Now that “Star Wars: the Force Awakens has hit cable television with round the clock multiple showings I thought would talk about it it since I didn’t have the opportunity to add my two cents when it came out way back in December of 2015 (Merrick Says Stuff wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye). The movie begins on a serious note of nostalgia by opening with the printed text we have come to know and associate with George Lucas “Star Wars”. Our story opens up about 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi.” Luke the first Jedi to appear after the fall of the Republic and the last one has disappeared. Since the fall of the Empire a new danger has appeared and it’s called the first order.
The movie begins with a meeting between Poe Dammeron and village elder Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. The meeting is interrupted when storm stoppers led by Anaken jr *ahem* Kylo Ren crash the meeting and capture Poe, while Ren kills Tekka. The droid BB-8 escapes with the piece of the map. From there our brave little droid encounters a scavenger named Rey near a junkyard settlement. Meanwhile Ren tortures Poe using the Force, and learns of BB-8. Storm Trooper FN-2187 on his first mission discovers he doesn’t like killing and decides to discretely make moves for a change of careers.So he hatches a plan to free Poe and together they bounce. What follows is a familiar tale of good verses evil with our intrepid heroes desperately trying to find Luke, the galaxy’s last hope and save the universe from the clutches of evil. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. It’s a “New Hope” beat by beat but I’ll get into that in a bit.
First let me talk about the good things in this movie. For the most part I thought the casting of the new characters was pretty good. I love John Boyega as FN-2187 or Finn for short so much so I’m willing to forget that yet again the only black guy in a galaxy far far away gets his name from a bunch of white people. Roots much? I thought Boyega played a very sympathetic and likeable character. One of the things I found interesting about the character Finn was how some people called him cowardly. Personally I say it was the perfect representation of the black mentality in that if an African American sees danger to the east we are going west. Finn wasn’t going to play with his life but he was fine with letting others be the hero and play with theirs. I honestly think the label of cowardly was wrong. Finn had a finely honed sensibility about immediate danger however when his new found friends are in danger, namely Rei he does what he has to do.
Speaking of friends I felt Oscar Issac was very charismatic in the role of Poe Dammeron and I second the claim that in him there is leading man material. He wasn’t in the movie long but the screen time he had left an impression. In fact the entire movie left an impression and had a lot to prove and fix. It had to prove that a viable Star Wars movie could be made while fixing the mistakes(prequels) of the past.The movie is never boring, a problem I had with the prequels, and the characters both old and new are quite likeable, also something that was a big problem the former Lucas movies. In fact the movies were non stop action with characters I felt somewhat invested in. The movie had a lot to prove, it had to feel like a Star Wars movie and really get us to feel that old nostalgia from before. “The Force Awakens” somehow managed to do all of these things and quite well. Yet after watching it I felt nostalgic for the George Lucas Prequels.
Now here is the bad. Being nostalgic for the George Lucas prequels is a really bad thing. By no means were they good but at least Lucas tried to do something different. He actually tried to traverse new grounds and concepts rather than walk the paths already tread. What J.J. Abrams did what recreate “A New Hope” beat by beat. It was an almost Slavish remake. Technically a different title means a different movie not a remake but make no mistake “The Force Awakens” is a remake much the same as “Jurassic World” was a remake of Park. Everything was Slavishly recreated from the desert planet, to the McGuffin in the droid and finally the climatic battle to destroy a death star, excuse me, star killer base with non stop action designed to distract people from the fact that this movie has (what little there is) a shoe string plot. It was an expensive, glorified remake designed to fleece nostalgia frenzied fools (including myself) out of their hard earned cash and milk those merchandising sales with characters like Captain Phasma played by Gwendoline Christie who got about two minutes of screen time.
One of the things I’ve learned with J.J. Abrams films is that in order to enjoy them one must go into the movie with their brains firmly shut off. Once that is done one can firmly ohh and awww at all the pretty colors and action he’s going to serve like at an all you can eat buffet. But there is a problem I find totally unique to Abrams:he includes material so heinously stupid it shuts your brain back on. Both of his Star Trek movies were littered with that with one of the worst offenses being Spok and the red matter shuttling toward Romulus to “revitalize” their sun. The other (though there are many scenes) also involved this mysterious red matter, specifically when they jet it off into deep space, blow it up, thus causing a black hole to form with the Enterprise right in the event horizon. Some how the Enterprise escapes A FRICKEN BLACK HOLE.
My brain was forcibly shut back just by reading the opening story. I found myself asking how are there still rebels if the republic won? How in the hell does the first order pop up under the republics nose and why had they not done anything about it? Why is princess Leia a general? I can understand no longer being a princess since her planet got blown up but I would have expected as least a senator. The list of plot holes causing my brain to shut back on goes on from Kylo Ren, the wanna be Darth Vader and my asking why didn’t Leia and Luke break bread with this kid about his grandfather to how and why in the hell would Luke leave without reestablishing the Jedi order and did they forget that Leia had the force too?
There is also the issue of Poe Dammeron. He was supposed to be dead and yet somehow with no explanation shows up alive and well from a ship sinking in sand then blowing up for good measure. There was, the script and it said Oscar Issac got girls panties wet and some guys feeling uncomfortably conflicted because damn it he was just too damn sexy to die. Then there was the horrible saber battles: I mean really with the budget this movie had they couldn’t spare some extra cash for a good fight choreographer? The saber battles looked like something my friends and I staged back when I was a kid. The movie had some very cringe worthy moments like Finn saying the eye rolling line”That’s one hell of a pilot” as part of some very forced nudge and wink to the audience regarding Poe being miraculously alive. I meant to stop I really did but when I think about the movie it annoys me all over again especially when thinking about Rei the Mary Sue of the movie. I did not like Rei at all.
While I understand the need to portray strong females in roles I think the concept of Ms Mary Sue Skywalker is just as much patronizing bullshit as the old school damsel in distress or girl friday from days of old. She’s perfect in every way much the same as Andrew Garfield as spider man who’s sole reason was to hit multiple demographics from the nerd to outsider to hipster. She’s strong, independent and apparently only needs to be told the force exist in order to best her cousin Kylo Ren. In many ways this depiction is just as condescending as making her the needy damsel in distress or the woman who can’t do anything without a man. I’m sure many women would like to think the are perfect in every way but it a lie we as men allow to get some peace.
Women are just as flawed as men and for this movie we should have had a flawed nuanced women who could be strong and independent. I wish Star Wars had come out with a fan made film like Start Trek did with Battle of Axanar which was superior in every way to the more recent star trek films that have come out in the past decade. (Sorry Star Trek Beyond but axanar beat you too) to show executives a very good star wars movie using the books and comics from what used to be considered cannon before Disney purchased the IP from Lucas. I do not like JJ Abraham movie. It relied heavily on the nostalgia factor in order to evoke the feels when it really should have been something that stood on it’s own. I honestly felt gypped giving this movie my $8. I payed to see something new not a remake with a fancy new title. Suffice to say I will not be giving anymore of my cash to movies set in a galaxy far far away…