The Force may have awakened, but it nearly put me to sleep

Avast! Thar be spoilers 'ere! So, I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens (on Netflix), and I was not disappointed. That is,...

Avast! Thar be spoilers 'ere!

So, I finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens (on Netflix), and I was not disappointed. That is, given the cast, I expected to be completely fished in by the acting; given the presence of J.J. Abrams, I expected the plot and much of the editing to leave me wincing. As I said, I was not disappointed.

Harrison Ford was great - no matter how much he may hate Han Solo, he is Han Solo. Daisy Ridley was awesome, and even though the hand-holding thing between her and John Boyega's Finn was way too ham-fisted, it was great to see a strong leading character who happened to be female (rather than a "strong female lead"). Carrie Fisher was underused, but had some really good moments, especially with Ford.

Boyega himself did a great job. For me, the scene that showed me he knew what he's doing is the one where Finn has to explain to Rey in under 60 seconds who he really is and what he's about, without sounding like a newscaster or a wuss. And he did it.

Oscar Isaac was perhaps the most underused actor, and the one who was fed the worst lines. I hope they do more with him in the future.

It was weird seeing two of the three lead actors from Ex Machina in the same movie. I would so love to see a Star Wars dance off between General Hux and Poe Dameron lampooning the one creepily but brilliantly done in Ex Machina. Unfortunately, I don't think Hux will be doing much dancing any more….

And I was also glad to see that at least some stormtroopers have finally learned to hit what they're shooting at….

Who's your favorite dark lord?
Adam Driver did well as the new Darth Vader wannabe, Kylo Ren. I have two problems with Kylo, though. First, he doesn't stride (as Vader did), he skulks around like a spoiled child. Perhaps this is intentional but it doesn't make sense: surely, Snoke would prefer an apprentice with more self-confidence and a better understanding of body language. Second, he just wasn't tall enough. If you're playing the Big Bad in Star Wars, you must be at least six inches taller than anyone else. Sorry kids, but that's just the way it is. Even so, and given Adam Driver's quite commanding presence, and even taking into account the generally pathetic nature of the prequels that must not be named, just look at these two guys and tell me who looks more evil. It sure ain't Kylo.

Some of the effects were quite beautiful and exciting, but that's to be expected these days.

Most of the humour was well-rendered too. As a fellow cynic, I was pleased to see Han's masterful "chirping" of virtually every situation. While Poe had a pretty good moment near the start of the movie - the "Who talks first?" bit - I doubt anyone will be able to match Solo's banter in future installments.

And no midichlorians. Yay!

And that's pretty much all I can say that was good about the movie.

The bad…. Well, that'd be pretty much everything else. I'm confident I could write a dozen pages at least about the problems this movie has, but I won't. Here's a few problems that I thought were particularly egregious.

It's A New Hope all over again. Don't listen to anyone who says it isn't. All the major plot elements are there, and all the major set pieces. The "Starkiller Base" (i.e., a supersized Death Star) is still too fricking easy to blow up. It comes with a convenient trench for the good guys to fly through. It still has a single soft spot, but this time it's not a thermal exhaust port; it's a gizmo so huge even a Stormtrooper could hit it. Stormtroopers are still largely idiots. No one has the foggiest notion how to avoid spies and other forms of intelligence gathering. X-wings are still cool, but J.J. ruined them by having their turbines split in half - seriously, how the fuck is that supposed to work?!?!

The physics of how that big-ass gun on Starkiller Base gets charged up is just stupid. Just cuz Star Wars is more fantasy than SF doesn't mean they should just make stupid shit up. They could have just as easily had the Base go into the star to charge up as anything. As for absorbing the total energy of a star for a single shot… seems a bit of overkill, no? Seriously, I doubt there's an astrophysicist alive who wouldn't give a major appendage to be the consultant on Star Wars and help them at least be consistent.

And while we're at it: how's a couple of dozen X-wings even expected to make a dent in a Flying Space Gun that's about four times the diameter of a Death Star, when a whole fleet of hundreds of ships could barely take out the Death Star? Oh, wait, could it have been all those TIE fighters and Stardestroyers? The ones that were mysteriously absent from Starkiller Base even though one ought to safely assume there'd be no shortage of space on something that big for a proper defensive fleet? Especially considering the Rebellion's habit of blowing shit up whether it's "fully operational" or not?

You got to see a Jawa's face. That was a horrible let-down. They should have kept the mystery.

At the movie's start, we see Finn holding a gun and being a generic Stormtrooper in a platoon of 'em, who end up having to kill a whole bunch of innocent folk. But later, great hay is made of the revelation that he's "in sanitation." Cuz you'd trust your janitor to be a fear-inspiring "Stormtrooper" too, right?

If it floats, it's gotta bob too!
Here's a small thing that irked me horribly: Rey's speeder didn't gently bounce up and down as she loaded it and got on it. They used to do that in the older (and better) movies. And it's not like they did away with all the laws of nature in The Force Awakens, and it's not like they couldn't afford to give the speeder that more organic, floaty feel….

Han's death was also weird. I can't believe that none of the on-lookers - not Chewbacca, not Rey, not Finn - wouldn't react by opening fire sooner than they did. They just watched. Of course, the great and powerful J.J. prevented them from doing so, cuz Han had to stroke his son's face before swan-diving off the bridge. Contrive much?

The timing was also off in a few key scenes. One big glitch for me was at the end when Rey was just about to have her ass handed to her by Kylo, at which point he did as all idiotic villains do, and spoke too much, giving Rey just what she needed to channel her inner Jedi. She closes her eyes, and it seems that the whole scene calms down as she finds her centre. Ok, so far, so good. But then the scene just keeps going on and on and she's just got her eyes closed, and Kylo is just looking at her blank-faced. Did time slow down? Did Kylo have a premature Senior's Moment? Did he just realize he forgot to lock his spaceship? Whatever it was supposed to be, it just came out clumsy.

The other wonky bit of timing is the very last scene when Rey is holding out Luke's lightsaber to him. It's, like, "Dude. Are you just gonna stand there? She just fuckin' climbed a mountain to find you (whole other problem there: since she obviously knew where he way, why didn't they just fly the Falcon to the summit??) the least you could do is take five steps to her." Am I right? And they just stayed that way, standing still like a kid's plasticene diorama.

And wasn't he supposed to be hunting down some big fancy Jedi temple thing? What's he doin' navel-gazing on an island that looks like a set from the Lord of the Rings movies?

Anyways, you get the picture. Once again, Abrams has decided that the key to a good movie is to put together a bunch of set-piece scenes without bothering to work out the larger story and get the details right so that the whole thing hangs together. The Force Awakens is just another movie for people whose attention span is limited to 140 characters or 7 seconds, whichever comes first.

One thing's for sure, Abrams has a perfect score: he ruined Lost; he ruined Super 8, he ruined Star Trek, and now he's ruining Star Wars. Hey, if you're going to do something, then do it well. Clearly J.J. is a master.



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The Trouble with Normal...: The Force may have awakened, but it nearly put me to sleep
The Force may have awakened, but it nearly put me to sleep
The Trouble with Normal...
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