What I really hate about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Where’s the Jaw-dropping intro sequence?

Traditionally. Star Wars always starts with a bang. An iconic opening sequence to draw you in, to wet your appetite for what’s to come, usually they are hugely impressive (yes, even the prequels).

Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope: Star Destroyer Attacking Leia’s ship, which is then boarded by Stormtroopers led by Darth Vader.

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Executor casting a shadow over lesser Star Destroyers.

Star Wars: Episode VI The Return of the Jedi. Construction of the new Death Star above the planet Endor.

So what do we get in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Oh, some shadow over a moon. Dare I say it, even the prequels had a better introduction sequence.

The unoriginal plot

A lost soul on a desert planet destined for greatness. A hunt for a droid carrying important information, a ‘cantina scene’, a ‘Death star’ sequence. Even a sort of ‘I AM YOUR FATHER’ scene. Star Wars: The Force Awaken’s plot is really just a re-hashed, vastly inferior version of Star Wars: Episode IV.

Luke Skywalker - No Updates

Luke Skywalker – No Updates

Lack of Luke Skywalker

After all the hype, all the build-up, public appearances and what have you, the main protagonist of the original series. the hero we all wanted to see (and hear) again appears very briefly only at the very end of the film (and also in an even briefer flashback scene), and has no dialogue. As an avid Star Wars fan, I’ve been waiting to catch up with my childhood hero for over 30 years, and trailers hinted that he’d play a big role in the sequel. What a huge disappointment.

Cringworthy fan service

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, at times, feels more like a Star Wars parody acted out by grovelingly grateful cast members, overwhelmed at how being in a Star Wars film has no doubt made or at the very least boosted their career. From Finn’s ‘Come on, Come on’ reprisal of Han on the Millennium Falcon’s cannon, to Han’s 30 year’s too late obsession with Chewbacca’s bowcaster, the film is a mindfield of cheesy references and unfunny comical anecdotes from the original.

Where is my Return of the Jedi sequel?

The Return of the Jedi, for me at least, took the Star Wars template and threw the kitchen sink at it, culminating with a three acts (Battle of Endor, Attack on the Second Death Star and Luke Vs Vader II) intertwining and building up to a epic finale. But what happened to the Rebel and Imperial fleets, where did Han, Leia and Luke go from there?, what about Lando?, or the Ewoks for that matter. etc etc. Instead of a sequel explaining this, what I got was effectively yet another ‘Prequel’, a cynical money-spinning sandbox for a new wave, the starter course, but in no way the full meal.

Gaping plot holes and coincidences.

Oh look, there’s the Millennium falcon, which I can somehow fly. Oh look Han and Chewie, who have been searching for the ship for 15 years have just stumbled across us. Oh dear we haven’t got an X-wing flying Jedi, lets have a Jedi and a separate X-wing pilot guy, missing lightsabres in a cantina. The list goes on, but in summary it’s an unfocused, disjointed tale, poorly executed with too much left out. In contrast, the original trilogy keeps it simple, clear and focussed. A princess needs rescuing and the bad-guys need blowing up.

No R2D2 / C3PO magic.

The original Star Wars Trilogy was, in essence, a tale of two droids and the events developing around them from their innocent, sometimes candid perspective. In my opinion, that’s one reason why the Star Wars ‘magic’ is lost in the prequels and now the sequel. Telling the story through the droid’s eyes is inspired because it avoids the need for people, places and events to be explained in any great detail, leaving the audience to fill in the gaps on their own, which created the rich Star Wars universe we all know and love. Granted, R2D2 is shut down in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, (although again, it’s not explained why), but even so, the companionship felt in the original trilogy, which was so crucial, just isn’t there anymore.

Another new Universe?

The problem with Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that, because we don’t have the droids ‘narrating’ the story as it were, nothing is explained. There’s too many gaps, too much is left to be explained in Episode VIII. What happened to the rebellion?, who are the resistance? How did Rey end up on Jakku? One of the best things about Star Wars: Episode IV is that it sets out the universe and it’s characters, while telling a self contained story. Beginning, middle and end. What we have here is almost a prologue setting up a new universe. But why?, we already have one of the best-loved universes waiting for a ‘proper’ sequel and we already know and love the characters. It has the feel of a prequel, not a sequel.

The Final Act.

At some point in development, by the looks of it late on, a ‘Death Star’ (Starkiller base) seems to have been shoe-horned into film. (Starkiller being Lukes original surname before being changed to Skywalker – more fan cheesy fan-service) Obviously it needed to be bigger and better than the previously Death-stars, so let’s make it out of a planet, powered by the sun, oh and lets make it destroy whole solar systems instead of just planets. The problem is, I and millions of others have seen it all before, their’s no shock factor. We get some crazed Nazi-style posturing from General Hux and some exploding planets. There’s no context, no empathy like the destruction of Alderaan, it all just seems tacked on to tick the Death-Star box.

The planning and execution of the attack on Starkiller base is almost an afterthought, as though the film-maker knew it had all been done and seen before, but had to do it anyway, so added a bit of humour to the proceedings to compensate. There’s no tension and no sense that things could possibly end in anything other than a victory for the rebellion (or is it resistance?). It’s almost an admission that the Attack on the Death Star I and II couldn’t be bettered. Another huge disappointment.

Dramatic Space Opera?

Remember the Iconic moments of the Original Trilogy? Sitting on the edge of your seat as Vader homed in on Luke in the ‘Attack on the Death Star’. Everything about Hoth, The Final act of Return of the Jedi, and of course ‘I AM YOUR FATHER!!!!’. Well, nothing even approaches that in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Instead, what you get is, besides the Star Wars : A New Hope facsimile, is three teenagers going at each other with lightsabers in almost teen-movie fashion.

And what would a space opera be without a dramatic space battle? As stated before, Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, took the Star Wars template and threw the kitchen sink at it. X-Wings, B-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, Tie Fighters, Tie-Interceptors, not the mention all the big capital ships and transports on both sides.

What do we get in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Some dull looking transports, about twelve X-wings with paint-jobs and some new tie-fighters. In fact there are no actual ‘space’ battles as they now all take place in the planet’s atmosphere.

The Battle of Endor: Nothing comes close in The Force Awakens

The Battle of Endor: Nothing comes close in The Force Awakens

19 Responses

  1. While I like your passion, I don’t share your point of view. I thought The Force Awakens was a magical rebirth for a series that is now set to go from strength-to-strength. A Rian Johnson Star Wars film. ?

    • Hey, everyone’s different. This is just my take. I’ve actually seen it 3 times so it can’t be that bad can it?

      • Haha! That’s funny Adam, maybe it’ll grow on you after a while. I had all the same feelings as you back in 1999. Those films kind of broke my heart, but I don’t admit that to many people.

        • After the dust had settled. I would honestly rate “Revenge of the Sith” above TFA.

          • Interesting. I can see how ‘Sith’ might inspire some love, but for me, it was too little too late. That said, I do love McDiarmid as Palpatine. It’s a sublime performance.

  2. Chris Arbuthnot says:

    Very well put Adam. Seen it once, rated it as a 7 just out of the cinema, talked about it and half an hour later I had revised the rating down to a 3.5. Basically just a rehash of Episode IV. In fact, the whole film has made me think about even watching Episode VIII (I will of course, but just not as excited as I was about this one)

    What I have a real fear about is that Episode VIII will just be a rehash of Empire Strikes back…think about it, Kylo Ren going to see that Snoke fella, (Again disappointed that there NO background on him) to complete his training, it’s obvious that Rey and Ren are brother and sister, and thay Rey was ‘hidden’ on Jakku to make sure that Snoke didn’t know who or where she was…

    I’m even not so excited about Rogue One, although from what I have seen it looks like a decent movie…

    I’d also agree about Revenge of the Sith, and even Attack of the Clones being better than The Force Awakens…

  3. You seem very critical! I had some similar thoughts when I watched the film for the first time last weekend. To me, it seemed like a re-run of A New Hope – with a couple of parallels with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi which, if anything, are not the 3 movies that need redoing!

    I liked the infusion of comedy, which is very popular in modern films nowadays and there was some genuinely cool action sequences. Plus, BB-8 is adorable! Kylo Ren and Rey get a thumbs down from me though.

    On the whole, I enjoyed the movie, but at the same time I kind of wished I was watching the original trilogy …

    https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

    • Call it what you will, a reboot, a ‘prequel’ the upcoming films, a create of a new Universe for a new generation….. What it definitely isn’t though, and what I was really hoping it would, is the sequel to Return of the Jedi 🙁

    • Chris Arbuthnot says:

      Hi Judith,

      Completely agree with Kylo Ren and Rey…they just didn’t hit the right notes for me. And would have liked to have seen more of Luke.

      I’d better stop now or I will just rip the movie to shreds, and in all honesty, I did enjoy watching it, it just didn’t live up to my expectations, although they were admittedly very high!

      Not sure about BB-8, seemed like a R2-D2 clone, even sounded as if they spoke the same language!

      • There’s just too much doubt about the Movie. All the inconsistencies, gaps, flaws etc have been aggressively defended, contested and explained countless times, but surely a great film doesn’t need to be justified or explained. A great film, like the Original Trilogy just blows you away and you don’t feel or want to question it, you just love it. That’s why the Force Awakens is so terrible. I ‘want’ to pull it apart because they ruined Star Wars, again.

      • Chris…. Please do rip it to shreds, go for your life 🙂

  4. 4eos says:

    I actually agree. After my sister and I saw it, she said it was pretty much about a bunch of teenagers running about the universe causing trouble.The Han Solo and Chewie “magical appearance” on the Millenium Falcon —- The lost youth on a desert planet with “Jedi” powers—you’re right it is all too familiar.

    The only part I didn’t get was who Kylo Ren was talking to –uh the “Supreme Leader”? Any clues? Oh yeah, And why Luke Skywalker was by himself on some strange island…. it was all a bit weird. Nice review, though.

  5. Preach it, brother. I couldn’t agree more.

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