So it’s November and once again Star Wars Season is upon us. Apparently each December for the near future we will have to relive all the hype and circus of Star Wars as an annual event. Hopefully it is closer to the Lord of the Rings trilogy December releases and not like the yawn inducing Call of Duty Releases each year.
However this year, unlike last year I’m just not into the hype. Last year we were all buzzing with teaser trailers breakdowns, plot assumptions, and Abrams’s patented mystery hype. Which worked at the time, I’ll admit. The movie broke records at the box office and drew in legions of old fans and new ones. Which to be fair was a major achievement, considering the well publicized 4 billion dollar investment by Disney.
This movie also garnered near universal praise. People loved the experience. They loved the new characters. They loved the story. Critics loved it. Fans loved it. It seemed like a slam dunk for Disney and Abrams.
They should take all this with a grain of salt however. What we experienced was the equivalent of a Star Wars honeymoon period. You’d be remiss if you didn’t remember but the now reviled Phantom Menace received similar treatment at its debut. Similarly it smashed box office records and earned near universal praise.
That’s not to say they are both terrible films. The Force Awakens is leaps and bounds better than Episode I. But the euphoric effect is very similar. We tend to overlook the plot holes and glaring story issues in favor or finally continuing a much beloved story.
I have a mixed opinion of the Force Awakens. I didn’t hate it, but unlike so many I didn’t love it either. Some parts were fantastic; others need work or simply were downright confusing. True Abrams loves his mystery and he is entitled to direct as such, but it felt like there was too much mystery in it. Similar to how Prometheus was brilliant in concept, but too much mystery dampened what could have been a fantastic story.
Let’s talk about some the mystery elements that needed clarification. Since people are always looking for examples. I would point you to none other than the two primary factions the Resistance and the First Order. We aren’t given much on either group and honestly it takes away from the story.
Resistance and The First Order
So the Resistance, let’s start there. I was confused when I first heard the name pop up. I’ve had friends and family tell me it was a minor plot point but it didn’t seem like it to me. The Resistance seems to play a huge role in the galaxy. Yet we are given next to no information as to how they are affiliated with the New Republic. Why are they not the New Republic Army? What exactly happened to all the Rebels and Imperials after Episode 3? We have no idea as it wasn’t explained. Yet it is implied they are still a rag tag group despite the fact that they should be the official military forces.
This could have been easily explained with just a few minor conversations or stories. Seriously take two minutes out of your movie and just have Leia lament over not having Republic support or something. Instead we are forced to be left to wonder and are expected to root for them as if they are the underdogs when they should not be at all. If anything the Imperial splinter groups should be the underdogs. It’s confusing and could have been clarified. We should have to read supplemental novels or materials just for a few answers to the state of the galaxy.
The First Order is mysterious. That part is fine. A mysterious splinter group whose philosophy runs counter to mainstream society is understandable. That they keep their plans secretive is completely believable. We can safely assume these guys are an Imperial splinter group of left over soldiers and sailors from the original Imperial forces.
What are not clear are their goals. Is it to destroy the Republic and reestablish the Empire? We are never really told. Instead they somehow fill the stereotypical bad guy role. It seems contradictory since they no longer have access to the same resources they once did. Troops, starships, bases, and guns are expensive. Things easily explained in the first film since they had thousands of worlds to draw taxes from.
We would expect to see a smaller lighter splinter faction operating in republic space or rebuilding on a distant worlds somewhere. Yet they are depicted as having a vast army and sizeable Navy. Did they simply take off with all remaining Imperial assets into unknown space? Is this the first time the republic has seen storm troopers again? Simple questions that could have been answered or at least hinted at through dialogue or character reminiscing.
People love Rey. There are have been all sorts of articles and videos and fan theories over who her parents are and what her importance is. She is being praised for being the first female force user. Perhaps The Clone Wars TV show and movie did not count even though they are considered canon.
Rey ,unfortunately, wasn’t that interesting of a character for me. I never identified with her and her story felt forced. We are told to care about her and that’s she is important. But I never bought into it.
Perhaps it was too much mystery. My theory lies on the character traits of Rey. In trying to make her a strong independent woman they robbed her of being relatable. I’m not saying women can’t be strong or independent, but she appears to be good at everything. She can pilot ships, fight in hand to hand combat, and perform maintenance on crafts she has never touched before. On top of that she also force sensitive and defeated a seasoned force user on her first try.
This all combined for a character that just seems too over the top. Why does she need Luke if she can do all that? She’s already leaps and bounds better than he was as a young apprentice. Aside from some relatively minor abandonment issues, she doesn’t have any flaws it seems. Unfortunately a character without flaws just isn’t as interesting as a dorky farm boy who had no real experience trying to play hero.
How silly was this thing? Clearly just a plot device to make you nostalgic for the first film, it being in this film made no sense at all. Seriously we are supposed to believe the Imperial Military is a professional military force, yet its commanders and going to try a tactic that already failed twice? Was the third time supposed to be the charm?
Even if they are an entirely new group of troopers and officers, they had to have at least heard that the two previous Death Stars failed spectacularly. The Battle of Endor even led to the death of the head of state, the Empire’s most crushing defeat. Yet somehow their first instinct after rebuilding a massive army and navy is to go and build another massive base that can be defeated by a smaller fighter?
If you were to make another Planet killer would it not be smarter to make it smaller? Like say a weapon that could be transported on a single Star Destroyer. That way if you lost the ship only a single crew was lost rather than a massive base with countless soldiers and officers? It honestly seemed like bad writing.
All of this aside it is still a decent movie. I am a huge Star Wars fan and hoping for a compelling narrative akin to the original trilogy. Despite these glaring issues it’s worth a watch. Here is hoping the next director of Episode 8 will clear a few things up since it’s not slated to be Abrams again. Also the spinoff Rogue One looks decent. I am hoping not to be let down again. What were your thoughts on The Force Awakens? Did you love it or had mixed feeling? Feel free to let me know.