Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Spoilers)

I saw the new Star Wars film on Friday. Now that I’ve had a new days to collect my thoughts and reflect on the film, I’ll share my thoughts.

First, let me say that I enjoyed the film. It kept me entertained for the duration, hit the right spots when it came to nostalgia, humour, and asethetics. If this was considered the goal of the film (other than to make planet-sized bucketloads of money), to successfully capture the magic of the original trilogy for fans of episodes 4-6, then Star Wars Episode 7 can be considered a success.

My biggest problem with Episode 7 is that it felt too safe. It is a good Star Wars film, but it didn’t move the series forward in any significant way. Although the prequels had their issues, they at least attempted to show the galaxy from a fresh perspective. The Force Awakens was a rehash of A New Hope.

The Force Awakens has issues with explanation. The backstories and the reasons for events were glossed over. How did Poe survive the crash on Jakku? How did the First Order obtain so much power (even Episode 4 discusses how the Empire overcome opposition from the Republic)? Why did Kylo Ren hate his father so much? How did Rey get so powerful with the force and a lightsaber? Answers to questions such as these were written around or flat out ignored. I understand that some people found the politics of the prequel trilogy boring, so I can understand why politics would be toned down. Personally I liked the political aspects of the series, it gave the galaxy more depth, but less emphasis on explaining the backstory in detail would have been fine. The problem is that The Force Awakens takes this to the extreme and we’re left with story that feels contrived.

The characters were okay. Rey is basically Luke Skywalker 2.0. They need to develop her more. I liked Finn and BB-8. Kylo Ren also needs development - a conflicted individual provides a good source for interesting material, but a character’s motivations need to be explored to make them believable. As it stands, many of the characters feel like fans of original trilogy characters (Kylo of Vader, Rey and Finn of Solo), rather than characters with their own unique contributions to the saga. In a way it makes sense; characters are often written to be relatable to the auidence, and at this point most of the auidence will already be fans of other Star Wars films.

The Force Awakens is lacking in a few places but perhaps such a safe film is necessary to regain faith from fans and bridge the gap to more risky storylines in episodes 8 and 9? We’ll see. The method of how they’re going to progress the story in episode 8 is problematic. We already have a heroine who has defeated the main villian, so what additional growth is there left for her character that was started in episode 7? Kylo has already made his commitment to the dark side by killing his father - again, where can his character naturally progress to? What can Luke contribute to the story besides rehashing Obi-Wan and Yoda’s roles from the original trilogy? Leia did not contribute much to episode 7, which was disappointing. They could have done more with such a (potentially) powerful and iconic character. These concerns may have solutions, but it’s hard to see them in light of episode 7.

So yes, I have a few concerns with this new trilogy, but as fan I absolutely did enjoy it. It could have felt more… organic. There’s a manufactured quality about it, like someone sat down and carefully selected the elements that make up the movie from a predefined list, rather than constructing a film that was told out of a passion to tell a particular story, as episodes 1-6 do (the story of Darth Vader), even if the implementation was far from perfect. There’s an adhoc quality to it too. Unless episodes 8 and 9 and tie the new story in better with the overarching themes and story (the Darth Plagueis = Snoke theory is interesting and might help with this if true), the sequel trilogy is unlikely to feel neccessary to the overall saga.

I really enjoyed the new film. I thought the four new characters (Rey, Finn, Poe, BB8) were dynamic, fresh, and deep enough to take the story forward. Their enthusiasm of their characters was completely believable, and exactly what the series needed.

You’re right that it was a safe approach to the film, and I really didn’t like how so much of it was re-hashed from A New Hope. The Starkiller Base idea was just stupid - I can’t believe they couldn’t come up with something more unique. Snoke was a horrendous CGI mess - nothing convincing about him at all and it really threw me out of the moment. I also thought Kylo Ren was a weak character, with shady motivations and silly voice. I didn’t find him threatening at all - more of an amateur. No one grieved very long for his father, either, I would’ve thought the death of such an iconic character (to film in general, not just Star Wars) would’ve been treated with a bit more reaction.

I don’t want to focus too much on the negatives, because I think that mostly it’s nit picking. Considering how bad this film could’ve been, and how hyped up it has been, it could’ve been a lot worse. As it is, it was very enjoyable and sets up the next few films well because we now have new places to go in the franchise; even if it’s not entirely clear where they’ll take us next.

To me it also felt like a copy and paste of A New Hope. Ray mirrored Luke leaving home, there was a need to find the droid with the map; mirroring R2D2’s Lea message, meeting Han Solo who played the Obi-Wan Kenobi mentor archetype, Kylo Ren playing the part of Darth Vader, having a new Death Star to destroy ect…

And I do agree, there wasn’t a lot of character exposition going on. Where was the back story for how Kylo Ren turned to the dark side? It seemed like he was the most important character (central villain for the trilogy) with the most need to focus on the reasons for his motives. We needed at least a small flashback to carry his development along. Without this, It just made Han’s death feel unemotional. The only thing that made it emotional was losing Han as a character, and not the circumstances that brought about the death itself.

Also, the first confrontation between Ray and Kylo was too soon. It should have been in Episode 8. She needed something to work towards rather than pulling the force out of her ass without any training or direction…That should have been Fin’s job, just barely surviving as the ground split them apart.

We didn’t see any of Fin’s past either. It was like the main characters came on stage, introduced themselves and kept to themselves the rest of the time…Rather it felt like everything was moving way too fast with no time for the characters to breathe. I also didn’t feel like the characters had any chemistry compared to A New Hope. The only thing that moved the movie along for me, call it nostalgia or not, was Harrison Ford…

And I have to say: it was strange how Leia just hugged Ray after Han’s death. There should have been more of a breakdown there (I know they weren’t that bitter towards each other over losing Kylo; or were they?). Also, Killing Han sort of destroyed that happy ending we had with the original trilogy. It was just too heartbreaking for me. If they were just going to kill him off he shouldn’t have been in the movie…

I guess I’m on the fence. Maybe they shouldn’t have saved Luke for the end then maybe he could have fleshed out Kylo Ren’s backstory a bit more. I need to see Episode 8 before I judge the narrative further.

Episode 8 has its work cut out for it to fix some of the issues with episode 7. I think it’s possible that episode 8 can improve and give further depth to these new characters and stories, especially as it will have a different director and thus a different approach. After all, we learn a lot more about Darth Vader’s backstory in episode 5 than was previously revealed in episode 4. I think we’ll learn more about the relationship between Luke and Kylo that will put some of the events of episode 7 into perspective.

The problematic characters are Rey and Kylo. Rey is a little too perfect so far; they need to give her some flaws and vulnerabilities. Kylo seems too weak. Give him more training and stronger abilities, or something else that will make his character more interesting.

Regarding the new “Death Star”, I’m not entirely opposed to it (it makes sense for evil empires to want to build something bigger and badder), but they could done something more interesting with it. Perhaps the Resistance could have taken control of Starkiller Base at the end of episode 7, rather than destroying it. Then we could have had an interesting narrative about how wielding that kind of power acts as a temptation, especially if in the hands of someone growing powerful with the force. Since the base was destroyed, now we’re left with a gap that will need to be filled with some other threat in episodes 8 and 9.

I couldn’t resist… :anjou_love:

Ha, the Panzer Dragoon intro actually fits perfectly in that format!

Anyway, building that Starkiller base/Death Star and destroying it was too similar to A New Hope. They even had a meeting trying to figure out its weakness…

Like you said, they could have captured it and took control. And now there will be a gap to fill. So, what are they going to do? Are they going to build another Death Star? That’s what they did in the original trilogy. I hope they think of something original this time.

And regarding Ray. The audience is supposed to relate to her. If she has no weaknesses, you can’t project your own weakness on to her, thus feeling no emotional connection. It sort of turns her into a Mary Sue, someone who can do no wrong; essentially perfect in every way. In the movie she got the best scrap, escaped on her own, and single handedly almost defeated Kylo Ren!

Damn, now I feel like playing Knights of the Old Republic again. That was such a great Star Wars game!

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Me too, actually. And rewatching the other films. And rewatching this film…

I recommend machete order.

I watched The Force Awakens again recently. The issues I mentioned earlier are much more transparent the second time around. Once you take off the nostalgia goggles off you’ll find a story that is very similar to A New Hope to point where the story is basically a cut and paste job with gender roles changed around.

I think in the fullness of time people are going to realise that the film was in many ways a lot worse than the prequels. Those films at least had a story of their own to tell that, while the execution wasn’t always well done, felt like part of the Star Wars history. The politics and connections to the original trilogy generally added depth to overall saga’s story and those films weren’t afraid to have an identity of their own.

If you haven’t heard of Ring Theory before, I recommend reading this rather lengthy article that convincingly explains how the prequels were constructed to mirror the original trilogy in reverse order:

There’s a careful deliberateness behind the prequel trilogy which comes from the vision of a director attempting to tell a six part story rather than a commitee attempting to check all the right boxes.

The trailer for the next Star Wars film, Rouge One, is out by the way:

It looks decent. I fear from the imagery that, like The Force Awakens, there won’t be much new added to the universe though. I hope I’m wrong.

There is a very real danger that Star Wars will become like the Marvel franchise. Solid enough films, but flat and repetitive. Star Wars needs to introduce new worlds, creatures, ships, themes, and most importantly stories to stay fresh.

I completely agree with you Solo. When I notice a beloved franchise is losing its soul, or depth of creativity, I really start to worry…

I wish they would have just done a variation of the Thrawn series. It was enthrawling, unlike this movie. They better have something interesting with the next one.

I haven’t read any of the novels… didn’t they bring back characters from the dead? One thing that The Force Awakens got right: dead characters stayed dead. Vader, Obi-wan, Yoda, Palpatine - those stories arcs were completed in Jedi.

Not in the Thrawn series. Some of the later novels don’t have the same level of quality and detail that the Thrawn trilogy manages, but they were light years (pun intended) ahead of this latest sequel.

Abrams actually addresses this point in this interview. While you can debate whether or not it was the right choice (I don’t think it was), the fact that he acknowledges this suggests that he won’t be making the same mistake with the sequels.

That’s good to know. Although I’m not sure if JJ is involved with the sequels at all, going by the information in the interview it sounds like we’ll be seeing some fresh locales in episodes 8 and 9 at least.

I just watched the making of SW:TFA and Abrams stated: (don’ t quote me on this)

When Harrison broke his leg it gave us ample time to completely re-do and re-shoot important scenes between Rey and FIn. Allowing us to develop the chemistry that was severely lacking in my original shots. We were able to re-shoot those scenes and give them more feeling,

In other words: these characters had no chemistry and Abrams knew it. I still think they lack chemistry and FIn as a main hero, is severely lacking any emotional connection to the characters around him and the story…

In what ways can Fin develop? He has no objectives, hardships or goals to strive for:

Is he looking for his real parents? No.

Any long lost brother to find and redeem? No.

Was he tortured by a superior officer making him want revenge( or maybe this officer also killed Fin’s friend whom was like family) , ultimately choosing justice instead? No.

Is he searching for a place to call home or belong? Maybe, but all he is doing is running.

During his days as a stormtrooper did he almost violently, kill someone, and is hoping to make up for the viscous Imperial conditioning which his conscience told him was wrong? No.

All of these things of which I thought up in a mere 5 min. could have given his character more depth and something to strive for. Growing a little bit with each movie. All these weaknesses could have been executed with short flashbacks, some longer than others, and using existing characters such as Captain Phasma…

So all he is doing in the movie is choosing to run away…only stopping to fight because his life is in danger not because he cares. And if he does care, it feels contrived thus lacking chemistry…These weaknesses needed to be set up in the first movie. Now his character is going to drag along. If anything comes up concerning his growth as a character in the second movie, it’s going to take the last movie to resolve it. And that is not good character development or exposition. The same thing could be said for Mar Rey Sue. She is even worse…

Apparently, the plot has been leaked for Episode 8!


I’m a bit late to the party but I enjoyed the movie. I did wonder how Poe survived the crash and stuff but I just went for the MST3K mantra explanation (it’s just a show, don’t think about it too much). Rey was easily the best thing about the movie though.

In terms of Fin’s plot development, he just got his name at the start of the movie; emotionally and mentally he’s probably quite immature compared to when he was wearing the white suit. His character will likely develop over the course of the story.

If those rumors turn out to be true I really don’t know what to think anymore. In a sense, It’s just a repeat of the first trilogies story. Why undue everything the original trilogy resolved. There where so many new directions to go in. Almost anyone could have written a better story…