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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (spoilers)

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (spoilers)

Postby ShadoWarrior » Sat Jan 02, 2016 5:56 am

This thread contains spoilers.
Do not read further if you haven't yet seen the movie.

You have been warned!


I thought I'd kick off the new year by opening up a discussion topic on Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which is pretty much a J.J. Adams reboot of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Let's see by just how much these two movies compare:

Spoiler:
Code: Select all
Plot Point                 A New Hope  v  The Force Awakens
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Evil Empire                     X                 X         Empire / First Order
Starts On A Desert Planet       X                 X         Tatooine / Jakku
Jedi Order Is Extinct           X                 X
Evil Jedi In Black Helmet       X                 X         Vader / Kylo Ren
Rebels                          X                 X
Small Cute Droid                X                 X         R2 / BB8
Droid Has Important Secret      X                 X         R2 / BB8
Scavenger Grabs Droid           X                 X         R2 / BB8
Droid Rescued By Lead Character X                 X         Luke / Rey
Lead Character Is Hotshot Pilot X                 X         Luke / Rey
Noob In Gun Turret              X                 X         Luke / Finn
Imperial World-Killer           X                 X         moon / planet
Cantina Scene                   X                 X
Pilot Is Force-Sensitive        X                 X         Luke / Rey
Pilot Inherits A Lightsaber     X                 X         Luke / Rey
Mentor Dies By Lightsaber       X                 X         Obi-Wan / Han
Distant Dark-side Master        X                 X         Palpatine / Snoke
Rebels Sneak Into Superweapon   X                 X
Fighters Attack Superweapon     X                 X
Trench Run                      X                 X         Luke / Poe

These are just some of the highlights. There are more, but these are enough to get the idea across of just how much the script writers (Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt) ripped off the plot of ANH. I can, easily, write an entire post about each one of these plot points.

Having said the above, let me also say that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and that — in spite of the (lame) plot rehash — the movie is well done and a worthy sequel. Its strength is in the vibrant new (light-side) characters and their great acting. Daisy Ridley is (by far) a better actress than Mark Hamill, and while John Boyega is no Harrison Ford (very few actors can measure up to Ford) Boyega holds his own. Oscar Isaac, as "Poe Dameron" is (essentially) the new "Wedge Antilles". That J.J. Adams (more or less) seamlessly meshed new elements into the old ANH plot, so as to satisfy the fan base that wanted to see all of the old characters yet bring something fresh to the franchise, is a testament to how good a writer and producer he is. We already knew that he's a superb director (better than Lucas, IMO). And, thankfully unlike Lucas, he didn't introduce annoying/cute new species/characters to try to appeal to young children. TFA is a movie targeted at adults.

That Han Solo dies came as no surprise to me, as Harrison Ford had asked Lucas back in the 70s to kill off his character. Ford finally (40 years late) got his wish. And contrary to many opinions that I've seen, I do like the way the movie ended with the scene where Rey meets Luke.

Well, this should be enough to get the conversation rolling...
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Re: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (spoilers)

Postby DeepSpacer » Sat Jan 02, 2016 7:49 am

Good write-up Shado. I, too, thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The character development was GREAT. I can't say enough great things about Ridley. She was utterly fantastic. Boyega was enough without being too over-the-top hysterical-crazy-person and I really felt his anger when he stood up for his friends. Abrams certainly did things like he had made a list of all the things horribly wrong with 1-2-3 and set about to correct them (Namely, characters and plot...or, really, all of it). This made me feel like he was paying attention to how 1-2-3 damaged the psyche of SW fans forever. Did you notice how the first spoken line of the movie was something to akin of "This will set things right."? THAT communicated to me his entire reason for wanting to do this movie.

I cheered, teared up, nearly jumped out of my seat at times like Rey & Finn fighting Ren at the end. I LOVED how they fought like inexperienced teenagers with the Force aiding them. None of the choreographed crap. it truly fit their situation. It was a fight of "wills", not a fight of skills. Major credit to Abrams on that call! I thought the confrontation in the interrogation room was INTENSE. As an audience member, I now understood the Force was awakening in Rey without dialog having to explain it to me. It also matched her force of will that had been shown in the first half of the movie. At first, you just thought she was toughing it out....but then....the look on Ren's face showed there was something more to it. I liked how even SHE did not understand it. "If I told you, you wouldn't believe me." Loved the ending, too. The looks on Rey & Luke's faces were priceless. Her's went from angst to peace and his went from "oh-no, not this!" to one of re-igniting his confidence.

What didn't I like? Ms. Silver Stormtrooper. Totally useless character in the plot (obviously a plant for the next movie) and her voice was all wrong...sounded like a voice-over in being too loud and clear and not like it was coming from the character through a helmet. And she took the shields down for them? What kind of diabolical character is this? Apparently, she has a sci-fi following as an actress, but her role stunk in this movie. Maybe this was an attempt at Boba Fett thing??? The Imperial General was also terrible, IMO. SO young. Just a kid. I'd prefer an older British-accented actor with some experience under his belt. The kid was SO out-of-place. Yeah, "Snoke", too. But I did like the giant hologram...it threw me off until the hologram flinched the 3rd time we saw him. I kind of thought he was a giant! Of course, I used to think Stormtroopers were robots as a kid, even after the RotJ. I'm sure we will see flashbacks in future movies as to what these people are and how they got there.

I also rolled my eyes when I saw much of the rehashing of elements (For me, I disliked the rehash of the cantina, Death Star, the unnecessary trench run, sneaking into the base). They could have made it a little different in that way. I hear that the books always went larger and more destructive in the Empire's weapons, something I'd disdain. I also disliked the grunge elements that came to collect on Han's debts. Senselessly-youthful and British-rock-band-looking. Kind of dumb. The CGI on those creatures was also a bit much to endure. I endured it. They ALSO knew about the droid....along with the guy on Jakku, and everyone else in the universe. Pretty dumb. The First Order's phone lines were burning up. It made no sense. And what was the good of having three different npc's call it in?

Seeing the second time made me appreciate it much more. At first, I felt the dialog between Han & Leia was forced and unnatural. But watching the second time, I tried to think "What would I say here?" And it actually matches what was said. I had to tip my hat at Abrams for that one, in hindsight. That being said, let me add another "dislike"......LEIA. Dressed poorly, poor scenery, poor emotion. No, I don't care that she looks old. I wanted to see a spirited old woman with a lot of fight. Given all of this, I'd rather she of SLUGGED him in the eye when she saw him!!! Would have fit her temperament more. As it was, she spoke too softly and was too gentle the whole movie to be the Leia I knew before. I like Ben-Han confrontation, as well. I liked that whole relationship...a broken family. Ren was torn and we saw him develop, too. There's actually some sympathy there. The released, and then tightened, grip on the lightsaber was perfect. It fit his torn character. I plan to see it at least two more times, maybe three. (There's a $2 here that plays 'em after they're out of the first-line theaters.) Seeing the characters develop like that is enthralling.
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Re: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (spoilers)

Postby ShadoWarrior » Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:42 am

I agree that the evil characters were really poorly done. With the exception of Ren, they all had pretty bad lines to act, and the actors themselves didn't make any effort to try to improve on the crap that they were given to act on. I especially fault Gwendoline Christie, whose role as Captain Phasma is particularly poor, and has no excuse because her acting ability on Game of Thrones demonstrates that she's better than this.

"Snoke"? Really? We're supposed to fear (or be impressed by) a supreme leader of the bad guys with a joke name like 'Snoke'? General Hux doesn't have the gravitas to lead the military. The character seems much more like some REMF political flunkie or ex-ISB tool than the leader of legions. Even when he's giving his Nazi-style propaganda speech to the gathered troops he seems much more like Goebbels than Goering. Star Wars Rebels may be a kiddie show, but that show's bad guys are believable, unlike those in TFA.

And all of the scenes with Han's "friends" and monsters could have (and should have) been cut from the movie with no loss to the story. The writers needed to devise a way for the Falcon to be tractored by a large ship (so that Han could be introduced into the narrative) and then for the Falcon (and crew) to leave the larger vessel behind. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways that this could have been done that would have been better. The monsters and monster-fodder broke my immersion. Fortunately, that whole set of scenes doesn't last long.

As for Leia, she acts as she looks: tired, weary, worn out. She's a general, but is she really running things? Not from what I saw. She seems more a highly-respected figurehead than the driving force (no pun intended) behind the Resistance. At least Admiral Ackbar appears to retain his original spirit.

Maz Kanata as the new stand-in for Yoda was cool. Filling a similar role, yet a very different character. Much like how Rey fills the role that Luke had. I enjoyed how J.J. Abrams gave Rey the hot-shot piloting role that Han had and gave the fighter role to Poe instead. Having the Jedi apprentice be on the Falcon rather than in an X-wing works better for me. I hope to see more interaction between her and Chewie. It'll be interesting to see how the budding romance between Rey and Finn develops (if it does at all), and where Finn will fit himself into. Rey is the new freighter pilot (with Chewie bringing along Solo's smuggler baggage), and Poe is the fighter jock.

So what's Finn's role? Just shoot the guns when needed? The Finn character is interesting, but seems to not really have much of a place going forward. He appears to have zero piloting skill. And little to no Force ability. Every other Star Wars character had piloting: Chewie, Lando, Nien, Obi-Wan, Padme, et cetera. But not Finn. He's an ex-grunt who worked in sanitation. His main assets are courage, compassion, ethics, and what he knows from having been a stormtrooper. Assets that aren't unique in the Resistance, especially now that his knowledge of the superweapon are no longer needed.
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