It lay dormant for years. Unreadable post after unreadable post gentled the beast and sent it into a deep hibernation. But now something stirs it from its slumber. A topic that has reignited the inspiration to write more unfunny, uninteresting posts on a pointless blog. The movie that has restored excitement and a new hope to the world wide geekery. And now I must write about it…
It has been a long absence for me from this blog, but I’ve been itching to write again, and what better topic to kick off my blog rebirth than with one I’ve already spoken so much about in the past. Star Wars. I feel like I can officially talk about the movie now that my dad and brother have finally watched it. There are multiple spoilers, so if you intend to watch the movie and don’t want spoilers, please stop reading… you already did, didn’t you? Oh well, I’m gonna talk about it anyway.
Let me start by mentioning that I liked the movie. I liked it much more the second time, though, because the first time I saw it my brain spent too much time critiquing the film. Also, I was sick and spending too much energy and concentration stifling coughs so the people around me wouldn’t be grossed out by my sick nastiness (it was a reserved seat and I didn’t know I’d be sick… I wasn’t gonna NOT go!). But why was I critiquing the film? It’s Star-frickin-Wars! Why couldn’t I just enjoy it and shut up the annoying voices in my head?! The answer is because I am too much like Spock. My human side was just giddily grinning ear to ear and taking in all the fantastic sights and sounds and characters that I love so much. But my Vulcan side found so many things about the movie highly illogical….. wait, was that a Star Trek reference?! Hmm. J.J. Abrams’ sic-fi infidelity has me all screwed up.
In sharing my criticisms, I’ll start with my general thoughts and then hit some specific silly things that probably never should have crossed my weird mind.
Like many fans, I was thrilled to see familiar elements, themes, characters, and settings from the original trilogy. It quickly erased the dirty taste that the prequel trilogy left in my mouth. In saying that, it really started to feel like it was dipping into that nostalgia well way too much. It started with a large Imperial.. er, First Order Star Destroyer launching ships for an attack on rebels.. er, resistance fighters. Realizing capture was imminent, important plans were loaded into a droid and the droid was sent away to safety. A sky-gazing youth on a desert planet gets swept up into the Resistance fight and discovers she has strength in the Force. Familiar lines were uttered. Familiar chase scenes occurred. A bar with shady aliens peering at our heroes was there. A bigger Death Star. A bigger Death Star gun/threat. A bigger plan to destroy it. A bigger explosion when the heroes succeeded. All good, but very, very familiar.
Now I’ll get into more specific quibbles. And since I was talking nostalgia, I’ll continue with some of the older elements infused into this movie that bothered my stupid brain.
The Millennium Falcon and Its Crew
I know, how could I? Perhaps the most beloved make believe spacecraft in history. And my human side loved seeing it. But then my Vulcan side asked questions. For one, how does a ship that is so regularly considered a “piece of junk” take such a massive beating and keep on flying? Honestly, that ship has been hit with so much laser fire; smashed into so many constructs and land masses; and suffered so many mechanical failings, that it makes no sense that it hasn’t fallen to pieces, or at least stopped working. Also, it makes no sense whatsoever that the cockpit of the ship is located clear on one side of the ship, leaving the entirety of the width of the ship to manage. Every obstacle you must negotiate has to be approached with the idea in mind that 95% of your ship is to your left. No wonder everybody smashes into everything!
As for the crew, it was a delight to see Han and Chewie board the Falcon, but even they did not escape my critical mind. I thought Harrison Ford brought Han back to life wonderfully (….. unintended play on words). But when he grabbed Chewbacca’s crossbow laser and was blasting baddies away, he was impressed by the gun. Chewie has been his shipmate for decades and he’s never fired the crossbow gun before?! Come on.
The stormtrooper known as FN-2187 was experiencing his first ever action on Jakku. Storming the Resistance settlement, this particular trooper found himself questioning their aggression. When a fellow trooper left the red hand of Saruman upon his helmet, FN-2187, now clearly identified, realized he was not built for this. And when the stormtroopers were ordered to kill everyone, he stood there without firing his weapon. This was all very good. But how did this one stormtrooper end up being the only one to question the ethics of… stormtroopering? Did he not know that the First Order was malevolent? Did he not hear the music that accompanied them?! Do none of them?! Also, I thought his character was awfully inconsistent in that he would go from being a cowardly buffoon to a courageous badass at different swings throughout the movie. Poorly trained, this FN-2187. Or poorly “conditioned”, as they say in the movie.
This is an adorable ball of droid that is apparently the only one of its kind in the galaxy. Weird. Apparently Abrams felt the need for new blood.. er, new metal in the droid department. It is cute, but this one really gets my Vulcan mind in a tizzy. I can tell you why this droid is one of a kind. Because it doesn’t make any design sense! A round, metal ball rolling over all manner of terrain. There are a couple things wrong with this. One is that if you attempted to accelerate a metal ball on many surfaces in the movie (sand of Jakku, metal of the Falcon interior, mud of Takodana), the ball would slip, and in some cases, just kick up sand or mud. At the very least, it would use excessive energy just to get started and to stop. I haven’t looked up the exact coefficients of friction for all of these surfaces to determine exactly how inefficient this mode of propulsion would be, but it just seems to make sense that it wouldn’t work great.
Also (and this is even more crazy to me), how in the world does a rolling ball packed with gadgets efficiently access those gadgets when it needs to? It just rolled all over the place and then it pops out what it needs in that slot in the front? What if that item is now oriented at its bottom or in the back now because it just rolled it around?! Is there another ball inside that holds the gadgets and just suspends inside while the exterior rolls?…. Actually that might make sense. But no, because the slots that open for gadget access would need to be all over the place. It doesn’t make sense!.. but it is cute.
Kylo Ren and Rey
I’m combining these two because my gripes mostly concern their interplay, but I’ll start with a couple of Kylo Ren-exclusive gripes. Now, I suspect that sometime in the next movie we’ll get a glimpse into how Ben Solo was corrupted and turned to the dark side and reborn as Kylo Ren. But the motivation that was partially revealed to us was the desire to be as evil as his grandfather, Darth Vader. This was revealed when Ren was speaking to the burned helmet of Vader and seeking inspiration to ward off the light; and it was revealed when Rey read his mind and discovered that he feared being less badass than Vader. I couldn’t help but wonder two things when I considered this. One, does Kylo Ren not know that Darth Vader was redeemed? He found the light and the good in him rescued his son from the evil Emperor Palpatine. He joined the spectres of Yoda and Obi Wan at the celebration on Endor when the rebels destroyed the Empire. Yes, he did commit many heinous atrocities, including Sand People genocide, youth Jedi-in-training murders, attempted murder of his mentor and best friend, abandonment of his pregnant wife who died of a broken heart, persistent harassment and ordered murder of his own daughter, murdering of his former mentor and best friend, carbon-freezing his daughter’s boyfriend, multiple choke-kills of high-ranking Imperial officers, dismembering his son’s hand, and trying to kill his son to impress the Emperor. Oh yeah, and the obliteration of his daughter’s ENTIRE PLANET AND EVERYONE ON IT!! But, hey… he saved his son and it was all good again. He found the light and Kylo Ren seems to be
forgetting that. Vader should not be his inspiration to ward off the call to the light, as Vader ultimately lost that battle. The second question I had about this was.. where did he get the Vader mask?! Did he have to go to Endor and search old campfire sites? Did he steal it from a museum? Did Han and Leia keep it in a trophy cabinet? Did Luke keep it so he could put it on once in awhile to see how it would have felt to turn bad? Will I never find out this unimportant detail?!
Now as far as the Ren and Rey interplay, I have one major gripe. I really like both characters, but I can’t help but wonder how it was that someone who had apparently been training with the force for years basically got his ass handed to him by someone who just discovered the force. I mean, one second she’s getting frozen and knocked out by the wave of Kylo Ren’s hand and then having her thoughts sucked out of her brain while restrained; the next second she’s sucking Ren’s thoughts, mind-controlling stormtroopers, and wielding a lightsaber as if she’s been training with it for years. And she didn’t even have Obi Wan guiding her with his creepy ethereal voice! I know Ren was injured when he fought Rey, so he has that excuse going for him, but she straight up paddled his ass with the lightsaber! I’m all for girl power, but it seemed a little silly… until I thought about her possible origins.
Kylo Ren, we discover, was a child born to Han and Leia. Leia, as we know, was one of two twins conceived by the powerful Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader). Leia’s mother, Padme, was seemingly not especially strong with the force, Anakin was legendarily powerful. Ben Solo clearly inherited that power. But where does Rey come from? That’s one of the movie’s fun mysteries, and it becomes all the more juicy when you consider her apparently raw, amazing power with the force. We have established that Kylo Ren= Han + Leia= powerful with the force. And we know that Rey= ? + ?= MORE powerful with the force. This leads me to believe that Luke Skywalker may be Rey’s father. He’s super powerful. But even he needed time to train with Yoda to learn how to hone this power and become a Jedi. Rey looks well on her way to being a Jedi now. So who might Rey’s mother be in order to make her so powerful with the force? I’ll just leave you this picture to explain my theory:
I know, gross. But how else will they top “[Luke].. I am your father”?… How about with “Rey… we are your mother and father… and aunt and uncle!”
Cowardly Jedi Masters
If you are like me, your might have thought Yoda was a complete badass in the prequel movies. One of the few highlights. And if you are like me, you might have wondered why he tucked his tail and ran after his fight with Palpatine. By my eye, it was a close draw. And even if Yoda felt he was defeated in that battle, why would he exile himself to Dagobah forever and allow Palpatine and the evil Empire to flourish?
The plot of this new movie revolved around the search for Luke Skywalker. Not because he was captured by bad guys. Not because he accidentally piloted into a mysterious wormhole. Nope. He’s missing because he exiled himself to some remote planet because he felt bad that one of his students turned to the dark side. Ok, yes, it was his sister’s and best friend’s son, which might have added to the shame and guilt. But he ran away and allowed the Supreme Leader Snoke and The First Order to flourish. How can we respect
these Jedi masters when they run away forever every time things go wrong? Did Palpatine and Vader whine and run away when the rebels blew up their Death Star in Episode IV? No. They bucked up and got right back to work building a new Death Star. Now that’s a lesson I can get on board with. Plus I would look awesome in a dented helmet and a cape. Sign me up for the Dark Side!
Sun-sucking Death Star
The new massive weapon in this movie is basically a planetary Death Star. The First Order was wise to spare the time and expense of building a massive steel construct that would eventually just get blown to smithereens by the good guys. This time they just decided to retrofit an actual planet and build a big gun into it. This is cool. My issue with it is that the big gun is charged by a star. It sucks a sun’s nuclear energy dry in order to dispel a massive sun beam that is able to level multiple planets in one gigantic shot. The base is actually called Star Killer. But if you suck the solar system’s source of solarness dry, then do you really need to blow those planets up? I mean, it might actually be way crueler to watch the planets all freeze and starve. Less dramatic, yes. But way darker.
Anyway, I did love the movie. It was really fun and I really like the new characters. It was kind of obvious that they were going to have Han killed by his son, but I liked the way they did it. It didn’t escape me that Abrams smartly set up characters that can carry on Solo’s presence. It was sorely missing in the prequels. You have Han’s cocky, great piloting and smartass comments in Poe Dameron. You have Han’s capable heir to the Millennium Falcon and Chewbacca’s companionship in Rey. And you have Han’s propensity for occasional humorous incompetence in Finn. His spirit will live on.