Nitpicking The Force Awakens

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens recently. Overall I liked it but there were moments that took me out of the experience. In this post I’m going to talk about them. Spoilers ahead.

Setup

Right off the bat we’re treated with vagueness: “First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire“. How exactly it came about? This is rather important to me. The political situation didn’t matter that much in “A New Hope” because we went to it with a clean slate but now we have the context of the last film (“Return of the Jedi”). Did they nullify that victory just to have the same plot? Who’s the underdog here?

With the support of the Republic” – why is Resistance a separate entity and not THE Republic? I think the situation would be much clearer that way.

Jakku Village

Why does Poe Dameron fires at the stormtroopers? Wouldn’t it make sense to run away or hide? I assume he’s an experienced soldier and knows that going alone against an army is a suicide. Worse, he could get captured and interrogated which is actually what happens.

Droid Language

Why would people learn droid beeps? There are speech synthesizers. There are holographic displays so they could easily display text anywhere.

Finn

It troubled me that he doesn’t have a problem with killing other stormtroopers. He grew around them so for me that’s a rather quick change of heart. Okay, he hated that they massacred civilians but there’s not even a single doubt? Maybe they really treated him badly but we didn’t get to see that.

When he meets Rey why didn’t he asked her for water? The film could use a slow scene there but instead it quickly rushes to another chase.

Rey

It was weird to me that Rey is an able starship pilot. I assume that flying such vehicles requires practice¬† but it doesn’t seem like she ever left the planet.

Kylo Ren

Only after I watched the movie I understood that Kylo Ren is a fanboy, otaku, an obsessed collector and that Vader’s mask (or his line about Luke’s lightsaber) fits with this and wasn’t just nostalgia imagery. I would prefer if there was an extra scene to make that point clearer. Maybe a shot of his private collection or taking the Vader’s helmet out of the glass box.

Hosnian System

Why does the Republic supports the Resistance in secret?

I’m not quite sure for what reason they blew up the planets other than “hurr, durr, we’re evil”. Supposedly to cut support for the Resistance but I don’t know what exactly Resistance is losing here.

Lightsaber

When Maz Kanata points out to Finn that he has a weapon I expected the latter to respond with something like: “A sword? Are you kidding me? Give me a blaster!”.

I loathed the duel with a stormtrooper. One: because he has a weapon that can stop lightsaber so that devalues the latter. Two: why would he have that baton? Standard weapon is a gun. It’s faster, safer and more reliable. For knocking people out? You can set blasters to stun (remember that?).

Let me pull back for a moment to present my take on lightsaber: it’s a weapon that nobody wants. Regular people have blasters because you don’t take a knife to a gunfight. Powerful beings don’t need it because they have force. It makes sense for Jedi knights who can enhance its use with the Force but aren’t powerful enough to just rely on the latter.

Aid from Resistance

When X-Wings appear, stormtroopers leave the prisoners and go into cover to shoot… at the ships? Why don’t they hurry to the transporter ship? Or set up some AA guns? Or both?

Then they get picked one by one. Are X-Wings that precise? Don’t they have ground forces for that purpose?

Rey Captured

Her escape from restraints I find unconvincing. Mind trick was not set-up. It would make sense to me if she was using it to persuade junkyard guy to get a better price and she thought it was her charm (but later turns out to be the Force). Although it wouldn’t fit with her living a miserable life.

I think I would make her escape using some sort of a hardware trick (her knowledge about that stuff was established) or just make Han and Finn save her (to make the rescue mission more meaningful).

Starkiller

In the “Empire Strikes Back” they’ve learned to just move the fleet around instead of building another Death Star. They unlearned that in the “Return of the Jedi” and unlearned again in this film. So they construct the same station and get blown up in the same manner, with the same ships, in the same trench run. I was just rolling my eyes in the cinema.

Captain Phasma

I find it hard to believe that she would lower the shields. Where’s her loyalty? Especially as a high ranking officer. But even without that I expected her to say something like: “Are you mad? Without shields we’re all in danger. You might as well shoot me!”. Maybe she could even try to appeal to Finn: “You’re putting thousands of lives in danger”. I would prefer if they used her credentials instead to lower the shields.

Why won’t the First Order attempt to restore shields? Wouldn’t they want to figure out how did the enemy arrived?

Duel

We get to the fight with Kylo Ren. I was surprised that Finn was able to stand his ground. I would have rather liked if he got wrecked immediately because you don’t get to mess around with the Force. Then Rey defeats Kylo despite having no training with lightsaber and Force whatsoever which I find disappointing.

An important rule to me in drama is: when you perform a task out of your league you pay for it. Finn and Rey have nothing so the only thing you could take away is their health.

I think it’s tricky to scale injuries with lighstabers. One thing you could do is to cut off limbs. In the “Empire Strikes Back” Luke chooses to save friends rather than continue training and it costs him his hand.

In “The Force Awakens” Rey comes off unscathed. Finn gets injured but we don’t know how severely. At the end it looks to me like he’s fine. Maybe he’s going to be disabled in the sequel but it doesn’t change that there’s no dramatic pay-off in this film.

I can imagine a different scenario: Kylo Ren quickly deals with Finn by cutting his limb(s). Finn screams with horror and Ren leaves him there. He picks up Luke’s lightsaber and turns towards Rey. She dodges his attacks or runs away but gets cornered. Suddenly Finn charges at Ren and Kylo is distracted. In that moment Rey attacks Ren with an improvised weapon in the wound and fends him off, giving enough time for the two to escape. In the end Finn gets either prosthetics or his own parts sew back but never fully recovers.

It’s not a vision that I would sign myself under but my point is to have consequences to your actions.

To make that fight interrupted or won but with a tremendous cost (like Finn dies and Rey is injured) would also keep Kylo Ren threatening.  More so, it would establish that she really needs training in order to survive. Finding Luke would be very important to her.

Right now I see the situation as “Oh, we defeated him once, we could do it again!”.

R2-D2

Why did the robot suddenly awaken? That’s a coincidence that I don’t accept. It would make sense to me if it was programmed to e.g. resume when Han dies. Or when the government gets blown up. Or after displaying a map piece from the BB-8.

Summary

Film copies “A New Hope” which makes it predictable and in result diminishes drama. I wish it had more novelty (and less nods to the original films) because the new stuff they introduced I enjoyed.

I also wish it would have taken more time to clarify things so that they wouldn’t come off from nowhere and barely believable.

 

EDIT:  Other reviews I enjoyed:

 


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