Movie Review: Star Wars, The Force Awakens (Guest Post)

The Force AwakensInformation

Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: George Lucas
Release: 2015

Spoiler warning

Today’s guest post is by a disgruntled Star Wars fan who would like to remain anonymous so the fandom can’t track them down and send hate mail. 😉

This movie is an abomination, and an affront to what was once, the holiday special notwithstanding, a dignified franchise. Indeed, this movie is so terrible it makes me reminisce fondly for The Phantom Menace.

For the record, The Phantom Menace was terrible. But at least it was an original sort of terrible. Yes, the pod racing scene was long, boring, and unnecessary. But at least it made logical sense that young Anakin would be a ridiculously amazing pilot, since he was trained to be so. The Force Awakens‘s homage to the pod racing scene, involving, of all things, the Millennium Falcon and a decrepit husk of an Imperial Star Destroyer, is equally long, boring, and unnecessary, but it is additionally completely nonsensical; the audience is forced to believe that poor, impoverished Rey, reduced to selling hunks of metal to keep herself alive, is somehow able to out-fly a couple of TIE fighters the first time she touches the controls. Yes, Darth Maul was a terrible, wooden villain who had a grand total of one line of audible dialogue. But at least he had his moments of awesomeness; the scene where he engages both halves of his double lightsaber alone justifies the price of admission and, in spite of his utter lack of character development, Darth Maul is at least still enough of a badass to dispatch Liam Neeson, of all people, in single combat. The “villain” in The Force Awakens (I forget his name; he was that terrible) is a petulant teenager who combines all the loathsomeness and punchability of Revenge of the Sith era Hayden Christiansen with all the insipid worthlessness of a storm trooper. Finn, a former storm trooper himself (and above that a bad one, who dislikes violence until he begins slaughtering Imperial – ahem, “First Order” – troops en mass), is somehow able to hold his own in a lightsaber duel with our “villain” the second time he touches a light saber. And Rey, the first time she uses a lightsaber, proceeds to whoop his ass so badly that the only thing that will allow him to be Vaderized for the inevitable sequel was a ridiculous deus ex machine involving a chasm with a better sense of plot development than any of the scriptwriters. Say what you want about The Phantom Menace, but at least it wasn’t a hundred and thirty five minutes of things stolen – ahem, homages – from other movies. Heck, The Phantom Menace even had the real Kiera Knightley in it, instead of the cheap, knock-off Kiera Knightley cast in The Force Awakens.

Speaking of homages, a lot of other reviewers have already covered how much this movies shamelessly borrows plot elements from other, better Star Wars movies (like the whole damn plot of A New Hope, from the droid-with-the-valuable-information-lost-on-a-desert-planet premise to the we’ve-gotta-blow-up-the-death-star-before-our-base-gets-blown-up finale). All I would like to add is how much this movie steals from things that are not Star Wars. The scene from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers where Saruman looks out over a vast orc army? Yep, that’s in The Force Awakens. The ridiculous “Hail Hydra” guy from Captain America? He’s in there, too, though no longer with the weird alien stuff that made him anything other than a stupid caricature. Hell, even the new, improved hyperspace look is stolen; the blue swirls looked so Dr. Who I half expected to see a TARDIS appear. In fact, even though I hate Dr. Who with a passion, I wanted a TARDIS to appear. That, at least, would have been unexpected.

But a much as I hate the utter predictability of everything from Han’s death to the “villain’s” remarkable escape to the eventual reveal (I presume it will come in the sequels) that Rey is somehow blood related to Luke and Leia (seriously, this “force is strong with this one” only occurring in particular bloodlines pisses me off. Can’t for once the Star Wars universe give us a Hermione Granger? And I don’t even like Hermione Granger – but I digress, back to the review), that is not what irked me the most about this awful piece of dreck. No, my greatest ire is reserved for the premise. What is there to say about the premise? Is it awful? Yes. Could the whole movie have easily been avoided if someone had only force R2-D2 to wake up earlier? Yes. Could the whole movie have been avoided if Luke decided not to throw a hissy fit and leave? Yes. Would the events that inspired Luke to throw his hissy fit have made for a better movie? Yes. Do we ever stop to wonder why Luke is so valuable that the resistance and the Empire – ahem, “First Order” – are willing to sacrifice oodles of blood and treasure to find a map that maybe just maybe might lead to him? J.J. Abrams sure as hell hopes that we don’t. Dare we ask why Luke left a map behind in the first place if he really wanted to go into hiding? Shut up and watch the movie! See, pretty pictures and explosions. You like pretty pictures and explosions, don’t you?

Beyond the ridiculously stupid premise, the plot is full of a large number of inconsistencies and stupid cliffhangers left over to be resolved in the endless stream of sequels to follow. Who the f*** is that old, Obi-Wan looking dude at the beginning? Why the f*** does he have a part of a map that leads to Luke? Why the f*** does Poe think he has the map? If he does, how come the “villain” didn’t get to him first, considering that he and the “villain” obviously have some history? And that’s all in the first five minutes. Surely J.J.Abrams knows we have these questions, too. But you know what his answer is? “F*** you. Buy your advanced tickets to the sequels.” But of course there’s more. Why the f*** can’t C3PO find what part of the galaxy the map fragment is of when it is revealed at the end to take up a good 5% of the total galaxy? F*** you, that’s why! Why the f*** do people think Luke Skywalker is a myth when that motherf***er blew up two motherf***ing death stars a mere thirty f*** years before, destructions that we saw celebrated across the galaxy at the end of Return of the Jedi? F*** you, don’t you remember Luke saying similar things in A New Hope? Not that that made much sense after the prequels revealed that there were these violent-ass and certainly very memorable clone wars that annihilated the Jedi two decades before, or anything, but at least he had the excuse that he had an overprotective aunt and uncle. I’m sure the Rhino-like alien giving Rey just enough credits to avoid dying in the desert wanted to shelter her from the horror of knowing about her father -ahem, Luke Skywalker. (Please, J.J. Abrams, I beg of you; change this now! If you make it that Rey is just some random girl on some random planet, may then I will forgive The Force Awakens the way I have just forgiven The Phantom Menace. Please!)

By this point in the review, you might be asking if there is anything in movie that I like beyond some pretty pictures. In fact, there was one thing I liked quite a bit; I loved how they humanized a stormtrooper. Without him saying a word, we got to watch his moral struggle starting from the moment a bloody handprint got left on his face by a dying comrade. It was beautiful, poignant, and touching. But then it got completely ruined, and it made me all the more pissed off at this atrocious piece of garbage that dares to call itself a Star Wars movie; the helmet came off, and suddenly he was just another thug-busting action superhero, with no moral qualms at all about offing endless waves of dehumanized storm-troopers. There was a great movie here. I would have loved a movie about a storm trooper who had a moral revelation and then tried to flee, passively and without killing anyone, to a haven on the far reaches of the galaxy. It would have been beautiful, but we wouldn’t have had quite so many explosions and quite so many nameless, dehumanized drones being gunned down to the delight of the clapping audience, so of course we got Finn Solo instead. But they could have done something. Hell, they could have at least made a joke about how bad Finn’s aim was or something. But no; as soon as he’s trying to get with knock-off Kiera Knightley – ahem, “with the resistance” – he wields a blaster the way Legolas wields a bow.

Speaking of knock-off Kiera Knightley, her character was also a constant source of irritation to me, and not just because she was an ever-present reminder that I would much prefer to be watching Bend It Like Beckham. I get it; it’s 2015 and every female lead character has got to be an ass-kicking superheroine because damsels in distress are so cliché and oh-please-radical-online-feminists-don’t-accuse-us-of-misogyny. But I hate it. I hate it for the same reason that I hate the damsel in distress – it’s cliché. We’ve seen this act a million times before. When Princess Leia whooped ass in A New Hope, it was original and different. Now every action movie from Mad Max on down to Kung Fu Panda needs a girl who can – without any training or explanation whatsoever – whoop primo ass, and it’s become as stale as the villain’s zany sidekicks in Disney movies. But my dislike for Rey’s ass whooping abilities goes far beyond the fact that it’s cliché. It also craps all over the idea, central to the Star Wars universe, that mastery of the Force requires careful training. By the end of the original trilogy, Luke can whoop serious ass, but that was only after long sessions in the swamp with Yoda. Meanwhile, Rey discovers she can pull Jedi mind tricks ten minutes after she feels the effects of the force on her for the first time; I guess perhaps she was able to leech the power off our insipid, worthless “villain” for some bulls*** reason, but how she had that power? F*** you, that’s how. Similarly, remember that scene in the cave on Hoth when Luke is trying desperately to use the force to summon his lightsaber when it is literally a foot away from his hands? Well, guess what – Rey, without any training, who a day ago thought the Jedi were mythical beasts from legends, can summon a lightsaber from fifty feet away, all while overcoming the power of the “villain’s” own use of the Force. She then proceeds to whoop his ass. Hooray for feminism, I guess.

In all, this movie is garbage, garbage taken from the same pail of worthless “we’ll do anything because you stupid rubes will go see it anyway” s*** that inspired Peter Jackson’s one hour per page adaptation of The Hobbit. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. But of course, like everyone else, you’ve already seen it, and you’re already planning on seeing the next one, even though you know it will also be an insipid, uncreative rehash of other, better movies. But it will be pretty. And it will have explosions.

And with any luck, they’ll finally kill off C3PO in the next one. I’m not hopeful, but then again I haven’t been hopeful since The Phantom Menace, and yet I’ve dutifully gone and given George Lucas my money every time a new one comes out. Maybe the problem is me. Maybe the reason why Lucasfilms continues to dash my expectations of greatness is because I will go and watch his movies regardless of how unoriginal, asinine, and downright terrible they are. Maybe if only I refused to patronize such loathsome excuses for filmmaking, the quality will improve.

Yeah, I know. I’ve already got May 26th, 2017 circled on my calendar. But you do, too, so don’t laugh. Now pardon me while I go vomit up what’s left of my dignity.

15 thoughts on “Movie Review: Star Wars, The Force Awakens (Guest Post)

  1. jubilare says:

    I hope that was cathartic!
    I disagree with most of it, and agree only mildly when I do agree, but I definitely understand the emotional torque. This is how I feel about The Hobbit films. I still haven’t spewed forth my venom on that trilogy because I need to watch the second movie one more time to nail down my information and I can’t bring myself to do so.

    Seriously, though, anonymous one, I hope writing this felt good, and I also hope that you can come to the point where you don’t hate/despise those of us who liked the film. I promise I’m not an idiot. I abhor the prequels, but this, I liked. It had its problems, but on the whole it struck me very differently, and I feel like meaningful stories can once-again be told in the Galaxy far far away.


    • Krysta says:

      I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, so I didn’t see where this was coming from at first, but, yeah, actually this is how I feel about the Hobbit films! So I suspect writing this review was cathartic and I admit I find a lot of it funny because it’s true–the premise of the film makes absolutely no sense and I found myself having to make up weird explanations for everything. Like…um…Rey can use the Force immediately because…because the Force knows it’s desperate times and things need to be sped up? I thought R2-D2 woke up because Rey had arrived, but I found out from an article on the Internet that the novelization explains that one as R2 overhearing that the map was in the Imperial archives. (How convenient for the plot that it took R2 an entire film to wake up, though.)

      I think the reviewer isn’t really judging us all since they’re apparently already planning to see the next film! ;b And I see where that’s coming from, too. Even though I recognize objectively that the film has a nonsensical plot and that it’s comprised of moments from the original films, I still loved the story and the characters. And I was so thrilled to see women in Star Wars! It’s like I can finally see myself in the story. Female Jedi! Female villains! Female pilots! It was so great for there to be more than one woman!

      Normally I’d agree that “strong female protagonist” is sort of becoming a trope (which maybe is problematic because I don’t see “strong male protagonist” as a trope; I just accept that men in stories are fighters) in that stories are starting to throw punching women in just so they appear feminist or something, without considering that a) women can be strong in different ways and often it’s a sign of strength for a person not to punch something and b) we should have some character development attached to our strong female protagonist. That is, you can’t just say, “Hey! This female can beat people up! (Probably in a skimpy outfit.) So she’s strong! And we’re all happy! Back to the men!” In this case, however, even though Rey learned to use the Force almost immediately, I think she had enough character development that she does not fall into that trope. (And honestly her progress seemed to have to do more with speeding the narrative up than anything to do with her character.) So I’d disagree with the reviewer there.

      However, I hadn’t thought about Finn’s apparent pacifism immediately disappearing once he leaves the First Order, so I’m glad the reviewer brought that up. Is Finn a pacifist? Or is he against slaughtering innocent villagers but okay with fighting in self defense? I don’t know. I think the films could look at his character more. I think being kidnapped and raised like that would have affected him more psychologically than is shown right now. I agree with our anonymous reviewer that we need more Finn!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        I confess I saw all 3 Hobbit movies in the theater (the second two only once each at a $5 matinee) and yet I still struggle with judging the folks who like it. Most of the arguments I hear in favor of it seem to miss the point completely… but then as the above article shows, these things are very emotion-wrought. The feels will not be denied even by the rational mind of a fan. What the reviewer says is true, “from a certain point of view.” 😉

        I’d say I’m a moderate fan. Grew up on the original trilogy, loved them, can quote most of them off the top of my head, had the nickname “sith lord” growing up, and gave the prequels a fair shake. Unlike my brother and one of my close friends (who loved the new one and hated the prequels) I didn’t read the novels or cosplay etc.

        The pacing was really wonky. Like, really really wonky. And the whole thing with R2 and the map was problematic to say the least, but I didn’t come to this movie hoping for an astonishing plot so much as I was hoping to have new life breathed into Star Wars, and I think it definitely did that.

        I also get annoyed with the cardboard-standup “strong woman” types who are shoe-horned into movies to pacify a demographic (instead of, you know, giving female characters actual characterization…) but like you, Rey didn’t push that button for me. I found her interesting. Understated, but well and subtly done. I want to see more of her, and more of the other new characters and that is what I was hoping for. None of the main trio gave us a New-Hope-Luke or heaven-forbid-Anakin-bad performance. They were all solid. I even like Finn despite the fact that he makes no sense.

        And as for Kylo Ren, the very fact that he’s weaksauce and KNOWS he’s weaksauce and is borderline crazy because of it made him effective for me. If they’d tried for Vader 2.0 I would be worried, but they didn’t. They are giving us a contrast, an extremely unbalanced (and therefore unpredictable and dangerous because of his unpredictability) and yet potentially complex kid who WISHES he was Vader. I loved that. ^_^

        I don’t think Finn was ever a pacifist. He said he had nothing to fight for, not that he was against fighting. However, I still wonder how he’s so… well… nice. He knows what hugs are, he’s friendly and quite well-adjusted… how did that happen? Ah well.


        • Krysta says:

          I saw all three Hobbit films in theatres, too, but I was dragged to the second two. 😉

          Sith Lord?! That is not what I would have expected!

          I agree. I think the film did breathe new life into the frachise. I feel like I can really become a fan after seeing this one. I loved the characters and, as you say, the acting was good, so that helped a lot. I’m actually invested in the characters and what’s going to happen. And I don’t really care that the plot relied so strongly on homages to the original films because they worked in this story.

          At first I didn’t like Kylo Ren, but then I read a piece explaining that the film is supposed to be about the evolution of the villain as well as the protagonists, and then it made more sense to me that he comes across as such a whiny teenager. It would have been a mistake to try to have a second Darth Vader, as you say, so I’m excited to see how Kylo Ren’s story plays out.

          Hmm. Yeah, pacifist is probably not how he would describe himself. I still would like to know his thoughts on fighting, though. And to know how he turned out so well-adjusted! Maybe he was kidnapped at an older age and somehow retained memories of hugs and such? Probably any explanation would be a little shaky, though. He’s just so morally sound at this point that it’s hard to believe he was in the First Order at all. I kind of love that about him, though. It’s annoying when protagonists have to spend an entire film wondering if they should do the right thing or let everyone die. That’s not really a choice!

          Finn had his one moment of “We got BB-8 to safety; my work here is done” and then he realized he had to go back. Good. That worked. I bought that he just wanted to get away. But he didn’t agonize for two hours over whether he should let his friend be tortured or not. He knew he had to go back.


          • jubilare says:

            What, you didn’t realize that I am a dark lord of the Sith? Well, now you know. Red light sabers all the way. 😉
            I wore this to opening night: because, you know, there’s no reason a Sith can’t be stylish.

            So, short version: Early on in our relationship, my big brother and I decided that I was the evil one (I have a much better evil laugh than him) and one day I took to calling him “puny Jedi” and telling him that he was weak in the Force. He complained that I wasn’t any stronger, and had no right to call myself a “lord” of the Sith. At about this point in the conversation, my mother called and asked us to turn out the light in the dining room as she was going to light the Christmas pudding on fire (oh, yeah, this is Christmas story, how appropriate!) We were already sitting down, and as we’re lazy, my brother reached out his hand to try and flip the light-switch with the power of the Force. He failed, and I mocked him accordingly. He then challenged me to do better. I reached out my hand, and that very moment our father, unaware of the conversation, came in and flipped the switch. It. Was. Perfect. We bawled with laughter and I carried the title of Sith Lord ever after. ^_^


    • Briana says:

      Haha! I think it was cathartic. I asked for a “brief” review and got 3 MS Word pages!

      I liked the first Hobbit movie for the most part. I think I would have felt similarly to this about the third one, except I already felt a little warm and fuzzy about Movie 1 but was also already expecting to hate Movie 3 based on Movie 2, so I guess I didn’t have too many hopes to crush at that point. 😉


      • jubilare says:

        There were certainly parts of the first one that I liked. The parts I liked got fewer and fewer, though, as the trilogy progressed, and my frustration and eventual rage took over until I snapped. By the end, I was mostly laughing, somewhat hysterically.


  2. Panda says:

    Wow. Harsh but I do agree with you on some points. Like Finn and Rey being able to use a lightsabre as soon as they touched it. That was a bit ridiculous. I may have been slightly blinded by excitement but I’m going to see it again tomorrow with my sister so I’ll see if my opinion changes. 🙂


      • jubilare says:

        I actually hope this is the case! I totally want to see non-Skywalkers who are Force-sensitive! That is actually probably the thing I agree with most strongly from this review. While I won’t, like the reviewer, be horribly bothered if Rey turns out to be Luke (or even Leia’s) kid, it would be very refreshing if she turned out not to be a relation at all.


    • jubilare says:

      I may be corrected by a greater expert, but anyone can use a light saber. Only those strong in the Force can use them really well. Finn uses it well enough for someone who has been trained with weapons like that electro-baton that other storm-trooper used, so that doesn’t defy my suspension of belief.
      Rey, too, is combat-trained with a staff, and possibly other weapons, plus she’s Force-sensitive, so I can buy her being pretty good with a light saber. Plus Kylo is injured and, uh, batshit crazy.

      What challenges my suspension of belief is Rey’s quick mastery of the Jedi mind trick, and far more her ability to pull Luke’s light saber away from Kylo with nothing but the Force. That will need some explaining in later films if I’m to swallow it. Her improbably good piloting skills, though, don’t bother me as Luke had those even untrained. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Krysta says:

        Yeah, I thought anyone could use a light saber because it’s sort of like a sword. I assumed Rey transferred her combat skills to the new weapon. But Finn seemed to pick up the technique really quickly, quickly enough to face down Kylo Ren, who would have been trained (I guess Finn had some training before, as you mention, but since he seemed worried about using the weapons in all the ships, I assumed he didn’t feel that confident in his fighting skills in general). That, combined with the number of times Finn receives the light saber (foreshadowing!), the fact that Maz gave Finn the light saber and expected him to use it effectively when Rey turned it down, and the way Kylo Ren seemed to look at Finn all make me think that we’ll find out he’s Force-sensitive in a future film.

        Now that you mention it, though, Kylo Ren probably wasn’t fighting as effectively as he could have at the end, so that makes the scene slightly more believable for me.

        For some reason I bought the piloting skills, too, but not so much the use of the Force. I guess because Rey had been piloting a bit before, but hadn’t even believed in the Force previously.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jubilare says:

          Well, a lot of info on how all things StarWars works comes from supplementary stuff and isn’t contained in the films, so there’s a pretty deep divide between movie fans and hard-core fans. I know some of the extra stuff only because my brother and a close friend are hard-core fans.


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