Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

I have been a Star Wars fan since 1977 (seeing the ad for Star Wars is my earliest memory), and collected the toys until the end of 2005. Yet I was not all that excited to see the new film, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, mainly because I detest Disney. But I finally saw it. I did enjoy parts of it. But I felt that the movie overall was unnecessary and rather pointless. Also, it seemed to basically want to redo much of the original trilogy, just with different characters (but without character development). A secret map is hidden in a droid, who then ends up in the desert. A young character with inherent force ability must leave the desert planet. We even get a variation of the cantina scene from A New Hope. (Note: As always, there are spoilers in this Good Things About Bad Movies review.)

One of the main weaknesses of Return Of The Jedi was the rehashing of the Death Star, and so I was seriously surprised that The Force Awakens decided to do it yet again. Not only that, but it also uses the whole going-down-to-the-planet-to-destroy-the-shield-generator plot point from Return Of The Jedi. It took a lot of work to accomplish that in Jedi (and yes, they had to get the help of the beloved Ewoks), but in this one everything is pretty easy. I was never anxious for any of the characters at any point in the movie.

Finn’s character is one that I find particularly questionable. I do love the idea of delving into the lives of stormtroopers, but it’s just not handled or developed all that well. He was a stormtrooper all his life, completely indoctrinated, yet he’s aware of Han Solo and other elements that I can’t believe stormtroopers would be taught. Also, he says he worked in sanitation. So why was he there on that raid to capture the map to Luke Skywalker’s location?

Why does that map even exist? Maybe that was explained and I just missed it, but seriously, who created the map, and to what purpose? And why was it divided into two pieces – one very large, and one small? And if R2-D2 had the main section of the map, why did he wait so long to offer it up? And why wouldn’t R2 have the complete map?

Back to Finn: Why did the First Order kidnap children and spend decades indoctrinating them only to make them work in sanitation anyway? And how is he able to use the lightsaber so well? And of course that leads us to Rey’s character. She has apparently never used the force, has had no training, and then suddenly is some kind of expert. What gives? How did she even get the idea that she could use the force to control the weak-minded stormtrooper in that one scene? And, outside of the whole force issue, what led her to rescue BB8 in the first place? Why did she care about a droid she had never seen before? (One more thing about Finn: the bloody handprint on his helmet is ridiculous. I know it’s there so that we can tell him apart from the other stormtroopers, but really, how did the blood get on that guy’s gloves in the first place? He still had his armor on, so wouldn’t the blood be under it?)

The main villain in this movie is lame. It’s a whiny, rebellious, nervous teenager who likes to dress in black and wear a mask. He reminds me of those assholes who take guns to their schools. Like all kids, he wants to distance himself from his parents. But in doing so, this little shit decides to be like his grandparent. He just needs a good spanking. And yet he (big spoiler here) is the one to dispatch one of the original trilogy’s main characters. So sad. So pathetic. (The real villain here is Disney.)

And actually the way the characters of Han, Leia and Luke are handled here is infuriating. After thirty years, Han is back to smuggling? And someone stole the Falcon from him? Come on! That’s fucking stupid. And Leia is back to leading the resistance? What’s going on with the New Republic? And Luke had trouble with his first group of students, and so gave up the whole idea of teaching Jedi? So he just figured, what, there would no longer be Jedi in the galaxy? That’s kind of a huge decision. Leia, Han, and Luke all basically gave up their lives because of one bratty kid? Again, give that little shit a spanking and move on.

I know this question is asked (and not answered) in the film, but seriously, how did that lightsaber end up in that box? The last we saw, it was falling out of Cloud City. And speaking of relics from the original trilogy which miraculously show up in this film, how did the bratty kid end up with Vader’s helmet? Years later, he went to Endor and found it? Had Luke buried it, or just left it smoldering? Did he make a map for that too? And why would the kid want it? And why does he talk to it? This kid is fucked up. He needs therapy.

But the Nazi scene where the crazy Hitler character addresses all the stormtroopers is maybe the worst scene in the film. When the stormtroopers all give the Nazi salute, I burst out laughing.  And again, what is going on with the New Republic? Where is its army? And this new Death Star is able to shoot its beam out across entire star systems and destroy several planets at once? So the entire New Republic was on three nearby planets? That’s so convenient. And unbelievable.

You know what else is unbelievable? The music isn’t good. There are no new memorable themes here. That might be the saddest and most surprising thing about this movie.

Like I said, I did enjoy chunks of this film (and I do really like BB8). But it’s really only enjoyable until you think about it for like three minutes. (By the way, there were like seven or eight trailers in front of this film, and none of them looked the least bit interesting. Is this the way movies are going? Who the fuck was asking for a sequel to Independence Day?)

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