Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been one of the most highly-anticipated films of the decade, and collected $ 2 billion at the box office. But one question remains ? is it actually any good?
In my opinion, once you get past the gorgeous cinematography, action scenes, and flashy production, there is not much substance underneath. The film feels more like a formula rather than an original creation ? the product of a room-full of executives that checked off a list of what a Star Wars film should have to make the biggest profit. Let?s take a look at 10 reasons why ?Force Awakens? is a massive disappointment.
Copies New Hope Plot
If there?s one criticism that virtually everyone can agree on, it?s that Force Awakens copies too much of the plot of Star Wars: A New Hope. Both films start out with a droid carrying crucial information on a desert planet which then ends up crossing paths with a Force-sensitive youngster, include a Death-Staresque weapon that has one fatal flaw, a supreme evil Sith Lord, a military commander counterpart to the villain, a cantina scene, a group of rebels and a group of evil imperials, a strained father-son relationship?should we go on? Given that the film was billed as a continuation of the franchise, it?s hardly appropriate that it copies so much that it could easily work as a reboot or remake.
Little to No World-Building
Where did the First Order come from? How strong are they? What?s up with the Republic? What has Luke been up to? Where is Jakku and why does it matter? None of these and other questions about what is going on in the Galaxy far, far away are ever addressed. And that?s a damn shame, because this knowledge would not only connect the film to the original trilogy, but also make the events on screen have that much more weight. Instead, we?re thrown into the film completely clueless, safe for the classic scrolling yellow text intro.
Rey?s Character Makes No Sense
If there is one character that completely breaks the believability of the film it?s Rey; she?s just way too perfect at everything she does. Despite being a scavenger living on a backwater desert planet, she just happens to be a master pilot and mechanic, speaks droid and understands Wookie, and can shoot a blaster better than a Stormtrooper.
But the biggest problem with her character is that she is somehow able to learn the ways of the Jedi in mere hours, all on her own. She begins by escaping captivity by using the Jedi mind trick which she apparently learned out of nowhere, and defeats a powerful Dark Side user during her first time wielding a lightsaber. Whereas it realistically took Luke Skywalker years of training and multiple failures to finally defeat Darth Vader, Rey?s character throws all logic out the window.
It Moves too Fast
Movie critics use the term ?pacing? quite a bit, but all that it means is that if you are aware of the passage of time when watching a movie, the filmmakers failed somewhere. The problem with pacing in Force Awakens is that it moves way too quickly, and there isn?t enough time given to characterization. This may come as a surprise considering its 136-minute run-time, but we are barely given any time to absorb important moments. One example of this is the death of a key character, which ends up meaning almost nothing because we don?t have enough time to let it sink in. Another example is the attack on the Starkiller Base, which materializes after a 90-second long dialogue scene.
Recycles Old Ideas
Not satisfied with copying plotlines, Force Awakens also copies some key ideas of the original trilogy. Without a doubt, the biggest offender in this category is the Han Solo ? Kylo Ren relationship, which is a cheap knockoff of the father ? son struggle of Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin, aka Darth Vader. Even the scene where the two meet is a copy of Luke?s infamous meeting with Vader, taking place on a platform in a spherical station, complete with one side refusing to cooperate with the other.
Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker essentially takes the role of Yoda from the original trilogy, as the secluded Jedi Master that the protagonist has to reach and receive training from.
Cheapens the Outcome of Original Trilogy
The first thing that I thought after the first 20 minutes of Force Awakens is ?well, I guess this means that everything Luke, Han, and all the original trilogy characters fought for meant nothing?. After all, it looks like the Empire is still around, albeit with a different name, and they still appear to be have the numerical and technological advantage over the good guys. Which, by the way, are pretty much a carbon copy of the Rebel Alliance, except now they?re called the Resistance and Leia is their leader.
Meanwhile with Luke in exile, the Jedi appear to be in a similar state to when the Empire was in power. Explaining things better or setting the film long after the original trilogy would?ve really helped here.
Kylo Ren starts out the film as a serious menace, much akin to Darth Vader. He is ruthless, physically-imposing, and powerful enough to stop a blaster shot by using the force ? something we have not previously seen from a Dark Jedi.
Yet as the film drags on, his character is increasingly undermined by emotional immaturity and fits of teenage angst. There?s no problem with Ren being conflicted about which side he should fight for, but the way he is characterized takes away all of his intimidating qualities. His complete ineffectiveness as the antagonist is further proven at the end of the film, when he is unable to defeat two novices with zero lightsaber training.
Chance and lucky coincidence are often required to propel a movie forward, especially at the beginning. But when the entire film relies on unlikely and poorly-explained events, it becomes very noticeable and breaks immersion. Unfortunately, Force Awakens has a lot of such moments. The only reason Rey and Finn ever meet up in the first place is because they quite literally run into each other, while the only reason they meet Han Solo is because the Millenium Falcon just happens to be there on the same exact planet. Such moments are the norm for Force Awakens, not the exception.
Another silly example is when a chasm magically opens up between Rey and Ren to save the latter from certain death. Meanwhile, Captain Phasma instantly agrees to take down the Starkiller shields, despite her earlier characterization as a ruthless Stormtrooper commander. The list of plotholes in the film would easily fill its own article.
It Uses Old Characters for Cheap Nostalgia
There is nothing wrong with older characters from popular films appearing in their new continuations. When done well, it?s an excellent way to reignite an old franchise and pass on the torch to the new generation of actors. A great example is Days of Future Past, where the aging Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) appear in the same film as their younger counterparts.
Unfortunately, Force Awakens does not do a very good job of using the original Star Wars characters. It is blatantly obvious that the only reason they are here is to legitimize the film and convince the fans of the original trilogy to see it. Han Solo and Leia Organa essentially rehash their roles from the original trilogy, while others like Admiral Ackbar appear for the hell of it.
Dry and Soulless at its Core
When you really get down to it, the ultimate problem of SW: TFA is that it has no heart. You don?t really care about what happens to the characters because they?re either one-dimensional or do and say things that don?t make much sense. The film lacks original ideas and the plot appears to be a bunch of action scenes tied together by a barely-logical story that is fully predictable and uneventful. The movie is in fact so bland that it feels more like an action blockbuster than a Star Wars film.
The disappointment that is Force Awakens is perhaps best summed up by Mark Hamill?s silent, disapproving gaze at the end of the film; he was reportedly paid over a million dollars for this scene. In a way, this cameo works as a wonderful symbol for how Disney exploited the Star Wars franchise to make billions of dollars instead of a good movie.