Seven reflections on “The Force Awakens”

I think just about all the angles on The Force Awakens have been covered. From penetrating think-pieces explaining our obsession to frowny-face predictions to satisfied first-viewings. So I’m going to leave the proper movie-reviewing to others. There really isn’t much else to say.

Rather than analyze the aesthetic qualities of the The Force Awakens, let me simply say that I loved it. Yes, it was an homage to the earlier movies, but that’s okay with me. As a life-long fan, that was the itch that needed scratching, and this movie delivered. So that’s the long and short of my review.

With that out of the way, please allow me to go full-nerd here with seven random reflections on The Force Awakens. This will have spoilers, so do not read-on until after you have seen the movie.

[Spoiler-alert!]

1. Kylo Ren must die. He has committed the unforgivable sin in the Star Wars universe. It’s not quite killing Bambi’s mother, but it comes pretty close. If there’s any justice in Star Wars land, Kylo will be no-mo by episode 9. In fact, here’s a good title for the final installment: “Star Wars – Episode 9: Kylo Ren Must Die.”

2. If you’re gonna sell-out to the darkside, don’t build a Death Star. Seriously, it’s not going to work out. You may get one or two shots off, but then you get blown to smithereens. Is it really worth the expense for only one or two shots? How much money does it cost to build a Death Star, anyway? Putting a dollar amount on that monstrosity would require a number in scientific notation. Who’s paying for this? If they build another one, they should call it “Death Trap” or “Money Pit” because it ain’t gonna work.

3. Nobody really wants to bring “balance” to the force. Characters say that in every movie. It sounds all new-agey and stuff, but no one really means it. Did anyone miss Darth Maul after he was cut in half by Obi Wan? Who was pining away for the Emperor after Darth Vader killed him? Answer: Nobody. Why? Because no one really wants parity between the good side and the dark side. They want the good side to destroy the dark side. That’s not balance. That’s one-sided domination. Star Wars may trade in the rhetoric of new age mysticism or Buddhism or whatever, but nobody means it.

4. J. J. Abrams could have erased Episodes 1-3 with one of those time-travel plot wrinkles like he threw in at the beginning of Star Trek. Just think about it. Abrams flushed the entire mythology of Star Trek in that first movie—including all the stuff from the TV series and all the material from the 80’s movies. Why didn’t he save that piece of brilliance for The Force Awakens? It would have been a masterstroke of genius. He could have rehabilitated the series and erased the Jar Jar Binks nightmare. Talk about a catharsis. The Force Awakens is fantastic as it is, but this was a massive missed opportunity.

5. Speaking of Star Trek, did you notice that the storyline was kind of like Star Trek: The Search for Spock? I wonder if that was on purpose.

6. The force is strong with Rey, and I bet her Midichlorian levels are off the chizzain. But I hope it never occurs to anyone to mention it. I’m willing to forget that little magic-sucking detail from Episode 1, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. We don’t know why Rey has innate Jedi-level competence with the force, but that’s okay. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s hope the explanation has nothing to do with Midichlorians. If the materialists want a space epic, let them go make one. We’re taking Star Wars back.

7. Han Solo died too soon. And this may be my one complaint with the movie. The relationship between Solo and his son was too underdeveloped to support the pathos they were trying to achieve in the climactic scene on the bridge. Viewers simply don’t get enough buy-in to this broken relationship between father and son.

I saw The Force Awakens last night. I re-watched Episode 4: A New Hope with my kids tonight. As I was watching young Solo tonight, I couldn’t get over the fact that I now know how his story ends. Star Wars and Return of the Jedi left us with happily ever after. The Force Awakens leaves us with something else. My viewing of the original movies (Episodes 4-6) will never be the same.

11 Responses to Seven reflections on “The Force Awakens”

  1. Andrew Lindsey December 19, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    I see your point in #7. I do, however, think that Han Solo’s death worked thematically in being an echo of both: 1. Vader striking down Obi-Wan; 2. the Emperor’s attempt to get Luke to strike down Vader. (Also, there is the issue of Harrison Ford’s long-standing claim that he asked Lucas to kill his character off in *Return of the Jedi*.) As a plot point, Solo’s death serves to establish Kylo Ren as a truly irredeemable character.

  2. Ken Temple December 19, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    There is an interesting theory that Jar Jar Binks was originally suppossed to be a secret Sith lord, who acted goofy, (like Yoda acting goofy at first), but was controlling things behind the scenes. Watch the video and it makes sense, if George Lucas’ statement is true when he says, “Jar Jar is the key to everything”. But the Star Wars Geeks and Fans got so upset, that Lucas changed the story to make Dooku the Sith, in Attack of the Clones.

  3. Austin Gravley December 19, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    So a couple of other points to think about:

    1) While it had some basic similarities to The Search for Spock, if anything this was a remake of Episode IV. Think about it – backwater kid on backwater planet intercepts droid with information that both the good and bad guys want. Backwater kid and droid run into old legendary grandpa type figure who mentors backwater kid in the ways of the Force/mechanics. Gang gets caught up in plot to destroy the Death Star/StarKiller where grandpa figure dies by hands of main villain, giving backwater kid the push to take this seriously. Trench run with massive explosion in the end.

    Obviously there are some massive discrepancies between the two, but I thought the overarching metanarrative with this one resembled A New Hope maybe a bit two much.

    2) As much as I wish the prequels didn’t exist, I am glad JJ didn’t fire the Starkiller at them. The Star Wars canon has been damaged severely by Disney already by disregarding the EU – as much as the prequels suck, they are canon for a reason. In a way, the prequels helped make this movie as enjoyable as it is. After a decade plus of torment from the prequels, relief in the form of VII has come, and what a relief it is!

    3) Someone had to die in this movie. ObiWan died in IV, Qui Gon in I, and now Solo in VII. It’s just tradition at this point to have an important figure die in the first act in a new trilogy. That and the fact that Harrison Ford has long stated that the only way he would do a Star Wars movie again was if Solo got killed off.

    I loved this movie regardless. I will definitely see it multiple times

  4. Bill Gernenz December 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    Full out agreement here. Though I’m not sure #7 could be avoided. For at least three reasons.

    1. It moves the story along, Rey can take on her role without being pulled into the second mate role. The other characters are also free to develop without the shadow of the legendary Captain Solo.

    2. Related to that, if Kylo Ren is going to be an imposing villain, there can be no more of this “I’m torn” with this “little bit of light” business. He had to cross over fully if he’s going to challenge a Luke-trained Rey. [on that note: Abrams just avoided making Ren look like a brooding adolescent with anger issues. But he did. Killing his father is one way Ren moves on becomes his own man.]

    3. From a movie-making standpoint, Harrison Ford is as iconic as Solo is legendary. If you keep him in you make everyone else a little smaller. It’s no mistake he was as prominent as he was – and much more so than any other character. He’s also the one everyone wanted to see. Plus, in honesty, there is no more mileage to get out of Solo. (Not to mention how much more Fors was willing to do.) We had just enough to bridge the movies with just right amount of nostalgia (and the allusions to the originals were pulled off perfectly). Now, the baton has been passed and it’s time for the new cast to run with it.

    My two cents.

    (Just a curiosity, when did you see that coming? I had a are on suspicion when he handed Chewie the detonator.)

  5. revgeorge December 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

    I missed Darth Maul. He was the only thing that made Phantom Menace bearable.

    George Naylor

  6. Christiane Smith December 19, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    I’m not too upset, I expect that Han Solo will return as a ‘revenant’. Reason is, everyone is so very upset with his ‘passing’. Box office bottom line will drive future scripts, and the future film’s producers would be less than intelligent if they were not awake and responsive to the feelings of the fans.

  7. Kyle December 21, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    I may be the only one who LOVED the movie up until the end. It ended poorly for me. It built up and then…. Nothing. Solo died way to soon. It get rushed and uneventful and he was one of the leading original cast members! Even Chewy seemed unmoved by it. Leai was like, “that’s sad… Okay let’s move on.” Somehow, we are supposed to believe Rey and even a Storm Trooper could take on Kylo Ren in one to one combat though neither of them have ever held a light saber before. I REALLY liked the movie! I think overall it was excellent. I am not a critical person, I’m usually quite easiliy entertained. However, the ending was a let down to me. Let’s not mention Luke’s 10 second speechless cameo. :^)

    • Adam Gup December 25, 2015 at 12:21 am #

      Kylo isn’t fully trained. He was noticeably hacking with that lightsaber. He was also wounded by Chewy’s crossbow laser-bolt.

  8. Ian Shaw December 21, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Well,

    I stayed away from Denny’s points as he listed “spoiler alert”. Guess I shouldn’t have expected that from the comments. There’s no point in me seeing it now.

    Though those of you that have seen it, can you rule out the rumor that Palpatine isn’t dead?

  9. Dan Phillips December 22, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    You will not think about how much Mark Hamill got paid to stare glumly for a few moments at the pretty girl offering him the complicated flashlight.

    • Adam Gup December 25, 2015 at 12:22 am #

      I will not think about how much Mark Hamill got paid to stare glumly for a few moments at the pretty girl offering him the complicated flashlight.

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