Now, just because I loved it doesn’t mean I’m going to give it a free pass. The biggest problem in the movie had to be Kylo Ren. Reminiscent of how they repackaged the big three’s stories, likewise they repackage Vader as Kylo Ren. Not subtly, either. He’s legitimately Vader’s grandson (From Han and Leia) trying to get out of his grandfather’s shadow. Unlike Vader though, who came in as one of the greatest bad guys in the history of cinema and was very slowly redeemed through the actions of the son he never knew existed, Ren comes in as a badass and then turns into a sniveling sack of shit in less than thirty minutes.
A great plot device to establish a character is to have them perform some kind of way over the top act. They even did it in this movie with Han Solo just in case you’ve been living under a rock for forty years. There’s a moment where he’s walking through a firefight and casually turns and shoots a Stormtrooper without looking. They did the same with Ren. The movie opens with Stormtroopers ransacking a village and killing everyone in it, which establishes him as a dick. Then, they up the ante further when he uses The Force to FREEZE A LASER BOLT IN PLACE (Which is presumably traveling at the speed of light or close to it). Brilliant.
Then the next time we see him he throws a temper tantrum and destroys a bunch of equipment like a petulant child. This probably still could have made him scary but they added humor to the scene (Don’t get me wrong though, both jokes after his tantrums were funny). Also, whereas everyone in the fleet seemed afraid of Vader and those who didn’t got Force choked or killed, Ren seems diminished in his relationship with General Hux as they vie for Supreme Leader Snoke’s favoritism.
Then, he takes his helmet off and has soft girly features, huge ears, and hair so ridiculous it made me glad I went bald in my twenties. To top it off, he looked like he was on the verge of tears in EVERY SINGLE SCENE (Upon my second viewing, I will admit this could be due to the reflection of the many lights on set). Seriously though, if I wanted to watch a whiny bitch cry for two hours I would watch Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix or Revenge Of The Sith. I don’t understand how someone as wise as J.J. Abrams would duplicate one of the most hated things in the history of the franchise (Hayden Christenson’s performance). I hang on to hope though… maybe J.J. has a plan. Sure, I hated Adam Driver, but maybe I’m supposed to…
30 Seconds To Hoth
Secondly, I didn’t like the destruction of Starkiller Base. They essentially built a weaponized quasar that can shoot out multiple gamma rays and wipe out several planets at once which is pretty bitchin’. Its destruction reminded me of how I felt when I saw Doomsday in the Batman VS Superman trailer though. Why would you take something that big and bad and throw it away so quickly? This could have been a threat throughout the entire new trilogy. Not only do they destroy it, but they did so with ZERO PLAN OF ATTACK. Unlike the sacrifice of the many Bothan spies to get the Death Star plans, they just had a scan and Finn said he could get the shields down (Which he lied about). So they just walk in and wing it and somehow manage to destroy an entire planet.
Next issue… Captain Phasma. Why would you have what is conceivably the first female Stormtrooper, give her shiny badass looking armor, cast somebody from Game Of Thrones to play her, put her in the exact center of the foreground of the poster (Look below), and then have her do nothing? Waste. Hopefully she’s more important in the sequels.
One thing I did like was how they finally gave due to Chewbacca’s traditional weapon, the Bowcaster. After barely being fired in the original trilogy, not only did A LOT of Stormtroopers get hit with it but we also discovered it’s more powerful than your average blaster. That led to one big problem though. Numerous times throughout the film Chewie is seen shooting Stormtroopers in full armor and they go backflipping away but when he shoots Kylo Ren (Who is just wearing what most Muse fans wear to their concerts) at the end he just kind of gets a flesh wound from it. Nitpicky, but it bothered me.
Speaking of weapons, why would you give Rey a staff that looks like a double sided lightdildo (Like Darth Maul had), make it look on the poster like it was one (Check above), and actually it’s just a stick? Here’s to hoping she’ll get one in the next movie. Speaking of Rey, as I mentioned earlier, although it’s a cool writing technique to have somebody do something way over the top, they went way over the top with this with her character. Han Solo has piloted the Millenium Falcon most of his adult life, Ren should not point out where the lightspeed switch is to him after flying it once, even if she has The Force.
Further on that note, is she some kind of Force savant? They have some kind of throwaway line about her having had flying lessons at some point but that doesn’t mean you should be able to fly a Correlian Freighter through a downed Star Destroyer. Then, she somehow escapes using the Jedi mind trick that she shouldn’t even have known existed. Hell, an hour before she thought Luke Skywalker was a myth! Maybe she just assumed (Like all girls do) that if she gives a man an order he might just follow it. Then, at the end, she continues the asinine trend in these films of people with zero lightsaber training being able to defeat people who have lots of experience with them. At least that sort of made sense because they made it seem like The Force was guiding her but they’re forgetting one important fact. The Force is not the Matrix. You can’t just download Kung Fu or flying manuals into someone.
“I know Win Du.”
It was even worse when Finn did it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he had some melee training in the Stormtrooper academy but I doubt they spent a lot of time going over sword attacks and parries. How bout that fight Finn had with the guy with the futuristic PR-24 baton though? Even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away white cops were trying to beat black guys with nightsticks. To round out my list, Artoo-Detoo has been in low power mode since Luke went missing and then wakes up from his droid coma at the end for absolutely no reason at all. You couldn’t write one little source of outside stimuli to trigger him activating?
Finally, I know I said that my biggest problem was Kylo Ren but at the end of the day I cannot believe they killed Han fucking Solo. I will admit, however, that I can’t figure out if I didn’t like that because it’s bad writing or because I just love Han Solo. In theory, Harrison Ford could have asked to be killed off. Logically, killing him makes sense. He’s almost a decade older than Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (Who, if we’re bitching, I thought was pretty weak in this) and was clearly not having the easiest time running around in spaceships. Who knows? Maybe I’m just not over my Dad passing away and Han reminds me of him. I didn’t like it though. I will say from a writing perspective, I think most people would assume that if one of the big three was going to die it wasn’t going to be him. Also, it does help establish Kylo Ren further as a dick. One last point to make about it though. If the idea of these movies is that we’re supposed to want them to bring Kylo Ren back from the dark side, turning him into a whiny bitch and having him murder one of the most beloved characters in pop culture history isn’t doing him any favors.
Now, all that being said, I still loved the movie and here’s more reasons why. In addition to all the things I mentioned in my spoiler free review, I was blown away by the sheer amount of Easter Egg throwbacks to the original films. In addition to obvious ones like the combat remote Luke trained with and the Dejarik board where Artoo played against Chewie on the Falcon, I saw Boba Fett’s mythosaur skull outside Maz’s cantina (Which in itself was kind of an homage to Mos Eisley). They mention the garbage chute and trash compactor from the first film and have Luke’s lightsaber get stuck in the snow the same way it did in Empire Strikes Back. There’s even a throwback to a deleted scene from A New Hope where Jabba was originally played by Irish actor Declan Mulholland (They replaced him in the “Special Edition” with a horrible looking CGI Jabba) and in this one Han owes money to Scottish actor Emun Elliot. That’s so obscure I bet ten people noticed.
Jabba the… barbarian?
Besides the big three, there’s also a bunch of other original actors like Peter Mayhew (Chewie) and Anthony Daniels (Threepio). Even Tim Rose (Puppeteer) and Eric Bauersfeld (Voice) came back to do Admiral Ackbar. They also snuck in fanboys like Simon Pegg, Judah Friedlander, and possibly Daniel Craig and sci-fi fantasy midget greats Warwick Davis (Willow, The Leprechaun, Harry Potter) and Kiran Shah (Who originally auditioned for Artoo-Detoo and narrowly lost out to Kenny Baker) who not only was in Raiders Of The Lost Ark but also did stunt work in almost every Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings film. Speaking of LOTR, they also got motion capture master Andy Serkis to play the enigmatic Supreme Leader Snoke, whom I hope is actually really huge like the aliens in Prometheus and not just a big hologram.
I also wish I had known going in that Luke was only going to be in the last five minutes of the movie and have no dialogue… but man was that scene intense. Despite all my complaints about Rey being Force proficient with no training, I loved the scene where Kylo tried to summon the lightsaber and it flew to her. That by itself would have forever cemented her in Star Wars history. I can’t talk enough about how good the new cast is and how great of a job did Harrison Ford do?
There’s so many questions I have though. Snoke doesn’t seem to be a Sith lord but yet has some kind of knowledge of the dark side (And Maz also has knowledge of The Force despite being neither Sith nor Jedi). Who are the Knights of Ren? Is Rey Luke’s daughter or another child of Han and Leia? How did Maz get Luke/Anakin’s lightsaber when it presumably fell into the core of a gas giant? Like Marc Anthony, I need to know!
To find out why T-Bagz gave this movie a not-so-solid A check out his spoiler free review.