Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens as yet, and you’re determined to see it, don’t read any further until after you’ve kissed your hard-earned bucks goodbye. If you take my advice, I can save you the price of admission and the cost of all those overpriced concession items. Don’t go to see it. Just rent videos of the original Star Wars Trilogy—still the best of the Star Wars films—and you’ll see just about everything that is in the new ballyhooed Star Wars film in theaters now. It’s merely a clone of the firstest and bestest.
I confess. I’m a Star Wars fan—but only of the original three films, now designated as episodes four, five, and six. I saw all of them multiple times. Unfortunately, the three prequels stunk up theaters around the world. I’m not as easy to please as other Star Wars fans who buy into all the media hype about the new film. It is my considered opinion that George Lucas should have ended the saga with the original trilogy and quit when he and the saga were on top. Always leave them wanting more, George, so you don’t end up disappointing them by giving them less than they expected, which you did.
I was concerned when you sold your cash cow Star Wars franchise to Disney Studios. I suppose it wasn’t possible for you to sneer at the bundle of cash Disney dangled in front of you, but I shuddered at the thought that Disney might turn Star Wars into High School Musical in Space.
I saw SW7 once. It was one time too many. I believe a more descriptive title for Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens would have been Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Falters or Star Wars: Episode VII—Déjà Vu. Take away the brand new updated computerized special effects and all you have left is a tired, derivative, repetitious story line.
The only thing new in the SW7 story line was that this time around the writers gave callow Luke Skywalker a sex change operation, turning him into feisty female loner and survivor Rey. My guess is that afterward the writers ate the shooting scripts of the original Star Wars Trilogy and puked out SW7.
A partial list of what they regurgitated:
- A rag-tag, outnumbered but defiant rebel/resistance force fights against a powerful evil overlord of the Dark Side, (Supreme Leader in place of Evil Emperor), his primary Sith Lord henchman, and his minions.
- An about-to-be-captured resistance pilot who is on a secret mission hides the vital information he obtained in the Disney-cute little droid B8—the same way Princess Leia hid the Death Star plans in the iconic cute little droid R2-D2.
- A hero in spite of himself helps the captive resistance pilot escape—similar to the rescue of Princess Leia from the Death Star.
- A young orphan (female this time) protagonist who is strong with the force and is living on a desert world—like Luke Skywalker—acquires the Disney-cute little droid B8—as Luke Skywalker acquired the iconic cute little droid R2-D2.
- Stormtroopers come looking for the droid and attack.
- The young female protagonist and the hero in spite of himself escape the stormtroopers in the Millennium Falcon hunk of junk spacecraft from the original trilogy and engage in a space dogfight with the bad guys just like the space dogfight in the original Star Wars
- Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi went into self-exile on the desert planet Tatooine when promising pupil [Anakin Skywalker] turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader, a Lord of the Sith. Jedi Luke Skywalker went into self-exile, destination unknown, when his pupil, Han and Leia’s son and Darth Vader’s grandson, turns to the Dark Side and becomes Sith Lord Kylo Ren.
- Keeping the evil in the family: in the original trilogy, the Evil Emperor’s attack dog is Luke Skywalker’s father Darth Vader; in SW7, the evil overlord’s attack dog is Luke Skywalker’s nephew (and Leia’s son) Kylo Ren.
- A force field generator has to be taken out [Again?] so the rebels/resistance fighter pilots can penetrate the enemy’s defenses [Again?] and destroy the enemy’s planet killer weapon [Again?]—just as it happened in the original trilogy with the Death Star. Golly gee whiz. Can’t the writers come up with Plan B?
- Obi-Wan was Luke’s father figure and mentor. He died fighting Sith Lord Darth Vader. Han Solo was Rey’s father figure and a bit of a mentor. He dies, assassinated by his Sith Lord son Kylo Ren.
An actually enjoyable part of SW7 that is reminiscent of the lighthearted tone of the original Star Wars movie occurs when Han Solo and Chewbacca appear on the scene. After he captures and reclaims the Millennium Falcon, two groups of disgruntled defrauded customers of Solo’s show up to collect their due. When Rey accidentally frees the dangerous tentacled creatures Solo has aboard the freighter, the mayhem that ensues is hilarious.
While I like a strong female protagonist, she needs to be believable at the very least. Rey wasn’t. She was too good to be true. She knows how to do everything she attempts and does it well. Seriously? Who can do that—other than Star Trek’s android Commander Data?
Luke and all the other Jedi Knights before him needed Jedi masters to train them. Luke had Obi-Wan and Yoda to train him through two of the Star Wars movies. Rey had no one to train her, but she learns to manage the force all by herself before the end of one movie. You go, Girl!
Luke was unaware that his father’s light saber was in Obi Wan’s possession. However, Luke’s light saber calls to Rey and she finds it on her own. She enters the underground chamber and after touching the light saber, she has visions in a similar manner to the way Luke did when he entered the cave as part of his Jedi training with Master Yoda.
Maz tells Rey the light saber is hers now because she heard it call to her. Ray soon recognizes that she has Force power and trains herself. Hot damn, she’s good. No mentor or Jedi Master needed. Holy Jedi Mind Trick. I mean, just wow.
When she is captured, shortly after realizing she has power, Rey uses the same “Jedi Mind Trick” Obi Wan Kenobi, a Jedi master, used on storm troopers in Mos Eisley Spaceport, and she compels her guard to set her free. Oh, please. That’s just too much. Now I’m laughing. The writers copied just about everything else from the original trilogy. How did they get that so wrong?
Even more unbelievable, the self-taught Rey defeats Sith Lord Kylo Ren in a light saber duel. Seriously? Impossibly implausible, but by that point I already lost my willingness to suspend my disbelief. Samuel Taylor Coleridge would have been right there alongside me.
Killing off Han Solo the way the writers did was nothing short of dramatic malpractice. It was a gratuitous and ignominious death. Solo was a hero—a hero in spite of himself, to be sure, but a hero nonetheless. He deserved a heroic death. He deserved to die fighting or at least die sacrificing his life to save someone else the way Finn did. Solo didn’t deserve to be killed off just so Rey could “inherit” the Falcon and Chewbacca as well, no questions asked.
I found the film’s direction to be choppy, almost episodic. And boo, hiss to director J.J. Abrams for stomping on Leia’s reaction when she senses Han Solo’s pointless death. The man she loves just died at the hands of their evil son and the director allows her a mere cringe and facial expression of sorrow. That’s it? That’s all? That’s criminally negligent, Mr. Director. I realize Leia is a strong woman, but come on. Not even one measly teardrop? And when she sends Rey off to find her brother Luke, all Leia says is “May the Force be with you.” Again, that’s it? That’s all? A human being with real emotions would say something else as well. Something like, “Find Luke and bring him back, Rey. The resistance needs him, and I need him. He’s all the family I have left now.”
The producers, writers, and director missed so many opportunities to make a better movie that it is beyond comprehension. What it also behind comprehension is the amount of praise that many are heaping on what is essentially a remake that is not anywhere near as good as the original.