Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Force Awakens *Spoilers*

I have seen the new movie and I am happy to say it is a great start to a new trilogy.  The following will contain Spoilers.  I say again Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers!!!  Turn back now, you have been warned!

What a great ride the movie was.  While I would not say it was a perfect movie, it was certainly a good one.  The new SW is essentially A New Hope 2.0, and I mean this in the best way.  It gives us the nostalgia that we want without being a slave too it.  Sure Star Wars is the prototypical heroes journey, but it works so I have no complaints.  While the love affair with heroes coming from desert planets is tried and true, its not a huge deal, Rey has to come from somewhere and Jakku works as well as any other.

In the aftermath of RotJ, the Rebel Alliance is able to establish a new Republic and fights the remnant empire and establish a peace.  However the First Order arises out of the empire remnant and rebuilds in the outer rim, and the Republic does little, tired of the Galactic Civil War and not believing the First Order presents a real threat to the Republic.  Luke has disappeared after one of his pupils, and Han & Leia's son, rebels and kills the other Jedi pupils.  Luke does what all great Jedi do when tragedy befalls them, he runs away and hides.

One of my main critique is that not enough of the backstory is actually done in the movie, which leads to confusion on who the resistance is when there is a Republic with a military.  A lot is done in the lead up material in comics and books, which is fine but it lessens the impact of some of the events, such as the destruction of the Hosnian system, which you get is kind of a big deal in the movie but it brushes past it so fast and the reactions from the resistance is not as dramatic as you would expect since the Republic's head of government and fleet was just obliterated.  Thats kind of a big deal.  That should really have a huge impact on the resistance and main characters, they are now alone against the First Order.

And speaking of the resistance, the movie doesn't fully explain who they are, other than opposing the first order.  From the other material, they are not an official military force, rather a private army gathered by general Leia to oppose the First Order as a result of the Republics inaction.  It bugged me a little watching, as it never makes it clear cut during the movie, so I wondered how the resistance fit in to the Republic.

I really hope though that we are done with these super weapons.  Enough already, I hope Starkiller base is the last "death stars" that will be seen.  It sucks up suns and blows up planets, how was this not discovered earlier and dealt with while the First Order is weak?  Will the bad guys learn, three times it turns out is not the charm, so hopefully they will just realize that sometimes having more ships and soldiers is more important.

Even despite this though, I loved it.  Poe was a great character and I can't wait to see more of him, while he wasn't on screen a whole ton, when he was he made the most of it.  And lets be clear, Rey and Finn are what this story is going to revolve around, and Poe will be important as well, but not the same level as these two. Poe is the non force Luke and does a great job at leading the resistance fighters.  And I love the upgraded versions of the star wars classics.  Plus they make sense, 30 years sounds like a lot but really its not from a military equipment perspective.  Its much easier to upgrade and modify existing craft rather than make whole new ones, especially once a war ends and since both sides have limited resources, its easier to upgrade the old.  Hey we still have F15s today, even though they were introduced 40 years ago, but the F15s today have things the original F15s never had.

Story of course follows the new heroes Rey and Finn as they escape from the first order, who are trying to capture a map of the location of Luke who is in hiding.  Through there escape they come into contact with Han Solo who is trying the get back his stolen Falcon.  They make there escape and come to Maz, who is our yoda stand in and of course has Lukes/Anakins light saber and get our real confirmation that Rey is force sensitive.  Then comes our first climatic battle, with both the resistance and first order battling over the droid with Luke's location.  The first order shows up first and wrecks the place, but the resistance with Poe lead a daring X-Wing attack and relieve our heroes.  Though Rey is captured by Kylo Ren, who has changed his name from Ben Solo. 

She is taken to Starkiller Base/Death Star 3.0, and the rest of our heroes return to the resistance base and plan their attack on the Base.  This is when the First Order makes its move, destroying the Hosnian system after the Republic officially sides with the resistance against the First Order.  This has some serious importance but with the Republic rotating worlds as its capitol, its real importance is the implied fleet that is likely now destroyed.  The Resistance attacks the Base, with Finn and Solo jumping in through the shields to disable it for an attack.  They successfully do this and put CPT Phasma in the garbage compacter, who speaking of does not get near enough screen time.  I will not judge too harshly as I am sure she will be playing a larger role to come, this movie is part of a whole and has a lot of ground to cover for the next two.

Of course the major scene is the showdown between Han and his son, who is teetering between the darkside.  In a great scene, he finally goes all in and kills his father, Han.  I know this is controversial, but I loved it, it was a greatly done scene and with the right build up.  Really this is the story of the Force Awakens.  Sure its about establishing Rey and Finn, but this is Han's movie and his goodbye.  It is also what is going to drive Kylo Ren from here on out and probably be his eventual undoing.

After great struggle and with the reuniting of Rey and Finn, starkiller base is destroyed and Rey realizes who she really is.  As they attempt to escape Rey and Finn showdown with Ren, the new generation is here.  Its a great scene and Finn holds up well against the wounded Ren before being knocked out of the fight by Ren.  Rey then uses the force to grab Anakins light saber from the snow and duels with Ren to eventual victory.  I know she is untrained and seems to have a mastery of the lightsaber, however I argue that this is relative.  Ren really is not a highly trained force wielder, he posses great raw power but not finesse, and being wounded evens the field between him and Rey.  This fight is really not a fine tuned lightsaber duel but two raw force wielders hacking at each other, Rey is fresher and not seriously wounded and does defeat him.  Some of this is plot, but I buy it, while Ren has been using the force longer, he does seem to lack significant training so the match up is not as crazy as it appears.

So at the end, we have the resistance victorious but I would say they are not in a great position.  The Republic fleet is destroyed and it will take time for the government to rise from the ashes, so the resistance is alone with limited resources.  However the First Order just lost a significant portion of its manpower and resources.  While it has other forces, its hard to imagine many were able escape the Base and its destruction is not a small blow.  Neither side is in great condition, but I would say the First Order is probably in the best, with likely far more surviving ships, though its not clear how many ships the resistance has, and its unlikely that all of the Republics ships were destroyed, just its main fleet.

Rey goes off and finds Luke, which is where the movie ends.  It will be interesting to see what happens, though one can guess that Luke will be reluctant, I bet that Rey will attempt to convince him to return but initially fail and be pulled away by events in the next movie, leaving Luke to anguish over his decision. 

I am really looking forward to the next movie and see the stakes raised, see the final training of Ren and prepare for the showdown between him and Rey. 

While I do think the movie went a little too fast and glossed over a lot, its ok, A New Hope did much the same and left the following movies to really expand from its beginnings.  We have our heroes and villians.  The stage is set.

And yes, I know I did not cover everything in the movie before you point out that one scene or two I did not mention.  I am for sure going to go see it again and absorb it all in.  I am glad that Star Wars is back and on the right foot, it is no phantom menace.



  1. I completely agree with you about the movie going too fast and glossing over things, and that this worked out well with the original trilogy, but I wish I didn't have two years to see how all of this was expanded upon. I know, tickitack argument, but I wish so much wasn't going to be left up in the air for so long.

    Otherwise, great movie and I'm excited to see what comes up next.

    1. I Know, but to be fair, it was a couple of years between A New Hope and Empire so its not a whole lot different.

  2. I really, really enjoyed this review and agree with you almost completely. It did feel almost like a reboot, almost like 2009's Star Trek. And without context the "Resistance", First Order, and Republic didn't seem to fit together too well, but reading some wiki's explained it better.
    And yes, it went by really fast, but it was better than dragging and checking your watch.
    I think JJ Abrams did a really good job of framing certain nostalgia overload elements like the appearance of The Millennium Falcon and Rey finally getting the lightsaber.
    I hope we are primed for much, much more!

  3. I don't Think the Ren Rey fight was that bad, i belive ure forgetting the Fight Rey had in the start of the movie where she fights OFF 2 villans, i thanks she proves that she is trained in using weapons.