5 Things The Force Awakens got Right and Wrong
Part One: What it got wrong…
I’d like to start this article by saying I really enjoyed The Force Awakens. This is by no means an exercise in TFA hating. While it may not be my favourite Star Wars flick, I do think it hit some very high notes as well as leaving a lot of fans reinvigorated about the future of the franchise. With The Last Jedi just four months away, I think this is a good time to discuss the ups and downs of Episode Seven with fellow Star Wars fans. Where do we want to see improvement and what did the film get right?
So, here are five things I think The Force Awakens got wrong and five things it got right. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first…
1. REHASHED PLOT
A lonely person on a desert planet with little hope of ever finding her way out of the simple life runs into a droid carrying important information. She then finds herself fighting a galactic struggle against an evil dark lord and his super-weapon that’s capable of destroying entire planets…
While archetypes and following story beats are common in fantasy and legend, Abrams and Kasdan simply stayed too safe here. I’m sure some faceless Disney executive was pulling strings and telling them not to try anything too brash given the reception of the prequels – and I get that part. Jar Jar was a risk. Having Anakin as a whiny teen was a risk. Relying on untested CGI technology was a risk. These all ultimately backfired and caused many Star Wars fans to be cautious about the future of the franchise, so I can see how relying on nostalgia and recycled plot points was the safe bet. It makes for a GREAT first viewing, but the giddiness you feel at seeing Han, Leia, and Luke again for the first time in 30 years weakens with repeated viewings. Nothing is too awful, but I’d say the only unforgivable plot device was Starkiller Base. Yet ANOTHER planet-sized gun that blows up other star systems? You’ve gotta be kidding me! At least they destroy it at the end and hopefully giant planet-sized death weapons will remain in the rear-view mirror of our beloved franchise. If the rumours about Rian Johnson’s script are true, we won’t need to worry about any recycled plots in Episode 8!
2. LESS IMAGINATION
This one sort of falls under the rehashed plot category, but it bothered me enough to warrant its own bullet. None, and I repeat, NONE of the locales in this movie wowed me.
Say what you will about Lucas and his terrible writing/direction/editing, but the guy has a great imagination. World class in fact. Perhaps it’s true that Episodes 1-3 were spottily written, but nobody can deny that they were visually stunning and imaginative. Battle droids, underwater cities, clone factories, lava planets, four-armed cyborg villains … all absent in this movie. We get a desert, an ice planet, a forest planet,Xx-wings, and TIE fighters. Nothing new. No new ships, no radical designs. Disappointing and once again, too safe. Let’s hope Rian takes some risks with cool new locations and tech; after seeing Rogue One (spoiler alert – everybody dies), I’m convinced Disney is also willing to let people take more risks now.
3. FINN TRYING TOO HARD TO BE ENTERTAINING AND/OR FUNNY
While John Boyega is a talented actor (check out Detroit or Attack the Block), he turns it up to 11 in this film too many times, in what seems to be an attempt to emulate young Will Smith. His overreactions and constant attempts at humour can seem desperate at times – and some things probably should have been cut. He isn’t Jar Jar-annoying but it IS still a bit too much. I would have liked this better if he wasn’t an ex-stormtrooper, especially if they’re trying to break the stigma of our favourite baddies in white being “stupid.” Perhaps he would have been played better as a sort of monotone comic relief, sort of like Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy. His performance just took me out of the movie too many times. Whether or not Episode 8 will remedy this issue is uncertain to me, especially because many people loved Finn!
4. UNDERUSED LEIA
Leia pretty much stands around a base the entire film looking worried. Where’s the snarky heroine of the earlier movies? Where’s the bad-ass princess? Her role in Episode 8 is rumoured to be large and people have been raving about it, so I think this is an issue that is going to be taken care of in the next film. It is too bad she left us so soon (RIP), because I would have loved to see her in Episode 9 as well. However, John Boyega has recently stated that she is “sent off in an amazing, amazing way” in Episode 8. Getting me excited there, John…
5. HAN’S DEATH
Nobody liked seeing our favorite space pirate get run through with a red saber, but many fans thought that Han deserved better. I always imagined him going out in a blaze of glory, not being blindsided by his evil son. Perhaps Episode 8 will add some context to this death that will make me enjoy repeated views a little more. C’mon Episode 8, don’t let me down!
OK, we got the bad parts out of the way. Enough negativity from my end right? So, what was it that The Force Awakens nailed on the head? And what should Episode 8 do to recapture it?
Written by RJ “the dentist” Davis: Randall Davis DMD, FICOI
Check out “Part 2: 5 Things The Force Awakens got Right” tomorrow and remember, MTFBWY, always!