|:: A trilogy of fan-fic set after Episode VI Return of the Jedi, and inspired by George Lucas' historical draft concepts ::
|The Force Awakens ! Nat's thoughts on Episode VII...
31st December 2015
December 2015 saw the worldwide release of Star Wars Episode VII : The Force Awakens. Since it's opening on or around the 17th, by the end of the month it had made over a billion dollars globally, making it one of the most lucrative movies ever.
Having followed the spoilers from the early days of its inception over two years ago, I've had a fairly clear idea of what to expect. I don't know if that made me more critical on watching it, or even if, paradoxically, my creative writing for the 'Virtual Edition Sequel Trilogy' made me more aware of the challenges facing writers of original fiction, and writers extending an existing story.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film, it was very entertaining, and had great visuals, and fun, exciting 'gags', worthy of Lucas himself. However, from the very first viewing - and to date, I've now seen the film five times - I found it very dense, with elements that weren't clearly explained, regardless of the predictable cliff-hangers leading us into Episode VIII. For the sake of a few extra lines of dialogue, certain characters or situations could have been clarified ; as it was, I found this absence 'distracting' ; I felt that, perhaps, had Lucas had written it, the end result might have been a little simpler, more streamlined. Of course, the creative team producing this film - and its sequels - were faced with a gargantuan task with two generations of heroes (whereas for my VE, our hero characters have hardly aged !!), needed to propel the Saga story forward, and please both the general audience as well as the nerdy fan.
It was a great romp, highly entertaining, slickly made, almost ticked all the boxes, seemed to deliberately derive from ANH [as we expected it to - presumably for familiarity, for Lucasian symphonic patterns, for box office guarantee) ; great visuals, great gags and action sequences, some neat nods to the OT (though I would have hoped for some equally reverential nods to the PT - there was a line about the troopers not being dependable clones anymore, and a new-styled stormtrooper presented a tonfa electric stick that echoed the staves wielded by General Grievous' escort guards). It was great seeing the Opening Crawl again, and a relief to see the Episode VII moniker in the Title Crawl ; and wonderful to see the Millennium Falcon flying once more !
The new generation of actors did a very good job, and in particular I felt Daisy Ridley who portrayed Rey was outstanding, clearly showing her character's arc develop from 'simple scavenger' to 'Jedi heir'. John Boyega's Finn was both comic and endearingly accessible, while Adam Driver's Ben Solo / Kylo Ren gave a subtle performance torn in tortured angst by the legacy of his heritage, the Light Side and the Dark Side both pulling at him.
Taking elements of TFA and looking at them in detail.....
I thought the performance by Daisy Ridley was amazing, I truly empathised with her, and felt that the acting of her character arc was superb ! You really believe she goes from an exiled-nobody-scavenger to in effect a Jedi Padawan faced with death at the end of a red lightsabre - akin to Obi-Wan versus Darth Maul in Theed. Every time I see her take the lightsabre in front of Kylo Ren (and hear that music !!) the back of my neck tingles.
Two concerns with her part or specifically the writing of her part :
- her ability to go from scavenger to mechanic to pilot ; the film sets her up as an agile scavenger and cleaner of valuable lost items : she's NOT an Anakin who at nine years is building a pod racer. Of course, in hindsight, we could say that the Force is guiding her. But even that, here, is too convenient ; I mean, we need visual evidence of her mechanical or piloting skills, over and above re-aligning a bent antenna or driving a land speeder tug. Interestingly, the new 'Art of The Force Awakens' book shows concepts for Rey building a spaceship, or sky speeder, from found parts. Now I feel, that if such a vehicle had been seen in the background, or if we had seen Rey briefly working on it, if not flying it (from the wrecked Star Destroyer back to her AT-AT home), then that would have sufficiently pre-empted her wondrous piloting skills of the Falcon. As it is, the implication is that any old ragtag scavenger could board the "garbage" that is the Falcon and fly her !
- her ability to understand droid-speak and Wookeese. Again, the implication perhaps is that it's her innate ability with the Force that allows this communication.... as far as I know neither Luke, nor Anakin, could do this, though presumably Ben was able to comprehend Chewbacca in the Mos Eisley cantina ! The ref material ['The TFA Visual Dictionary'] says that she's picked up this bilingual skill whilst living on a world frequented by droids and passing species ; but the world of Jakku is not presented as a busy highway, far from it ! And if she's frequently in the company of droids, then let's see this as much necessary supporting evidence of her linguistic skills. I find it frustrating and worrying that such annotations need to come from the reference material first, and not the film itself !!!
The other, obvious, big question is of her heritage : is she a Solo or a Skywalker ? VE Forumer Jom here makes the very good point that Chewie walks straight past Leia on his return from Starkiller Base, yet Leia gives a heartfelt hug to Rey, a girl she hardly knows. My take on this is that this embrace is mother to daughter ; possibly aunt to niece, but I'm thinking / hoping that she's the other Solo child ; and Chewie's 'blanking' of Leia was because he now knows who Rey's mother is, and he wishes to leave them to their reunion. The EU material is said to be being plundered for ideas and motifs if not the actual elements ; 'Ben' was EU Luke's son, now passed over to the ST's Ben Solo, child of Han and Leia ; in the EU, the Solos had the twins Jacen and Jaina, and Anakin, so although Rey and Ben are not twins age-wise, are they still siblings echoed from the old 'discared' EU material ?? Of course, the EU Luke had a child, so is this to be Rey ? That particular Luke had married Mara Jade, the flame-haired Force-wielder ; a recent Episode VIII rumour had flame-haired British actress Geraldine James cast. So it's feasible that Rey could be a Skywalker. Personally, I'm hankering for her to be a Solo !
Interestingly, GL had asked JJ Abrams [in a recent comical video Q&A] what the latter had "done with Darth Vader's grandchildren ??" ; this is interesting because, notwithstanding Disney and the ST writers paving their own way, Lucas says "grandchildren" not "grandchild".
As regards the issue of Leia not recognising her own daughter or niece.... if Rey had been at Luke's Jedi Academy as an infant, and exiled (by Luke) after its attack, but her whereabouts left unknown to Leia, and added to that if Han had left Leia before Rey's birth, then would either Han or Leia recognise Rey 15+ years down the line ?? Now add in the final scenes of TFA where Leia is suddenly very warm and engaging and supportive of a complete stranger, surely we must assume that Leia now knows or assumes something ??! Is Rey a Solo or a Skywalker, until we have new spy rumours or we see Episode VIII, we will have to wait ! Interestingly, a very recent report revealed screenshots of the TFA script submitted to a film awards organisation, and this final scene between Leia and Rey is described as a "mother's embrace".
I'm reminded and thus accept that Rey may have mechanical knowledge from astutely scavenging broken ships ; she nearly crashes the Falcon when she first tries to fly it (so is not necessarily an ace pilot from the outset) ; she resets the wrong fuses on the freighter holding the Rathtars, in turn releasing the fearsome creatures ; her first attempt at a Jedi mind trick is not focused enough to work.
Equally, and I think fansite MSW hinted at this a few months ago, it could be that Kylo Ren's mental interrogation of Rey opened up a 'two-way channel' that allowed Rey to recognise, and exploit, the latent powers within her. We certainly see her reading Kylo's mind as a flip back against Kylo when he interrogates her !
Also, as indicated, the Force might be potently 'blossoming' within her - regardless of any latent early-years training - and it's the Force calling to her directly and enfusing her with new power that allows her these 'amazing' feats.
In summary, I have no problem with the Rey character, and I think Daisy's performance was really great.... but I wish there had been a few more cutaways explaining more of her backstory ; something to support her 'amazing' development later.
KYLO REN & SNOKE & HUX
Kylo Ren did indeed steal the show for the villains, his mystery and his heritage and his anger being a potent combination ; Supreme Leader Snoke was fascinating too, but a little less so simply because we saw such little range from him. I hope and expect that he will play a more prominent role in Episode VIII. I recall the confusing reports of his stature, and when he first appeared I thought that sadly he definately could not be a Muun and thus be Darth Plagueis... but then his hologram dematerialised, and I thought there was hope yet !! It would be really great if this master villain was the Muun Sith Lord who trained Sidious, thus neatly tying in to the controversial prequels, and 'closing the circle' as it were with an over-arching foe. However, the current ref material seems to be distancing itself from the 'Sith' label.
Although I loved the look and persona of Kylo Ren, I did have trouble hearing his helmeted diction, and felt that the whole mouth-piece-pops-out-before-I-can-remove-my-helmet clunky and unnecessary ; it also looked too Sci-Fi for Star Wars. I fully understand that he is emulating Darth Vader's image, but don't distract us with an eye-catching but redundant piece on the helmet. [I'm no doubt being harsh, I suppose it gives an interesting detail, but it's clearly not a respirator, just a voice-changer]. I think that Kylo Ren was supposed to be the troubled near-schizo villain, making him 'new and fascinating', but I didn't really see much of his benevolent side, which would have more explicitly illustrated his "torn" personality.
I immediately had problems with Kylo Ren being able to use the Force to stop a laser bolt, and to essentially utilise it for mental extraction and torture. It seems to elevate his powers far above anything we've seen before, even Yoda. Lucas always said that the Jedi were fallible and not invulnerable, and had to be restricted with limitations. Another 'clarifying rumour' elaborated that the Force in awakening was suddenly empowering its users. If so, then this wasn't stated in TFA, though of course might be revealed in the next instalments. Alternatively, it could easily be argued that each Jedi has his own strengths, and Kylo Ren's happens to be catching laserbolt energy and mind-reading.
And, a lesser criticism, the sense of time and place was lost as Kylo Ren escaped the burning Starkiller Base that blocked his pursuit of Rey and Finn, and then how he circled around in the forest to ambush them from ahead.
General Hux was (too) obviously the Tarkin character, though also crossed with Ozzel / Piett / Jerjerrod, and seemed to mostly shout ; I understood and empathised with him less. However, it was indeed interesting that in the eyes of Snoke he seemed to have an almost-equal standing with Kylo Ren. Early rumours
suggested that Hux might have been a plant laid by the Resistance or even by Luke Skywalker, and although his fate wasn't
entirely clear - someone says that "Hux had left the base" - I do wonder what his arc could be in the next episode(s).
HAN & LEIA & THE OT DROIDS
Harrison Ford clearly had a great time reprising his role as Han Solo. There were a lot of 'easter egg' in-jokes at his expense, which were great fun, and good to hear. Some of his physicality seemed a little too acrobatic for an actor/character in his 70s, and a bit fantastical for the groundwork laid out in the SW universe - I'm thinking of him successfully shooting a stormtrooper without even glancing at his target !
Han's death was a given, and I wasn't too concerned by this outcome, the 'journey' was more of discovering the circumstances. But even then, the last shot we see of his and Kylo's hands on the sword handle has the hilt pointing sideways away from the two figures ; then without much physicality, the long sword goes up and through Han's chest. The death of the mentor figure echoes TPM and ANH of course, but such a 'trivial detail' of which way the sword is pointing shouldn't be discarded or left for the audience's imagination to 'fill in'. Alternatively, there should have been a longer pause, perhaps, on the actor's faces, allowing for the time to pass for Kylo Ren to twist the sword.
Checking Wiki to verify Harrison's age... I find that one of his sons is called Ben : a coincidence, or what ??!
Leia, to a certain extent, felt underused, though her few lines were carefully worded to telegraph as much information
as possible, yet her physical role was pretty much relegated to her Yavin 4 position of worried observance [perhaps I'm being harsh here, but I had really hoped that she would be a Jedi (or even a General or Politician in addition too) following Luke's ROTJ promise to his sister on Endor; so again I'm hoping for some follow-through with her in Episode VIII].
With BB-8 now the 'main man', Threepio was very much
relegated to Leia's side and brief comedy - the scene between 3PO and Leia and Han is well observed and gently funny - while Artoo's 'exile' seemed somewhat unbelievable and too much of a narrative conceit, especially his 'wake-up' - I'm wondering if Luke had had a hand in his astro-nav databank material, and/or even shut him down deliberately to hide the map (under everyone's noses) - again, a possible Episode VIII subplot ??
Recently, since the film opened, the writers have revealed that their intention was that Artoo had accessed this map when he plugged in to the "entire Imperial network" whilst on the First Death Star, and when BB-8 returns to the old droid, he mentions he has a broken map, and asks Artoo if he knows anything of the rest of it. But once again, this kind of supportive exposition should be in the film, not an after-thought interview !
The new rolling ball droid BB-8, like Rey, steals the show, and it's amazing to think that this was a physical prop on-set ! As mentioned, I'm frustrated that Rey and Poe seem to be able to understand his beeps and squeaks ; it was clearly a necessary plot device, since, unlike with Artoo, there was no translating counterpart, but I'm sure there could have been another way (visually ?) for the droid to communicate to the humans ; or alternatively, for the writers to work with the creative contraints of non-communication, just like Lucas and Kasdan were forced to in TESB with the X-Wing and Dagobah scenes.
FINN & PHASMA
John Boyega's Finn was a neat mix of comedy and action hero ; I was genuinely surprised that they left his fate hanging, following his injuries under a red lightsabre. Again, his was a character that the audience could relate to and empathise with ; the Han Solo 'everyman' of Episode IV. His "stay calm !" - "I am calm !" - "Not you, me !!" with Poe Dameron as they sneak out of the Star Destroyer was hilarious, insightful, and inviting for the audience. Like Rey, his character arc moved from someone blindly followed orders, to questioning his moral code, to selfishly thinking of his own preservation, to someone who would put himself in harm's way, and naively trust in the Force, to rescue his new-found friend, or defend her to the death against an apprentice Sith Lord.
Why was Captain Phasma a woman ??! Since she didn't remove her helmet, what was the point of her gender ? To tell us that the Imperials are so bad that they have loyal women working for them ? So what ?! Then have her remove her helmet !!! So much was made of her gender and role by both Abrams and the actress, it implied some great revelation.... but to my mind, keeping her helmeted didn't really add to the persona of a ruthless stormtrooper captain ; we could just as easily have had a male actor under the helmet. The ambush of her in the Starkiller base is a painfully obvious narrative conceit - how did the heroes know to target her ??! - and while the supporting reference material says she routinely patrols the base, I concede that Star Wars is full of narrative conceits to enable events to occur and follow through. Her fate was also left uncertain, presumably trapped in a trash compactor inside a military base about to explode : is this her ultimate end, or is this another example of poor clarification in the writing or editing ? Knowing that she will definately be in Episode VIII makes me think that her gender is a subplot waiting to be developed - I certainly hope so !
THE STARKILLER BASE
I know this is all fantasy, but there still needs to be some in-lore grounding. If I understood correctly, the Starkiller
weapon is charged up by stealing solar energy from the local sun ? I'm sure I heard a line that said the base wouldn't be fully
charged until the sun was dried up ; we even saw the sun dim and the planet-base go dark. Not only does the planet destroy its
own host, but we saw Starkiller charge up twice (and fire once ?) ? So how many suns does it go through to do this ??
Its own sun(s) or neighbouring ones ??! How does the energy beam lance through space ? The Resistance identifies it as firing at a hyperspace-speed, but I think it would have been helpful, visually, to have seen the red energy beam lancing through the conventional hyperspace tunnel - it may be faster than lightspeed, but at least it's still 'contained' in hyperspace, and in a visual representation that is immediately recognisable to the viewer.
Initially it seemed that the Starkiller was firing upon Coruscant.... yet a subsequent viewing confirmed that its target was "the Hosnian System".
But then how did Han and Maz and co on Takodana witness it ? There is NO WAY that these three locations are all in the same star system or sector !
I fear that this just smacks of lazy writing, just a quick-fix solution that "no one will notice if we pace through the scenes quickly enough".
Another aspect that is not really made clear is how and when the Resistance obtain their first recon data : just as the heroes return to the Base following the First Order's attack on Maz's castle on Takodana, carrying BB-8 and his map portion, it's announced that some rebel pilots have also just returned from a recon mission over Starkiller ; yet the impression I got was that the Starkiller had been a secret base, and its existence wasn't known until it attacked Hosnian Prime ?! Interestingly, there's a line of dialogue for the First Order that confirms they had tracked the heroes to their secret base, but nothing for the Resistance until their scouts' return is announced.
It's never actually explained what makes the Second Death Star of Episode VI "even more powerful than the first dreaded Death Star" : it's just a big weapon that can once again shoot star-cruisers and potentially planets. What might have been neat was if Starkiller was to have originally been 'hooked up' to the Second Death Star, or if the DS2 was a prototype for Starkiller. The idea of this planet-weapon [which came from Kasdan's and Lucas' ROTJ drafts] seemed too lightly handled and not thought-out enough.
In turn, a late 2015 rumour report, based on the re-published canonical map that located Starkiller at the same point as Ilum (from the Clone Wars / Prequel Era, the lore identified this world as being that of the kyber crystals utilised by Jedi for their lightsabres) ; if so, then this would have made for a really neat link back to that earlier period by implying that the Imperials had found a way to harness the crystal energy on a grand, and destructive, scale ! It's a pity that this didn't come to pass.... though the TFA ref. material on the matter hints at a host planet with powerful crystals ; perhaps this will be something that could be clarified - though only as a line of dialogue presumably - in Episode VIII ?
An interesting footnote is found in 'The Art of TFA', where it's revealed that it was veteran ILMer Dennis Muren who first suggested a star-killer weapon, firing upon stars, as a one-up on the two Death Stars of the OT. It's a pity that they didn't retain the novel idea of destroying a star, and subsequently its system of planets, rather than the somewhat repetitive motif of destroying a planet again.
LIGHTSABRES & THE 'FORCE-BACK' FLASHBACK
The lightsabre duel choreography was great, I loved how it came across as warriors who either weren't formally trained, were
fighting desperately naively, or were 'flowing with the Force' : I recall a JJA comment that this was deliberate in so far as he
liked the rough and ready nature of the OT duels over the trained formality of the PT duels.... yet, putting aside what I fear
is a skewed favouritism for the OT, it can actually be successfully read that we have another type of duel genuinely presented
to us in-lore, combatants who either have been trained but lack the live practice or were 'winging' the fight through luck or
mystical guidance. I loved hearing the cross-guard sabre's sizzle ! It definately subtly hinted at the bearer's psychology ! I
liked that all the combatants were injured, not just the heroes.
I liked the 'flashback' sequence, and really glad they seem to be drawing from the EU the Force ability of what I would call
Force-forensics, where a shared object provides historical visions or premonitions ; a cut scene from ROTS had Anakin sense
Obi-Wan's recent visit simply by picking up a shared object. It certainly 'allowed' for the necessary historical exposition, and I have no problem if this narrartive device is carried on into the future family episodes - it was implied by Kathleen Kennedy that Han Solo / Harrison Ford will return in Episode VIII, presumably now in a flashback.
THE MAP MACGUFFIN
Ever since TESB, Lucas and Kasdan had pushed the idea that Luke would navigate to Dagobah using the kyber crystal in his father's lightsabre. In one sense it's great seeing these old ideas being recycled.
However, in TFA even this McGuffin is stymied. What we learn of it (in the film) is that there are at least two pieces (a 90%-10% ratio), the smaller piece missing, the map is "uncharted" and "unrecognisable" according to C-3PO, yet there is a red line circuitously traversing at least a quarter of the area. In addition, the First Order has the 90% section of the map, the Resistance initially has none. The 'traveller' Lor San Tekka, played by Max von Sydow, had the last piece of the map ; Artoo usefully supplies the greater map. Once the final piece is inserted into the map, then, hey presto, Luke's location is now known.
At first, it seems crazy that 90% of the galactic map cannot be comprehended to a sufficient degree to be able to guess or pinpoint Luke's hide-out. Surely similar features can be lined up between alternative maps ??
But then, more interestingly, Threepio categorically claims that the map is unusual. What makes it so ? One thing I can think of - and that would also make it impossible to correlate to another map and thus 'decipher' this map - is that it represents the Force, its 'hot spots', its static 'vergences'. This way, Luke may have found or created this map, and loaded it into Artoo for safe keeping (and the brief scene of Luke and Artoo in the flashback is probably the simplest most obvious explanation for the droid having this information) ;
The fact that Artoo had the greater map, that is unrecognisable, begs the question how and why ? Had he pieced it together from other archived data ? Had Luke given it to him in (mostly) one piece ?? But then we must remember that the Imperials had the majority of the map too !
Similarly, Palpatine could have done this, and thus it was held in the Imperial archives, and either Luke gained a copy or made the exact same thing himself (through the Force). Alternatively, as per the canonical maps that have been published (and there's a new one re-published showing the location of StarKiller Base), Luke could be hiding in the 'Unknown Regions' of the charted galaxy. Yet nothing has been stated to indicate this, either in the film or the supporting reference material that I have seen. Again, an example where just one extra line of dialogue would have sufficed.
I found the 'simple' plugging-in of the final map piece far too easy and convenient - a map that had been unreadable now suddenly becomes navigable !!! - but narratively it obviously allows the story and its pace to be neatly rolled up leading us towards the conclusion.
However, I felt that, like many other fantasy based visual stories, if something else had happened once the map was stitched together - like the red line magically being revealed only once the map was intact, either technically or intuitively through the Force - then that would create an extra level of difficulty or hurdle to overcome, or simply threat of further impediment, and would also mean that a 90% map nor an intact map is not so easily readable.
So perhaps here's an example where REY, with her new found fledgling Force powers - or even Leia, Luke's sister - could have been utilised in deciphering the map. One would guess that Leia would be able to detect her brother over vast distances anyway (as shown in Episodes V and VI), but for the purposes of the plot, perhaps her Force abilities hadn't been honed, or the scale of the space was too big, or simply that Luke was hiding.
Also, it might have been more effective for the 90% map to have been generated from multiple sources, not just one - it would have implied that more of a search for disparate pieces had taken place.
Likewise, the role of the OT hero droids, Artoo and Threepio, obviously restricted as they were by their story-led association with the Resistance characters whom we only see until much later in the story, were a little under-used. And this McGuffin of the map could have been the droids' time to shine more, with further clarification and/or more involvement by them, rather than just having Artoo roll up from the sidelines and project the map display. I feel there should have been more to the Map McGuffin, even if it was kept to right at the end in the Resistance Base, and simply joining two holo-maps together was not the final challenge.
The dogfight visuals were great, though seemed a little chaotic, either in the in-lore action or the directorial presentation. The new T-70 X-Wing Fighters with their split wings were an interesting design evolution ; as were the new range of white TIE fighters.... though again the two-seater rear gunnery TIE was solely borne out of plotting requirements. The free-wheeling roller-coaster Rathtar carnage on the freighter seemed straight out of an INDIANA JONES adventure ! The cantina type setting of Maz Kanata's castle was a rich tapestry, but again a deliberate nod to the ANH cantina sequence, even down to two informants !! It was great seeing an 'official' map of the SW galaxy [not counting the detailed display in the Jedi Temple in AOTC, nor the
brief vague zoom in/out graphic on Padme's ship]. Being only an hour's drive away from Puzzlewood in Gloucestershire, it was great seeing the location take 'centre stage', possibly utilised for two distinct locales (more so than, say, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER). The unusual mossy sink-holes in the forest really provide a wonderful claustrophobic feel !
Too many characters seemed underused or unexplained : Max von Sydow [with whom early rumours had suggested was a link to a PT character] clearly knew Leia, as well as Kylo Ren's history, and provided his map piece "to make things right" ; Poe Dameron's near invincible 'bad penny always turning up' [how did he survive and depart Jakku ??] ; Lupita N'Yongo's Maz Kanata, the thousand year old Force-sensitive watering hole patron [how did Maz have Anakin's lightsabre ??! "That's a story for another time" we hear.... before the building (and Maz ??) is razed to the ground !! Will it be left for Luke to elaborate ?] ; according to recent reports on deleted scenes, Abrams has said that Maz returns to the Resistance Base, but the sequence was cut since the character once there hardly contributed to the drama - yet, according to the current cut, her fate was left unknown !
Of John Williams music, I was shocked (on first viewing) to find there's no stand-alone theme. I seem to recall Rey and Finn's associated music being really lovely, and some of the militaristic music bombastic and exciting. But there was no formal theme in the end credits that I could discern [which were apparently conducted by Gustavo Dudamel !] nor an overly strong character leitmotif theme in-film either.
Having now listened to the CD at length, Rey's Theme is really nice and probably the strongest melody ; the theme for Snoke is dark and intriguing, and echoes Emperor Palpatine. But there is no 'simple' tune that can be easily hummed, such as Vader's Theme. Perhaps the future episodes, if penned by John Williams, will give us such a motif ?!
The trailers presented Williams' SW music re-arranged by others, and there had been a really lovely choral version of the 'Han and Leia love theme' from TESB, but sadly this was not included in the final film.
Recalling the trailers, there are very obvious missing elements, such as : Maz handing Luke's sword hilt to Leia [this occurs at the end of the film at the Resistance Base, according to the cut scenes] ; Kylo Ren entering the forest and igniting his cross-guard sabre ; the very original never-been-seen-before exciting perspective of the Falcon entering hyperspace with the starlines behind the ship, and the blue marbled tunnel wrapping into view [I'm guessing it's when the Falcon blasts out of the freighter hold].
Much of TFA came across as fan fiction ticking the boxes, which although I'm not necessarily against, I fear that a delicate
balance needs to be found between bravely pushing forward a wholly original plot and retaining some safe familiarity for both
the audience and the financial investor.
I almost feel that what was missing was George Lucas. I feel that had Lucas made this, it would have been more
streamlined, and the plotting simpler. Even the opening crawl had too many lines of text in it ! The film seemed very dense,
even with fairly flightily brief exposition scenes, to the extent that, on first viewing, I was straining to hear every utterance to make sure I
wasn't missing any crucial backstory or plot development. In a sense, I found the writing "lazy", which was surprising considering this is Kasdan, and in effect recycling lost concepts from TESB and ROTJ. I was left feeling that, for those relatively minor characterisations, some extra dialogue would have benefited greatly !
Oddly, I'd sum up by saying I really enjoyed the entertainment and of returning to TGFFA ; and I look forward to seeing it again
and again ; but I fear it's flawed, if only in the detail that only a fan would pick up on, and not as much of a triumph as the
media has been portraying. Yet, it's reinvigorated the SW franchise, and perhaps that's the most important thing.
|You can discuss Star Wars Episode VII : The Force Awakens in the forum here !
|Nathaniel Reed, 5th January 2016