luke. He may have an important bit of information regarding Luke’s whereabouts but refuses to share it. BB-8, having arrived some time ago, finally decides to just inform R2 that he has a section of the map holding Luke’s location, and simply asks R2 for a little cooperation. Hmmmm. I guess R2 just wasn’t in the sharing mood until the movie was down to the last 17 minutes.
Just to reiterate, I did truly enjoy Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However…I think if the public was in a very unforgiving, Star Wars-hating mood, there was plenty of ammunition available to tear down the latest Star Wars installment.