So once again we have survived.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

tn_forceawakensstarwarsminuslucasWARNING: This is all spoilers, why would you read it without seeing the movie?

Previously on Disney’s Star Wars™: When it was announced that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm to Disney and other people were gonna make new Star Wars movies, the world celebrated like the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI special edition but with the song from the original end of RETURN OF THE JEDI. I wasn’t so sure. I thought Lucas was a one-of-a-kind visionary whose works couldn’t be duplicated without his oversight, and I would rather see a flawed idiosyncratic Star War like his prequels than the potential mediocre one made by somebody else. But on the other hand as a huge Star Wars trekkie to the bone I couldn’t help but be excited to see Luke, Leia, Han, Sebulba and Chewbacca on the big screen again, something I never expected to happen. So when the trailers came out I was as down as anyone.
And as soon as the opening crawl started with “LUKE SKYWALKER HAS VANISHED!” and I realized what the movie was gonna be about I had a big damn grin on my face.

The first act of the new movie by director/co-writer J.J. Abrams (Felicity) is as thrilling as I could’ve hoped. Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron is not as complex of a role as he’s used to, but he seems to be having fun playing a suave, cocky smartass guy. And when the movie branches off to follow a conscientious objector stormtrooper (John Boyega as Finn) it feels like a new angle on the Star Wars universe. Even better, the heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley), in contrast to our sand-hating and power-converter-wanting boys of the other trilogies, is a quiet, self-sufficient loner, and her pre-adventure daily life as a scavenger is as interesting as her later star warring. It’s a portrayal of poverty that we haven’t seen in the Star Wars universe, even when Anakin was a slave.

mp_forceawakensThe interaction between these new characters is great, partly because they become such fast friends. Usually the rule in movies is that characters have to bicker for a while before they start liking each other, so I love how quickly they’re having fun together. The talented X-wing pilot Poe is giddily excited to steal an evil TIE Fighter (“I always wanted to fly one of these things!”), and Finn cheers him on. Later, after Rey and Finn make their escape in the Millennium Falcon, they jump up and down yelling compliments at each other.

The action is a little chaotic, but effective, and stylistically distinguished from the other two trilogies. They have the same space ships as the original trilogy but done with modern effects, trailing after spinning high speed spacecraft in a way that’s a logical extension of what Lucas was doing with his models back in the day. The new stormtroopers, although I don’t think their armor looks as good, are more intimidating, moving more like soldiers in a modern war movie, seeming to be much more effective and cruel than the previous guys, including when they slaughter an entire village early in the movie. (I was a little puzzled by the movie’s insistence on explaining that they’re not clones, since they otherwise go out of their way not to make any reference to anything related to the prequels.)

The first time I felt let down by the movie, sadly, is around when Han Solo is introduced. It seemed a little cheap to me that Han, although a smuggler again, is also super famous so the kids know who he is and that he knows Luke Skywalker. Seems cornier and less dramatic than if they never heard of him. From that point it stays entertaining but gets increasingly reliant on references to the old shit.

As far as that goes, there are two things I was hoping to see that we didn’t get yet.

1. This is an opportunity to deliver on something that Lucas set up but never used: the importance of Leia as the other heir to Anakin Skywalker. When Kenobi says that Luke is their only hope Yoda says “No, there is another.” But the New Hope pulls through and they don’t have to resort to the back-up hope. It feels almost like a mistake – there’s no narrative reason why she needs to be his sister. Additionally, Luke tells her “You have that power too. In time you’ll learn to use it as I have.”

For these reasons we know that there should be a badass reveal of Leia using Jedi powers, much like that first time we saw Yoda bust out a lightsaber, which was a huge audience moment when ATTACK OF THE CLONES was released. Instead, she just “sticks to what she’s good at,” which is to be a General standing in a room and not even doing as much as she did in the old movies.

I actually believe they’re saving it for a later movie, when surely she’ll have to confront her son who killed her (boyfriend? husband?), so I will give this oversight a probationary pass. But if it turns out they don’t bother to deal with the one actual loose thread Lucas left then shame on them.

2. Luke. I mean, Luke is the fucking hero of the original trilogy. He’s the guy that grows the most, but we don’t get to see him as a Jedi Master, a title he only achieved at the end by facing Vader. To see him on the screen again is the reason to make new Star Wars movies. That they kept his role mysterious in the trailers, didn’t even put him on the poster, and made the mystery of his whereabouts and present status the whole question of the movie, makes it all the better. All this buildup and then old Luke is gonna show up and just seeing him on screen there’s gonna be goosebumps popping up off everybody’s necks and arms causing a commotion…

And then nah, never mind, let the kid who did that LOOPER movie figure out what to do with him in two years I guess.

In this article Michael Arndt (who wrote the draft before Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over) explains why they ditched Luke: when they tried to write it with him in it he always became the center of the story, because who gives a shit about any of these other characters if LUKE FUCKING SKYWALKER IS BACK!

An interesting storytelling problem, but also an acknowledgment that Luke Fucking Skywalker is the reason to make the movie. It’s too bad Arndt didn’t have the power to travel ahead in time and see CREED. There’s a movie with a beloved iconic character in a supporting role to a new one. It can be done.

I had been worried that Luke could end up being the villain of the movie. It could be a way to try to shock the audience and a reason to keep him out of the advertising. So I was a little relieved he hasn’t as far as we can tell turned to the dark side. He just turned to the sad side. But for a movie so calculated to stoke nostalgia and give the audience what they want it seems like a pretty major missed opportunity to return to these characters for the first time in 33 years and then not have the triumphant return of Luke Skywalker.

Even worse, as was pointed out to me, they against all odds brought Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker back to the screen… and then killed one of them off before they even had a scene together. Whoops.

About that. Other than the huge waste of not reuniting the trio, I’m okay with the death. This in fact was one of the best scenes in the movie, an unusual and effectively melodramatic confrontation. I love that Han, a non-Jedi, would walk out onto that long bridge, knowing the obvious danger but feeling a responsibility to try. And the reveal of his son’s name was a good one, though I think he should’ve yelled his full name (Benjamin Kyle Solo, you are grounded!) I think Kylo really was conflicted, really considering listening to his father, but there is some ambiguity there. He could’ve been just fucking with him. It’s intriguing. That’s the kind of stuff I love in this movie.

* * *

They’re definitely making a run at pandering to the people who grew up on original Star Wars and hate the newer ones. So is it better than the infamous prequels? I figure most people, at least right now, would say yes. I will say yes and no.

It avoids the weaknesses of the prequels. The acting of the leads is much better, more natural. Rey is a more believable, likable and strong presence than either of the Anakins. An obvious example of the differences in the movies is to compare desert-dweller Anakin’s infamous monologue about how much he hates sand to Rey’s amazement upon landing on a planet full of green plants. Two very different ways of delivering the same information.

The banter is funnier and there’s not a bunch of stiff, awkward dialogue, except maybe a few of Han’s lines. There aren’t as many cartoony characters who seem out of place (though there are many that don’t seem like Star Wars aliens as we know them – apparently on these planets there are many alien races but none of the ones from all the other Star Warses). There’s no character nearly as annoying as Jar Jar, though I’m sure some people won’t appreciate Boyega’s young-Nic-Cagian choice to play Finn with a comically dorky voice. And the introduction of Rey in her life as a scavenger has a raw, realistic feel completely absent from the prequels (or even the originals).

But can you understand me when I say that it’s not as bad while also not being as good? Whatever it was that Lucas wrote in his Episode VII outline that was thrown out, I bet it wasn’t a movie about another young person living on another desert planet who meets another droid with another desperate message from another rebellion and ends up learning the Force in another battle with another empire and another emperor with another Skywalker that turned to the dark side, and they stop by another alien-filled cantina and later watch helplessly as another mentor is killed and then they get in more X-wings and blow up another planet-sized, planet-destroying space station.

There are other things that are intentional reversals of what we’ve seen before. Instead of the rebels pretending to be stormtroopers there’s a stormtrooper pretending to be a rebel. They come to rescue the girl and it turns out she’s already rescued herself. Instead of dreaming of leaving her shitty desert life she’s anxious to get back to it. These examples are fun but when too much of the movie is built on references to an already existing movie it’s the opposite of that “I’ve never seen anything like this!” feeling STAR WARS was so famous for creating.

It certainly could’ve been worse, but this was my fear about Star Wars minus Lucas. Now instead of being actual Star Wars, Star Wars is people who grew up on Star Wars paying homage to Star Wars. This one verges on remaquel. For all his mistakes with the prequels, Lucas’s films are still distinct because he didn’t just do variations on the elements of his old ones, he absolutely loaded them to the brim with new shit. People made fun of his little “fan service” nods, but that’s because they were little moments that stood out, they weren’t the basic building material of the movie. Mostly he was excited about all the new concepts he wanted to show us.

He gave us the Jedi Council, padawan learners, younglings, what the actual role of the Jedi Knight was, how they actually fought (with far more elaborate lightsabering than before), what they could do. He gave us the Sith and how there can only be two of them. He gave us podracing, battle droids, clone armies, the first Star Wars metropolis, the detailed cultures of Naboo, the Galactic Senate, “Order 66,” the mystery of “the chosen one who will bring balance to the Force,” which has many possible interpretations that are still interesting to me. So there is plenty of new shit.

As much as I enjoyed THE FORCE AWAKENS, it was the least elated I’d felt after a new Star War. It felt a little empty. I felt like I had less to wonder or speculate about, and while most of the flaws of the prequels are obvious up front and you just have to choose to forgive them or not, this one starts to fall apart the more you think about it. Like, wait a minute, am I to understand that they had the map the whole time but R2-D2 was takin a fuckin nap? Did this great hero of all six authentic Lucas Star Wars pictures cause the deaths of Han and five entire planets by being asleep on the job? And was there some reason why he turned on at the end?

(I’d heard some convincing theories about what was up there, but unfortunately in that article I linked to before, Abrams explains what happened. R2 is in a “coma” because he’s depressed about what happened with Luke. But he has the map to the last Jedi temple because of when he plugged into the Empire computer files on the Death Star in the original STAR WARS. But he has to think about it for a while or something before he decides to help. So yes, millions died because R2 was brooding. I feel like this could’ve been done better.)

Abrams once did a TED talk about “the mystery box,” a sealed box that you don’t know what’s inside, that he uses as a metaphor for the allure of the unknown in storytelling. People thought it was deep at first and now they make fun of him for it, complaining about the mystery box early on when he was keeping all the FORCE AWAKENS details secret.

But the finished movie makes me think of a different Abrams box, the one that appeared in his directorial debut, “Todd Mulcahy Part 1,” an episode of a TV show called Felicity. I’m not familiar with the show but from what I’ve heard, Felicity receives a package from Todd Mulcahy, a boy she knew when she was a kid, who now has come to New York thinking he’s in love with her. The package has a note that says “Enclosed find a Felicity time capsule, circa 1992. My hope is that this will rekindle a certain child-like sense of wonder I’m afraid you might’ve lost.” And the box is full of things she liked when she was young, like Mallomars and a VHS copy of DEAD POET’S SOCIETY.

And it’s fun, but it doesn’t necessarily rekindle her child-like sense of wonder because she has grown into a different person than the 12 year old beanpole at summer camp, and craves new experiences. It’s cute to remember what candy she ate when she was a pre-teen but it’s never gonna be the same as it was then. You just can’t have that same joy again, you can’t relive that. Thinking about her youth actually sparks an important life decision for her, but it doesn’t make her fall in love with Todd, and I doubt Mallomars return to her diet.

(By the way, reportedly this is a very good episode of the show Felicity, and at the end HUGE SPOILER FOR FELICITY she turns Todd down and he’s walking away kinda laughing and light-heartedly talking about how he’s not gonna give up yet and suddenly he gets totally nailed by a bus. To be continued.)

In its weakest moments THE FORCE AWAKENS is like that time capsule, pathetically trying to remind you that you love STAR WARS by showing you the same shit again. Remember? Remember the Death Star? And the other Death Star? Well, what if I were to give you the OTHER other Death Star! Oh my god we are living it again you guys it’s the same stuff we love and we love to love it!!!!!

But shit, I don’t want a copy of DEAD POET’S SOCIETY. I want what’s in that mystery box over there! This is the same problem I have with the Expendables movies, or the new Muppet movies. Yeah, we all know which movies you’re from. Now, don’t re-enact those or talk about them. Make a new one. Don’t be like Rey, living among the leftovers of the old movies, figuring out which pieces a mean fat guy will pay you for.

I think this time capsule approach is kind of cheap and pandering, but oh well. I can’t front on everything in that box. For now I’ll just eat these Mallomars.

* * *

Despite my misgivings about the scavenging and what was done with some of the old characters, what I really did love about the movie was the new characters, especially Rey and Kylo. The light saber duel between them is worthy of real Star Wars and helps redeem the last act of the movie. Although it seems to go against what we previously knew about how hard it is to learn to use a lightsaber, it gives Rey a fighting style based on her established abilities: the way she fights with her staff, her parkour/American Ninja Warrior type talents for climbing and jumping, her burgeoning use of the Force. She does a flip not because she’s a trained Jedi who has Force-jump powers, but because that was already part of her vocabulary. Since she’s small, Anakin’s lightsaber seems big and heavy to her, and  she seems to swing it almost like a sledge hammer, using its weight for momentum. Meanwhile, Kylo has a raging style, like his tantrums, madly chopping, destroying the trees and things around them.

And I have heard that it’s controversial, but personally I really like the unexpected choice of Rey winning the fight, leaving Kylo on the ground, sweaty and emotional, like Luke after losing his duel in EMPIRE (abbreviation for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, not the tv show Empire, although that is also good). I think it’s an interesting choice for the continuing story, because it’s a different power dynamic than Luke and Vader. It’s two unusually promising, completely undisciplined students of The Force facing off. They make a big deal about Kylo not being ready yet, needing more training, like his uncle did. That will be a different competition. Who can learn faster?

I’ve got a tip for Rey or Kylo: go track down the Kanjiklub. If they survived the monster attack they could teach you how to kick ass. If you didn’t catch them, they’re the gang played by the guys from the RAID movies. Yayan Ruhian (Mad Dog), Iko Uwais (Rama) and Cecep Arif Rahman (“The Assassin” from THE RAID 2) all appear together in a scene as some badasses who then… don’t get to do much. I feel like maybe Abrams hates us fans of THE RAID and wanted to put something in there that only we would know to be disappointed by. But you know what? We don’t know if they die. It would be great if near the end of STAR WARS EPISODE IX: GRIP OF THE LURKING PERIL, Mad Dog suddenly shows up out of the blue saying “your dad owed us money” and gets to have the climactic fight with Kylo Ren.

I predicted before the movie that Kylo would be Han’s son. It’s obvious, because Adam Driver is based on how Han looked in the animated part of the Star Wars Holiday Special.

adamdriver
I wasn’t sure about the guy from Girls playing the new Star Wars antagonist, but now I’m sold. I know J.J. pulls a total J.J. by making him kind of a reverse of Luke, but it’s still a cool idea: a bad guy tempted by the light side of the Force. He’s a weirdo wearing a mask to be cool instead of because he got burned by a fucking volcano like his poor Grandpa. Kinda like the people who wear non-prescription glasses to look smart. And speaking of Ani, his Force ghost needs to have a stern word with grandson here. What the fuck is this “finish what you started” shit? Kid, you know nothing.

Also I like that not only does he not call his father “dad” or something, he always uses the full name “Han Solo.” “Han Solo can’t help you now,” etc. And what about when he’s fighting and keeps angrily punching his chest wound? He’s strange. I like it. He has a more interesting personality than expected.

(But it would be cool if the next one gives him a henchman who’s more the iconic Star Wars villain, the enigmatic cool looking type like Boba Fett or Darth Maul.)

I assumed going in that Rey was gonna be a Skywalker, and there are many reasons to believe that will turn out to be true. But I actually prefer it how they’ve left it: that it didn’t matter who her family was. She doesn’t have to be of some royal lineage. She just has to be Rey.

This brings up a question I’ve had about the Force. Are we supposed to take it that Luke can only be a Jedi because he’s the son of Anakin? I guess so, because Yoda seems to consider he and Leia the only possibilities. But I always took it that other people could use the Force, these two just had a natural predilection for it.

After all, wasn’t that why people were so offended when THE PHANTOM MENACE introduced the concept of midicholorians? It seemed to imply that if you were born with a low midichlorian count you were useless in The Force. If we are to accept that only those who inherit it can do it then midichlorians are just a quasi-scientific way of describing the exact same concept as “being born Force sensitive.”

If Rey is not a Skywalker, or from any special family, it takes the elitism out of it. Brings some new blood into the Jedi game. And that’s what we need. You got rid of Lucas. Now stop remembering what he did and start doing what he did. Create new worlds, make new stories.

Don’t blow it Rian Johnson. Give us something that’s Star Wars but weird and unexpected and frankly of a higher quality than your previous work no offense. no pressure thanks bud we’re all counting on you you will be shamed for generations though

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
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396 Responses to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

  1. As sorry as I am that you didn’t enjoy it more… damn, it feels good not to be completely alone in my assessment of the movie (I would love to link to my review, but it’s in german, so it probably wouldn’t do you any good). I was bothered by many of the same things as you, especially the lack of originality (another Death Star? Really?). Also, the constant references to the old ones repeatedly took me out of the movie. I also felt that the First Order mostly didn’t work, especially Snoke (isn’t it weird that they took so much pride in going back to practical effects, and then they use CGI for the new main baddie – something that even GL never did?) and Hux (as much as I usually love the guy, but I found Domnhall Gleeson’s performance completely forced and unconvincing); and the hyped Captain Phasma was a huge letdown. And I felt that they really fumbled a certain important scene (despite your spoiler warning I don’t wanna give it away here), mostly because it was telegraphed from a mile away, but from the way the conversation went, it felt like they still desperately tried to fool the audience, so that it would come as a shock. Which didn’t work for me at all, and – in my opinion – diminished the emotional impact of the scene.

    What I enjoyed most were the new characters, especially Rey, and the way she grows during this film. There were also a couple of truly great, exciting scenes, and the ending makes me very hopeful that the next one could hit it out of the park. Overall, it’s not a bad movie, not by a long shot, but like you, I’m not as smitten by it as the majority of moviegoers and critics seem to be.

  2. I loved the Kylo Ren character a lot, Driver really did a great job with that role – btw apparently he is meant to be in his late teens which is why he shaved his facial hair for the role.

    Another unanswered question which I don’t think you touched on Vern was how did Ren find Vader’s charred remains? Wasn’t Luke the only one that knew where he was?

  3. caruso_stalker217

    December 21st, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    There is a lot to discuss here, but I’m only gonna point out one thing:

    How the fuck is Anakin’s lightsaber still a thing in these movies?

    First off, Luke lost that lightsaber when he lost his hand.

    Secondly, he NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAD IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but Ben Kenobi was the one using Anakin’s lightsaber in the original STAR WARS. When he dies, the lightsaber is left behind with him.

    Luke never retrieved that lightsaber.

    So odds are the original lightsaber was blown up along with the first Death Star.

    I’m sure there’s some non-canon Star Wars book out there devoted just to this.

    If anyone has an answer, I’d like to hear it.

  4. “(But it would be cool if the next one gives him a henchman who’s more the iconic Star Wars villain, the enigmatic cool looking type like Boba Fett or Darth Maul.)”

    Just want to point out that I think we already got a Boba Fett-like character in this movie’s Captain Phasma. She looked really cool, and was featured in the marketing in a way that led many of us to believe she would get to play a kick-ass villain. But then when we see the movie, she just kinda goes out like a chump, much like Boba in Return of the Jedi. Too bad. I had a lot of hope for her.

  5. Caruso,
    Kenobi was using his own lightsaber in the original trilogy. It’s the same one he had all through the prequels. In A New Hope he gives Anakin’s lightsaber to Luke because “your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, he told me so as his flesh was roasting off next to that pool of lava”. That’s the same lightsaber he lost in Cloud City when Vader chopped off his hand. Not sure how anybody retrieved it after that, though.

  6. I was completely waiting on that STAR WARS MINUS LUCAS header. Thanks for not letting me down ha ha.

  7. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 21st, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I would pay money to see a sequel called GRIP OF THE LURKING PERIL.

  8. Spoiler-Os
    Spoiler-Os
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    Spoiler-Os

    As usual, Vern, you’ve managed to put into words exactly how I felt, far better than I was able to. Bravo. My only disagreement is that I ended up liking Finn better than Rey — I think his desperate loyalty is rather touching. He seems to me to be the heart of the movie, and the one thing which seems arguably as vividly realized as anything from the Lucas ones (even if the kids here raised some worthwhile complaints about how his behavior doesn’t exactly make sense given his history). Boyega goes for it, and I think it works mostly due to him, even if the character is rather lazily written (his “the hero rejects the call” moment could not have been more forced (ha!) or more glibly resolved). I like that there’s nothing at all special about him; he’s about as small a cog in a huge machine as he can be –more or less literally, at first– and it’s just his sheer determination that makes him (incorrectly) think he can fight a lightsaber duel with a trained warrior. He just keeps getting beaten and defeated at every turn, but he just keeps coming, because for once he’s actually had a taste of real life and he’s desperate to hold onto it. Too bad the movie more or less forgets about him in favor of a somewhat out-of-the-blue and underdeveloped Solo subplot just as his arc should be kicking into high gear. Oh well, there’s always next time.

  9. Re: Midicholorians Lucas has explained in the past that anyone can use the force with enough training (it usually takes years) and every living being has midicholorians (even plants) but some are born with more than others and those ones are more naturally able to access the force without years of training.

  10. Another great review Vern. I enjoyed the movie for the most part but agree the callbacks to the first movie were getting eyerolling. The new characters made up for it because they are fantastic, especially Rey and Kylo Ren(who I really think are cousins), but I admit really got emotional when it came to the old characters. Han and Leia’s reunion had me crying as well as Han’s death. Some people wanted him to go out in a heroic blaze of glory but this was so much more moving. When he touched his son’s face as a show of love even after he stabbed him? Damn.

  11. Excellent as always, Vern! You nailed it, comrade.
    Thank you!

    Rank & File:

    1) STAR WARS (became A NEW HOPE in step one of Lucas’ revisionism).
    2) THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Actually a better movie than the original in many important ways, but dragged in the middle (Yoda makes shitty chili) and doesn’t have an ending.
    3) THE FORCE AWAKENS. Another desert planet? At least it’s not Tatooine, AGAIN. Another super planet destroyer weapon? That IS lame, but at least it’s not the same EXACT thing, Death Star Dos.
    4) RETURN OF THE JEDI. Mediocre. Just going through the motions. Reset target audience from the last movie down to age 5, we got units to shift. Biggest disappointment, evah! But then several years later, Greedo got a revisionist shot in, and that was worse.
    5) REVENGE OF THE SITH. Revenge for what?? Are those Jedi redneck Taliban, or what? Best Anakin haircut in the entire series. At least it’s over.
    6) THE PHANTOM MENACE. Kids ruin everything. Not a total disappointment, just seriously flawed.
    7) ATTACK OF THE CLONES. The title says it all, baby.

  12. Thank you, Vern. I feel validated that the Jedi Maser who gave me my name had the same misgivings about THE FORCE MISTAKEN that I had. For 30 years I’ve been wondering what happens after Return of the Jedi. I got my answer: The exact same thing.

    What really baffles me is the defense I’ve heard a lot about why Episode VII “needed” to be a retelling of the same story, to set up the new characters and trilogy, because if they hadn’t then the fans wouldn’t have liked it. Is that really all the fans want about Star Wars? If there’s any other story they’ll rebel against their beloved franchise and refuse to see Episodes VIII, IX and the spinoffs? Of course, this is nonsense because we’ll never know how fans would have liked a different story because they didn’t bother to do one. And it’s not necessary to tell a boring story to set up the better ones. You can skip right to the good parts. That’s what Lucas did with Episode IV.

    I think THE FORCE AWAKENS may be showing me the error of my ways. I love repetitive formulaic sequels when I adore the franchise, but when I have no attachment to Star Wars and I see the biggest franchise of all times pull the same thing, I realize this must be how other people feel watching TERMINATOR SEGA GENESIS or SPECTRE: FROM RUSSIA WITH HER MAJESTY’S SECRET LOVED ME. Maybe this is what it takes to change the essence of a man.

    On the other hand, I get so much shit for the sequels I like. The main argument being “Good stories need to end, dammit!” And here we are, the story that had the most need to continue also treads water with no real addition to the story. I’ll take the logic holes of GENISYS because at least they were trying to do different things with Terminator.

    About 30 minutes into the movie it became clear to me that they were never going to find Luke Skywalker before the end of this one. I wouldn’t have put it past them to save it for Episode VIII. I have every confidence Rian Johnson can do his own thing and make the Empire Strikes Back of this trilogy. Hopefully he can pull a FAST FIVE and retroactively make the previous ones better!

    Last thing, how great would it have been if Kylo Ren did accept Han Solo and return to seek redemption? Then instead of the same old “you have to face your evil loved one with swords and guns” we would have had a pacifist story about redeeming a beloved and using their power against the enemy. But no, swords and guns as usual.

  13. There’s a bit of an EVIL DEAD 2 going on, i.e. it’s a sequel that’s almost a remake at the same time. I liked it.

  14. Also, this is basically STAR WARS INTO DARKNESS, right?

  15. Thank you for this review, Vern! I feel less alone in the world.

  16. caruso_stalker217

    December 21st, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    MacReady:

    I suppose that’s logical, although I always figured Obi-Wan was fully retired from the Jedi game and probably pawnef his lightsaber for rent money years before.

    As for Anakin’s lightsaber’s appearance in STAR WARS PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD, I’d say it’s half error and half “Hey guys, remember this?”

    Logistically, it should really be the green lightsaber from JEDI, but that doesn’t fit the whole nostalgic let’s-pepper-this-thing-with-iconic-shit method they’re using here.

  17. I really hope that Rian Johnson pulls off a BATMAN RETURNS with STAR WARS THE EIGHTH. Meaning that since the studio made Scrooge McDuck money with the previous entry he tricks them into giving him creative carte blanche and truckloads of cash to do it with.

    Giving us one of the most idiosyncratic big budget blockbusters of all time under a familiar IP banner fanboys be damned. Essentially a Rian Johnson movie ine veryway but with the Star Wars name in order to help sell milkshakes and luxury cars and stuff.

    I mean Colin Tomorrow will predictably take everything back to Nostalgiaville, Galaxy Far Far Away anyway and it will be a one off so what does he have to lose?

    But perhaps I’m hoping for too much there.

  18. This more or less nails how I felt walking out of the theater. So much potential, and most of it squandered on hollow callback and jokey references to prior Star Wars movies. The film gets shaky when Solo shows up, and falls apart completely once Starkiller Base is introduced. I’m baffled by the near-universal acclaim this is receiving.

    I’ve had a thought ratting around in my head the last few days and I’m wondering if anyone else thinks this makes sense: I think they rewrote the last act of the movie very late in preproduction and most of the story flaws stem from that decision. Let me explain.

    There was a rumor floating around over the summer that Starkiller Base belonged to the Resistance and there would be a moral dilemma where General Leia would have to decide wether to use it against the First Order or not. As the release date got closer and we found out more about the movie, that looked more and more like usual baseless rumormongering and of course it turned out not to be true at all once the movie came out. Oh those silly Internet rumors, right?

    Well…if you assume that was, in fact, true in an older draft of the screenplay, suddenly most of TFA’s story issues go away. For example:

    Finn’s aborted character arc. As Mr. Subtlety noted above, Finn’s story sort of peters out as the movie goes on, eventually being forgotten about. Why create a character who is a former faceless enemy turned good and not capitalize on that? Because he’s the perfect character to make the impassions plea to the good guys to remember that the planet full of First Order troops they’re bout to blow up are living, breathing human beings, slaves who were brainwashed by the First Order and don’t deserve to die just because of where they had the misfortune to be born. Any one of them could be another Finn and they deserve a chance, same as him. Finn saves the day, and gets to become a hero and find a new purpose in his life.

    Leia’s near-total uselessness. Leia basically does nothing in the finished movie. But if she were, say, the sole dissenting voice on the New Republic council (or whatever) advocating against the use of the Starkiller, she’s got a point and an arc. She would be the spearhead against the immoral use of a weapon of mass destruction, able to speak form experience because she lost her home planet to the Death Star. The arrival of Finn, Rey, and the key to finding Luke Skywalker finally gives her some traction in her fight against the superweapon. Speaking of…

    The search for Luke Skywalker would actually matter. “This will begin to set things right,” says Lars Von Tekka at the very start of the movie. Except….how? It’s never clear what problem the Resistance/New Republic has that finding Luke would solve. Sure they need to keep him safe from the First Order but they could do that by destroying the thumbdrive with the map in it. But if the Replublic has begun to fall to the Dark Side in Luke’s absence, it makes sense that Liea et al would need to find him. He’s the last Jedi, the last lightside Force user, and they need him if there’s any hope of stopping the Republic from making a huge mistake.

    It would explain why Starkiller Base was so easy to destroy. It takes very little effort to destroy Starkiller in the finished movie. There’s a couple of minutes where the characters go from knowing nothing about the base to having a plan to blow it up that then proceeds flawlessly. This would make perfect sense if Starkiller belonged to the Republic/Resistance. It’s their own base! Of course it’s easy to deactivate/blow up. They built it! They’re already on it! They probably just have to go push a button.

    And on and on. There’s lots of other little things it improves, as well as some new flaws it introduces, but I feel like it makes a lot more sense than the movie we ended up with. TFA has a big hole in the center of its story and this seems to fill it. I can’t prove it, but I suspect there was an early draft very close to these ideas and for whatever reason JJ and company pulled back at the last minute.

  19. Gepard now THAT sounds like a worthy follow up to ROTJ indeed. Damn.

    Help us Rian Johnson. You’re our only hope.

  20. They nailed the most important thing. They came up with new and interesting characters that aren’t just pale imitations of the original cast. That is what you build a franchise on and what makes me excited going forward. Kylo Ren is maybe the best villain STAR WARS ever had, I love that he’s a Vader fanboy wracked with insecurity. I knew Driver would be great the moment he was announced.

    The guy I feel bad for is Rian Johnson. Not only does he have to play a game of exquisite corpse with all of JJ Abrams loose plot threads and mystery boxes, he has to live up to what is widely considered the best STAR WARS movie ever. Poor guy. I liked LOOPER quite a bit, but a lot of people adore that film to the point that they’re 100% convinced he’s going to turn out a masterpiece. They’re going to tear him to shreds.

    It’s a shame that Captain Phasma went out like a chump (also, how great is it that JJ sneaks a PHANTASM reference into a STAR WARS film), but it’s hard to blame the movie for coming up with a character design that was too inappropriately cool. Phasma should have been that rando Stormtrooper with the stun baton.

    The Kanjiklub Kameos didn’t bother me too much. Those guys were there to help with the fight choreography, might as well throw some tactical gear on them and have them do some badass poses. What bothered me was how superfluous that whole scene was, seemingly there only to satisfy JJ Abrams blobby shapeless tentacle monster fetish. I’d have preferred it if they cut out that action scene and had the characters chill for a while. Let the film take a breath or two. But JJ Abrams films are like sharks, they have to keep swimming forward or they drown in plot holes.

    Regarding Midichlorians, people weren’t upset that they implied limits to Force sensitivity, they were upset that it grafted a pointless scientific explanation onto something that worked better as a mystical and supernatural force. It was basically a symbol of the warmth and humanity of the OT turning into something cold and sterile in the PT.

    So who was everyone’s favourite minor side-character? I liked that little scavenger guy on the robot horse on not-Tattooine. I feel bad that Rey straight-up ganked his prize catch. Hopefully he stumbled onto that downed TIE fighter and earned lots of space-bread.

  21. Oh, and of course giving the Death Star to the good guys would follow the theme of reversals that Vern noticed. (Plus reversals are the kind of thing JJ loves to do. See: Star Trek Into Darkness).

  22. SPOILOS SPOILOS SPOILOS SPOILOS SOLOS SPOILOS

    CrustaceanLove — ” I liked that little scavenger guy on the robot horse on not-Tattooine. I feel bad that Rey straight-up ganked his prize catch.” Yeah, the little guy is surprisingly accommodating about the whole thing, too. You’d think he’d be mad, but I guess whatever she said to him must have been really fucking convincing because he just gives up and hobbles off on his merry way.

    Seems like half the aliens in this movie are wearing masks, which is weird but kinda makes sense and I dig it, there are some fun designs in there. I do think it a little strange that not a single familiar alien is to be seen anywhere they go (except our old pals Ackbar and Nien Numb) but I guess it makes room for more new toys. I guess I like Lupita Nyongo’s character pretty well; she’s a very lazy bit of cliche’d exposition, but I dunno, I like goggles. And Nyong’o instills her with a particular grace which sells the character somewhat, despite it being such a pointless role that she literally just disappears (does she die? does she escape? did they apologize for showing up and reducing her home to a smoking crater by being idiots and bringing along the droid everyone is looking for in plain view?) when the movie has sucked the last bit of exposition from her.

  23. Great review Vern. And I’ll second what Broddie said about what Gepard said. That hypothetical story, whether it was actually something that was being considered or not, would have been far superior.

  24. Gepard, your theory really is awesome. Now THAT’S a movie that I would have loved to see. Also, kudos to CrustaceanLove for the line about J.J. Abrams movies being like sharks. I have to remember that (and will probably quote it endlessly).

  25. Crustaceanlove, that cameo scene is the only scene that sticks with me because it shows Han Solo’s business, what he was up to as a separate Star Wars adventure.

  26. I did just get that it was called Starkiller Base. That’s a pretty good deep cut.

  27. Was it Nien Numb and Ackbar in TFA? I assumed it was some other guys of the same species. They must be old as hell. Maybe Sullustans and Mon Calamari age differently in this bold post-EU world. I too was pleasantly surprised by the number of new character designs in this movie. I really expected to see them leaning heavier on the old faves, like Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes or Max Reebo jamming away in Maz Kanata’s palace.

    Something about Maz Kanata’s animation was off-putting to me, like her facial movements didn’t quite line up with her dialog. I found her cryptic dialog a little convenient (“That is a story for another time”==”That’s the next guy’s problem”), but I don’t know what my problem is because Yoda was the same way. I liked that she had the hots for Chewie, that was a nice touch. (Does she know he’s married with kids?) Yeah, I have no idea what happened to her after that attack.

    One thing I thought was weird was Solo’s surprise at using Chewie’s bowcaster. Had he really not tried it out in the previous 30+ years?

  28. Am I the only one who thinks Leia and Luke didn’t have big parts because THEY LOOK OLD AS FUCK?

  29. I think a lot of the difficulties in terms of repetitiveness come down to the need for a credibly epic, all-out, real-deal, capital E “Evil” enemy. How does a credible evil threat as archetypal as the Empire emerge within 30 years of Jedi? For me, the most logical answer is that the Empire is not totally dead. I think that is actually plausible from a geopolitical/military history standpoint. And it allows us to maintain a lot of the iconography of the originals (why wouldn’t the remnants of empire/Sith rise up again to fill the vacuum? why wouldn’t the new Empire try to build an even frickin bigger, badder death star?). Etc.

    The idea that history is cyclical and mystical and that history repeats itself–that the past foreshadows the future and the future echoes the past. Coincidences, synchronicities. I buy into that as part of the dna of this world. I just didn’t find the parallels and callbacks that bothersome. More just like it was all pregnant with force-meaning and mystical relatedness. The idea that this battle between good and evil (intergalactically or in terms of this one special family) is long, messy, cyclical, etc. So, not having the same problems about callbacks and all that stuff, I had a great time with the characters, the mix of old and new, and especially the new.

    I also didn’t have a lot of expectations for what the film had to do or couldn’t do in reference to the other films (other than just to feel human, poignant, fun, and rooted in some sense of physical substance). Why do we need to see an actual group hug with Luke, Han, and Leia? Why do we need to see Luke do a lot of stuff in this film. I actually think this film takes some real risks in those respects (killing Han, not showing them all together, not giving us a bunch of Luke, trusting much of the film to new characters and fresher faces), and it pays off.

  30. I have to admit my first thought on seeing Nien Numb was “Oh, that guy gets to come back, but no Lando?!”

  31. Jeffg: When 65 years old you reach, look as good you will not, hm?

    Cornholio: I probably stole that line from someone else, just like Rey stole that scavenger’s sweet droid.

    FF: I don’t know, I felt it was pretty self-explanatory that Solo had gone back to a life of smuggling. In any case, that’s the kind of thing that could have been cleared up with a couple lines of dialog. They didn’t need a whole action scene with roly-poly CG aliens.

    Oh, and my hat goes off to whoever designed BB-8. His means of locomotion is so fun to watch. I loved when he was carefully going the stairs in Kanata’s palace. I don’t know how he got back up again though.

    And look, I know Chewbacca was probably upset and everything, but I bet he was at least a little relieved that he’d finally got out of that life debt.

  32. The repetitiveness had to do with hedging their bets. You could make a “capital ‘E’ Evil enemy” without doing yet another Death Star and flying X-wings through a trench to hit the sweet spot that’s going to blow it up.

  33. I’m really curious how the reveal of who Rey’s parents are will be handled.

    No way she is Han and Leia’s kid. If they tried that it would make most of the Force Awakens nonsensical. How could they talk about Kylo and leave out the fact he had a sister?

    Luke seems the obvious choice, but almost too obvious. I guess the only real mystery if she is Luke’s kid will be who the momma is.

    Is there someone we have seen already who is force sensitive that she could be related to that would also pack a big “holy shit” reveal? Snoke maybe? Maybe a Kenobi somewhere (time and age, Obi Wan wouldn’t make sense).

    Or is it just a character we haven’t seen?

    I’m thinking they will want to make the reveal a shocker, like Vader in Empire. But it is hard to think of who would pack that kind of a punch.

  34. Jeffg: I think Luke is Rey’s dad and Captain Phasma will turn out to be her mom. Luke will either think that she’s dead or he knows she fell to the dark side and that’s part of why he went into seclusion.

  35. Also, I was stunned they didn’t shoehorn Boba Fett in there. I read an early spoiler a while back that Max Von Sydow’s character was going to be someone who killed Fett and had acquired the armor to pass on to another generation. Not sure if that was bogus or a dropped plot line. I know they had his logo on a flag at the castle, but I was sure they would set up that spinoff with an appearance.

  36. @Jeffg: About Rey, the only reveal that would pack a punch is if she’s Palpatine’s kid. Now that’d be something.

  37. I think Rey will be Obi-Wan’s granddaughter (you can hear his voice call out her name when she’s awakening the Force when she’s touching the saber). My theory is that Obi-Wan fathered a child while in exile on Tatooine and he later fathered Rey. He might also be the one who leaves her on Jakuu.

  38. JTS,
    “You could make a “capital ‘E’ Evil enemy” without doing yet another Death Star and flying X-wings through a trench to hit the sweet spot that’s going to blow it up.”

    Yeah, that’s a fair point. I’m not going to try and defend that. I would hope for a little more creativity than that, though, again, if you can accept the idea that there would be remnants/heirs of the Empire that would try to fill that vacuum and keep things going, then it is logically that they would keep a lot of their basic military / technology playbook, perfecting and biggening what they know vs. just starting over from scratch. I’m not ruling out the possibility of some really creative person coming up with stuff that is equally plausible, as iconic and awesome and rooted in the feel of the originals, and at the same time highly novel–but that would be extremely difficult to pull off. I think it’s very tricky to strike the right balance of old and new. I could have very easily seen a situation where they just invented a new super evil power out of whole cloth or that felt kind of abrupt and out of nowhere and non-resonant with the mythology of the series, and I think that would have been far worse than the idea of an Empire struggling to rebuild itself and sticking pretty close to the established playbook (perhaps a metaphor for what JJ Abrams is doing more generally).

  39. Lots of wasted ammo in this film:

    – Max Von Sydow, Lupita Nyong’o and Andy Serkis only getting one scene each. Really?
    – Oscar Isaac, one of the most versatile actor right now, playing the most basic character ever. Most videogame characters or more developped than this guy.
    – The Raid guys just standing there, doing nothing.
    – Gwendoline Christie not doing much either.
    – No scenes with Leia, Han and Luke together (that’s incredible!)
    – No space fighting
    – No new environment. I mean even the Riddick films have cooler locations than this new Star Wars

    There’s so many plot points left unresolved, and so much background info left unexplained that it’s generous to still call The Force Awakens a story.

    I’d love to share your enthousiasm for Star Wars VII but the film feels like Matrix Reloaded and Disney’s Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest to me. I’m afraid the next one will be like Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End or Matrix Revolutions.

  40. Jeff G, in the old expanded universe Fett actually crawled out of the sarlaac pit and survived….but since all that stuff is no longer cannon who knows? I’d love to see a Fett return or as you suggested a return of his mandalorian armour. I don’t get where the rumours of Fisher and Hamill doing all this physical training came from since they did nothing in the film to justify it.

  41. Producers have said Captain Phasma (completely underused) & Maz are returning in the next one. Thank goodness for this message board, my feelings are so in line like many of yours, I liked the movie but it has many annoying flaws. Even in Return of the Jedi many folks commented on the repetitiveness of having another Death Star, and yet they still have basically another one in Force Awakens which shocked/baffled me. The x-wing attack on the Starkiller Base did not hold a candle to either one on Death Star I or II, it was strangely unexciting and uncreative. The Snoke character bugged me also since it’s an Emperor redux and just how he looked with the dodgy motioned captured effects. Some of the callbacks worked, but some were pretty lame and there were certainly way too many of them (trash compactor-lame)! Still, I can see this film growing on me on re-watches since it did get pretty compelling new characters into the series.

  42. I really liked this one. I don’t care that they didn’t expand on the universe Lucas created. That’s done. That’s established. What I care about is whether I like the characters; are they interesting? Yep. Is the acting good? Yep. Do they have good chemistry? Yep. Does it look cool (i.e. not fake/greenscreen/cartoon)? Yep. Are there cool action/fights? Yep. It just hit it on all of that for me. I dug the humor. I liked the pathos/angst. Sure, I would’ve liked a more original story to carry all of that, but it really didn’t bother me at all that they borrowed so much from A NEW HOPE. I guess I’ve got plebeian tastes, because I’ve never minded J.J. Abrams movies and actually, usually enjoy them.

  43. The whole “x and y character will serve no purpose until movie z” conceit is really played. I wish people could go back to telling complete stories and fulfilling untapped potential in the same movies they’re introduced in. Instead of all this “wait for the sequel stuff. Even with big budget fare.

    It’s obnoxiously distracting and leaves a lot of movies very unfocused and feeling superfluous. This is not TV were there is only one week to wait for the payoff. Franchise projection or “building” as they call it is exhausting and cheapily lazy at this point.

  44. This movie was like a roller-coaster ride for me, meaning that I really enjoyed while it was happening, but on reflection, it was just something that went up and down and around really fast, but didn’t leave you with anything. I really love the new characters, their dialog was great, and they acted well off each other, but they should have been given a real story. There were so many huge plot holes it seemed like the production team just shrugged their shoulders and said “who cares, Han Solo’s in it.”

    And the movie is approaching BATMAN AND ROBIN levels of scientific stupidity. So Planet Death Star has a gun with unlimited range that instantly hits targets presumably dozens or hundreds of light-years away, despite the fact that what it fires is made of light? Which actually seems to be traveling much slower than light? I know SW has never been hard science, but that is pretty close to the diamonds = cold formula. But since the First Order is led by Giant Gollum, maybe he is using the power of the One Ring to bend time and space.

    Of course, using real physics probably would have dampened the tension somewhat. The leader of the Republic would have to give a mournful speech to the citizens of Coruscant. “My people, due to the treachery of the First Order, we must leave our beloved city planet and look for a new home sometime in the next 800 years before their super weapon reaches us.”

  45. Caruso – I gotta defend using that lightsaber in the movie. It’s one of the few things they’re willing to use that references both trilogies. It was Anakin’s and it was Luke’s. To Rey it’s important that it was Luke’s. To Kylo it’s important that it was Anakin’s. I also like the mystery of how the hell somebody could’ve found that on Bespin.

    But I do wish it had been, as it appeared in the trailer, Maz handing the lightsaber to Leia. After all, the made up story that Anakin wanted his son to have it should also apply to his daughter. It would be righting a wrong to have it handed over to her.

  46. It kind of blows my mind that this film is getting so much less love on this webcite than Creed when Creed recycles so many beats from Rocky 1 and 6 but without the ability to appeal to the mysteries of the Force or the cyclical and repetitive nature of history.

    At the end of the day, you respond to the film the way you respond to the film, and your words are just trying to express what struck out at you–good and bad–at a more gut level. I can never rule out that someone could have made a substantially better film than this, but in terms of all the different constituencies this film tries to satisfy and what a fine line it’s walking (it’s too much like OT, it’s not enough like OT; too much Han, not enough Luke), I think it gets so much right that the criticisms really pale. And when you get to things like, “I wanted to see more of how Ben Solo turned dark,” “I wanted to see more of Luke and less of Han,” “I wanted to see more new stuff and less old/repetitive stuff,” “I wanted it to do more worldbuilding,” “I wanted to see Leia do x or y,” or “I wanted to see the three original leads take a selfie together” — I don’t know, man. I mean, that’s all valid as far as something that you personally hoped for or would have geeked out over, but as far as expecting the film to be like a short order cook and deliver on your personal wish list. On some level there is only so many things a film can do well just to keep it cohesive and keep the running time manageable, and some of the things different constituencies want are in direct opposition (e.g., keeping the thing moving at an aggressive clip is directly at odds with giving us detailed minutiae or flashback of how Kylo went bad or what Luke’s been up to, etc.). And in some cases, I really like these choices that others don’t. I like that we get a lot of Han and we get teased with Luke and that we may get a lot of Luke in the next one. I think that is different and somewhat risky and inspired–the real fan service is just having the old gang all back together from the jump–“It’s just like old times, y’all!!” In the pile on to talk about how rehashy and fan servicey the film is, I think people overlook how much is really different and does go in fun new directions or takes risks and doesn’t immediately just throw all the chum in the water. I like the idea of looking forward to the Luke reveal, and I enjoy all the time spent w/ Han this time around. I don’t know. I realize I can’t browbeat others into liking it, I just feel that the diversity of gripes have more to do with a given person’s pet preferences, but if you line those all up, no single remotely internally coherent movie could possibly check all of those boxes. This movie does so much that is right and original, and even the callbacks or rehashy elements are a lot of fun. It’s really depressing the degree of PT apologetics going on…a crazy pills moment for me.

  47. SPOILERS FOR CREED
    SPOILERS FOR CREED
    SPOILERS FOR CREED
    SPOILERS FOR CREED
    SPOILERS FOR CREED

    Skani, Creed had Rocky get diagnosed with cancer, want to die and get encouraged to live. That’s never happened in a Rocky movie before. I think it’s really reductive to compare the way Creed and Force Awakens deal with cyclical stories. There’s much more going on with Creed, including the ticking time bomb of the world finding out who Adonis really is.

  48. Broddie, you’ve hit on exactly what I’m fighting for in the Franchise Fred Filosophy. There should always be another sequel but each sequel has to be a complete story. A 2 Parter is not a real sequel. It’s two half movies. Problem started with Back to the Future/Matrix/Pirates. Now the Marvelization of everything, although it was already JJ’s mentality to drag things out.

    At least there are still Nolans and Diesels who make sure every movie is the best it can be, and then think about what the next story can be about.

  49. Well well well, the force got awakened as fuck in this one.

    I liked the set-up for Finn a bunch; getting a Stormtrooper POV character was something I always wanted, but his origin didn’t matter much after the first half. He just became a buddy to Rey and didn’t really bring any special skills to the table (which is actually another interesting way to do it, but I would have enjoyed if he had bullshitted his way into the heart of the base using his training as a grunt).

    Rylo Ken (Kylo Ren?) was the other highlight, easily. A super self-conscious, insecure supervillain? Sign me up! Loved when he trashed the computer with his lightsaber instead of chopping up the messenger. This guy is a bitch in wolf’s clothing, but there are few things more dangerous than an insecure little boy given his daddy’s gun. You can’t predict those fellas, as Han learned too late.

    Casting Rama, Mad Dog, and The Assassin and not having these guys kick anybody? Jesus Christ, that’s like using a Ferrari as a golf cart.

    I’m not as in love with Rey as everyone else seems to be. She’s nice and all, but her discovery of the force feels kind of…forced. I was wondering how long she and Adam Driver would stare at each other, eyes bugging out, sound effects throbbing, with me having no fucking clue what was going on.

    Sort of agree with the sentiment that the Oscar Isaac character was a little underdeveloped, but I actually kind of like that. I feel like he’s the Michael Jordan of the Resistance, while the rest of our heroes are towel boys; sure they share the same court, but they aren’t in the same league. Let the badass hero do his badass hero shit like he always does, Finn and Rey and Han just have to stumble forward as best they can.

    I wonder why we didn’t get the Disney castle opening thing like they do for every other Disney joint? Afraid to get off on the wrong foot with the new ownership?

    Anyway, mostly a good effort, not flawless but a fun night at the movies, and the Star Wars universe is successfully resuscitated. Rian Johnson, let’s see what ya got.

  50. Skani, I just couldn’t disagree with everything you’re saying more. The way you keep repeating “the cyclical nature of the force” as an excuse for this movie’s hackery makes me cringe so hard. So does the way you’re equating the criticism that this movie brings nothing new to the table and is basically the OT reskinned with the criticism that it’s not “delivering on a personal wish list.”

    I truly don’t believe I’m overlooking how much is “really different,” or how much it does go in “fun new directions,” and I especially don’t think I’m overlooking how it “takes risks” because I don’t believe any of that is true or even close to true. It’s a real crazy pills moment for *me* to read that, because the vast majority of the many, many people praising the movie praise it on the *merits* of its familiarity.

    I hope that wasn’t too harsh or too personal.

    And re: Creed, there’s at least a couple key differences. One, I would argue Creed was far better made. Two, I want different things out of a Rocky movie than I do out of a Star Wars movie. The first six Rocky movies established a pattern and a formula in a way the six Star Wars movies never did. A big part of what makes Star Wars great in my eyes was the sense of discovery and imagination and the interesting ways. Every movie was “filled to the brim with new shit,” as Vern said in his review. And yes, it was a mish-mash of influences, like samurai movies and Westerns and WW2 movies and Buck Rogers serials, but they were arranged in new and interesting ways. The Force Awaken’s only influence is other Star Wars movies.

    So instead of more “new shit,” we get, to quote Vern again, “another young person living on another desert planet who meets another droid with another desperate message from another rebellion and ends up learning the Force in another battle with another empire and another emperor with another Skywalker that turned to the dark side, and they stop by another alien-filled cantina and later watch helplessly as another mentor is killed and then they get in more X-wings and blow up another planet-sized, planet-destroying space station.” And by the way, that dark-side guy also wears a face-obscuring, voice-altering mask, and he also tortures the person that hid the valuable data in the droid immediately after the droid escapes.

    And locations-wise, instead of interesting new settings, we get Tattooine-in-all-but-name, Yavin 4-in-all-but-name, Hoth-in-all-but-name, the Death Star interior in-all-but-name, and another cantina.

  51. Fred, I think it’s a little unfair to lump the BTTF sequels in with those other half-film sequels. At least BTTF 2 fully wrapped its story up, before it cliffhangered us into a completely new one.

  52. I didn’t really understand the deal with the map at all, actually. Perhaps someone can explain it to me. It looked like they had most of the map at first, and they were only missing a crucial but minor piece of it. I thought someone in the Resistance said something like, “This galaxy matches none of the known galaxy profiles”. Presumably this was to explain why they didn’t already have search parties combing the area corresponding to the missing piece. So they get the final piece of the map, and then immediately send Rey to the planet where Luke is. What happened to that stuff about not knowing anything about the galaxy? Did I mishear that comment?

  53. Vern, you have a very good point, but there’s two ways of looking at this, because this is the first Disney Star Wars, the first one made without Lucas, doesn’t it make sense to in a way go “back to the beginning” to set the table for what is essentially STAR WARS: THE NEXT GENERATION?

    Looking at it that way I’m not bothered by the parallels with A NEW HOPE, however I agree completely that Episode 8 has to be something totally brand new, if it’s a remixed version of EMPIRE I’ll be extremely disappointed.

    I hope this doesn’t play out the way the Abrams revived STAR TREK did, where the first movie lays the ground work for all sorts of amazing new adventures to come and then it all goes into the toilet when they instead decide to remix WRATH OF KHAN.

  54. I thouht the guys over at Redlettermedia “solved” the issues/problems with the film being too much like A New Hope pretty neat, by seeing the film as a soft reboot.

  55. I find some interesting parallels between what this movie sounds like and what STAR TREK VII ended up being. In the sense that it was a movie that had a difficult time balancing the classic characters with the next generation ones in a more focused manner and also have very similar plot threads to its predecessors.

    Then STAR TREK VIII came giving the next generation enough room and leeway to properly have their own unique adventure. Resulting in one of the best entries in the series and the last Star Trek movie that I personally liked. So yeah here’s hoping Rian Johnson is able to take that route so that the same could be said about Disney’s new wars.

  56. Oh and JTS and Fred both nailed it RE: CREED.

    Also have to agree with CJ on BTTF 2. It actually properly wraps up its narrative before it decides to go all clifhanger on this. So it still feels like a satisfying standalone picture in the end regardless of whether you bother with the book ends (1 & 3) or not. I can’t say the same about THE MATRIX TOO.

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    Fred, JTS: Pointing out that there are things in Creed that are different from things in Rocky doesn’t refute my general point, unless you are saying there are no significant things in TFA that are different from previous Star Wars. My point is that both films heavily lean on many of the basic plot points and sentimental pulls of previous entries in the series. And to highlight Rocky getting cancer as the main difference, well, many people thought that was kind of a cheap Brian’s Song kind of ploy. I went with it, because I thought it gave Rocky some great material to work with, but saying that Creed is the better or more original film because it has the courage to mine a health scare with a beloved character? I heard TFA differs from the other Star Wars in that Han gets killed. So, this one does some different things, too.

  58. Gepard, you kinda’ blew my mind with that Starkiller Base reversal theory. That would have been a better movie.

  59. Another aspect of this film that I really liked and that Vern points out briefly is how friendly the new characters are. Even in A New Hope Leia calls Chewie a “walking carpet” (although this is Lucas’s way of subverting the rescue the princess trope). When Poe sees Finn at the end, I expected him to say something snarky about the jacket. But, no. Instead he’s just happy to see that he’s alive. And then when he notices the jacket, he tells him to keep it. It’s just a purely good natured moment.

    I do think there’s a problem in fandom with people who are always chasing their first high. They want to re-experience what it was like to first see the film they loved when they were eight. I get it to some extent. Nostalgia can feel like a warm blanket on a wintry day. But you get older and your appreciation of films have to change. You can’t just keep on going back to the original work hoping for the same experience. I loved the Star Wars films as a kid, but when I got older I learned how to appreciate them differently by chasing down all of the material that influenced those movies. Star Wars was my gateway into John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, and Joseph Campbell among others.

    So I really enjoyed The Force Awakens. But it definitely tried to deliver to fans that first high, and, judging by its reception, it seems to have succeeded as of now.

  60. Is no one else bothered by the fact that, apparently, Han Solo didn’t give enough of a shit about the Millennium Falcon to find it before THIRTY YEARS had elapsed? He found it five minutes after it took off so it couldn’t have been too hard.

    It might be minor but it points to a deep and fundamental misunderstanding (IMO) of who the character is and it reminds me of Ray Jay’s first Trek movie – which I liked but which truly misunderstands its characters as well.

  61. So there’s something I didn’t understand about this movie. When the new Death Star destroyed all of those worlds, did it wipe out the Republic? I’ve read that that’s the case elsewhere, but if so, it completely went over my head. I just thought that they killed a few planets.

  62. Feet – The entire sequence containing the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s appearance and his creature cargo ship was stupid and mishandled and should have been jettisoned from the script entirely.

    RBatty024 – That was another sequence of the film that fell entirely flat for me. In fact, everything having to do with the First Order and their place in the Galaxy was half-baked at best or otherwise just plain stupid and illogical.

    How did the Starkiller Base even get built (for the third time) right under everyone’s nose? It makes General Leia look completely incompetent that she would let that happen on her watch. Maybe instead of searching for Luke (why again?) they should have been shutting down the emergence of this new Nazi party.

  63. I liked the movie, but Death Star, part 3 was without a doubt my least favorite part of the film. I actually laughed out loud when they had Han Solo voice what was going on in my head–that the new superweapon was just like the old superweapon–and then had some character reply that, “No. This one is waaaaaaaay bigger.”

  64. I liked it too. It exceeded my admittedly low expectations. I liked everything about the new characters. In fact, I liked most everything that happened at a personal, character level. My biggest gripes are reserved for the shoddy world building aspects and the boring perfunctory dog fight at the end. Luckily, it was interrupted occasionally by a gripping and emotional lightsaber duel.

  65. SPOILERS, and oh by the way did I mention SPOILERS!!!!

    I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand I think this film did a good job introducing new characters that I actually liked in a much better way than the prequels did, but then it never does anything interesting with those characters. The films does have its moments where it captures some of that old time SW magic, but they are brief and often over shadowed by the feeling that everything just feels to familiar. It is not that it is a bad film, but it feels too much like a beat for beat remake of A NEW HOPE and that sameness and Meta quality of the film just serve as a constant reminder that you a watching a remake/squeal of a better film.

  66. Actually, a lot of the complaints for me are virtues. I’m actually glad there WASN’T a Han/Luke/Leia scene, I can’t imagine a scenario where that doesn’t come off as hokey, and it spoils what I actually thought was fantastic closing scene, which I’d like to argue for. Since there’s a dislike for how “remaquel” the film is (which I think contradicts the desire for a Hamill/Fisher/Ford reunion performance), let’s look at that scene as part of a film independent to the rest of the series… Rey is meeting a god. A god spoken of in rumor and legend for as long as she’s been alive. And when she meets him, he absolutely 100% looks the fucking part, Alec Guinness didn’t look as Old Man of the Mountain as Hamill does here! It’s shot beautifully, they’re practically on a *spire*, he’s in a black robe, the emotion is extremely high! I loved that close.

    And I really, really do not mind (and actually I even sort of like) how recall-y it is in its themes. There are allegories for the PHENOMENON of STAR WARS all over the film. Here comes the new school, welcomed and guided by the old school, but it turns out the new school, under the surface, isn’t really THAT much different from the old school. Am I talking about casts and film, or am I talking about fans and culture? There’s a lot of anxiety about performing as well as the (often vilified!) predecessor. Am I talking about Ren/Vader or New School/Lucas?

    Honestly, the more I think about the movie, the more I like it.

  67. TO THE VICTORS THE SPOILS
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    I’d thought Harrison Ford was a bit too enthused during the media blitz for this. He finally got his wish I guess. I feel like his death was a bit premature though, that he could have hung around into VIII, given us a bit more exposition with his father-son relationship. That he bought the farm on the first Han-Ren scene was a bit crap, albeit with a precedent in the sole Ben Kenobi-Vader scene. And arguably those two had plenty to talk about as well.

    I loved the way THE RAID guys treated and reacted to Han Solo – it’s only Finn who knew him as “Han Solo, the Rebellion General” – Rey corrected him: “No! The smuggler!” His reputation is as bad as ever, and he’s still slippery with debts.

    Totally agreed with whoever said the thing about the short, stocky stormtrooper uniforms – that they were there to make a 5 foot 7 John Boyega look a little less incongruous. They missed a trick by not reusing the ‘a little short for a stormtrooper’ line, but I’m sure I’m the frillionth person to have mentioned it.

    I wasn’t 100% convinced that we needed an Everyman in Finn, (shitty day job, hates his boss etc) as we seemed to already have one in Rey, who at the beginning ostensibly takes on the same role Luke Skywalker did in ANH. Then I thought about genuinely impoverished kids in China and India, who might watch this and relate to her far more desperate existence, trying to eke out a living through scavenging. She is so capable and sure of herself from the outset though, which sort of undermines the Everyman thing – Luke was a bit more whiny and green around the gills, as I remember it. So this is where Finn seems to compensate – he reacts to his environment as we probably would – through trauma and fear, then later excitement and exuberance.

    I really loved this movie. You know that feeling you get when you pimp roll out of the cinema feeling like one of the protagonists? I remember feeling like Vincent Vega after Pulp Fiction, or maybe James Bond on occasion. This one made me feel a bit Han Solo, which was remarkable really, cos he’s crazy old, but I must have thought he was cool to have felt like that on the way out. By the end I did really have to go to the bathroom though, on account of my overactive bladder.

  68. I have a lot of problems with the Starkiller base, the biggest being is I really don’t understand it. This is a weapon that has been dug into a planet, right? So the planet doesn’t move around like the Death Star did. So can the guys on the Starkiller base just pick a system way on the other side of the galaxy and wipe it out? Where was the Republic system they wiped out and where was the system with the Resistance base (D’Qar) in relation to all of this?

    Not only did I think it was a pretty lame retread of the Death Star we have seen in 3 of the 7 Star Wars films we have seen now, but I think it was pretty poorly explained. Either that or it went straight over my head (I have seen the movie twice now). The first time I saw the movie, my mind was flitting around a million miles a minute, so I expected to miss some details. But the second viewing gave me zero clarification.

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    I mean, if the movie has one thing which is blatantly bad about it, it’s everything to do with Starkiller base except the name. Not only is is laughably derivative and pathetically puffed up to try and make it seem like an escalation (it’s bigger! and it kills multiple planets at the same time!! game-changer!!), but it just seems awkwardly crammed into a plot which doesn’t have anything to do with it. Up til the final third, everything about the story follows logically from the McGuffin about BB-8 holding the key to finding Luke –which for some nebulously defined reason everyone desperately wants, but whatever– and Rey, Finn, and Solo trying to get that info into the hands of the right people. Then, the movie takes a total left turn — suddenly the problem is this never-before-mentioned ultimate weapon, which offhandedly kills a couple planets just because, and then everyone forgets about BB-8 and Luke and it becomes about trying to blow this thing up, which proves a hilariously easy thing for three people to do. The whole setup seems completely out of step with everything that came before, and transparently an excuse to do a space battle which is the very definition of perfunctory, but someone felt was necessary for a SW movie. It’s poorly established how it came to be, how it works, where it is, what it’s purpose is, or what the stakes are, because it all has to be rushed into a few exposition scenes before we’re off to destroy it. There’s exactly zero tension which comes from the concept, partly because we’ve already seen it twice but mostly because it has no connection whatsoever to the characters, their arcs, or anything that was previously established. The whole Luke thing shows up again only as a teaser, not as an actual resolution, and meanwhile all the momentum the story was building slips away.

    I’m no fan of Abrams, but I’ll go out on a limb and say the whole thing has a distinct whiff of being crammed into a story which doesn’t need it and can’t work with it, by a studio exec who demanded that they have a space fight against a planet destroyer somewhere in he movie.

  70. Skani, the difference to me is that that Han Solo beat directly mirrors the Obi Wan Kenobi beat, whereas Rocky’s opens a new storyline that no one in the series dealt with before. Maybe I’m being too hard on TFA but the significant moments all felt derivative. Maybe I’m more forgiving because there are only so many things that can happen in the story of a human boxer. Star Wars has literally the entire universe.

    I’m also shocked by the defense I’ve seen a lot that they HAD to start over for the new stories. No they didn’t. A New Hope started in medias res. Are you telling me that Star Wars, the most watched series of movies universaly (except for hipsters who think it’s cool not to watch them) would be too confusing if it didn’t reset the backstory?

    It reminds me when Mel was confronted on leaving some things too vague in The Passion of The Christ. His response was something to the effect of “if you’ve been living in a cave for 2000 years.” Yeah he trusted his audience to know the Bible story. I’d suspect even MORE people know the story of Star Wars and could keep up with a new story that fills in the gaps along the way.

  71. “I’m also shocked by the defense I’ve seen a lot that they HAD to start over for the new stories. No they didn’t.”

    A million times, this.

    My least favorite tendency in criticism is to take something predictable and hackneyed and praise it by calling it “logical” or saying “it makes sense.” How about something that makes sense and something that isn’t the same thing we’ve seen before?

  72. I don’t mean to pick on Skani. I’m glad he liked it and wish I’d liked it as much. I’m just bewildered that I get shit all the time for loving sequels, yet the most derivative retread of all time comes out and it’s “exactly what the fans wanted.”

    But hey, I got Creed, Spectre and Fury Road this year so, short of Back to the Future IV, I couldn’t be happier. And CJ, thank you for defending BTTFII. I always see it as the beginning of the two parter sequel, but you’re right, it does resolve the almanac and alt/1985 story. Doc getting sent back to the west is their version of “Marty, you’ve gotta come back with me”, but it feels like it’s a loose thread because they haven’t returned to the present yet.

  73. JTS, now I’m having flashbacks to discussing Buffy the Vampire Slayer with people, and I’d criticize a subplot I found less interesting. Someone would invariably say, “Well, they had to address such and such.” And I’d say, “No, they didn’t. They can address whatever the fuck they want. They’re in charge of the story.” I’m having all sorts of flashbacks today.

  74. Yeah, I’m glad the rebootness doesn’t bother some other people as much as me, so they can enjoy it without reservations. But to me it’s not just cheap, it’s kind of insulting to me if they really believe that we, the audience, need to have the actual #1 most famous movie of all time seen and beloved by all generations rehashed before we will understand a new story which will come in a few years. But I’m not sure that would be their thinking, because if you haven’t seen it or don’t remember it you won’t get that this is a reference to this and this is a reversal of that.

    I’m very curious about the different drafts. So far from what I’ve read it sounds like Arndt’s draft gave us the first act, with scavenger heroine and stormtrooper defector. I think his was also supposed to be based on Lucas’ outline, but I could be wrong and I don’t know how faithfully. It would be funny if Lucas actually came up with what everyone agrees is the best stuff.

    But it also sounds like Lucas’s outline was about the Skywalker grandchildren, which may or may not be the case here.

  75. Republican Cloth Coat

    December 22nd, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    I was really looking forward to a review of Radioland Murders.

  76. Rey’s heritage has been left very ambiguous. She may or may not be Luke’s daughter. I think they have left this open so that they can take the fan temperature before committing to one narrative or the other. They are being that careful.

  77. I think people are blowing the rebootness of the movie a little out of the proportion, what are the elements that are most obviously borrowed from A NEW HOPE? 1. it starts off on a desert planet 2. our heroes waltz into a cantina and 3. they have to blow up a Death Star like base at the end.

    Other than those 3 things, which the biggest and most obvious being Starkiller base, the movie feels pretty different to me, it’s hardly a beat for beat remake of the first film.

    @CrustaceanLove – Life Debt? You been playing KOTOR recently? ;-)

  78. SPOILERS FOR LINCOLN
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    As usual, not proofing this, just top of the dome, so hope it makes some sense…


    Fred, you bastard, stop picking on me and just go get an apartment together w/ JTS already. All kidding aside, pick on me all you like, it only makes me stronger, etc.

    Fred, you said this:
    “Skani, the difference to me is that that Han Solo beat directly mirrors the Obi Wan Kenobi beat, whereas Rocky’s opens a new storyline that no one in the series dealt with before.”

    How can you say that with a straight virtual face? So many of Adonis’s beats directly mirror Rocky’s beats from 1 and 2. Scrappy undergod gets reluctant mentor to train him and also enjoys a budding romantic courtship then gets an unexpected fluke/publicity stunt title shot, goes the distance and loses by split decision. Are you kidding me?!

    Fred, you also said this:
    “Maybe I’m being too hard on TFA but the significant moments all felt derivative. Maybe I’m more forgiving because there are only so many things that can happen in the story of a human boxer.”

    I think that’s a fair criticism. It would have been nice if they could have found something more novel than a death star and using X-wing fighters to destroy another death star. It didn’t bother me at all when I watched the film, and I don’t think it will bother me at all the next time I watch the film, but I will grant that it is a potential missed opportunity to do something new and great (or something new and horrible). That said, I think there is a great deal about this film that is new and different, and many of the “derivative” cases can be chalked up to the notion that the core conflicts and issues in this family as special/metaphor for the human condition are bound to be re-cyclical, as the balance among the various dualisms teeters back and forth through time–in the galaxy and in this family. Given that (as Lucas has said) this is about family (a particular family) and given that, beyond that, it’s about this family as a microcosm of individual and societal freedom/destiny and the pull of good and evil, I’m not surprised that a lot of the so-called derivative stuff appears, and I think the movie would have been worse if it happened. I’ll grant that a big death star and an x-wing attack on said death star is unnecessarily rehashy and less-than-inspired (but I still had fun with it!).

  79. “worse if it hadn’t” > “worse if it happened”

  80. I feel pretty much the same way about The Force Awakens. A good time. A likable but not quite compelling enough trio of leads (Jo Bo’s exasperated yammering actually got a bit obnoxious from time to time). Overall, as Star Wars films go it just doesn’t quite soar.

    With respect to the “controversial” nature of the final duel’s outcome, I’d pin it on fairly transparent prioritization of “girl power” pimping over substantive consistent character development. She finds out that all that Force/Jedi/Darkside stuff is actually an actual thing, and all of about 3 days later, armed with that “prep”, her first lightsaber tussle with a substantively (if not completely) trained/skilled darksider results in… her layin him flat on his back without takin so much as a scratch. Contrast that level of storytelling with Luke’s path toward his first heavyweight saber bout. We meet him as a whiny impatient kid. As opposed to steppin outta the sand dunes with his compassionate, selfless, noble heroic stoicism firing on all cylinders like our just as young heroine Rey. As illustrated by her progressive principles of “respect” for droid persons. (why it’s as if her existence of abandonment, isolation, and lonliness has been of no impact whatever). We see Luke unwhittingly “step in it” in a strange new environment and have to have his bacon saved (and oddly enough, it isn’t conspicuously suggested that said helping hand is demeaning). We see him sweat it out in the swamp to develop his potential, hone his skills… and just as quickly see his immaturity and impatience get in his own way. We see a formidable “…full of surprises…” but ultimately overcome warrior in that first duel with Vader on Bespin. In short, to arrive at the level of aptitude we see Luke wield by “Return of the Jedi”, we see him move forward, and strive, and put his foot in his mouth, and fail, and recover from failure, and move forward, and fail again… This is what prioritization of substantive character building looks like.

  81. I fuckin loved Poe Dameron. And I loved that Finn takes his first example of Resistance heroism from Poe. He immediately provides a standard of conduct that everyone has to live up to. When he re-appears later everyone, including the elder statesmen, shut the fuck up and listen to what he has to say. That is fuckin’ cool.

  82. Does no one realize that it’s possible Rey was part of Luke’s Jedi academy, but had her memory wiped and that’s why she’s suddenly so adept at the Force?

  83. Uh, no, Griff.

  84. While I’ll grant that long term memory is short in a Galaxy far, far away, it’s not prone to Phillip K. Dickensian style shenanigans.

  85. I think Rey’s fully formed kick-assedness is more a result of Disney’s trying to court the YA crowd, like how Lucas tried to court the kiddie crowd (also known as kids) with Ep I. She’s a less angst-y version of Kat from the HUNGER GAMES. I didn’t have a problem with it since I like strong female characters much more than I like precocious kids.

    Griff – I like the idea, but Kylo should have recognized her right off. Unless she was trained in secret, like a Jedi sleeper.

  86. Darryll – I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a pretty famous Star Wars video game that has a big twist involving someone’s memory being wiped, while granted this game was pre-Disney so it’s not “canon” it’s something to take into account.

    What I’m saying is maybe Rey was put on Jakku and had her memory wiped as a way to protect her from Kylo Ren’s mission to wipe out the Jedi, she may be the only survivor outside of Luke.

  87. You know what else this reminds me of. Remember when the response for all the criticism of Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, by Team Lucas and by Star Wars fans, was that “It will all make sense when you see all three?” And then we saw Revenge of the Sith and it didn’t pay everything off or tie everything together. It was just a little better and had that ridiculous “Noooooooo” at the end that was completely out of character for both Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker.

    So be careful putting so much faith in Episodes VIII and IX to make sense of the shortcomings of TFA.

    As for Creed, there’s enough there that forwards the story that the similarities are in the proper context. Adonis is a self-inflicted underdog. He could have everything his father had if he went by his name. Rocky training a new boxer always made sense and this was way more fulfilling than Rocky V. His entire relationship with Adonis is predicated on guilt over Apollo and trying to honor who Rocky feels was the true champ. Just the idea that Apollo’s wife took Adonis in and made him a Creed is a profound statement of compassion for blended families and adultery.

    One thing I did NOT get out of Creed was why Adonis wanted to be a fighter so bad. I suppose it was in his blood, but that is a pretty vague oversight. I’m not saying Creed is perfect but it sure had a lot more for me to wrap my brain and heart around.

    But hey, come at me for Genisys. I can’t defend its logic holes but I just plain enjoyed revisiting the Terminator world more than Star Wars.

  88. This’ll be my last post, probably, since this topic has already gone in circles and I recognize I’m being a crank. But the specific nature of some of the praise — the stuff about how it’s good that it’s a rehash, because it’s thematically logical and because it eases new viewers into the world, and how it would have been bad to do something different — just drives me up a wall. In the context of Star Wars, I just think it’s so wrong-headed and it hurts me to read it. It feels anti-creativity to me. It’s definitely not striving for excellence.

    Griff, I don’t think people are blowing the rebootness of the movie a little out of the proportion. Your three-point list isn’t accurate, and just how derivative it is has been spelled out in Vern’s review and in the comments. And Skani, you said “pointing out that there are things in Creed that are different from things in Rocky doesn’t refute my general point” but that’s not what I did. And you can put “derivative” in quotes but the parallels are too blatant to ignore. Cute droid with desperate message, evil Jedi in mask that turns out to be a wayward Skywalker, the droid’s found on a backwater desert planet by someone with a secret connection to the Force, mentor takes them to cantina to arrange transport, et cetera, right up until what everyone agrees is the most egregious replication, a third – a third! – Death Star that is defeated the exact same way as the first two times.

    You can keep beating the drum that it’s thematically appropriate to reskin the original trilogy for any number of supposedly good reasons — whether it’s because history repeats itself in this universe, or because it’s all about a particular family that’s a “microcosm of individual and societal freedom/destiny and the pull of good and evil” — and those reasons sound /i> lofty but they are hollow. Yeah, Lucas said the story is about a family. And yeah, he said of the prequels that “It’s like poetry, they rhyme.” But somehow, he still managed to fill each new movie, including the prequels, with new ideas. New planets and locations, new cultures, new scenarios. “New shit,” like Vern said. Somehow, he was able to tell a new story about the Skywalkers that “rhymes” but that doesn’t fall victim to the kind of criticism I’m applying to TFA.

    Say what you will about the prequels, and you’d probably be justified in saying it, but do you really think the problem was they were too original? Is that where you think Lucas went wrong? Was that the course correction JJ Abrams needed to make? The answer to that last question, at least, appears to be yes, in the eyes of a lot of Star Wars fans. I think that sucks.

    Like you said, though, “At the end of the day, you respond to the film the way you respond to the film.”

  89. This’ll be my last post, probably, since this topic has already gone in circles and I recognize I’m being a crank. But the specific nature of some of the praise — the stuff about how it’s good that it’s a rehash, because it’s thematically logical and because it eases new viewers into the world, and how it would have been bad to do something different — just drives me up a wall. In the context of Star Wars, I just think it’s so wrong-headed and it hurts me to read it. It feels anti-creativity to me. It’s definitely not striving for excellence.

    Griff, I don’t think people are blowing the rebootness of the movie a little out of the proportion. Your three-point list isn’t accurate, and just how derivative it is has been spelled out in Vern’s review and in the comments. And Skani, you said “pointing out that there are things in Creed that are different from things in Rocky doesn’t refute my general point” but that’s not what I did. And you can put “derivative” in quotes but the parallels are too blatant to ignore. Cute droid with desperate message, evil Jedi in mask that turns out to be a wayward Skywalker, the droid’s found on a backwater desert planet by someone with a secret connection to the Force, mentor takes them to cantina to arrange transport, et cetera, right up until what everyone agrees is the most egregious replication, a third – a third! – Death Star that is defeated the exact same way as the first two times.

    You can keep beating the drum that it’s thematically appropriate to reskin the original trilogy for any number of supposedly good reasons — whether it’s because history repeats itself in this universe, or because it’s all about a particular family that’s a “microcosm of individual and societal freedom/destiny and the pull of good and evil” — and those reasons sound lofty but they are hollow. Yeah, Lucas said the story is about a family. And yeah, he said of the prequels that “It’s like poetry, they rhyme.” But somehow, he still managed to fill each new movie, including the prequels, with new ideas. New planets and locations, new cultures, new scenarios. “New shit,” like Vern said. Somehow, he was able to tell a new story about the Skywalkers that “rhymes” but that doesn’t fall victim to the kind of criticism I’m applying to TFA.

    Say what you will about the prequels, and you’d probably be justified in saying it, but do you really think the problem was they were too original? Is that where you think Lucas went wrong? Was that the course correction JJ Abrams needed to make? The answer to that last question, at least, appears to be yes, in the eyes of a lot of Star Wars fans. I think that sucks.

    Like you said, though, “At the end of the day, you respond to the film the way you respond to the film.”

  90. And haha, oops. Wish there was a way to delete or edit these things.

  91. Griff – While I appreciate your knowledge of expanded universe Star Wars, I think you can appreciate that this new series is just not going to go to a place that dark. This is all about youthful energy, exuberance and innocence. Even Kylo Ren, in his own way, is an innocent. Yeah, he’s a spoiled, petulant murderer but he’s also totally ignorant of the true depths of the Dark Side. seemed like an empty bid for high school cool. No, these characters are just as innocent as they appear with little or no secret, hidden depths to be explored. Any hint of moral complexity would have been washed away at the story stage long ago.

  92. As far as space shit goes, this was alright while it was happening for 136 minutes. Got my money’s worth. There were slimy creatures. Aircraft shooting at each other. Some colorful swords. Good British actors pretending to be American so that their dialect would fit into a galaxy far far away.

    By the way, does anyone ever do laundry in these movies? Seems like a lot of times they wear the same threads for days and weeks at a time. Could be an obstacle to hooking up and maybe getting married. You spend a lifetime on a desert planet in the same one outfit, you probably start to smell, run the risk of infection. Big turn-off if you want to attract a mate to share spermichlorians in my opinion. Also how does every habitable planet in these movies have the same gravity? Holding my breath til Neil DeGrasse Tyson weighs in on these important space science controversies.

    Anyway, after the end credits I enjoyed a good 24 hours of Awakened, Forceful contemplation with my 1983 self vis-à-vis my 2015 self, during which time I’m afraid I lost what I long pre-presumed would be my urge to see TFA a second time. And after a few days of consuming many pro-JJ reviews and some anti-JJ jibber-jabber and ambivalent-on-JJ thinkpieces and OutlawVernDotCom posts, I’m afraid my initial real-time as-it-happened-in-useless-fake-3D (There was exactly one good pointy-through-the-screen extradimensional shot and some shots with some floaty atmospheric embers – not worth the $3 upcharge!) while-people-around-me-were-cheering concerns about plot holes and narrative cheapness and character blah-ness have been mostly confirmed. Disney’s Star Wars is definitely #7 (bottom) on my list of the seven (VII) Stars Warses.

    To his credit, Abrams here uses diegetic visual phenomena to generate & justify that goddamn lens flare that irks people, and I only noticed (and I was looking for it!) this harmless auteuristical tic a couple times in the opening third of the film and not at all after that. I liked that blue laser suspended in mid-air. Shame it foreshadowed an element of a climactic fight that looked like 2 characters grimacing invisible brainwaves at each other like some children’s backyard X-Men roleplay shit.

    But as a filmmaker he hasn’t evolved or solved the problems that marred my enjoyment of SUPER 8 (Kal-Eight) and MI:3 (MIcolonIII). The action, for as PG-13 as it is, is fine, but the geography that connects the action beats is usually wack. (Tom Cruise on a bridge being bloodlessly rocked by an incoming rocket excepted.) It’s not shaky action or cheap action, it’s just that the action bits so often happen after a spatial cheat that cuts down the distance from previous scene to current scene. Like, Han Solo says something about traveling at almost-impossible warp speed or whatever to get to the spot where they have to perform their almost-impossible mission, and that’s fine but then they get there and they’re approaching at hyperdrive and okay fine but they somehow enter the planet’s atmosphere and land within easy walking distance of their ground destination. We went over this in my beloved bane of our existence PROMETHEUS thread but I’m just not cool with such simplistic point-&-land navigation in a series of movies that goes to extraordinary lengths to make most of its world hi-tek. A character can’t [correctly] quibble about “It was 12 parsecs, not 14” and be the same pilot who just wings it and gets super super super super lucky like the lady at the end of GRAVITY in terms of the exact spot they magically land on on a distant planet.

    Also the sequence with Finn helping Poe escape has the same problem. Stupid, insulting geographical/logical shortcuts. You’re telling me this one PTSD snowflake soldier (nice blood-Mark Of Cain white/black innocence/guilt inversion, though) gets noticed by Commander Kylo Ren on the battlefield, goes in for an after-action psych analysis, gets cleared (ish), and just *happens* to be *right there* to run across Poe in a hallway with perfect timing with no First Order guards escorting Poe, and then FN-2187 somehow secretly escorts Poe to a place where they can quickly explain to each other their escape plans after Poe had just been in a special interrogation room under the most locked-down detention talking with the most important Bad Guy in the galaxy and I don’t know man fuck it I tried but I’m not gonna connect the dots with any fuckin’ logic if the screenwriters / editors / director didn’t even try to make this shit make sense. That whole sequence is some Homer Simpson shit. That was like if you did a movie scene about a handcuffed Anwar al-Awlaki’s deputy being transferred from custody on a seaborne naval brig to Guantanamo and suddenly Forrest Gump showed up in a random hallway and grabbed your prisoner and heli-jacked a ride off the island because everyone was too stupid to escort the prisoner with proper correctional institute protocol and too stupid to notice the escape.

    Yayan Ruhian jumped through a door, I think. That was the extent of how his cinemagenic athleticism was used here. Imagine Erika Eleniak had worn a full-cover Stormtrooper outfit with a sweatshirt on top for the duration of UNDER SIEGE. That’s what happened here with the THE RAID guys.

    BB-8’s thumbs-up shot was almost as good as Max Rockatansky’s.

    The starkiller attack planning scene is embarrassingly simpletonian, like something from a children’s tv show. Like, the worst thing I’ve seen Oscar Isaac do since he rolled with the redhead from Firefly to try to rob that pawn shop.

    The Snoke scenes are pure dry exposition, patching together plot holes (and maybe earlier script deficiencies & rewrites as detailed above) and delivering forced character rationales in the worst tell-don’t-show manner imaginable. If, say, a Zack Snyder film had some weakass shit like this in it, we’d never hear the end of how he’s a failure of a storyteller and also how reliance on inhuman mocap and digital greenscreen shows how terrible he is. At least MAN OF STEEL’s backstory gap-filling sequences had some intergalactic montaging, a ground made out of skulls, and the holo-ghost of Russell Crowe. In the case of TFA, the Snoke scenes most reminded me of the Jon Voight contribution to GETAWAY and the Burt Reynolds parts of Showtime Presents Universal Soldier II: Brothers In Arms and The Movie Channel Presents Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business.

    Maybe Rian Johnson & Ep VIII’s production team will ensure Luke SkyGuffin becomes a more interesting prop than The Rabbit’s Foot, just as MI4GhostProtocol was way better than the serviceable but meh MI3WeDidn’tBotherToComeUpWithACoolPostColonTitle.

    Also how did the Empire/First Order have a weapon & base headquartered so close to a giant sun without being burned to oblivion but then a single fleet of Resistance aircraft were able to blow that shit up with a couple well-placed mobile aerial-delivered munition shots?

    I’m happy a lot of y’all like this / tolerate this, but I’m yet again embarrassed for the RottenTomato % contributors on this one.

    C-

  93. Darryll, why do you think a memory wipe would be especially “dark”, or would contradict Rey’s “youthful energy, exuberance and innocence”? If it did happen, it needn’t be because she was horribly traumatized, but just to keep her from drawing attention to herself with force powers, for much the same reasons Luke and Leia weren’t instructed in the force growing up. And for Rey to be the daughter of Leia or Luke, there already has to be a certain darkness to the fact that her parents gave her up, I don’t think the addition of a memory wipe to protect her would really make this darker. A memory wipe probably isn’t necessary to the plot–she could have just learned force powers like the Jedi mind trick from seeing into Kylo Ren’s mind when she resisted his own mental intrusion (and maybe she was familiar with stories of the Jedi, since it’s only supposed to be a little over 50 years since the Old Republic according to wookieepedia)–but it would make sense of things more neatly, so I think it’s possible they’ll go that route.

  94. Oh yeah, why is the Jedi & Force story so supposedly unknown, so mystique-y still to the masses in the JJ Abramsiverse just 30 years after the most momentous events of that galaxy’s modern history, 30 years after everyone celebrated the awesome heroism of Luke Skywalker and his awesome Ewok friends etc?

    Like, we 21st century Earthlings don’t have a society nigh 100% clueless about WWII. Even the stupidest 20somethings today know there was such a thing as Allies Versus Axis powers, or America Versus Hitler at least (in the dumbed down form).

    Some of these Star Warriors know about Han Solo’s reputation but they haven’t heard the straight truth about Luke and his role? Why didn’t anyone make a PATTON-style biopic of some of the OT’s Rebel leaders? Leia can record a “Help me” holo-message but no one in the galaxy thinks to recruit with a benevolent TRIUMPH OF THE WILL knockoff?

    If they do some MEN IN BLACK “forget” device shit to explain the latency of her Force powers, that will not be cool at all.

    Also why did the mean Jakku scrap shop “portions” dealer leave the Millenium Falcon unsecured in an unsecured parking spot where any blackthumb could jack it?

  95. Yeah, I don’t really know what else to say. I think it’s because I’m a casual fan or something maybe. I’m a bigger fan of Rocky, so I hold it to a higher standard or something. Also, I tend to want to push back for the sake of pushing back, so if I feel like people are trashing a Rocky film, I find good in it, and if I feel like it’s being overhyped (as w/ Creed), I kind of feel compelled to take it back down a peg. My aim with Creed wasn’t so much to prove why it’s as bad or worse than TFA, but just to show that I think, objectively, a lot of the things people criticize TFA are the same with Creed. Truth be told, I think my readily accessible storehouse of Star Wars trivia is pretty low, so the whole “they did that in part x” is just not as primed or on the radar for me. Like, the idea that the starkiller and x-wing thing was a rehash didn’t even really register with me as a concern, I was just having fun with it. But I get how someone who is brimming over with sentiment and memory and expectation would be annoyed by that or want to see something different.

    I’m just trying to explain why I reacted how I did.

    For my part, I don’t think the films had to recycle plot points to bring new viewers up to speed, nor do I think this film deserves advance credit or forbearance for what future sequels may or may not deliver or payoff. I just enjoyed the film and thought it was a good, fun, emotionally engaging Star Wars film that holds up pretty well when measured against IV-VI.

  96. The Original Paul

    December 22nd, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I’ll briefly butt in by answering Vern’s first sentence:

    “WARNING: This is all spoilers, why would you read it without seeing the movie?”

    Well to be honest, I probably won’t see it until it comes out on DVD anyway, I don’t give enough of a damn about this movie to care about being spoiled, and I fully expect the STAR WARS talkback to be a helluva lot more entertaining than the actual movie. (So far the talkback is living up to the hype, even if the movie – depending on who you listen to – may not have.) I’ll probably chime in with an opinion on this one late next year when y’all have forgotten about it. Peace! Now please feel free to ignore me and continue the debate.

  97. Man, I’ve read so many conflicting and persuasive opinions on this movie that I have no fucking clue how I feel about it anymore. I hate being so susceptible to the opinions of others.

    Vern:
    What would Lucas’s 7 have been like? I read a comment from him that I will paraphrase. He said it would be about the continuing saga of the Skywalker family. Spaceships and shit are just window dressing, he says; the real heart of the story is the characters, the Skywalker soap opera, Dynasty in the stars.

    Well I think that is 100% bullshit. Whatever this latest film’s flaws, it is FAR MORE about the characters than the prequels ever were. THOSE films became about the toys, the ships. Those are the films that portrayed their world through boring expository dialogue instead of through inference and glimpses of lovingly conceived and wrought creatures lurking in the corner of the frame.

    If you are going to complain so much about the creative bankruptcy in plagiarizing Episode 4’s story beats, shouldn’t you also recognize that it plagiarizes things like practical effects, good acting, warm characters? And that these are things that lend your world credibility, nuance, and humanity?

    I really don’t get how you can FAIL to build your world and then get congratulated for world building, fail to coherently portray characters and then get commended for taking them in unexpected directions. Is there really a defense of the prequels beyond “A for effort”?

    Mouth:
    How do we know that the events of eps 4-6 are “the biggest shit ever to
    happen in the galaxy?” Galaxies are fucking huge man. How many Jakkuans have access to the galactic equivalent of Al Jazeera? We really have no sense of the grand scale socioeconomic forces, information distribution, etc at work in this galaxy. Granted, this is largely due to the fact that the OT largely ignored these details, and the PT was largely incoherent about them.

    Maybe the fact that Luke’s exploits even made it into these people’s purview in the form of a myth whiff, is proof that they WERE the biggest shit in the galaxy. This is literally the maximum level of notoriety you can achieve in a world this vast.

  98. Well said, Kylo R.

    But, so… we the viewers were wrong to think it was a big deal that Luke and his friends accomplished something in the OT. And wrong to think anyone (like those who studied the Jedi Council’s existence or at least the minutes of their meetings) would remember the massacre of the Younglings. And wrong to think the first 2 (Two!) Death Stars were at least as significant as, say, Soviet missiles aimed at the US from Cuban silos. And wrong to think “The Chosen One” was prophesied to have an effect on enough of the galaxy that maybe at least a plurality of the galaxy’s population would have known about him and his whole deal. (And the Senate & Emperor’s whole evil scheme, etc….)

    I mean, this is all maybe true, but the music of the movies suggests it was all supposed to be quite dramatic and important and galactically memorable and in my opinion wide-ranging in terms of StarWarsiverse News coverage. And all the important characters of the first 6 movies did things that they all sensed & experienced across huge space systems, billions of miles (and spiritual & physical lifetimes) apart from each other.

    There were dancing, laughing ghosts. There was at least one Admiral who smiled in victorious relief.

    Maybe what they did was the equivalent of teeny tiny Luxembourg enlisting some fanatics and adorably bucking up to a perverted version of NATO. Were we wrong to think the Death Star vs. the Rebellion concerned more than, like, 4% of the Galaxy’s peopled/creatured interests? When multiple planets get blown up simultaneously, is that no more impactful than, in our Earthly terms, when wartime collateral damage levels a single duplex? I kinda doubt it, because the people on the ground notice and react with horror when they see the starkiller killing planets. And also because Princess Leia seems super-popular galaxy-wide and it’s her job to be a General; she probably gives State-of-the-Resistance addresses to at least half the Galaxy on a regular basis (not that JJ/Disney bothered to show any of this).

    And why would Rey have any idea what ‘The Resistance’ is if your take on this galactical news coverage situation is correct? Why would THX-1138 FN-2187 know to pose as a Resistance member, a key knowledgable Resistance guy in fact, if The Resistance were a totally distant non-thing?

    I’m not saying my questions are right or righteous. I’m not saying you’re wrong. I’m saying this shoddy Star Wars Episode’s mouth wrote a check that its ass can’t cash, which is something we consider offensive in the Mouth community.

  99. I wish it were possible to “like” a forum post so I could favorite the shit out of what Mouth just wrote.

  100. I am postulating that there is (ahem) *worldbuilding* heft to the idea that everything in this galaxy-sized environment is distended compared to our own. Jakku is part of the galaxy’s global south or whatever, and someone like Rey is subject to a more extreme version of the sort of backwater superstition and ignorance that we are well familiar with from our own experience as humans.

    If it starts to interfere with the gravitas of the events, though, that’s obviously wack as fuck and not what I’m trying to advocate. I want these to be Big Events. I don’t want the film to use ‘this has taken on the air of myth and legend’ as a manipulative trope, and that’s basically the big suspicion with Abrams: that he cynically manipulates you with what you think you want to see… what your most superficial, fanpersonish self thinks it wants to see.

    But dude, it’s easy to imagine ways in which it is a very cool detail that Rey doesn’t know about Luke and the force. The Jedi were basically myth status in the OT, and it is believable that most normal dudes in the galaxy would more just know how the power structure had shifted, like “who lost the war”, than whether or not some ancient mythic religion was indeed employed in a crucial way by 2-3 individuals. “I heard that a fucking Jedi came back, and that’s why the Death Stars got destroyed”…”Yeah dude keep hitting that banthazolate, nice theory brah”

    And regardless of that, it’s nice to get away from the Tolkienien “This is THE definitive conflict in this world’s cosmos and every living entity is invested in its outcome” and see that some parties exist at the conflict’s periphery instead. It makes for a larger feeling universe.

  101. Thanks to the problems I mentioned about logging on to outlawvern.com at work, I’m a bit late to this. And having seen it just once I really think it’s way to early to say anything definitive. But right her, right now, I think it’s the Third best STAR WARS movie I’ve seen, and that’s really something!

  102. I find it hard to assess this because I am not now, nor have I ever been a STAR WARS Trekkie. I do not consider myself a Trekkie Trekkie either, but I am closer to that. I do think it is better, or at least far more consistent, than the prequels, or at the very least certainly PHANTOM MENACE and ATTACK OF THE CLONES (I did enjoy REVENGE OF THE SITH quite a bit at the time), which kind of bums me out because it goes against so many of my values to say a corporation did better with an onscreen mythology than its originator. I do also think it’s easily the best film J.J. Abrams has directed, partly because I feel he understands/respects WARS, in a way he doesn’t TREK or the spy genre (it astounds me there are maybe more people out there who would rank the glorified ALIAS episode of MI-III over DePalma’s clever, playful, sumptuous first), but more importantly than that the plot flows in a way I don’t think his others do. There are scenes with real power, most notably Ford’s scene on the bridge. If I find it a little dull at times, I think a lot of that is down to my STAR WARS agnosticism.

    And yet, I wonder, what would I think of this if I had been anticipating this for, at a minimum, three years? Would I really be happy with a glorified remake which does so little new? If A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD had slavishly followed the template of the first film would I have been satisfied? More satisfied sure, but really satisfied? I guess if the action scenes had been good enough, I might have been, at least for one viewing. But then what if SPECTRE had just been YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE V: SPY WHO LOVED ME IV: MOONRAKER III: TOMORROW NEVER DIES II or GOLDFINGER III: A VIEW TO A KILL II, would I really have been able to say it was a notable Bond effort?

    I’m afraid I have no answers, only questions. But at least, living in the UK, I still have CREED to look forward to.

  103. Oh yeah, and a day before I saw THE FORCE AWAKENS I saw HUNGER GAMES IV: HUNGER GAMIEST. It was a film I watched partly out of a sense of completion, and partly due to being the subject of a specified 241 voucher I received (the latter also being the main reason I watched the previous two). In summary, it was a film I had not anticipated a jot, not least as I found the previous film pretty shoddy and the first two only slightly above average. Early on it has a lot of the same issues as HUNGER GAMES TROIS: SLOWING IT DOWN, and even towards the end it has maybe the single most embarrassing scene in the whole series. And yet, it takes chances. It has unique set pieces, it goes places the other films don’t go, it tries to say some interesting and slightly subversive things (probably more a credit to Suzanne Collins then anyone else, admittedly). There are moments of genuine suspense, even horror. I can’t say it’s a better film than THE FORCE AWAKENS, and yet I suspect I’ll remember it more.

  104. Mouth: Good to see you back. I was starting to worry.

    Renfield:

    >If you are going to complain so much about the creative bankruptcy in plagiarizing Episode 4’s story beats, shouldn’t you also recognize >that it plagiarizes things like practical effects, good acting, warm characters? And that these are things that lend your world >credibility, nuance, and humanity?

    I did praise those things, except for the practical effects, which I think have been hugely overhyped. This used a combination of practical and digital effects just like all the prequels did. It may have less digital characters, but I bet the prequels used more miniature models. At any rate, the idea that the new movie using “real sets” and “practical effects” is different from the prequels (which the guy in front of me in line at the Imax kept blathering on about) is a total myth.

    Don’t believe me? I have evidence:

    http://imgur.com/a/iTTu7

    Anyway, I went into pretty good detail in my review about the many aspects I thought were better than the prequels and the ones I thought were worse.

    Since I don’t know what was in Lucas’s outline I don’t know if it had the kind of imagination the prequels had. But I think it would’ve been great to see those improved characteristics you mention applied to his ideas. I bet that would’ve felt more like real Star Wars, but of course we’ll never know.

    Others: I really don’t have a problem with Rey’s impressive feats. I think you are supposed to wonder “whoah, how is she so good?” just like Kylo does when he tries to Force her brain and she Forces him back, or when he tries to take the lightsaber and she takes it first. Whether or not there ends up being a deeper explanation to this in Disney’s Star Wars 2: Simba’s Pride, I accept it as “wow, here is a powerful new Jedi who’s gonna give this guy a run for his money.”

    On top of that, Kylo was badly injured, had just conflictedly murdered his own father, had just fought another guy, and has been shown for the whole movie to be in over his head, constantly questioned by his cohort, his boss, and himself. So it’s an upset, but it’s not like Will Smith beat Mike Tyson.

    I think it’s unexpected and interesting, and yes, different from what happened with Luke. (Although I always think it’s funny that Luke receives about two days of training total.)

  105. With all the easter eggs and secret cameos that pops up in films these days, I guess it was just a matter of time before the worlds most famous secret agent would turn up in a STAR WARS movie.

  106. I don’t think TFA should be congratulated just for having practical effects or more sets for their own sake. However, two things:

    1. I would bet a large some of money that when comparing the prequels to TFA, substantially more of the scenes (and substantially more of the content in the frame of any given scene) from the prequesl are green screen/CGI. It’s gotta be something like a 5:1 ratio. So, I do not think anyone can dismiss that huge chasm in visual realism by saying “both movies use a combination of cgi and practical effects.” The prequels are way, way more reliant on almost entirely CGI-d “sets,” “locations,” and characters.

    2. And it’s not that this is an intrinsic sin, that we should knee-jerk hate (love) a film, proportionate to how much CG (practical stuff) it uses. It’s that with the prequels, I can never reach suspension of disbelief escape velocity: I am almost always thinking to myself, “This is 85% cartoon.” I am sure there were heavy CGI scenes in TFA (like the earthquakey ground-splitting forest), and there were surely CGI elements (like the giant crashed destroyer), but they felt integrated into a movie where a great deal of what you saw had heft and substance, and it makes a huge difference to me. It was pretty seamless and convincing, such that the whole felt like a real, live action world, not a cartoon inhabited by a few real actors. As I said, the prequels had an almost Roger Rabbitty/Space Jammy feel when it comes to the human-cartoon ratio and seamlessness of integration. For me. If it didn’t bother others, what can I say: I’m happy for you.

  107. I don’t think TFA should be congratulated just for having practical effects or more sets for their own sake. However, two things:

    1. I would bet a large some of money that when comparing the prequels to TFA, substantially more of the scenes (and substantially more of the content in the frame of any given scene) from the prequesl are green screen/CGI. It’s gotta be something like a 5:1 ratio. So, I do not think anyone can dismiss that huge chasm in visual realism by saying “both movies use a combination of cgi and practical effects.” The prequels are way, way more reliant on almost entirely CGI-d “sets,” “locations,” and characters.

    2. And it’s not that this is an intrinsic sin, that we should knee-jerk hate (love) a film, proportionate to how much CG (practical stuff) it uses. It’s that with the prequels, I can never reach suspension of disbelief escape velocity: I am almost always thinking to myself, “This is 85% cartoon.” I am sure there were heavy CGI scenes in TFA (like the earthquakey ground-splitting forest), and there were surely CGI elements (like the giant crashed destroyer), but they felt integrated into a movie where a great deal of what you saw had heft and substance, and it makes a huge difference to me. It was pretty seamless and convincing, such that the whole felt like a real, live action world, not a cartoon inhabited by a few real actors. As I said, the prequels had an almost Roger Rabbitty/Space Jammy feel when it comes to the human-cartoon ratio and seamlessness of integration. For me. If it didn’t bother others, what can I say: I’m happy for you.

  108. I still vividly remember sitting in the theater opening day when Empire Strikes Back came out and losing my mind when Luke was able to move his lightsaber in the Wampa cave. And I also remember being floored three years later watching Jedi when Luke blocked a blaster shot with his lightsaber.

    My point is, I don’t think it is a bad thing to see all these different things people can do with the Force and all these varied levels of ability. When Kylo Ren froze the blaster bolt in the opening, my first thought was “give me a break”, but after a second viewing I kind of like it. I don’t mind that Rey was able to hold her own in a lightsaber fight, or that she could pull a Jedi Mind Trick on James Bond.

  109. And out of nowhere comes Mouth to crush the buildings and then drop the fucking mic once and for all. Bravo good sir, Bravo!

  110. Skani – I can’t argue with how anyone feels about it, but I can argue against the myth of the prequels as mostly cgi movies that must be combated with the bold and heroic use of Practical Effects. Yes, they broke ground with new uses for digital animation at the time, and yes there were parts where green-screening was a mistake (I always make fun of that part in CLONES where Padme is obviously standing in fake sand). But there are more old school techniques being used than in any of the modern blockbusters. Check out that gallery of behind the scenes photos I linked to. Most people saying this practical effects thing don’t realize how much of that was done with miniature models (let alone sets and locations).

    (Non-scientific test: I searched for the word “model” in the credits on IMDb. PHANTOM MENACE and ATTACK OF THE CLONES each said “More than 100 matches”, REVENGE OF THE SITH had 51, FORCE AWAKENS had 30. “Animatronic” – PHANTOM 16, CLONES 8, SITH and AWAKENS tied at 4.)

  111. Agreed. Mouth knows what’s going on.

    So please help me if I’ve gotten this wrong but —

    The Things I Learned About My Favorite Star Wars Character, Han Solo:

    1. Han Solo did not have a character arc where the hero in him came out and he grew and became a fully good person. He never had any Happily Ever After. He left and became a (drug/monster) smuggler again.

    2. Han Solo was a bad husband and father.

    3. Han Solo did not care much about the Millennium Falcon seeing as it sat around for thirty years and he found it in 10 minutes once the movie told him he had to. As a corollary to this – there were no more Han/Chewie/Millennium Falcon adventures post Jedi? Just Han and Chewie in his new monster-smuggling ship?

    4. Han Solo and Chewie aren’t as close as we thought (Han never tried his buddy’s fave gun, Chewie seemed to grieve for about 3 minutes).

    I can’t help but not like being told these things. Especially when you add on that Princess Leia was also bad at her job (and selfish to put it above family – all the moreso when you recognize how her family’s fate tended to affect the universe) and Luke turned out to be a lousy Jedi knight.

  112. I second Broddie – I too was hoping to see a “Star Wars minus Lucas” tag, and am relieved Vern didn’t let me down.

  113. I’m conflicted about the Han-and-Leia issues that Feet brings up. On the one hand it’s disappointing that the reset button has been hit and that 32 years later these characters have reverted to their 1977-1980 selves. On the other hand, the reason that happened is because of extreme and traumatic events that occurred offscreen between the movies. So whether this is no change or radical change depends on how you look at it.

    I’m fine with Luke only showing up briefly at the end. A Luke-Han-Leia reunion would have been cool I guess, but I think what they actually did was more dramatic.

    P.S., so far we have heard from Mouth and Feet, and Darryll’s avatar is an eye. How soon before we have a whole body?

  114. Vern, you got me: Some of those cases where models were used I did think were entirely CGI, so I stand corrected on that. And I appreciate that you will concede at least some cheesy elements. I leave you with these.

  115. …links that are not showing up

    Star Wars From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II Documentary

    Documentary from the Episode II DVD bonus disc. https://www.facebook.com/mranderson00001collection Like my Facebook page for the Star Wars Blu-ray Featurette...

  116. I try my best to be a thoughtful, open-minded kinda guy, so when ML asked people to watch this

    before just reading his TFA opinions on Twitter I thought “Sure. Why not.” I made it about 60 seconds in before I wanted to tear out my eyeballs and stuff them into my ears. Which is entirely my fault because, really, what was I expecting?

    Don’t watch unless you’re a masochist who wants to hear FURY ROAD described as having a “terrible plot” (which is then immediately corrected to a “nothing plot”) or if you want to see Macks Lândisse identify himself as a feminist, and then say that “Girls look cool doing guy shit” in literally the very next sentence. It’s pretty bad.

  117. *before reading his twitter opinions and getting mad (as opposed to just watching it without reading them and getting mad anyway).

  118. SPOILERS OBVI.

    I’m not going to touch on whether this was a good vs disappointing film or to what degree its rehashing of the OT was a problem vs a gift, as I think that’s been well covered already. I will only add that the prequels had the benefit of having only the OT to respond to, and that was pretty much universally loved (Ewoks and Christmas Specials aside). Lucas got to come into Phantom Menace after only 15 years since RotJ (and just two years after the Special Editions had taken their highly successful victory lap through the theaters). He started from a place of tremendous freedom and safety, so he took a bold leap — and fell on his face two and a half times. B+ for effort and ambition, but D for successful filmmaking. And until last week that (plus a few cartoons and of course the EU for the hardest of hardcore fans) has been where the franchise stood.

    JJ (and Disney) had to come in after all that. This entire film had to, on its own, prove to both fans and mainstream critics that the franchise is in good hands (and not even its creators’!), and it did that by playing it a little safe in terms of plot line — a plotline that, by the way, in its broadest strokes is literally as old as narrative storytelling itself — but in my opinion that’s ok. Better to be safe in terms of story beats so you can take interesting risks in terms of characters. In the entire previous six films, we had two black characters of any importance: Lando and Mace Windu (I guess there was also Padme’s chief of security?) and two women, one of whom is only really important in two of her three films insofar as she is the mom of the other/our hero. Here, they are the leads and it’s no big deal, they’re just there, kicking ass and having parallel hero’s journeys. One of them is a storm trooper, a character type we’ve never explored, ever; the other is rocking a personal trauma/abandonment backstory we also haven’t really seen in this world, even if her arc rings a bit of “chosen one”ism that we HAVE seen plenty of. And I think the conflicted-and-unready sheep-in-wool’s-clothing villain that is Kylo Ren is a great new kind of villain we likewise haven’t ever seen in this franchise, or really pretty much anywhere. The only character I can think of who is even a remote parallel is King Joffrey in GoT, and he’s got considerably more authority than Ren seems to. He certainly doesn’t have his rival always picking on him in front of his boss, poor guy. That’s interesting! We don’t get to see that! If I have to watch the Death Star get blown up again so we can launch three new characters like that, it’s a trade I’m happy to make.

    Would the movie be better if we had these new character types AND something even more new in terms of plot beats? Sure! No argument there! But after three films of bold new STUFF but awful characters and muddled plots, I’m happy to be force-fed a little nostalgia so we can re-lay the foundations of this world. I was born in 1983, the year RotJ came out, and I watched them for the first time in the mid-90’s on VHS, long after the schoolyard had spoiled the big twists, so this is the very first time I got to walk into a Star Wars film not knowing anything about what was going to happen, and it’s the first time I got to walk out and not know where it’s going to go, but excited to find out. That’s a great feeling, and a new one for this franchise in my lifetime.

    However, I’m mostly here to talk about the question of the “legendary” status of Luke’s exploits, and the Force in general. Someone brought up that they thought it was unbelievable that Luke isn’t the Biggest Story in the Galaxy. But it’s totally valid that the Victory of the Force is not the big story that got handed down in that universe after the events of the OT, and even more valid that someone growing up on a desert planet 30 years later has no certainty that it is a part of the story at all.

    You might know that it was Robert Oppenheimer who led the development of the atomic bomb during WWII, if you have an interest in the subject or you’ve watched a documentary. But what was the name of the decorated and high-ranking pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima? On Nagasaki? If I told you it was the same guy who flew both missions, would you believe me? Would you even care? You know these things happened, sure, but not who did what, or even really how. Nor should you. It’s not important to your life. (To save you the trouble, the pilots’ names were Tibbets and Sweeney, respectively, and I had to look that up.)

    As far as the Rebellion is concerned, Luke was a skilled/lucky pilot at Yavin, one of many, and his trick with the tow cable on Hoth was also the result of good piloting and a minor part of a much larger scrappy escape. Nobody saw him pull a lightsaber and gut the AT-AT. And nobody’s around to talk about him pulling a lightsaber at Jabba’s palace, because he straight-up murdered everyone there. There were exactly three people who saw the lightsaber battle in the Emperor’s chambers, and two of them died in private (for all the galaxy knows, they died along with everyone else when the Death Star II blew up) while the third one has been in a self-imposed exile for a generation. Meanwhile, Ackbar led a naval force while a strike team planetside took down the shields with the help of some local teddy bears. Once the shields were down it was Lando and Wedge who flew in and blew everything up. All perfectly normal military stuff done by perfectly normal (if talented and heroic) military people. When the Rebel PR wing tells the story of all of these battles, they’re going to emphasize the part about pilots and guerrilla fighters to recruit more pilots and guerrilla fighters, not the version that hinges on a special family of space wizards and their personal drama and weirdo religious cults, if they are even aware of any of that (Leia would have to have told them herself, and why would she?).

    Heck, the only people who know that Luke, Vader, and Leia are even related at all are either dead, have long since moved on / gone into hiding, or are Kylo Ren. And Ren is not in the habit of leaving civilian witnesses. I’m actually not even sure that his parentage is known by anyone but Snoke and Max von Sydow (presumably, Leia told him since he mentioned it when Ren killed him; if Rey is indeed related to Luke and Leia then I might speculate that he was playing the Ben Kenobi role and waiting for the right moment to get her to Luke, but Ren’s ascendance forced him to Plan B with Poe. And now he is dead and everyone in his village is dead too).

    In fact, until the events of this film, the last time anyone in the universe saw a lightsaber get pulled and lived to tell about it was in Mos Eisley when Obi-Wan cut off that dude’s arm, and for all anyone knows that was just some drunken bar fight. The time before that was 60+ years and two governments ago. It’s the sort of thing your grandpa might pull out at Force Day dinner — “did I ever tell you I saw a Jedi once when I was a kid? Real strong he looked, and his laser sword was purple!” — but it’s not like you’d believe him. There haven’t been a public Jedi since then and Luke is an anonymous, if decorated, pilot, in a Rebellion probably filled with them. He is important to the rebellion today because Leia says he is, and within the upper echelons of the rebellion the Force is more present than a phrase you pull out to wish people good luck. But some random desert planet where there are actual giant space ships to loot for your daily meal? Sounds like a hokey religion with ancient weapons to me.

  119. Best review of this movie I have read.

  120. Isaiah, really good stuff here. I frankly haven’t committed as much of the plot to memory to have even really thought about all of that stuff, but it’s very thought-provoking. I think all of these guys would still bust your, and my, and the movie’s chops for all the specific beats it lifts from the others. Like Vern says:

    “Whatever it was that Lucas wrote in his Episode VII outline that was thrown out, I bet it wasn’t a movie about another young person living on another desert planet who meets another droid with another desperate message from another rebellion and ends up learning the Force in another battle with another empire and another emperor with another Skywalker that turned to the dark side, and they stop by another alien-filled cantina and later watch helplessly as another mentor is killed and then they get in more X-wings and blow up another planet-sized, planet-destroying space station.”

    As I said in my many comments, this stuff didn’t bother me, and I was frankly too dense/caught up in the movie to really cull together all these parallels in real time and be bothered by them. But I’ll admit, it is a lot of parallels, maybe getting into “are you kidding me, man?” territory.

    So, I will ding the film for that in terms inspired-ness. If people didn’t enjoy the film because they just couldn’t stop rolling their eyes at the parallels, then I get that. It didn’t bother me at all, because it wasn’t salient to me; but I can see how if it is salient to you going in, it just feels like one ear-flick after another. But I still think it’s a solidly good, fun film; a solidly good Star Wars film and return to form for the series; well-acted and very original in many respects; and provides a great balance and integration of old and new. And I think what gets my dander up the most is the oblique or overt unfavorable comparisons to the prequels, suggesting that they were better or nobler because they took more risks. Like you said, A for effort, D (or worse) for end product.

  121. Disney and JJ Abrams? After the prequels I couldn’t believe I was being asked to carry my childhood Star Wars toys back to the Pet Sematary again; it’ll work this time, it’ll be good this time! My son really wanted to check this out so there I was at 9:20 am for a 3D showing. What a wonderful Christmas present, what an experience to be able to share, I think I cried three times. I rejoice, and the world rejoices with me.

    I thought the prequels were really bad and I thought ROTJ pretty much sucked too. So after 32 years there is another good Star Wars movie. I did not see that coming. I saw clips recently of an old interview of George Lucas by Bawbwa Wawa, George saying there would never be an episode VII. But this is a business, in business things change; there is a Disney Star Wars movie without George Lucas (sold the rights). Apple would never make a big phone said Steve Jobs (bought the farm).

    I’m glad there wasn’t a ton of exposition, just sparse to the point dialogue. I hope the Raid guys show up again, looking forward to seeing Phasma back in the next one (you’re out of uniform FN 2187). Rey, Fin and Kylo Ren were all amazing, also really liked Poe Dameron and Maz. System destroying planet was some way out Jodorowsky Dune shit.

    I can’t really explain why I liked this movie so much, is it the nostalgia everyone writes about ad nauseam? I don’t feel nostalgic, I feel no desire to visit Jurassic World or see; Spectre, Independence Day Again, Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Dakota Fanning or Yet Another X Men. Why did I enjoy this when I am becoming a washed, mean grumpy old bastard who doesn’t like much of anything? Should I just pull the War Rig off Fury Road and check into the Exotic Marigold Hotel? Not yet, the force is my ally, and a powerful ally it is.

  122. Michael, your pet sematary is gold. Sometimes dead is not better :)

    Also, totally, on the nostalgia and sentiment. I saw Jurassic World. It was okay. I enjoyed it. Pretty uninspired though. Didn’t really stay with me, and I’m in no rush to own it or see again. I believe TFA is one I’ll own and watch repeatedly, and it’ll stay in the rotation.

  123. The Original Paul

    December 24th, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Isiah and Michael make a really good case for the movie actually.

    There’s another INVASION OF THE BODYSNATCHERS movie coming up??!!! Holy shit, why haven’t I heard of this until now? And why doesn’t googling bring up any results for it? I don’t see it on Dakota’s IMDB page even. Am I missing something here?

  124. Paul, sorry it was Chloe Grace Moretz, and this time the Invasion of the Body Snatchers is called The 5th Wave.

    Thank you Skani.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  125. SPOILERS CONTINUE OF COURSE SERIOUSLY IF YOU CARE ABOUT SPOILERS WHY ARE YOU EVEN READING THIS THREAD

    Oh yeah, I will absolutely concede that the plot was a little too reliant on previous elements from the original trilogy. In particular Death Star III could have been better handled or even replaced entirely with some other kind of climaxy thing for the good guys to do. And Maz’s cantina did reek of Eisley, sure, but if you need to get Luke’s old lightsaber to Rey then your options in this universe are wretched hive of scum and villainy, remote planet with wise hermit, or pure happenstance. The last one is narratively unsatisfying (see for example Han and Chewy just stumbling on the Millenium Falcon five minutes after it takes off, that was pretty convenient wasn’t it) and the first two are derivative. So I’ll take derivative.

    And I just didn’t mind all the rest of the rhymes so much in the moment and even in retrospect, because I was being served all that rehash along with a side of fresh and delicious characters, with a sugary dose of Gruff Solo to wash it down with. But I totally get why others wouldn’t be willing to make that trade, and I agree that in a theoretical alternate universe with different ways of making large studio films, then we would get great new characters AND great new situations for them to be in. I think that this is the absolute best version of this film we could possibly hope for, which sounds like weak praise but given the last three films is actually a pretty incredible achievement.

  126. Vern, my guy, I love that arguing with you prompts actual film journalism in response. I appreciate the research. It’s weird that those figures seem so disparate from what I and some others experienced… I’m right with Paul in the inability to overcome the Uncanny Valley in the PT. Is it just that CG has gotten better? And not just for full maxed-polygon-count creature models, but for all the ubiquitous computer air brushing that goes down?

    Feet: I disagree that Han’s positioning in TFA is lame. You’re disappointed that they DIDN’T dismiss this swashbuckler to domesticity? I think it’s enchanting to think that his adventure continued, that he kept sucker-shotting Greedos. Also, can anyone confirm that the Falcon really was languishing on Fappu for 30 years? Maybe it just ended up there in its latest misadventure?

    Kylo Ren: It is super cool that this guy is like the evil version of Luke from ANH, in that he’s kind of a whiny brat. As Griff mentioned, it will be really nice to see him do a Luke-in-ROTJ style powerlevel ascension where shows up all formidable.

  127. Re: CG vs. practical effects: At the very least, it appeared that a lot of scenes were believably shot outside in this film. The greenscreen is so pervasive in the prequels that it feels like much of the films were shot in a garage.

  128. Merry Christmas, all who celebrate!

    A good bit of what I’d say in defense of this movie (which I love love love, and not just because it was the first SW movie I saw with my 9 and 8 year old sons; although yes, too) has been said here already. So I’ll just add this:

    I can’t quite get why a main critique of it seems to be that it features lots of callbacks to earlier films. That’s just a huge part of SW, and always has been: “I love you,” “I know”; “I have a bad feeling about this”; “We’re doomed”; “It’s not my fault!”; “May the Force be with you”; and etc.! Part of what makes these films what they are has always been that self-referentiality, and when it works (as it did in those earlier instances, and as to my mind it definitely does here) it adds that feeling of comfort along with all that’s new and evolving in each film and overall.

    Sure worked for me, at least!

    Ben

  129. I agree with Ben here, SWTFA is a throw back the old movies, but that’s what the Bond franchise have been doing for 53 years and it’s clearly what people want.

    Oh yeah, Happy Yuletide, everyone!

  130. Michael – sad to say that I’m probably gonna see that 5TH WAVE film as soon as it comes out. There are very, very few series and/or genres that I have that kind of loyalty to. Bodyshock horror is one of them.

    Merry Christmas / non-denominational holiday period, everybody!

  131. The Original Paul

    December 25th, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Oh wait, it’s a YA adaptation? Like THE HOST that came out a few years ago?

    Never mind then. Erm… hopefully it’ll be ok?

  132. Paul- Did you see the latest FANTASTIC FOUR film? As a bodyshock completest you might enjoy it. I watched it months after all the, um, anti-hype(?) had died down, and with low expectations, and as someone suffering from comic book formula burn-out, I rather enjoyed it. I certainly can’t call it a good movie, the last third is truly atrocious, but I liked at least parts of what they were trying to do enough to stay interested. I did initially suspect that the first two-thirds represented the director’s original vision whereas the last part is where the studio came in and panicked, and while that’s probably true up to a point reading up on it it would seem part of where the studio clashed with Trank was in rejecting a number of the proposed action scenes, and for me the dearth of over-frantic action is actually part of what made the film quite refreshing.

    This review from Devin Faraci sums it up quite well

    FANTASTIC FOUR Review: It’s Clobberin’ Time

    The latest FF movie is way better than you expect.

    his

  133. The Original Paul

    December 26th, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Pacman – I didn’t, and to be honest it didn’t seem at all like my kind of “thing”. I’ve managed to avoid all superhero films this year, and I think I’ve been better for it. Are you sure you don’t mean “body horror”? I know the term “bodyshock horror” seems to have been all-but-abandoned nowadays – it’s difficult even to find a definition online – I guess I’d define the difference as “body horror” meaning something alien getting into your body and the ramifications of it, whereas “bodyshock horror” is when people around you become something different or less than human through the intervention of some kind of alien force. It implies a great deal of suspicion, paranoia, fears regarding loss of humanity, etc. Therefore THE THING is bodyshock horror, THE FLY is not. The BODYSNATCHERS movies are bodyshock horror, TROMA is not, etc.

    In any case, I don’t get either a “body horror” or “bodyshock horror” vibe from FANTASTIC FOUR. Unless it’s because it’s a group of people going through “changes”, which I guess could be interprited as body horror, but surely not bodyshock horror?

  134. Paul- Yeah, my mistake, FANTASTIC FOUR is definitely more in the vein of THE FLY than THE THING or any BODY SNATCHERS riffs. Still, for me it’s certainly the most interesting superhero film in quite some time, even if its probably objectively the weakest since GREEN LANTERN. It didn’t hurt that I saw it in close proximity to TERMINATOR: MEGADRYVE either

  135. “I think the fans are going to love it. It’s very much the kind of movie they’ve been looking for.” – George Lucas on Disney’s Star Wars.

  136. The exposition dialogue was terrible

    Whatever one says about the prequels (and I, for one, will defend “Episode I: Darth Maul”, though not the other two), they didn’t have anyone go “You, the master of the knights of Ren”, “Your father, Han Solo” or “I knew you before you called yourself Kylo Ren”.

    Yeah, that sure is the kind of dialogue one would hear in real life. I was rolling my eyes then, wondering if there were any followup lines that got cut, like: “Yes, Supreme Leader. My father, Han Solo, the man who fathered me with my mother, princess Leia. But that does not matter, because I, who call myself Kylo Ren now and am the master of the Knights of Ren who destroyed the new Jedi, have been well trained by you, my Supreme Leader, after you showed me the Dark Side”.

    Reminds me of a scene in “Spaceballs”, where a really crappy expository dialogue (deliberately crappy – and it was still better than in SW VII!) ended with the character staring into the camera and yelling at the audience: “Everybody got that?!?”

  137. Ozma, it is borderline ludicrous to suggest that TFA’s dialogue is worse than the prequels’. That would be like trying to defend Godfather III as the best of the series. Have some self-respect. You can’t win. TFA has the high ground.

    50 Quotes From The Star Wars Prequels, Ranked In Order Of Terribleness

    "Now that I'm with you again, I'm in agony."

  138. Broddie, man, you’re pushing the troll red button.

  139. The Original Paul

    December 26th, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Ozma: Well-struck, my young padawan!

    (That’s from Episode 2… I think the dialogue from Episode 1 was even worse.)

  140. Skani you’re sounding like a baby. Way to strive for excellence by repeating platitudes one woild expect to find on restoftheinternet.com. Don’t be Ellis sir.

    I just figured people in the Star Wars thread might be interested in what the creator of Star Wars thought about freshly dropped Star Wars. I know I was.

  141. I dunno Broddie, you’re the one commenting at length on a movie you are boycotting.

  142. Disregarding whether Broddie has a right to comment or not, that George Lucas comment is real and also 100% accurate. Like I said in the other thread, it’s exactly what “the fans” wanted to see — i.e. what they have already seen before. And that applies if your Skani and you don’t remember what you saw before, or if you’re a more devoted fan who just wanted to be pandered to all along and now you’re getting your wish.

  143. That Lucas comment reeks of a backhanded compliment.

  144. The Original Paul

    December 27th, 2015 at 2:59 am

    I dunno Griff… are you suggesting that Lucas and his fans haven’t always been on the best of terms? That sounds incredibly far-fetched to me.

    *Takes the big red troll button from Broddie and lightly drums on it with both hands…*

  145. The thing I’m wondering is, do you think Lucas is just glad to be done with it, or is he now regretting the whole deal with Disney?

  146. When Kylo Ren first took his mask off, a tiny part of me was hoping that underneath it was Nic Cage. But oh well, I guess sort-of-We-Need-To-Talk-About-Kevin was appropriate.

    And it was great to see Harrison Ford give a shit again about a role. He was awesome.

  147. renfield – What is that even suppose to mean?

    1) I comment wherever I feel like whenever I feel like. This is a badass movie community not a gestapo newsletter.

    2) I received the RSS feed with that info not even 5 minutes before I shared it.

    I figured I’d share it because it would lead to some interesting dialogue (thank you btw Griff for sparking one with your last post) since there are many Star Wars Trekkies here myself included (though Im quite a casual one) and this is the most active SW topic right now on the sight. Also because there are many here like myself who still respect George Lucas unlike the rest of the Internet.

    3) I guarantee you that the majority of my posts in this thread aren’t even about this movie but they’re here because they’re Star Wars related.

    I’ve been regularly posting on this site for years now so I figured you guys will be familiar with my writing style already. Yes I do type a lot of shit in jest but so do many others here including our gracious host.

    I however never troll and do find offense at any suggestion that I could ever vouch for such a tribe of losers. That is a definite hive of scum and villainy if there ever was once and I would appreciate not boxing me in with them in the future.

    I come here because it’s the last rational haven for hardcore movie dudes left. So to see some of you guys resort to hypersensitive reactions with finger pointing is frankly dissapointing.

    Never would’ve expected such generic restofthenet.com level behavior on this sight. I mean I view Batman the way hardcore star wars trekkies view a galaxy far far away and let me tell ya never once did I ever question the REDACTED phase on this sight. On the contrary I actually agreed with it and understood why it was a neccessity.

    Conversely please take a look at that link Vern posted in the review. The one leading to the article about the SW sale. Click on it and let me know who was one of the more optimistic ones here regarding Disney’s Star Wars initially.

    I never asked to NOT want to ever see this joint that’s sadly how fate played out. I’ve just seen enough JJ Abrams movies (SUPER 8, MI:III & STAR TREK) to know that his joints aren’t my cup of tea. So why would I put myself through it when I could just spend the time watching stuff like THE REVENANT & HATEFUL EIGHT that I actually want to watch instead? because it’s Star Wars? with all due respect: please! I’ m just not wired that way.

    Pardon the lengthy rant but I figured some clarification was in order. Everybody usually does strive for excellence here and it’s what keeps me coming back. So please folks don’t change that for me.

  148. Griff – I found it interesting because he indeed seems to have become an old curmudgeon and it’s sad to see. I do sense bitterness but then again he’s the one who decided to sell. Maybe it was a very impulsive decision (I kind o do thought so in a way since I personally thought he could’ve gotten more) that he now regrets but there is a lesson to be learned here.

    If you by any chance ever get the blessing to be the master of your own creative domain with something that’s as personal to you as SW was to Lucas hold onto it with all your might because you may end up really missing it in the long run.

    At the same time the ball is now in his court because he’s got the giant monkey off his back now and complete freedom & resources to do as he wishes. Personally I hope he really stops procrastinating and gets cracking on all those smaller or more original properties he says he’s been itching to make for years now. Who knows, ironically the NEXT Star Wars (next genre phenomenon not literally) might even end up being past of that batch. We’ll just have to wait and see how the next episode in the George Lucas saga plays out I suppose.

  149. A few weeks ago I read an interview with some guy who worked apparently with Lucas on some spinoff (I think it was either the never made TV series or the made, but never released DETOURS cartoon) and according to him, Lucas has a bigger sense of humor about him, his creations and what fans think, than most people would believe.

    But I don’t think he really needed the Disney money. Even with the widely hated prequels and the equally hated new releases of the classics, SW was a cash cow, that never stopped giving plenty of milk. (That Lucas donated the Disney money is another hint.) But personally, I believe that it was simply the right offer at the right time and he just shrugged and said: “Okay, retirement from Star Wars it is. Let’s see what others do with it.”

  150. Broddie, I was only teasing. I had seen that quote a few weeks ago, so I figure you were posting it just to stir the pot rather than providing the information.

  151. Poeface. We definitely need Nic Cage in the Star Wars universe. Or Star Wars in the Nic Cage universe. I’ll take either. ;)

  152. Nic Cage MUST play Minor Moff Tarkin.

  153. Lucas told some reporter on the red carpet that he is going to make movies that he will only show to his friends and not release.

  154. His friends in 10 years: “Fuck you, George! I really liked the first version of that movie, that you made just for us! Why did you have to make those changes?! And the prequel to it? Don’t get me started! You are dead to me, George, you hear me? DEAD! Dinner tomorrow?”

  155. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwThhlhBZqk&list=LL09tgwkZDN2TSGhtu6j5qDA&index=7

    Skip on ahead to 10:27 in the vid. This guys breakdown of the vapidity of the Rey character/ ACI trend(All Competent Ing’enue) is pretty priceless.

  156. Broddie – it does seem impulsive because at the time there were a couple of different Star Wars things in the pipeline that fell apart because of the deal, probably the biggest one was the bug budget video game 1313, which was canceled because of the closure of Lucasarts, then there was the TV show he talked about for years as well as the animated comedy STAR WARS DETOURS.

    Then out of the blue he sold it to Disney and that was that, I really wish he had at least waited until 1313 was released, that would have been the perfect capstone for the “Lucas era” of Star Wars instead of the terrible Star Wars Kinect video game, which I believe was the last significant Star Wars thing released before the deal with Disney.

  157. grimgrinningchris

    December 27th, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Great… I just typed out a three paragraph takedown of the nitwit in Rogue4’s video’s “priceless takedown” of Rey and a freeze-up erased it as I was trying to post. Maybe I’ll be assed to re-type it out later, but for the time being fuck that guy. In short, his inability to buy that it is a PURELY intentional choice to have a female character with powers and abilities BEYOND those seen so far in the series is insulting and laughable. Yeah, fuck that guy.

  158. Broddie, I totally believe that you are coming to this discussion without dickheaded intentions. I just meant that in Skani’s defense, I also could definitely understand why it might seem like you were coming from an axe-grindy perspective: “I suspected this movie would be a particular flavor of bullshit, and now it seems totally evident that this is exactly what happened”.

    Honestly, I guess the whole position of “I will be skipping this movie” seems totally ridiculous to me. Maybe at some point you threw down some context for your position that, had I read it, would have convinced me otherwise, but if so I never read it, and it strikes me as a reactionary position.

  159. Lucas sold LFL because he wanted more SW films to be made but I think he was over it and wanted to see what others could come up with. One thing I was thinking about the other day was this film borders on authorised fan fiction, obviously Kasdan co-wrote with JJ but the next film was written entirely by Johnson. It will be interesting to see the direction he takes it in, according to JJ the script is pretty good.

  160. Well darn the luck grimgrinningchris. Maybe you’ll get back at us with a condensed version of your breakdown. But in the meantime, I’m a little confused as to how ” …Purely intentional choice to have a female character with powers and abilities Beyond those seen so far in the series…” contradicts a word of said “nitwits” ACI assessment.

  161. grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2015 at 9:24 am

    The very short version is that he is citing something that is a purely intentional choice- and appears to be the entire point of the movie/character as some sort of narrative convenience.

    All of her abilities are either fully and logically explained or can be totally logically inferred.
    All of his “and then she just so HAPPENS to be able to *blah blah blah*” nonsense- as if these skills and abilities aren’t telegraphed and explained either directly or indirectly- really just smacks of him being unable to deal with the fact that we have a female hero that leaves the previous male heroes in this series so far in the dust.
    They aren’t conveniences or contrivances, they are the point of the character.

    Is this one of the same guys that had issues with Furiosa being even more capable than Max?

  162. grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I will say that I am more than a little bit perturbed by Abrams’ insistence on being so beholden to the OT that he continued their legacy of using FOUR periods in the ellipses in the opening crawl, instead of the preferred (and by most, considered proper) THREE periods.

    One can only hope that in 6 or 7 years, they will eventually release new SE’s of all nine movies with this egregious grammatical error finally corrected.

    Heh…

  163. For cited examples as jaw droppingly ridiculous as Rey making on the fly repairs on the Millineum Falcon that its decades long (before her midichlorians so much as divided) Captain can’t figure out, your post doesn’t put forth much of a refutation friendo.

  164. She’s spent years, likely at least a decade salvaging parts from dozens if not hundreds of different starships- in the process learning what works, what doesn’t what’s valuable, what’s junk etc… so her having some bright ideas in that regard is absolutely not a stretch. Add to that that we’ve come to see that the Force (something Solo has never shown any predilection for) enhances and amplifies one’s own abilities and especially their intuitions- and this makes it even less of a stretch.

  165. And this isn’t just something that people are projecting.

    It is explicitly shown both in action and dialogue that her already passable knowledge of piloting was enhanced after her awakening, allowing her to do shit with the Falcon in the escape from Jakku that even surprised the shit out of her.

    I don’t recall the exact dialogue but close enough.

    *after ridiculously skilled evasion techniques*
    Fin: How did you do that???
    Rey: I have no fucking clue! I’ve never done ANYTHING like that before!

  166. Not too much for me to add except I really liked this one despite its big problems – sure a few more rewrites could have made it better and possibly worthy of the “Biggest Movie of All Time” crown it’s most likely about to have, but the fact that it’s even this good in this day and age is a miracle in and of itself. (Yeah, yeah, I’m grading it on a curve, but don’t we all grade everything on some kind of curve? Should I not compare this to The Hobbit and Pacific Rim and The Prequels and The Matrix 2 and 3 and every other Star Wars-inspired blockbuster that disappointed me?) Sure it’s less of a new movie and more of a weird nostalgia experiment like Van Sant’s Psycho or Singer’s Superman Returns, but the mixture of homage/love letter and “new generation” shit was finally done right this time.

    The new heroes are sympathetic and appealing. The new villain is iconic and surprisingly complex. The action sequences are well-done and the big moments designed to elicit cheers actually work (I actually wish I saw this with a packed house of nerds rather than a sparse matinee crowd). There’s never a dull moment and it has the fast-paced narrative drive of Abrams’ Star Trek movies with only slightly stupid head-scratching moments instead of “slap the forehead” stupid moments. The ending leaves me wanting more but there’s still a sense of completion unlike most YA franchise movies these days.

    The only real complaint I have is Death Star 3 – they really should have found anything else to do. If repetition is done properly in a sequel, nobody’s going to care or even notice. Is there a single person out there complaining that Fury Road ends in another desert chase with another tanker? No, because the scope was different, the stakes were different, the goal/destination was different, the resolution was different. I’ll let it slide this time, but if there’s one more easily destroyable Death Star in this new series I might have to take back some of my kind words.

  167. So collecting scrap from inoperable wreckage, confers master mechanic skills… and scrappy bo-staff moves translates to sabertry, just as tennis pros must all likewise be virtuosos on the baseball field (balls&sticks, tomato/tomauto). And tapping into that Force “enhancement” doesn’t take any concerted effort/practice/time. Which is why Luke lifted his X-wing outta the Dagobah muck on the very first try.

  168. Rogue,

    Yes. Especially when it’s heavily implied that her power will surpass Anakin’s or Luke’s. Snoke felt her awakening from across the galaxy, when it took a couple of years and being in closer physical proximity for Vader to be able to even sense Luke’s presence.
    I’d go so far as to say it’s being set up that Rey was the “chosen one” all along and not Anakin.

  169. I agree with Chris, Rey’s abilities are meant to be surprising, and do surprise all of the characters on both sides, including herself. It is clearly an intentional choice and I think a good one. I don’t know why people would be so upset for the characters to be able to do new things. It’s exciting.

    But I have to disagree about the prophecy, because Anakin was the chosen one who brought balance to the force twice: once by killing all of the Jedi, and then by killing Palpatine, the end. Episode 7 takes place in an alternate universe that doesn’t really count unless it gets real good by part 9.

  170. Oh yeah, Rogue4 reminds me re: Rey- what’s with this “Mary Sue” bullshit I’ve had to hear about all week? “She’s a Mary Sue!” “She’s NOT a Mary Sue!” “Ok, she kinda is but a guy on twitter I don’t like said she is, so I’m going to say she’s not!” I mean, am I the only one who’s never heard of this term until this week? Is this like the whole “fridging”/Bechtel test thing where suddenly everyone pops up out of the woodwork with a full understanding/knowledge of what this term means?

    And ok, so the first definition I found says it’s when a writer (often fan-fic) inserts themself into the story and is a jack of all trades/master of everything. I mean, does this actually happen? Or at least happen often enough to have a term named after it? I can’t think of a single time that’s happened in a major movie other than M. Night Shyamalan in Lady in the Water and he might have been trolling us with that one. (If this is the actual definition, I don’t quite get what differentiates “Mary Sue” from “vanity project”.) Also, as far as I know, Daisy Ridley didn’t write The Force Awakens. None of the credited writers are women and/or teenage girls. So yeah, I vote no on Mary Sue.

    Definition 2: I guess a character is a Mary Sue if they’re too skilled at everything/don’t have too many flaws. I mean, isn’t that almost all of our action heroes not named John McClane? James Bond can operate any vehicle he gets into. Does that make him a Mary Sue? Casey Ryback is totally a Mary Sue, right? Forrest Taft definitely is (I think ALL of Seagal’s characters besides the guy in Machete are, right?) I guess in this case I vote yes on Mary Sue but think it’s kind of a dumb title/thing that happens so often why are we even discussing it?

    I dunno, the way Rey is written does kind of make me think they were walking on eggshells since that one time the entire internet turned on Joss Whedon by “ruining” Black Widow and turning her into “a damsel in distress” because she got captured for 5 minutes. I kinda feel like JJ thought “Man, if we have her being a bad fighter/bad shot/bad driver/not knowledgeable about mechanical parts, they’re totally going to tear us a new one”.

    I mean, I hope it doesn’t make me a sexist to think it’s kind of lazy that Rey Jedi-mind tricks a stormtrooper like a boss on her second try. (I’m glad I can actually ask these things here without fear of being called an MRA or being told to put a fedora back on, etc. etc..). I actually wish she used her well-established mechanical skills to get out of those restraints, and kept her first real usage of the Force for when she catches the lightsaber in the forest. How awesome a surprise would THAT have been?? (As opposed to the finished film where it’s kind of obvious she’s the one force-pulling it away from Ren). I’m willing to withhold judgment of the whole “Rey is overpowered” thing until I see where the sequel takes it, but I do admit I’m not entirely opposed to a Bourne/Charlie Baltimore thing where there’s an actual reason she’s so ridiculously good at everything, as opposed to “she just learned it real fast for plot’s sake”.

  171. The Original Paul

    December 28th, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Neal – an alternative “Mary Sue” definition would be a character who’s perfection utterly dominates every scene that they’re in. A character whose ideas or words are generally accepted without question by everybody else in the movie, even when it’s obvious to the audience that those ideas are completely bone-headed, and anybody in-universe who does question those ideas is portrayed as either evil or delusional and will inevitably get outcast (at best) or just end up dead.

    So yeah, several Seagal characters would technically qualify. No idea whether this STAR WARS character does though.

    By the way, Yoda is totally a Mary Sue – it just happens that most of the audience seems to have “bought into” him.

  172. The Original Paul

    December 28th, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Oh yeah, and if the character goes through some kind of growth or change, she’s not a Mary Sue. The Mary Sue is born perfect, and nothing ever happens to upset that.

  173. grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Vern,

    I thought about that too… but honestly, in the end (even in both instances) how much balance did he really bring? I think in the grand, centuries and millennia long scope of this Galaxy and the Force and whatnot- that two brief respites from Dark Side control of the Galaxy probably wouldn’t warrant a big grand prophecy about it’s balance.
    I feel like Anakin/Vader put a band-aid on it, but not much more. As we’ve seen, shit keeps coming back like a Vorhees.

    I dunno.

  174. FYI, the “Mary Sue” term as applied to a man is referred to as either Gary Stu or Marty Stu.

    Carry on.

  175. The term “Mary Stu” has been part of the geek lexicon for decades now. Primarily by sci-fi and comic book fans.

    It is really disappointing to hear that Lucas will basically keep his new productions to himself and his world. I guess he really did become disenchanted with a regular movie going audience in the end. Star Wars trekkies must’ve really hurt his feelings.

  176. The thing you guys are missing about the term “Mary Sue” is that it’s a fan fiction term. It can’t apply to Yoda because Yoda wasn’t a work of fan fiction. The Force Awakens, however, is essentially fan fiction so the argument is valid. (Also, Yoda loses to Palpatine, spends the rest of his life alone in hiding, then dies before his side wins — maybe that’s someone’s idea of wish-fulfillment, but it’s not mine).

    Rey meeting all three original Star Wars leads, and Han seeing her as as a potential protegee, and Leia respecting her and giving her that first hug after Han’s death, and then her actually seemingly becoming Luke’s protegee for real — combined with the fact that she’s good at everything she does, and in fact even better at it than some of the pre-existing experts — does make her a Mary Sue candidate. Plus, her only flawed moment (running away after being offered Luke’s lightsabre) is out of character and motivated solely by the needs of the plot and a desire to hit a specific beat in the hero’s journey (that’s JJ Abrams for you). She’s charmingly acted, and that makes all the difference, but she’s not a great character as written. (Neither is Finn, whose personality, knowledge and abilities is not congruent with his backstory — but he’s fun to be around and has a good rapport with the rest of the cast.)

    I don’t personally have too much of an issue here, since there’s so much of this movie that is pure hack — and is celebrated for being pure hack, in this comment section and elsewhere — that Rey’s overpowered-ness doesn’t come close to being my biggest problem.

  177. grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    SPERLERS
    SPERLERS
    SPERLERS
    SPERLERS
    SPERLERS
    SPERLERS
    SPERLERS

    I know it’s been discussed some above, but can we talk about Snoke some more?

    I’m seeing plenty of perfectly understandable talk here and elsewhere about whether he is really that big or not.
    And plenty complaining about his design (Voldemort meets the Jackie Earl Haley Freddy Krueger) and being CGI when as a humanoid, it would have been plenty easy to do practically. Also understandable.

    What I haven’t seen (though I am sure it must exist) is anyone theorizing that big or small, Snoke doesn’t even look like that at all.
    That he is totally pulling a Wizard Of Oz.
    Which could explain the use of seemingly unnecessary CG. He (and the filmmakers) needed to completely hide his actual appearance.

  178. Well, you can have your “Mary Sue” friendos. I think ACI (All Competent Ingenue) cleverly enough encapsulates the pandering vapidity of this particular characterization/lack of. Effortless inexplicably unearned above and beyond abilities bestowed precisely because the character is female. Didn’t the Emperor put in that holo-call to Vader in “Empire” cause he felt “A great disturbance in the Force”, from across the galaxy? Nevermind. Waving the girl power banner, first. Substantive character building sec…maybe thir…eh, we’ll get back to ya. Tho shallow/inconsistent characterization was by no means limited to Rey of course. Quite puzzling to see “Finn” take off the helmet and immediately begin engaging characters with snappy colloquial banter/mannerisms as if he’d attended Galactic High, cheered at pep rallies, and went to Prom. That is, as if he were the product of totally mainstream, normal upbringing/ socialization. That is, as if being “taken from a family he never knew” and literally turned into a faceless numbered combat unit was of no impact whatever.

  179. grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Yes, Rogue… He sure did… A full three years after Luke had already used his pre-existing skills and knowledge AND his emerging affinity with the Force to pilot a spacecraft he’d never flown before, communicate with the dead and blow up the Death Star with his eyes closed. All with no actual training to speak of.

    Your argument (and most recent post) is obviously not a problem with this character’s abilities so much as what is between this character’s legs.
    It’s okay to admit it.
    We’ll still be here for you when you get your feeling sorted out.

  180. testing 1, 2, 3

  181. grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Well my night is ruined. They killed Lemmy.

  182. The Original Paul

    December 28th, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    JTS:

    “The thing you guys are missing about the term “Mary Sue” is that it’s a fan fiction term. It can’t apply to Yoda because Yoda wasn’t a work of fan fiction.”

    Well, technically, that’s just me saying that Yoda was one. It’s nobody else here saying that. (Because Yoda is Frank Oz! And he’s sooo cuuute! How could he possibly be annoying?) Good point though.

    “(Also, Yoda loses to Palpatine, spends the rest of his life alone in hiding, then dies before his side wins — maybe that’s someone’s idea of wish-fulfillment, but it’s not mine).”

    Well yes, but even in his death scene he basically gets to pronounce Luke as “ready”; when the truth is that Luke was pretty damn close to that before he even met Yoda, and they had to nerf Luke’s character so damn hard in EMPIRE in order to justify the little snotball’s very existence. (Pretty sure that if you can destroy a death star with the power of your mind [and a torpedo or two], you can levitate a spaceship.) Oh, and Luke’s now being ready to face Vader has nothing at all to do with the training he got from Yoda (which lasted all of two days). And yet both films still make out that this insufferable little blob is the be-all and end-all when it comes to the wisdom of “the force”.

    But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Yoda’s done precisely fuck-all to help the resistance – when things got too bad, he ran away to live in a swamp – yet he’s still treated by every film he’s in as some divine unquestionable fountain of wisdom. He’s basically treated with reverence by every character he comes across, including Dooku and Palpatine (to a level that’s completely at odds with what we’ve seen of Palpatine before, incidentally. Yet another instance of a character being changed for the worse because they’re in close proximety to Yoda.) If he doesn’t technically meet the criteria for a “Mary Sue”, he shares some pretty strong similarities with one. That’s not why I hate the little snot though. If it were just the STAR WARS films in question, I’d say he was just a character I didn’t like in a series that (as far as the first three films go anyway) I largely did. No, my main problem with Yoda is the torrent of religious hero-emasculating imitators that have appeared in action movies for decades afterwards. They even turned Shepherd Book into one in SERENITY, for goodness’ sake. (In the TV show FIREFLY, Book and Mal had a complex relationship which often consisted of them debating their differing philosophies – Mal’s pragmatism vs Book’s principles – which goes out the window in SERENITY. Nope, in the movie version, Book isn’t a member of the crew any more. He gets his own dusty planet homestead so Mal can go to him for “guidance”. In other words, they make him full-on Yoda. Bleugh.)

    On the other hand… that moment where Yoda, having just beat Dracula into an undignified retreat, pulls out his staff and leans on it in ATTACK OF THE CLONES, might just be the second most badass moment in the entire first six STAR WARS films. (The most badass moment is, of course, in RETURN OF THE JEDI: Luke’s threat to Jabba the Hutt while he’s standing on the edge of the Sarlac pit while bound and apparently defenceless. A threat that he promptly makes good upon.) That Yoda moment was freaking awesome. Of course they had to spoil it when we’re immediately taken to another CGI battlefield and the characters start opening their mouths again (this is when the “well struck, my young Padawan” line comes in I believe), but hey, that’s the prequels for ya.

    Just out of interest, is there an equivalent of Yoda in THE FORCE AWAKENS? Some figure of perceived wisdom who only exists to “enable” other people to do stuff that they would’ve been able to do themselves anyway? ‘Cause that would suck.

  183. Luke and Rey are not comparable. Luke got his ass kicked more often than the other way around. Rey, meanwhile, is effortlessly good at everything she does, which is basically everything. That’s real, you don’t have to be sexist to notice that. And I think her hyper-competence is totally a reaction to the gender imbalance that Star Wars has historically had, and that imbalance is also real and I think this movie was right to try to address it.

  184. “Just out of interest, is there an equivalent of Yoda in THE FORCE AWAKENS?”

    And haha, yeah, of course there is. The movie is nothing but elements from the original trilogy.

  185. Oh great. Not even this beautiful sight is safe from this Mary Sue bullshit.

  186. I’d like some Mary Jane right now.

  187. I also find the term M*ry S*e and its sudden over-use annoying. A guy who used to work for WWE told me that Vince McMahon would refer to an untouchable wrestler as a Seagal and one that takes a beating but keeps coming back a Bruce Willis. Obviously that is the better term but I forbid Max Landis from using it which is why he’s using the dumber sounding one.

    Chris – good question about Snoke. That is a possibility, for a Phantom Menace type trick where the audience gets tricked and not just the characters.

    Am I the only one who didn’t realize it was a hologram until toward the end? I thought he was actually a giant. I think Andy Serkis said that he’s like 9 feet tall or something though.

  188. In case you missed Guillermo del Toro’s tweet, which I had to roll around in my head for a minute to parse:

    ‘The Mary Sue controversy is like encountering an Orgasm Sheriff halfway through an Orgy, rating our joy on a 1-10 scale for our “own good” ‘

  189. grimgrinningchris

    December 28th, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    That’s exactly how I’m looking at it, Vern.

    There’s definitely a flicker out/ end transmission type effect on him in both scenes.

    Now maaaaaaybe there’s a tiny chance that he’s NOT a hologram, but a force ghost? Hmmmmm…

  190. JTS— No doubt Episode VIII will begin with Rey enrolled in Luke’s Advanced Placement Jedi Training Course, then she graduates Magna Cum Laude 15 minutes into the movie, and by the end of the first act she’s (ahhhhhhh, wait for it…) a full-on Jedi Mistress.

    Yeah, it would’ve been nice had the TFA screenplay skooched her abilities along at a moderate pace, and because it didn’t Rian Johnson is shit outta luck if he’s gonna try to hinder her current rate of progress.

  191. Luke sure did make that Force tapping trick shot on the Death Star Grimgrinningchris… after a couple a wingmen got obliterated guarding his six… Aaaannd after a hail mary assist blew away the trio of TIEs on his six, that had him dead to rights. Following extensive yet not completed training in further tapping into said Force potential, with his immaturity/impatience impeding his progress from time to time (cause apparently for some the growth process is an actual… process), he engaged a gnarled old double amputee life support suited Darksider in saber combat… and took quite the “spanking”. Good thing for him that it wasn’t a fresh young merely wounded Darksider, I guess.

    What the last post proves GGC, is that I’m not making any excuses for shallow/inconsistent male characterizations (Finn) that I’m not making for shallow/inconsistent female characterizations… but you are. So who you kiddin friendo?

  192. The Original Paul

    December 29th, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Y’know… the points against Luke regarding the Death Star battle in A NEW HOPE may very well be valid. I prefer to ignore them because that entire sequence is easily the worst thing in the first three STAR WARS films, and I include everything involving Yoda and Ewoks in that characterisation. It’s so much dumber than the rest of the film, it’s a huge letdown. And I’m not just talking about Ghost-Alec-Guinness either; just about everybody involved in it starts acting like absolute bloody idiots for no apparent reason, yet in the end the outcome is the most convenient one for the story. It’s really the only part of A NEW HOPE that I don’t like.

    Those valid criticisms of Luke’s actions aside (and again, I put them aside because pretty much everybody involved in the entire Death Star sequence acted like total morons), the complaints against Luke kinda remind me of the much-maligned Kim Bauer from 24, who was constantly being taken hostage. While this is pretty much true, what those complaints ignore is that, with the exception of the very first episode of the show (in which Kim sneaks out to join her friend’s party, her friend having got in with the really, really, really bad crowd) every single time Kim was taken hostage, it was due to the ineptitude of her father, the police, or CTU. Whereas every time she escaped, it was down to her own resourcefulness. And she always escaped – I can’t recall a single occasion when she actually needed to be rescued. (Well maybe when she was alone with a certain CTU mole that one time in Season 3… but she had the mole at gunpoint the entire time and only hesitated a little too long to pull the trigger.) On three separate occasions that I can recall – and probably more that I can’t – she ended up killing her own captor while her father or other CTU members were too late or just too incompetent to help.

    Why compare Luke to Kim? Well, let’s take a look at a list (not exhaustive) of Luke’s accomplishments:
    – Rescues two (2) droids, and one (1) previously-imprisoned galactic ruler and resistance fighter.
    – Destroys one (1) Death Star. (Albeit in an incredibly fortuitous way, and possibly while under the influence of some seriously potent hallucenogens.)
    – Survives a battle with the most powerful Sith Lord in the universe. (I know it’s not exactly winning, but it’s still a damn sight better than anybody else has managed up until that point.)
    – Threatens to throw Jabba the Hutt into the sarlac pit, then does so. While bound and suspended about fifty feet above said pit. In one of the all-time great badass moments in cinema by the way.
    – Convinces that Sith Lord he was battling with earlier to turn away from the dark side and betray his evil overlord and master.

    Oh, and for a large part of this, he only has one freakin’ arm. (Even with the best bionics that the rebel fleet can conjure, that’s still gotta sting.)

    In short: leave Luke alone! (Yes, the M–y S-e debate may have ended, but it was inevitable we’d get around to some other meme eventually, even here.)

  193. grimgrinningchris – I was never a big motorhead fan, hell I don’t even think I was a small motorhead fan. Matter of fact I’m much more of a punk rocker than a metal guy; but reading about Lemmy still made me feel sad as fuck.

  194. Luke still has both arms at the end of ESB he’s just down one hand like his old man back when he looked like Hayden Christensen. It’s “poetry” like Lucas used to say.

  195. But that’s just what Mötörhead was all about; bridging the gap between punk and metal!

  196. grimgrinningchris

    December 29th, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Yeah, pegsman. I grew up on a mix of punk, goth and (what was at the time called) college rock. Actually had a distaste for most “metal” as a teen (though I grew to love a lot of it as an adult) but Motörhead was always that one band that the punks and the metal heads could bro down together over.

    And Rogue… I’m not going to keep arguing with you. I’m also not going to bring up the much maligned “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare” thing because in a way, it IS supposed to be Shakespeare.
    Either way, Whether it is the OT the PT or TFA we are dealing with Campbellian archetypes and ALL of these characters (both the ones you defend and the ones you deride) fit squarely into these archetypes.
    And finally after 30+ years, we have characters within those archetypes that have and display actual personalities, emotions and likability and even more importantly are actually moving a plot and ideas forward. And for that, I’m thrilled.
    I LIKE that we’ve been given a character that is apparently this powerful and that “the living Force” is finally taking a more active role in the fate of the Galaxy. You don’t. Big deal. This isn’t the movie you’re looking for. You can go on about your business. Move along.

  197. grimgrinningchris

    December 29th, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Also… and on to something totally different here… I am normally one that gets a bit irked when people post links/videos to try to make or prove their points for them, but I still found this to be worth posting.

    5 questions for anyone who calls 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' a 'remake'

    There is a dangerous, delusionary deception doing the rounds in America this holiday season. 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is no remake.

    The ways in which TFA are beholden to ANH are my only legit issues with it… and despite adoring so much of it, what keeps it (for now) at #3 or #4 in my ranking of the movies instead of #1 or #2. That said, I love the ways it is different than anything we have seen before, and there are so many of them, that most of the retread/sameness aspects mostly fall into the background for me.

  198. At this point, I think most parties agree that TFA has many parallels to ANH and more generally borrows many archetypes and motifs from the OT. Indeed, some of the Kylo stuff even has echoes of Anakin in RotS. For some people, this is absolutely in the foreground and cannot be ignored. For others, it recedes to the background, and the novel riffs come to the fore. At this point, I think it’s like looking at one of those dual-image pictures (like the “old lady or young woman?” picture): both interpretations have some real basis in the film, but it’s a question of what comes to the fore for you and what gets pressed to the background. My point is that I think most of the observations made are valid and hard to deny (it’s hard to deny certain parallels, it’s hard to deny certain aspects that are new), so at this point it’s largely a matter of people talking past each other trying to convince the other person that your emotional/aesthetic reaction to the film is the correct one on the basis of those aspects of the film that were most salient to you. Swapping notes and perspectives is why these threads exist, but at a certain point, there’s not much to say. “Okay, it looks like a haggy old woman to you. Uncle, already.”

    In the spirit of rapprochment, here are some things I like about the PT, even though I think they are bad films:
    -General Grievous is a cool idea, though the execution is cartoony
    -The scene where Anakin gets put back together as Darth is pretty cool and iconic, up until he starts talking with Palpatine
    -Darth Maul is awesome, and I think that final fight is pretty cool
    -Qui-gon is cool
    -Mace Windu is cool

    Hmm, that’s all I got for now.

  199. Skani – I actually really liked that scene where Anakin goes bezerk and kills all the sand people. Shocking and unexpected (AOC was rated PG!!), but it also FINALLY moved the story forward (they waited an entire movie and a half to show a guy we already know is going to be bad, ACTUALLY doing something bad).

    Sorry again everyone for bringing up the Mary Sue thing. I think I was just taken aback to leave the internet for a few days (in fear of TFA spoilers), and when I came back, almost every single movie/culture website (bar this one, which I’ve now ruined) had endless discussions on something I literally still don’t understand. The fact that people were getting into heated arguments about a term that seemed to have two incredibly different, entirely unrelated definitions (one of which so specific I don’t get why it’s a term; one of which so broad I don’t get why it’s a term) – I just felt like I was in bizarro world. Hell, I don’t even understand GDT’s tweet that Renfield mentions – who exactly in this situation is the orgasm/fun police he speaks of? The people pointing out that Rey is a Mary Sue or the people complaining that you’re a horrible person if you think she’s a Mary Sue? I literally don’t get a single aspect of this “controversy”.

    One other nitpick – when rewatching the OT, I was actually pleasantly surprised that when Han says to Jabba in ROTJ “Jabba, I was just on my way to pay you!” – he’s actually not lying! (Notable considering this exact same line of dialogue is usually a lie in every single movie involving a loan shark/mobster). Han was chillin’ with the rebels on Hoth, probably about to seal the deal with Princess Leia, and was basically a big star of the rebellion. It wasn’t cushy but I’m sure he had the rebels’ undying loyalty and protection from Jabba after helping blow up the Death Star and getting that medal, etc… But he was literally about to abandon his new life and pay Jabba back when the Empire attacked Hoth. So yeah, sure he’s a scoundrel and a guy who shoots first, but I kinda felt TFA’s line about “there’s nobody left in the galaxy for you to swindle!” kinda made him seem….I dunno, a little more one-dimensional and used car salesman-y than I wanted.

  200. Neal, that’s a good point. That’s a good scene, too. As an aside, there are other scenes that seem to work for others that I just can’t get into. The Anakin-Obie confrontation on lava planet for me is too video gamey and bad, on the nose dialogue. I feel for Hayden Christiansen, whom I think gives a really good performance in Shattered Glass. I chock it up to Lucas’s ability to wring bad performances from otherwise fine actors (defeat from the jaws of victory, my friend).

    Also, if the Wikipedia is to be believed, I think it’s definition of “Mary Sue” is actually a fair characterization of Rey. Or if it’s not, how is it not? I still like Rey.

  201. Also, I was getting blocked as spam yesterday (insert joke here), so I did not have the chance to commend the Amazing Larry on the epic Nic Cage picture. Nice work, Lars.

  202. neal2zod – i’m really sorry, my post wasn’t at all directed at you in the slightest and I did not mean to cause offence to anyone discussing the merits or lack-thereof of the MS archetype in this safe haven of opinions and discourse. Sorry for being a grumpy asshole.

  203. Skani— Thanks dude. Y’know, if Benicio Del Toro can get cast in Episode VIII, I see no reason why they can’t work Nicolas Cage into the mix.

    I envision him as the long-lost bastard son of Darth Vader, so he’s got Force powers out the wazoo. But unlike his pops and his half-brother Luke, he didn’t get hung up on that whole Light Side / Dark Side quandary, but instead he kind of hangs in the middle and leaves his spiritual options open. Maybe show him using his Force powers for grifting purposes so he doesn’t have to hold a job-type job, moving from planet to planet as needed, mackin’ the honeys, etc. He’s a player, albeit one with a decidedly low profile.

    Then he meets Rey by happenstance, and they embark on a series of wacky trans-galactic adventures (you know the SW drill). Could be good for a few chuckles.

  204. MIXALOT – no problem! You weren’t being assholish at all and even if it wasn’t directed at me I still felt the need to apologize for soiling the last “MS”-free space on the internet.

    Like Skani, I agree that just because we think she falls under the MS definition doesn’t mean we’re assholes or that we don’t like her. She’s appealing and sympathetic and well-acted. I’d rather have this character be my main character for this new trilogy than have another Luke or another Anakin.

    It can’t be denied that 2015 has been a great year for women in action, with two all-timers in Fury Road’s Imperator Furiosa and MI:5’s Ilsa Faust. I think it’s very telling that the internet didn’t collectively argue about or bust out detailed analyses of how overpowered/competent/incompetent those two characters were; they just loved that we had two new awesome characters (sorry Paul). The fact that Rey is such a hot point of contention may have something to do with sexism, sure, but I think some questionable writing has a lot more to do with it (and again, I’m withholding a full opinion until I see where the sequels take her).

    Speaking of a right and a wrong way to do things, I’d like to light a candle for one Sarah Connor. Greatest action heroine of all time not named Ripley. Incredibly likable and tough even when being a “weak”/naive waitress character that would absolutely not fly today without a hundred blogs complaining about being a damsel in distress. (You see her topless as well which would make “MALE GAZE” the new internet buzzword of the day) Returned to the screen in 2015 in a new and improved “tough” (or bratty) version that’s indisputably worse than the waitress incarnation, and so forgettable I forgot this movie existed until just now. So yeah, let’s just be glad Rey didn’t end up like this character, y’know?

  205. grimgrinningchris

    December 29th, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    What is the Star Wars-Galaxy alphabet? Can Cage recite it for us?

  206. Amazing Larry – whoa, you sort-of described the plot to Outcast, where Nicolas Cage is a drunk ex-swordsman in China who teams up with Hayden Christensen for some adventurin’ and killin’. It’s not very good and Cage only has a few moments of mega-acting, but it shows he’s not entirely out of his element in the sword and fantasy genre.

  207. A couple things to refute one of the resident wrongheaded right-wingers here:

    Rey gets saved by Finn at least once. She gripes about him holding her hand, and then it turns out that him holding her hand & running away from incoming explosive munitions is what saves her life. She asserts her self-agency, her strength, her resistance to damsel-in-distressness… and then she is rescued by a man.

    The other thing is, jesus christ did anyone else do a little clicking to research that ‘ACI’ jackass? He’s a racist nutjob. The other YT video of his I checked out he brags about sourcing his stats and so I looked and yeah his works cited includes Breitbart, AnnCoulterDotCom, TownHall, and CISdotOrg. This is lowly, disgusting fever swamp stuff. These are the opinionated social issue hayshakers & tastemakers that reside in the bacterial residue on the underbelly of the barnacles that suck on to the bottom of the bottom of the barrel. These are enthusiastic Donald Trump supporters.

    Rogue4, dude, you’re listening to (and promoting!) a hateful crowd that subsists on the hate they spew. Get help, friendo.

  208. Mixalot- After watching that youtube video, all I can say is, what a pathetic uninteresting villain. That ludicrous nose and that stupid hair. Whiny little emo hipster twit that is just jealous he will never come close to the achievements of his father. His sudden enraged outbursts and silly pompous tirades demanding so much attention. Basically, fuck Max Landis.

  209. “Also, if the Wikipedia is to be believed, I think it’s definition of “Mary Sue” is actually a fair characterization of Rey. Or if it’s not, how is it not? I still like Rey.”

    Just in case I’m getting lumped in as a “right-winger” I want to clarify that this is my feeling too. Rey totally fits the “Mary Sue” classification. She just does. I’ve been linked to at least one feminist-minded thinkpiece (on The Verge, written by Tasha Robinson) that cops to that as well. But I pretty much don’t mind. It’s more than fair to to be annoyed by the use of the term, though, whether it’s because you don’t like Max Landis or because there’s a certain MRA-corner of the internet that’s using it as a cudgel to attack the idea of women leads.

    Again, I think Star Wars has historically had a gender imbalance and they were right to try to address it. I like that the new lead is a woman. I wish they addressed the imbalance better, even, and that Captain Phasma wasn’t such a chump and that Maz wasn’t such a terrible Yoda-retread.

    Also again — I don’t think Rey is a great character on her own merits, but Daisy Ridley’s performance is fun. I enjoyed spending time with her, despite my reservations. And I would say the same thing about Finn.

    Anyways, back to talking past each other, as Skani rightly classified it — that Mashable list is duuuuumb. The numbered entry praising Kylo Ren might be the only one of the five that isn’t.

    Hopefully this is my last post under this review, but I might read more about how it would have been too hard to be creative and good and in fact a lack of creativity is what’s really good because history repeats itself and the heroes journey and shameless rehashing and hackery has always been what Star Wars is about, don’t you know Star Wars? If so, I might relapse again.

  210. PHASMA is an overhyped and seemingly underused character but that’s Disney marketing’s fault.

    Deciding to change the Captain into a female mid-production to get more women in the movie is one thing – introducing Gwendoline as the actress portraying the role, putting her in all the panels, the interviews, the Comicons, etc. made us expect something bigger.

    She should have been the one to fight Finn on the battlefield, for example. And she should have taken her helmet off. She probably could have filled the role of Hux, too.

    As it stands, can we even be certain that it’s her in the costume? It wouldn’t surprise me if she was cast as the voice after filming had finished.

    As far as Snoke goes, I think he may be the same race as Maz. Though I like the idea of the whole thing being fake because I thought his design was stupid.

  211. Lemmy is from fucking HAWKWIND you plebians

    Star Wars related:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ2HIr6Os0M

  212. grimgrinningchris

    December 29th, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    But but but… The ACI guy’s deconstruction is “priceless” and we’re all being pandered to and babied by being given a female hero with abilities that are similar to, but may in fact exceed the same ridiculous, magic powers of her previously male narrative counterpart.

    And Finn speaking in a relatable, naturalistic, modern “human” manner and not like a robot spouting poorly written, overly flowery and formal dialogue is a huuuuuuuuuuuge fuck up. Especially when the dialogue of every other Stormtrooper in the movie is so very very stilted and formal.

    *insert eyes-bugged, super sarcastic facial expression Cage here*

  213. grimgrinningchris

    December 29th, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Phasma was definitely built up to a point that was not delivered on. 100% agree there. The door has been left pretty wide open on the character, so I am hoping for more to happen there.

    Also 100% agree that she should have been the one fighting Finn pre-climax. It was definitely a mistake to prematurely dispatch her from the movie and then introduce another “character” Stormtrooper. “Traitor!!!”

  214. I think they’ll bring Phasma back for the next one and possibly do more with her. Even if they don’t, I enjoyed the character for what it was.

    I thought the Snoke design was fine, if unremarkable. I thought it was a bold move to have him be this big huge f-ing thing, but also have that uncertainty lingering–is he really that big? or is he normal human-ish size? or, for all we know, he’s a tin little dude. It was different and a little off-kilter.

    I had no strong reaction to Maz. I was pretty indifferent. She was okay–not bad, not remarkable. Serviceable.

  215. tin –> tiny

  216. I liked Maz. Her design and the character. For some reason she kinda reminded me of Edna Mode from The Incredibles.

    And yes, on Snoke, Skani… See my previous post where I posit (like many others) that not only is he not really that big but that (which I have’t seen anyone else posit) he doesn’t even look like that at all…

  217. Maz was not remarkable at all, and I remain skeptical that her eventual explanation for why she got her hands on the blue lightsaber will be satisfying.

    I’m not even sure the importance put on that particular saber is gonna be a good idea anyway. Did Moisture Farmer Luke have a “Force Flashback” when Obiwan handed him the thing in A NEW HOPE? It’s just an object. Lightsabers are fuckin cool, but they are – ultimately – just tools.

    And yeah, Snoke being tiny (like Maz) would make sense in an ironic way, and I can picture a scene later in this trilogy where he gets revealed to one of our heroes and it’s totally played for laughs (kinda like how Poe makes a joke in the first scene where Kylo squats down next to him).

  218. According to the art book, Maz was originally planned to be a Yoda type puppet character. There are sketches where you can really see how they tried to kind of copy Yoda. Anyway they ran out of time with the puppet so ended up doing a CG character that was only finalised in October (!). I’m glad they didn’t go with the Yoda copy.

    Check out this article talking about the stuff that was cut from the film:

    http://www.slashfilm.com/star-wars-the-force-awkens-deleted-scenes/

  219. yeah, chris, it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out w/ snoke. I’ve read various speculation as to who he really is and how he really looks relative to the projected visage we get in TFA. we’ll see. fun!

  220. “Episode 7 takes place in an alternate universe that doesn’t really count unless it gets real good by part 9.”

    That’s perfect.

  221. Have y’all seen this news bit from the premiere of the Phantom Menace? I sat through waiting for all that exuberance expressed before going into the film to be crushed in the post interview — but it wasn’t! Not at all. In fact the responses seem to be eerily similar to the responses that those that most love TFA have given.

    I feel like the eventual consensus of TFA will experience a big shift as well.

    Star Wars Fans REACT To Phantom Menace

    WATCH NEXT Funniest News Bloopers of 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRqieDyEnOg Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Rewind to Star Wars funny videos of fan ...

  222. grimgrinningchris

    December 30th, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I feel like you’re wrong, Feet.

    I had to struggle to convince myself that I liked TPM. My first words after walking out of the theater after AOTC were “what the fuck was that?” And even though I still think it is the best of the PT, I still fought with the bad over the good in ROTS.

    No such struggles with TFA. I recognize its few weaknesses, but have already and will continue to see it again and again and again. And over every other reason it is because, thank the maker, we finally have characters that I enjoy spending time with again.

  223. grimgrinningchris

    December 30th, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    That first sentence came off dickish. I apologize. But yeah, I honestly don’t see the enthusiasm for this movie (from those that ARE enthusiastic about it) waning with time.

  224. I think it may attenuate a bit over time, but we’re not talking about it going from great to suck or anything. I think the current enthusiasm for TFA is boosted a bit by the collective sigh of relief that it’s much better, more satisfying, and OT-esque than the PT. However, on the other hand, unlike with when the PT films came out, you now have a fairly wary, jaded audience (at least some segments of it), so I don’t think it’s quite the same dynamic. In the overall matrix of the PT and OT and all the associated pop cultural baggage, you’ve got pretty strong countervailing forces of skepticism and hope-springs-eternal at work here. My prediction: When the dust settles (say, in 2025), the consensus will be probably be something like “good, not great.” Rotten Tomatoes as of 2025 is 80-90%. :)

    Live long and prosper,
    Future Skani

  225. Broddie and All:

    Good interview here in terms of Lucas’s current headspace and perspective on things (including some the elements Broddie was sharing on). Lot of good insight, though I sense a strong undercut of sour grapes coloring his thinking right now. It has to be a pretty raw, wistful time for him, and I get a bit of the “though doth dismiss (fan or critical perspectives) too vocally” vibe from the interview. There’s some fun irony along these lines: Early in the interview he notes that there is not much value in art unless it is appreciated by an audience, but then he goes on to note how from now on he plans to make movies only for his friends. That’s not an out-and-out contradiction, but there’s definitely some tension.

    Some rich stuff in here.

    George Lucas Says He Sold ‘Star Wars’ to ‘White Slavers’

    While Disney has to be pleased with the way its $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm is turning out, thanks to the galactic success of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the man who created the “Star Wars” universe doesn’t feel the same way. In an interview with Charlie Rose, George Lucas spoke about everything from his and... Read more »

    Full video is on Hulu, do a search on charlie rose lucas kennedy center

  226. Not quite sure how to broach this, but has anyone else noticed an extreme defensiveness among people who LIKE The Force Awakens online? I know some people have posted intentionally provocative negative headlines to get their blood boiling, but it seems like the mere suggestion hat you think The Force Awakens was just OK or less than is met with “Fuck you! I like what I like! How dare you!”

    I understand, though disagree, with people identifying personally with an opinion about a film. As someone who has often liked the unpopular movie, I learned long ago that it didn’t matter if ANYONE agreed with me. Nothing would change my love for Hudson Hawk, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Heart and Souls, Last Action Hero or anything.

    But this is Star Wars. If you like The Force Awakens, you’re not alone. Over 90% of the world agrees with you! How is that not enough? It needs to be 100%? People who have legitimate misgivings about it have to be proven “wrong.”

    I expect as much from the general internet but I see it in a few of my fellow professionals too. Particularly, people who give the most shit when they don’t like something don’t see the irony in getting so offended by Star Wars critiques. I try to be the change I want to see in the world, so I do my best to celebrate people who liked Fantastic Four, Ant-Man, Tomorrowland, etc. Happy to engage in discussion if they’re genuinely curious where I’m coming from, and those are the best kind of friends to have.

    I’m just bewildered by the people in the majority. It’s like, you won. Everyone loves Star Wars. The people who don’t are the minority now. We’re the ones speaking up on the fringes or maybe even giving up because it’s not worth it. I wonder if anyone else can articulate what’s troubling me and see if there’s anything more to it than just “that’s the internet.”

  227. Meaning: If Boyka: Undisputed IV broke The Force Awakens’ box office records, and someone posted “Why Scott Adkins Isn’t As Badass As You Think,” would we really fight about it? Or would we just say, “Good luck with that article, I’ll go back to see Boyka again in Imax 3D with my friends?”

  228. Franchise Fred – Andrew O’Hehir has an article over at Salon.com about the vitriol of The Force Awakens fans and how strange it is that people are so angry that a handful of critics didn’t like the movie, especially considering that Star Wars and geek culture at large has pretty much taken over cinemas. The nerds have won, so why are they still so angry?

    Anyways, I liked The Force Awakens, but I don’t think I’m all that defensive about it, probably because I also agree with some of the criticism that has been leveled at the film. The bad just didn’t drown out the good for me. But I don’t necessarily think this is a problem just associated with TFA. There are people on this sight who liked the film and are pretty reasonable about it. I think overall this is part of the weird geek id that festers on the internet. Something is either the absolute worst or the absolute best. There is no in between.

  229. Fred, I don’t know, man. Maybe for some people there is the sense that you’re blowing their buzz. I don’t think you are. You’re not blowing my buzz. Dislike it all you want :) I think it’s a good film. I’m not going to start handing out pro-TFA flyers at the airport, though. I would say that if the pro-TFA contingent is a bit defensive, the anti-TFA contingent comes off as a bit condescending, like there is an “only a brainwashed rube with no real appreciation for the saga could like this dreck” vibe I detect. Or maybe, whichever side you’re on, it’s just the dissonance of other people not having the same intuitive, emotional response to the film as you. It’s unsettling.

    I know for me with Creed (there he goes again), it was weird how people were just falling all over themselves to praise it, and even though I think it is a solidly good film, it was very isolating for me to find that there were a bunch of things that bugged me that apparently didn’t bug anyone else. Like no one in the Vern-verse could relate to my gripes. But that’s okay, I’ll be the lone nitpicker :)

  230. Oh, I don’t mean here at all. I only feel comfortable bringing it up here because this crowd is so reasonable. I will check out that Salon piece.

    Skani, if there’s a condescending vibe in a critical piece, how many of the defensive fans have been equally condescending towards someone else’s passion? Just look at the Star Wars vs Star Trek beef! Or Avatar. How many smarmy critics said Avatar was Dances with N’avi and only simpletons like Pandora? Seems like a cycle of abuse to me where hurt people hurt people, an abused kid grows up to be a bully, etc. I mean it’s 2015. Aren’t we over that?

    If it’s as simple as a buzzkill, then yes, there has got to be a more mature way to handle a buzz kill. Such as just ignoring it and going about one’s business.

    Anyway, I’ve mostly decided to stay out of it. If Salon already covered it I don’t even have to think about writing an editorial.

  231. Really, it is fine for me for someone to not like TFA, though I’d prefer they not try to patronize me into submission. The only case where my ire gets up is when someone takes the leap from not really liking TFA (plausible, defensible) to making up-is-down-dark-is-light arguments like the prequels are somehow better or nobler or TFA has worse dialogue than the prequels or the prequels are no more cartoony-looking than TFA. That’s just too much. But if you felt like it’s too derivative, or certain characters aren’t as developed as you’d like, or we didn’t get enough of the Han-Ben dynamic: those gripes I can understand, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all of them.

  232. Fred, I agree with you. I do think it is an emotional thing, these films, and some people get carried away in the emotions of it. These franchises are deep inside our psyche, clearly; they are our mythologies. We respond to them for different reasons. Probably when we really dig one of them and it brings some joy to our lives, hearing others shit on them feels like it’s shitting on us and our opinions and our feelings. Like I can see how someone like Roger Ebert may have felt that Rocky IV is just a ridiculous cartoony, music videoy piece of shit, and that’s a valid perspective. But if I had been going through a hard time and then saw Rocky IV in the theatre and loved it, and then got online and everyone was saying what a cheesy cold war propaganda power ballad piece of shit it is, depending on my maturity or emotional state or what else positive I’ve got going on in my life, I could see myself getting defensive. A fairly well-adjusted person perhaps isn’t so vulnerable to all of that, but when you look at a lot of these threads, there’s obviously a lot of pain, and for some people, the movies are all you got, so I guess you take it pretty personal. And then some people are just intransigent dicks.

  233. Skani, you’re one of the good ones. I guess what I’m asking is: What does it take to change the essence of a man (or woman)?

  234. I don’t know, but that should totally be the tagline for your first feature film.

  235. Franchise Fred – That Salon article could definitely use a different perspective. I like reading O’hehir, but he can be incredibly full of himself and borderline pretentious. Much of the article is about how “low art” has now become respectable, but fandom still sees themselves as the scrappy underdogs anyhow. I’m sure there are other angles on the entire defensiveness of geek culture.

  236. I think defensiveness is par for the course for Star Wars; we all went into this shit with major baggage. Vern will revisit the film in 10 years and complete the No Baggage series with the sequel trilogy, and even then we’ll bray in the comments.

    If I were to characterize Vern’s reviews, I would say they read like conversations about what works and what doesn’t about a film. They are not punitive, they are not about “how many points did you lose, and of what numerical rating are you worthy?” He’s the ideal candidate to approach a Star Wars film with a cool head, but even so you can detect his indignation, his loyalty. I’m just saying, it’s our modern myth and it’s gonna push our buttons.

  237. The Original Paul

    December 30th, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Can I once again question everybody’s casual assumption that this has anything to do with “Star Wars fans”? I’ll repost what I said a couple of months ago in the BATTLE FOR ENDOR thread:

    “It has become increasingly annoying hearing STAR WARS-fans complaining that their beloved series is too kid friendly.”

    Most of the “Star Wars fans” you speak of are probably about twelve years old and got introduced to it by their SW-loving parents.

    I’m not even kidding here. I’ve met this kid. I wanted to slap him. (I didn’t.)

    Seems to me though that this movie’s fanbase is almost entirely teenagers. Many of whom probably haven’t seen and couldn’t care less about the previous entries in a series that began before some of their parents were even born. I’ve asked a few fellow movie geeks what they thought of this one, and the response has been almost always: “Oh, I haven’t seen it, but my son / daughter / nephew thought it was good.” Outside of the Vernsphere (that’s a thing now), I haven’t heard much discussion from anybody over the age of twenty-five about this one.

    Am I wrong here? Do you guys know legions of STAR WARS fans in their late thirties or over who’ve flocked to see this new one? ‘Cause where I live, that’s not happening.

  238. Rbatty, yeah, I got that O’Hehir’s piece was selfish and motivated by justifying his own review, but he still made the same points I would have, how you shouldn’t need validation of others to like what you like, and hello, you’re in the majority here.

    Paul, you are correct about general internet commenters. I was more distressed by seeing my professional colleagues of middle age act so childish.

    Oddly enough I watched The Phantom Menace this week and thought it was great. Can’t bring myself to Attack of the Clones though. Still too much baggage.

  239. And two more things. One, teenagers (at least where me and my friends at that age were concerned) went to see films because of marketing, not “franchise loyalty”. Not that the two aren’t often connected. But when we went to see BATMAN FOREVER or something – boy, that ages me! – it was because it was marketed as a teen-friendly spectacle, and we sucked at resisting that kind of marketing. (Nowadays I think I’ve gone too far in the other direction and become maybe too cynical about this whole thing, to the point that I’ve missed out on a few experiences that I kinda regret. But oh well.) That’s the kind of audience that the FORCE AWAKENS marketing seems to have been aiming at. Not malcontent fortysomethings.

    Secondly, I reject the implication that you have to be a “fan” to have a strong opinion on a film. This kinda reminds me of when some people who enjoyed the prequels credited the reaction of those who didn’t to “fan backlash” or something like that. Well in my case I hadn’t even seen A NEW HOPE or RETURN OF THE JEDI when I saw THE PHANTOM MENACE for the first time, and had only distant memories of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I thought TPM was a worthless experience then and nothing’s happened to change my mind since then. Occasionally I will hate the experience of watching a film that may be objectively “good” on many levels (WAR OF THE WORLDS and YOUNG ADULT being two such occasions.) THE PHANTOM MENACE wasn’t a case of this. In both conception and execution I think it’s an awful film. I won’t say that I don’t have criticisms relating to it as a sequel to the first three films, because I do (essentially I think it’s telling the wrong story in addition to doing so badly) but that has nothing to do with me being a “fan”. Even if it wasn’t for that factor, it’d still be something that I could point to as an example of how not to script and direct a movie effectively.

  240. Fred:

    “I was more distressed by seeing my professional colleagues of middle age act so childish.”

    Well I think Renfield is right about “baggage”. Don’t judge people too harshly because they get caught up in the emotions of this thing. You’re lucky you have people here like Vern and me who aren’t dedicated fans of the series; who can look at this thing more objectively, and maybe bring some much-needed maturity to the situation.

    Also:

    “Oddly enough I watched The Phantom Menace this week and thought it was great.”

    Screw you, douche-nozzle!

  241. So Paul lives in an alternate universe where Star Wars is not a cultural phenomenon. Noted.

  242. OP, I don’t think so on the demographics. I think it’s a substantial number of people who grew up on the originals and prequels vs. just teens.

    Average Star Wars: The Force Awakens fan is 34-year-old male

    Advance ticket purchases for JJ Abrams’ space opera sequel reveal its greatest demographic appeal: among men between ages of 18 and 49

    You can probably guess which demographic made up the majority of Star Wars: The Force Awakens-goers

    Variety has this morning provided a breakdown of the demographics attending Star Wars: The Force Awakens box office record-breaking launch in the US. Men made up the bulk of ticket buyers, comprising 58% of the opening weekend audience, and despite the franchise having been bought out by the kid-orientated Disney, adults represented 71% of the crowd with families only accounting for 20% of consumers. 

  243. Renfield – oh, not at all. It’s very much a cultural phenomenon over here as well. It’s just that my attitude (“I’ll wait for DVD”) seems to be the norm among the local film fans. It seems to be one “for the kids”. We’ll get around to it eventually.

    (Although part of my reluctance to see it in the cinema is, well, the cinema. Another thing that’s accepted by the local film fans that I know? The local cinemas suck. So that might play into it.)

    I’m not particularly surprised by Skani’s posts though. It’s not been my experience, but I’m part of a very specific group of film fans over here. We’re not always representative of the crowd.

  244. Yeah, I was poking fun of how un-representative you and your buddies can sometimes be!

    Although I was kinda surprised by the fact that virtually everybody I know, in every age bracket and level of fandom, is at least resigned if not excited to see the movie in the theater. But to some extent it is because many of the people I know are from Orange County, and of course they will see anything that was expensive and Disney.

  245. Paul, that direct response to me did give me a great chuckle. Thank you.

  246. Whether you meant it or not, Paul, your last two sentences read REALLY snobbish and pretentious. And hipster-level dismissive to boot.

    I just don’t understand the whole idea of being interested in a movie enough to write ad nauseum about why you’re NOT interested in it.
    You could have seen the movie for yourself with half the time spent in these comment threads.
    Just saying.

    I don’t want to get too defensive or we start the cycle over again, though I have no problem pointing out what I feel are excellent qualities in the movie as counterpoints to others posting its (some very valid) weaknesses.

    I’m just glad that with ALL of us, regardless of opinion, this hasn’t devolved into IMDb message board levels of asshattery on either side (save for perhaps 2 or 3 too many “friendo”s). It’s a sad, scary place over there.

  247. Fred – thank you. I try!

    Renfield – I notice that Skani’s results are from a US survey. Dunno where you’d get the information but I would be interested to see how that compares to the UK figures. HATEFUL EIGHT isn’t out over here yet so STAR WARS is still pretty much dominating both multiplexes.

    I wasn’t joking about the “cinemas suck” thing incidentally. I know there’s been a lot of complaints recently about the sound in them being just too damn loud, but apparently that hasn’t kept many people from visiting them. If anything, this year’s FURY ROAD fiasco has proven that I was right to put the Odeon cinema chain on my “worst of the year” list back in 2012. I apparently only erred in putting it so low on the list. And unfortunately the other multiplex is going the same way, with the last film I saw there being uncomfortably loud, although not as painfully so as FURY ROAD was. (And that was INSIDE OUT, which is without any shadow of a doubt a kids’ film.)

    But yeah. FURY ROAD was an action extravaganza with a big orchestral soundtrack, and it was torture. Seeing STAR WARS under the same circumstances? Yeah, I am really, really not up for that.

  248. Grimgrinningchris – what? What’d I say now?

    All I meant was “our cinemas are awful, so we wait for DVD”.

    As for the bit about not being “representative of the crowd”, I didn’t mean anything more than that. No dismissiveness intended. Or snobbery.

  249. The Original Paul

    December 31st, 2015 at 1:00 am

    Oh, was it “the kids” comment? Yeah, ok, I can see how that could be read.

    I don’t tend to stereotype teenagers as squalling hooligans or anything. I’d still prefer not to be the only adult guy (because, again, I don’t know anybody who’s interested in seeing this film in the cinema right now) in a roomful of a hundred of ’em. No disrespect meant to the “kids” there. Merely personal preference. I find that cinema as a shared experience tends to be better when you’re with your peers. (It also helps when you don’t come out of it with a recurrance of childhood hearing problems, but that’s a whole other issue.)

  250. The Original Paul

    December 31st, 2015 at 1:23 am

    Or did you think I was implying it was only for kids? I was trying to convey the reactions of my specific group of friends (who, again, aren’t necessarily representative of a wider group of moviegoers). I wasn’t trying to suggest that nobody who isn’t a kid should be seeing this movie.

    Man, I gotta stop now. Hopefully that covers everything anyway.

  251. grimgrinningchris – To me, Anakin brought balance to the Force only once, namely in ROTS. The Jedi Order had taken a grassroots faith-y energy field thing and turned it into misguided, if somewhat well-meaning, bureaucratic monstrosity with autocratic, certainly undemocratic tendencies. (That was a lot of adjectives, sorry, but it so nicely echoes my rather strong feelings about organized religion.) Anakin’s support of Palpatine levelled the playing field and freed the Force from such shenanigans. And this ‘a few Jedi, a few Sith/Ren/what have you’ balance seems to have remained intact for 60 years. Good prophecy, 4/5 stars, 1star deduction for lack of clarity.

    This, by the way, is the (pretty much only) thing I like about the prequels: The basic story, with Palpatine hiding in plain view and everything, is pretty good if you wrote it down in the amount of about a page per movie. It’s just the execution that sucks on almost every level. I even like starting out with something as banal as the taxation of trade routes.

    As for Snoke, I’m pretty sure there’s some surprise coming; Andy Serkis said that Snoke was impossible to do live-action, which was certainly not in evidence in TFA. (I’m just afraid it won’t be my favorite twist, the Darth Jar-Jar thing…)

    Finally, since I’m late to this thread and nobody has mentioned it: I love the idea of taking a stunningly beautiful, thirtysomething woman of color and have her play a thousand year-old Edna Mode frog creature. (Unlike Zoe Saldana, whose hometree-worshipper was hot and half-naked.) It felt refreshingly progressive to not put her non-white-male-ness on display inside the movie.

    And may I virtually hug all of you, even the ones whose opinion of TFA I don’t share? You’re all having an actual, civil discussion. I tried to get my post-Star Wars discussion fix on the IMDb forum these past few days; that’s always a trolly place for popular movies, but you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy that what’s currently going on. (During US daytime, there are 5 new topics every 30 seconds, at least four of which are ‘another reason why Rey is a Marilou/the black guy is annoying/Jar-Jar Abrams is the Destroyer of Franchises’. — Which by the way may answer the question of someone here, why pro-TFA folks are a tad defensive.)

  252. grimgrinningchris

    December 31st, 2015 at 7:25 am

    ojhwel- oh yeah, man. IMDb is at its worst right now with this movie. There’s no doubt about that. Ironically aicn (and not its the “writers”, which I expected, but the talk backers too, which I did NOT) is actually be very kind. I’m sure they’ll turn on the movie soon enough though.

    As for the Balance thing, I guess there really is (unless it’s fully explained in novelizations or the EU) a whole other discussion what actually constitutes “balance” in the Force.

  253. Oh come on, by now you all should know that the IMDB Boards are even worse than the AICN talkbacks (although not as bad as 4Chan, but that’s only because of IMDB’s lack of child pornography). Going there and then complaining about it is like opening a package from that Smurf that always hands out exploding gift boxes and then be surprised when it blows up in your face.

  254. CJ – Yeah, well. The only people in my life who are interested to discuss a movie like this in-depth I see far to rarely. Back when the prequels came out, rassm on Usenet was a good place with many regulars, but there are literally four people there now, one of whom is a troll. Which, ironically, is still a better acual-person-to-troll-ratio than on IMDb, I’ve learned the hard way.

    But for smaller movies that nobody has seen, the IMDb forums with like twelve topics can be quite helpful sometimes.

  255. CJ- I’m in the same boat as ojhwel.

    But man, that’s about the best analogy I’ve heard in a while. Haha.

  256. Holy cow that Charlie Rose Lucas interview was insightful, awkward, engaging and inconsistent all at the same time. So thanks for the heads up Skani because that was a really good watch. I can’t remember the last time I saw somebody grind Rose’s gears the way Lucas did when he didn’t seem to consider the Kennedy Center Honors to be the center of his own universe.

  257. Yeah, I really loved the mix of vulnerable, honest, pugilistic, wounded, unapolegetic, a-little-in-denial. A fun, scrappy and pretty candid interview. I also can’t get over how animated and healthy he looks, physically and just expressively. He looks like he’s got a lot of energy left, and I hope he does good stuff with it. And, yes, I love how Charlie Rose is trying to cudgel him into saying what a big deal the awards are and how they mean a lot to him, and Lucas just isn’t having it. Bawse.

    What I don’t get is how Lucas complains that his films can’t get distribution. Maybe that’s true in terms of cinemas and stuff, but there is all kinds of indie weird shit that gets released, and the’re VOD and DTV and basic cable and Amazon and Netflix and all kinds of crazy platforms now, so you can’t tell me that there aren’t umpteen ways for a billionaire with his name recognition to get just about any old crazy batshit experimental film of his released. He could self-finance many films with no difficulty at all and could line up distribution via any of the above or probably other platforms and approaches I can’t think of.

  258. Also, this:

    'Star Wars': When the Force Awakens a Critical Turnaround

    How much should reviewers be wary of their own sky-high expectations?

  259. I posted that video not to defend the Phantom Menace at all (by the time the trade alien stereotypes were talking I turned to my girlfriend (now wife) and said “I’m confused… is this a BAD movie?”) but rather to question if TFA will experience a similar drift in the consensus. I kinda feel like it will and I kinda feel like there are more and more articles coming out daily where the flush of excitement seems to have worn off and the criticism is becoming sharper.

    When I saw the film, I saw it on a small local screen. I guess I saw it as close to the home video experience as possible for a theatrical film so maybe the eye-candy aspects were not as big a part of our experience as they were for most of you folks. And in that light, and through my own personal filters, the points that bothered Vern in his review bothered me but I came out of the theater not having enjoyed the movie where he reservedly did. Its a JJ Abrams movie and I’ve seen enough of those to know I just don’t like them. A friend calls them “Cliff’s Notes movies and characters” and I kinda agree. The superficial aspects are certainly there but deeper points are sacrificed for other considerations I guess. Talented man but his product is, very sadly in this case, just not my personal cup of tea.

    I don’t think it will experience as much drift in consensus as the first two prequels because they were really bad movies and this one is, as many have said, much more human and relatable but I do think it will undergo a similar reassessment.

  260. Skani, a possible issue is that for most people these days, “George Lucas” is a brand name that only means action-fantasy movies. The online-fanboy community that has come to use his name as a punch line are probably not the audience for experimental films. And the audiences (and critics) who do like experimental films tend to be anti-Lucas because of the blockbusters he made.

    In short, Lucas wants to make art films but most film buffs seem to associate him with the opposite of art. So theoretically Lucas could four-wall any theater he wanted, but getting audiences to go see an experimental film with his name on it who wouldn’t just bash it and create bad word-of-mouth might be harder than it sounds. Maybe Lucas should pull a Stephen King and put the new stuff out under a fake name.

  261. Curt, he could do that, and that might work out. Call me naive, but I believe that if George Lucas did some –good–crazy, weird, arty shit, he’d get credit for that, regardless of whether his name is on it. It may not be huge box office or loved by fanboys, and it may not recoup the budget if he spends too much on it. But if he wants to do weird, experimental, moderately budgeted stuff and put it out with his real name attached, and if it is actually good and thought-provoking, it will find an appreciative audience.

  262. I saw TFA for the third time on New Year’s Day, my first time in 2D. (Which was far preferable. The colors popped and it just didn’t look so darn dim. Can’t they turn up their projector a bit for 3D, dammit. And the Star Destroyer still kinda tries to poke your left eye out.) This motivated me to read this review and all the comments again. I have ‘a few’ new ones of my own. Sorry, this might get kinda long…

    Franchise Fred – Isaiah already wrote that Abrams and Disney had to prove themselves to the audience, but I think it is even more than that: It felt to me, even the first time I was watching it and was surprised and a bit taken aback by the sheer number of callbacks and parallels, that they wanted to say loud and clear: ‘This is the Star Wars you remember being cool. It’s also what we liked. And we’re giving it to you again.’ And because–even if you ignore the endless hours of Clone Wars–half the Star Wars saga has been the rather horrible prequels for ten years now, such a statement felt warranted. That said, I wish they had cut down on it a bit, especially not made Jakku a desert planet and thought of something else to blow up at the end, no matter how silly, as long as it wasn’t huge, spherical and blows up planets. But it was not a deal-breaker for me at all. (It was for one friend of mine, but he saw it again yesterday, and he said it gets much better when seeing it a second time, if that helps anyone.)

    Gepard – Like many others have said, that ending would have been much better indeed. As for your question whyTF people were looking for Luke, it took me three viewings to pick up that in the opening scroll, it says, ‘In [Luke’s] absence, the sinister First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.’ That tells me that “looking for Luke” is simply something that is going on. And while it could simply be talking about these things happening at the same time, it sounds like the First Order wouldn’t dare if there were a few Jedi-in-training (I try not to use the P word) running around.

    Mouth – I was looking forward to discovering what you described, that Finn taking Rey by the hand saved her after she complained about it, but I couldn’t find it. Where exactly did you mean?

    CrustaceanLove – To answer your question, my favorite side-character was the red-eyed thing that looks after BB-8 when he rolls off into the desert in the very beginning. This was also the first time it felt like “real Star Wars” to me. Just some random thing. My #2 choice would be the two whatevers seen grazing on the Starkiller planet for half a second. The guy who designed BB-8, by the way, was J.J. Abrams himself, insofar as he drew a circle with a half-circle for a head onto a Post-it. It can be seen in the Art Of book. (Yes, I’m that much of a Star Wars trekkie.)

    Broddie – Your Star Trek: Generations parallel gives me even more hope for Episode VIII. I’d be even happier if I really loved one of Rian Johnson’s other films; Brick comes close but is hardly a calling card for Star Wars. I like a lot about Looper (love the ending), but feel like it needn’t have turned into Straw Dogs for a while.

    RBatty024 – I understood that wiping out those five planets wiped out the (New?) Republic like destroying Coruscant would have destroyed the Republic in the prequels, i.e. pretty much–definitely more than blowing up the Death Star plus its top two people destroyed the Empire. Hux also talks about ‘the last day of the Republic,’ but just may have been propaganda.

    Mr. Subtlety – Starkiller Base was new to everyone. Hux asks Snokes permission to finally use it for the first time, and later some Resistance person speaks of what the reconnaissance mission brought back.

    neal2zod – I think the ‘swindling’ accusation is a bit of an embellishment. In ANH, the way it sounds from Greedo, Han’s lawyers would have had a lot to discuss with Jabba’s lawyers regarding transfer of risk if he’d taken it to court like a respectable Hutt. Kanjiklub feeling swindled might not exactly mean that Han actually did something wrong. In the (now non-canonical) Han Solo books by Brian Daley and Ann Crispin (I may be grasping at straws), Han and Chewie mostly had a lot of bad luck with unreliable business partners. Also, he doesn’t strike me as someone who gives proper book-keeping a particularly high priority.

    Skani – I’ve been circling that Lucas video for days, but haven’t dared to watch it because I feel whatever he says now can’t be properly objective. TFA is like someone he divorced and now sees again for the first time. (Some other writer/director, I can’t remember who, said watching the new movie to his franchise would be like watching his ex-girlfriend make out with someone else.)

    Some people here talked about Han not caring for the Falcon because he didn’t properly look for it for thirty years: Who says it was stolen so long ago? Rey’s knowing who stole it from whom sounds like it happened so recently people talked about where it came from. And Han sounded like they’d spent some time looking for it–even a small corner of the galaxy must take months or years.

    Two little topics of my own:

    I took a closer look at Han’s reaction to Rey’s line about ‘so much green’: I saw mostly pity, but not just “the poor girl only knows sand,” but like it somehow concerned him. Not enough bad conscience that I think he dropped her on Jakku, but like he at least knew about it somehow. “Luke, couldn’t you at least have dropped her off somewhere nice,” is a definite possibilty in my book.

    I feel it’s pretty clear what happened to Han and Leia between ROTJ and TFA. Not as in “this is how it was,” but “something like that, because it makes sense”: When the main part of the war was over, they were happy until they realized they’d only known each other under immense stress. Now suddenly they had a more-or-less normal world to live in. And unlike General Organa, General Solo was never career military; he just wanted this mess to end, at least partly to “get the girl”. Leia probably wanted him to take on a bigger responsibility in the Republic. And then when their son got turned, the pressure got to be too much and he “needed to get some air,” taking up “trading” again, which is boring and a slippery slope to smuggling what with the kind of people he knew from.

  263. Finally saw this one today. Fell asleep twice. I liked Rey and Fin, wished they would have put them in a better movie. Here’s hoping the next one wont be a waste of time.

    Personally I’m looking more forward to Rouge One since that one has Donnie Yen. I hope they use him better than this one used the Raid guys and every other American production used Yen (a fool’s hope I know).

  264. ojhwel – Absolutely, Lucas is not objective, but it’s a fascinating look into his psychological world, and given that none of us has a truly objective view of things, it’s pretty cool that we get extended and surprisingly unfettered access to his current headspace, contradictions and all. As much as I don’t like the prequels, I really value Lucas’s honesty and maverick spirit, on display in both Vern’s review series and this interview. Also, he raped my childhood.

  265. Saw this for the first time yesterday and was very underwhelmed. I feel much like I did in the days after first seeing Star Trek (2009) but it hit me MUCH sooner. I liked all the same things that I did in the OT, so good job putting things like AT-ATs and Chewbacca in another movie, I guess. Rey was for some reason a superhuman even before she got wrangled into all of the save-the-galaxy adventures. It’s good to know that anyone who’s ever piloted a terrestrial vehicle can become a crack Millennium Falcon pilot instantly. And whether or not future movies explain away things like her instinctively knowing how to pull a Jedi mind trick for no reason- THIS movie sure didn’t give any explanation. The Starkiller laser weapon was so stupid. SO stupid. I would have given it a pass if only they hadn’t shown the red beam of evil flying across the sky on the planet the good guys were on for no real good reason. They just happened to be directly between the Starkiller and the Republic? Word? Why did it have to be inside a planet? So it would be even BIGGERER than the Death Star. Why did it blowed up FIVE PLANETS? Cuz the Death Star only blowed up one. Etc. I liked some visuals, I laughed at some parts, I liked Chewie and BB-8 and Harrison Ford got paid enough to show up and pretend he cared. It was definitely a Star Wars movie. It just wasn’t very good. Better than any of the prequels, *obviously*, but less enjoyable that ROTJ even without admittedly nostalgia-colored glasses. Hoped to see something comfortably familiar and yet new. Got the former, and not the latter.
    I bear no ill will to anyone who loved it. i kind of envy you.

  266. ojhwel, I’m unenthusiastic about watching this movie a second time so maybe someone else can confirm or can tell me my memory is wack — I’m talking about the part where they think they’ve run to temporary safety but then they’re about to get blown up. Fin recognizes the sound of incoming First Order aircraft, then runs with Rey, against her immediate will, away from the structure that indeed gets blowed up. He senses the incoming bombs. She does not. She wants to stay put, thinking she might be safe. He grabs her hand and starts running. Because he has previously grabbed her hand and run, she realizes she should follow because he knows how to avoid getting blown up. Because of him and his quick thinking, they avoid getting blown up.

  267. I see people complaining about the scene where Rey pulled off the Jedi mind trick, but I figured she probably learned about it when she resisted Kylo Ren’s attempt to read her memories and she started to read his own mind instead. That scene was definitely how her Force powers started to get activated (Kylo Ren even said something about how her powers were going to start developing fast after that), so if she had any knowledge of this being a Jedi ability, it’s not so far-fetched she’d want to try it out once she started to feel the Force “awaking” in her and it was her only chance to get free. Maybe she just knew Jedis could do that stuff because she saw the equivalent of a TV show about it–they still have pop entertainment in the Star Wars galaxy, right? Now that the Empire doesn’t control the media, wouldn’t the entertainment industry in the New Republic put out plenty of historical dramas revolving around the glory days of the Old Republic and the Jedi?

    Also, couldn’t you point to the same problem with Luke? Where did he learn that trick exactly? Obi-Wan didn’t teach it to him, and how was Yoda gonna teach it to him when there were no weak-minded intelligent beings on Dagobah to practice on? At some point between Empire and Jedi Luke probably just figured, “well, I’m feeling more connected to the Force nowadays, might as well see if I can do that trick I saw Ben do that one time”.

  268. Good point, hypno. Also, when Rey asks “Luke Skywalker is real?” it seems to imply that everyone knows the legend of Luke Skywalker. For all we know his Jedi abilities, including Jedi mind tricks, are a famous part of his story. Like if it turned out Paul Bunyan was real we’d be looking for Babe the blue ox. So when she’s locked up and she’s already been using the Force she decides to try it out.

  269. Well thanks Mouth, for proving the addage that the left doesn’t have a playbook… the left has a play. Quite the attempt at character assaulting deflectionary nonsense you dropped in your post.

  270. The Original Paul

    January 10th, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Well, a friend wants company for this one, so it seems like I’m gonna see it in the cinema after all. Although not in one of the Swansea multiplexes, which will hopefully be a blessing. The friend in question is a big STAR WARS fan, so I’m interested to see his reaction as compared to mine.

    I’ll have thoughts on it come Wednesday… hopefully I can get to a showing of HATEFUL EIGHT tomorrow (sadly, I don’t know anybody else who wants to see that.) Now that one I have avoided spoilers for.

  271. He has a more interesting personality than expected.

    Definitely! Darth Millennial was easily my favorite character in the film. He takes the angsty brooding of Anakin and really sells it well.

  272. Paul – “Now that one I have avoided spoilers for”

    Same here.

    Next Monday is a federal holiday here in the US so I’ll see if my one buddy who also wants to see it will be up for it.

  273. The Original Paul

    January 13th, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Now I get to be the last person left on this site (or planet) to discuss this movie!

    So I went with my friend, really as a favour to him. I thought it would be interesting, given that he’s a big fan of the STAR WARS franchise in general, and I’m not (I like the first three movies but acknowledge and am bothered by some of their flaws.) But hey, sometimes you gotta take one for your friends, right? I figured that at worst this would be a bland popcorn movie and I’d get to enjoy the special effects and John Carpenter’s score while he geeked out over the fanstuff, and – ah screw it, you know how this is gonna turn out.

    Because of course he (the STAR WARS megafan) hated it. And I kinda liked it. I thought it suffered a great deal from some clunky dialogue (why force into people’s heads that Rey has never seen a green planet before with some clunky exposition about her not imagining there’d be this much green in the universe, when no human being would say that? Why not just have this be a silent moment and let the audience work it out for themselves?) And I’m sorry to say that the actress who played Rey really, really overselled it (although that might have been a consequence of the dialogue). She kinda came across as a character from children’s TV or something. Add to that the fact that she seemed a little too “perfect” throughout – yeah, I get the “Mary Sue” complaints, and agree with them to an extent – and I’m left with a main character who I wish could’ve been a helluva lot more interesting than she was. And a lot better scripted and acted. Watching her try and act opposite Harrison Ford is a reminder of just how damn good Ford was (and still is, I think) as Solo. And how much the new generation pales in comparison.

    On the other hand, I really liked the villain. Kylo Ren is everything that Dooku, Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine (the prequels versions) were not. I thought that that death scene was handled particularly well, and was a genuinely sad moment (the little gesture that Han makes towards his son before he falls, and Chewie’s reaction, just sell it.) I liked the rogue stormtrooper as well, although I wish his character had been fleshed out more (why exactly is he disturbed by the slaughter at the start when no other troopers are? What makes him different? Is he just better than them? His motivations aren’t explained at all.)

    I also thought that the action was handled really well, and the whole theme of the planets (or giant space station in one case) being a rotation of the different “elements” worked for me a helluva lot better than the CGI of the prequels. (Well, it could hardly work out worse, but I do mean it as a compliment.) I like how each “element” seems to mirror Rey’s mood as well – it’s a nice subtle touch. She’s a tempestuous spirit on the air planet, unwillingly forced to “go with the flow” on the water one, etc.

    For a film that owes so much to its predecessors, though, its connection to Eps 4, 5 and 6 seems… tenuous. For one thing, why is the resistance still called “the resistance”? Don’t you usually drop that name after you’ve just defeated the thing you’re resisting? For another point… say you’re a ragtag band of rebels who’ve just beaten the odds and brought down the oppressive empire. If a brand new bunch of Space Nazis move in and start working on a giant superweapon a few nebulas down the road, wouldn’t you at least offer them a cup of tea? Or something to make sure that that superweapon won’t be pointed at you at some point? In fact, wasn’t the whole point of the Republic to deal with their recurring Space Nazi problem? This seems like a pretty big miss. In fact, why is the Republic even mentioned at all? They don’t accomplish anything, or even do anything of significance that I can recall.

    Yeah… overall I liked this one. It was better than the pure cash-in that I was expecting. My friend hated it, saying that it was “fake artificial STAR WARS flavouring” when he wanted an actual STAR WARS film. I… can’t necessarily disagree with this, but it didn’t bother me much.

  274. Nah, Paul, I still haven’t watched it and at this point I will wait for its home video release. So you are not the last one.

    Anyway, the VFX reel (I guess for the Oscar jury) has been leaked and since it has (as expected) way more CGI and green screen that the “ZOMG YOU GUYS, THIS IS GONNA BE ALL FILMED ON REAL SETS WITH PRACTICAL FX!!!” hypemachine led the nerds to believe, I can’t wait for the inevitable nerd tears.

  275. CJ, using CGI to make thing look real, like in SPECTRE and MAD MAX, shouldn’t make anyone cry.

  276. Have you been on the internet recently? I don’t mind, I’m pro-future and all for movies using state of the art effect work, but for today’s nerds, using a computer is blasphemy! There even was a huge “Waaaah, CGI!” outcry over the shot if the Millennium Falcon getting chased, when the trailer was released. I’m surprised nobody complained that the soundtrack wasn’t released on vinyl only!

  277. Maybe I’ve blanked it out. Besides, this is the only place on the net where I meet nerds, so…

  278. The Original Paul

    January 14th, 2016 at 8:26 am

    CJ – you always steal my sunshine! And anyway, that was my plan too, until someone co-opted me into going to see it. How long do you think you’ll be able to avoid the STAR WARS juggernaut? It will eventually catch up to you. It’s relentless like that.

    Pegsman – nerds? What nerds? No nerds here! *Looks shiftily from side to side…*

    Also did I REALLY just confuse John Williams with John Carpenter? Somebody please shoot me for that one.

  279. The Original Paul

    January 20th, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I just realised I forgot to mention the most positive thing about this film when I wrote about it a few days ago. It’s told, from the start, from the point of the common people – a stormtrooper and a metal scavenger. Thereby getting back to what made the original three films as good as they were. The prequels didn’t have this (even freakin’ Jar Jar ended up as a senator, and didn’t seem to do too much to earn the position). In the prequels, “common” generally means “member of a closeted celibate elitist religious organisation of assholes”. Which to me is not necessarily a character that I can emphathise with.

    I’m not saying that THE FORCE AWAKENS pulls this off perfectly – Rey in particular seems to get awfully gifted awfully quickly in a way that could be better explained and comes across as overly convenient, while Finn’s whole motivation for betraying his comrades is frustratingly unclear – but I still have to give it credit for recognising what the main(?) issue with the prequels was, and attempting to rectify it.

  280. Just chiming in here to say that making Kylo Ren an avatar for angry nerds is the most delightful choice. That is SO fucking funny to me, it is easily my favorite thing about the movie. He’s a butthurt fanboy. Goddamn that’s hilarious.

  281. Read this interesting article over at TWITCH and thought I’d share it here. It makes some interesting storytelling points about the Star Wars prequels, and since they’re made in a positive light, I couldn’t help but think of Outlaw Vern’s crusade to make people stop shitting on the prequels. Anyway, read if you’re interested.

    http://twitchfilm.com/2016/04/destroy-all-monsters-mindfulness-in-star-wars.html

  282. I was totally against it. Not against SW Anthology movies, because I like that shit, but against a movie about a completely irrelevant subplot, that was already more or less told in one sentence in the first movie. The old anti-prequel meme “Waah, we already know how it ends, so why bother?” was made with such a movie in mind! But honestly, this has the potential of a cool “Men (and women) on a mission” movie.

    But “This is a rebellion, isn’t it?” “I rebel.” will so obviously be the object of ridicule for the years to come.

  283. If I’m JJ Abrams I’m jealous and a little embarrassed because that teaser is better than anything in A Force Awakens. I’ll have to rewatch it again for this line you speak of but Star Wars is filled with lines of ridicule that doesn’t distract from awesome.

  284. Yeah, we know the WHAT of what happens, but the HOW is still really intriguing. For all we know, this could be a Star Wars movie where the heroes are DEAD at the end. And if we get a movie where the only Force stuff is because Vader is in it and no one else does that, it could be really refreshing.

  285. That said, people I know are guessing that Felicity Jones’ character is going to turn out to be Rey’s mother. That would be a step too far with this interconnected, “everything important in this GALAXY involves the same handful of people” thing.

  286. Crushinator Jones

    April 7th, 2016 at 8:19 am

    The shot of that Imperial dude walking through the water with his white cloak trailing is GORGEOUS.

  287. And Donnie Yen spins his stick! That is a martial art!

    As for the line in question, I thought you were gonna say that was what sold you on it, CJ. I think it’s a cool line. If people ridicule it I’m sure they will get more out of their snarky Youtube videos than out of the joy they could be getting by enjoying things that are good like we used to do.

  288. Oh good. I was almost worried for like five minutes there that we might be forced to talk about something else besides STAR WARS. Thank you to our corporate overlords for sparing us that unnecessary burden.

  289. Oh relax man. I don’t really think of you as a troll so knock it off :)

  290. Sorry. I’m not mad at you guys. Just at the whole situation. I don’t like this new normal where there’s a new STAR WARS movie every six months.

  291. I have yet to see the new STAR FORCE and now there is already another one?

  292. Nah, I don’t really mind that line, but if something as simple as “It’s a trap!” can be THE big Star Wars in-joke for whatever stupid reason, “It’s a rebellion!” “I rebel.” will be Star Wars’ “Obvious thing is obvious” or shit like that. I leave it to the internet assholes to make fun of that. I just point it out.

  293. Mr.M— Yousa is correct. The inundation is upon us:

    http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Upcoming-Star-Wars-Movies-List-Titles-Release-Dates-100467.html

    Shoot— Congratulations on your powers of restraint. I suggest you now succumb, go rent the Blu Ray (released 2 days ago), watch the first half up until the Lightsaber Enlightenment Scene (you’ll know it when you see it), then skip the rest.

    The cast for Rogue One looks pretty tight, and all fresh SW faces… so there’s some wiggle room for optimism. Plus the sooner we move beyond STAR WARS EPISODE 7: ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT the better.

  294. On one hand like Stu said, if Jones is Rey’s mom it’s going to be a little eye-rolling, but on the other hand, I think it’ll actually be kind of awesome if the central mystery of Episode VII is resolved before Episode VIII comes out. (It’ll be like those episodes of Lost or Heroes that were all a long flashback to explain last week’s shocking reveal) That way we can get on with the new story and not keep teasing stuff out.

    Besides I think there has to be a reason Jones seems to be playing a character so similar to Rey. It’d almost be weird if they weren’t related.

  295. I think I’m pretty well-established as a Non-Lucas-Star-Wars grump, but I gotta say that trailer is fucking fly as hell. After his surprisingly old-school cool GODZILLA, Gareth Edwards is a good choice for this kind of thing, and there are numerous images in the trailer alone that are just so cool they should be in a rap video. Badass Donnie Yen? Forrest Whitaker looking crazy and doing a weirdo accent dressed like a WARHAMMER character? Yes please. I agree the “I rebel” line is a little silly, but that smile from young Mon Mothma that follows it totally makes up for it. If I must like in a universe with more than 6 Star Wars movies, this is exactly what I would want them to look like — smaller, more interesting tales from the Star Wars universe, shot by directors who bring their own look and interests to the table.

  296. I forgot that Gareth Edwards directed this. Recently watched his GODZILLA and while I have huge problems with it, he really knows how to build atmosphere and show some breathtaking soldier action, especially when it’s them Vs something that is a whole lot fucking bigger than them (Like those AT-ATs at the end of the trailer.).

  297. “and there are numerous images in the trailer alone that are just so cool they should be in a rap video.”
    When the sirens go off, I was actually for a second thinking it was the intro to a rap song that was about to start up.

  298. I have to say…I think we’re at peak Stormtrooper uselessness now with this. The Ewoks were bad enough, but at least they had numbers, what’s the excuse for being BEAT UP by a small woman and a blind man with a wooden stick? Is Stormtrooper armour just plastic?

  299. Stu: Like this one maybe?

    MC Chris-Fett's Vette

    MC Chris- Fett's Vette Off the album Life's a Bitch and I'm Her Pimp

  300. I guess I’ll just keep waiting for the new STAR TREK trailer in my own special little corner.

  301. I’m excited about a new documentary I just picked up on dvd called I AM YOUR FATHER, about Dave Prowse’s falling out with Lucasfilm.

  302. I don’t care if it’s cheesy. I liked the “I rebel” line. And I like the look of the rest of the trailer. Count me in.

  303. So, is this gonna be a thing? A new STAR FORCE every year?

  304. The Original Paul

    April 8th, 2016 at 3:47 am

    Guys, if you’re not up for cheesy dialogue, you really really really shouldn’t be watching a STAR WARS movie. Even the first three had their share. Heck, I think a large part of Han Solo’s charm is just how well he can pull off some of the ridiculous stuff he’s given to say.

    Shoot – the movie world will never run out of space-Nazis, and somebody’s gotta be there to resist them. Fact.

  305. Crushinator Jones

    April 8th, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I can’t believe that we’re debating the merits of a Star Wars movie from one trailer. All we have to go on is that it has a clunker of a line, has the production design of the OT, has Donnie Yen, and has AT-ATs. That’s personally enough for me to stay interested, and I didn’t even really like Force Awakens very much.

  306. Shoot — what part of “A huge corporation paid 4 billion dollars for this property” did you not understand?

  307. I kind of agree with Shoot here. I wish that Disney hadn’t taken the Marvel model for the Star Wars movies. After pumping out films for years, the Marvel movies have started to feel a little less special. I kind of wish that they would make a Star Wars trilogy for the main saga over the course of five or six years, and then maybe spend some time making these anthology films while they figure out where they want to take the main saga. In the meantime, Disney can also make money off of books, comics, games, toys, etc. But, I understand that if a corporation sees a way to make money, then they will take that opportunity. Also, I’ll definitely see this in theaters, so I guess I’m part of the problem.

  308. The Original Paul

    April 8th, 2016 at 11:38 am

    RBatty – congratulations, you’ve passed the first stage of Marvel disillusionment – Reservation. (“They’re starting to feel a little less special” does this one justice I think.) Now you can look forward to the subsequent stages. As someone who’s gone through all of them, I can describe the full experience:

    2) Disturbance. (“Seriously, is this all they’ve got to say?”)
    3) Loss. (“These are not the same characters that I used to love!”)
    4) Anger. (“Fuck this shit.”)
    5) Abandonment. (“Ok Marvel… we’re done. I don’t want to hurt any more.”)
    6) Curiosity. (“It’s been two years since I’ve seen a Marvel movie… wonder if they’ve got any better since then?”)
    And finally…
    7) Optimism. (“Yeeeehaaa! DEADPOOL didn’t suck! My faith in comic book movies and human nature generally is restored!”)

    I don’t know what Stage 8 is, I haven’t got there yet. But I’m kinda hoping that it’s “Pancakes”.

    Anyway, the lesson I’ve learnt from Marvel is to avoid the big-studio AVENGERS and X-MEN stuff (except for the THOR movies, I still really like them) and stick to the R-rated side projects like BLADE, DREDD, and DEADPOOL. But how to take that lesson and apply it to the STAR WARS-verse instead? Well, I would suggest waiting until Disney inevitably lets a new creator make a grittier, R-rated, low-budget movie set in a different time period within the STAR WARS universe. Because of course that’s gonna happen, right? Right?

  309. I have respect for Marvels business model. It´s good to have a plan. But it also leads too many people into thinking of Marvel movies as “how to do it right”. For a lot of people are only exposed to a certain type of films and whine all sorts of shit when something is not “done right”. From a business point of view it is sound, but points of views on different possibilities are being narrowed down and homogenized franchises are becomng less interesting, I feel. Marvel makes incredibly audience friendly products, that is what I am saying. They make solid films, have a tight and thought out plan for them, but also sucks excitement out of it. I don´t feel excitement watching a Marvel movie, only “that was allright, I guess” feeling.

    What would make me excited? Possible weird avant-garde spinoffs that explore new possibilities with franchises. i´d love that. For example: Get Gaspar Noe to direct a weird ass STAR WARS consisting entirely with the point of view of The Force. or something like that.

    But that would not happen, as commoners would whine that “they ruined it” instead of opening their minds to weird stuff. Weird stuff is always funnier than what is being “done right”

  310. The Original Paul

    April 8th, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Shoot – see, the trouble with that argument is that my sympathy is almost always with the “commoners”, unless their expectations are completely unrealistic. The way I see it, there’s a benefit to having a “franchise” – you get fans of that franchise – but with that benefit comes a helluva lot of limitations. People will start to want specific stuff from your franchise, and if you don’t meet their expectations, then sorry, that’s on you, Mr Filmmaker. If you want to “do your own thing” then come up with a brand new property – but be aware that you won’t have an initial fanbase to support it. It’s a risk.

    I went into THE FORCE AWAKENED with relatively few expectations (I was spoiled an awful lot just by hanging about here when I didn’t think I’d bother to see it in the cinema, but other than that I had very little that I wanted out of the film other than for it to entertain me. It did.) The STAR WARS-loving friend who asked me to see it with him went in with all kinds of expectations, and he hated it. We had very, very different experiences with the same film, and the only difference between us was that he was a fan of the franchise and I wasn’t. As I see it, that doesn’t make his point of view any less valid than mine, or vice versa. So if you’re specifically marketing your film to fans of a specific franchise, you better damn well know what they’re looking for – even if they aren’t clear on that one themselves.

  311. The Original Paul

    April 8th, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    And if you don’t like that system, of course, you’re free not to watch the safe predictable “franchise” stuff, and… and I can barely finish that sentence without laughing hysterically. Marvel will keep pumping out their AVENGERS movies in which nothing ever changes, the status quo is always restored, the rich white guy is always the most honest one, and we should all blindly trust the Government because they’ve got our backs. (Yeah, the politics of those movies still stink.) And those same “commoners” who my sympathy is with will keep on blindly handing their money over for this crap, because ‘splosions.

    Yeah, I’m not always on the side of the commoners. Although I do feel it’s unfair to expect teenagers these days to have more critical thoughts about movies than I did at that age. I would’ve kept going to see this shit again and again at that age too.

  312. Paul, wasn’t WINTER SOLDERER specifically about not blindly trusting the government because they do not, in fact, have our backs? And from what I gather, CIVIL WAR is also kind of about this, too, plus having the commoner (Capt. America) facing off against the rich white guy (Iron Man)?

    I only read the last part of this thread, so sorry if I’m missing out on some context.

  313. And by SOLDERER I mean SOLDIER. You probably got that.

  314. Am I the only one who gets annoyed when people, who enjoy a certain thing that basically only exists for commercial reasons, complain about its commercialisation?

  315. I find it hard to consider Captain America a “commoner”, as despite his roots, he’s got advantages no one else has with how he got his powers, and he’s depicted as morally pure and never wrong, who despite coming from a much less progressive time, is like, the most accepting and tolerant person ever (I have to bring up the fact he’s really forgiving of the Twins in Age of Ultron, despite the fact they’re terrorists who are party to some pretty bad stuff). Say what you want about Tony Stark, but his suits are a product of his own genius and merits. Cap’s abilities are a gift from someone else, and his shield is made from a substance that’s implied to be stolen from another country.
    The CIVIL WAR discussion I’ve been part of on the internet is interesting, because it seems if you’re Team Iron Man, the Government trust aspect supposedly makes you right wing, even though I feel the issues in the movie have real life parallels with gun control, recent events with cops being called on to be held responsible for their actions, and as non-American, I don’t really appreciate a guy with “America” in his name thinking it’s okay for him to go wherever in the world he likes on his missions without consulting the authority of those places.

  316. The Original Paul

    April 9th, 2016 at 5:23 am

    Zeke – that’s what we were promised in the advertising, at least. I think they kinda undercut that message when they have Scarlett Johansson give what’s basically a thirty-second monologue to a courtroom in defence of Government surveillance programs (I’d say this was subtext, but there was nothing “sub” about it – the only things missing from that speech were the letters N, S, and A.) The twist of that movie? The Government aren’t the villains at all – HYDRA are! Status quo restored, everything’s ok!

    Stu – I was referring to the audience as “commoners”, and only because Shoot did, and in the context that he did – it’s not something I’d say casually. There’s nothing “common” about any of the Avengers. This in itself I don’t have a problem with – Thor is a Space Viking prince, after all, and I like his films – but some of the political implications of these films I find at the very least unfortunate. WINTER SOLDIER was the one that pushed me over the edge and made me say “fuck this, this is not ok”.

    Now stop your damn arguing and go play with your sweatshop-produced Captain America action figures!

  317. I think I have it all figured out. I like movies that I find enjoyable.

  318. My take on Marvel’s movies are kind of trapped between Shoot and CJ’s. On the one hand, I think there’s some clear talent producing these films. The scripts are tight, funny, and even clever from time to time. The series is smartly handled, but it’s also clear that it’s consensus filmmaking. So, I enjoy the movies, but I keep on hoping for something more.

    At the same time, I also kind of kick myself for thinking that I’d get idiosyncratic filmmaking out of a massive studio franchise. And then I remember that Sam Raimi gave us unique, idiosyncratic filmmaking out of a massive studio franchise, so it’s not impossible.

  319. The Original Paul

    April 9th, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Sternshein – You like movies that you find enjoyable? You kidding me? It’s that kind of commie-fascist attitude that’s responsible for Trump winning the presidency.

  320. Nobody finds Trump enjoyable lol

    I really don’t know why you guys want there to be some weird personal filmatism out of every movie out there? Sometimes things are better off using basic storytelling in front of and behind the camera. I think the Marvel movies do a great job of giving us emotional beats while also handing some large scale action. All the while the movies don’t really betray their characters that much or anything that.

    Sometimes you let guys have creative control and you end up giving the world a Superman nobody asked for.

  321. I never felt a single emotional beat from a Marvel film,since the days of Sam Raimis.

  322. Crushinator Jones

    April 10th, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    “I really don’t know why you guys want there to be some weird personal filmatism out of every movie out there? Sometimes things are better off using basic storytelling in front of and behind the camera. I think the Marvel movies do a great job of giving us emotional beats while also handing some large scale action. All the while the movies don’t really betray their characters that much or anything that.”

    Personal filmatism isn’t weird. It’s just distinctive. I think that turning it into a “auteur vs. mass audience success” is a false dichotomy. Nolan’s Batman movies are very Chris Nolan and also well-loved and successful. Same with Mad Max: Fury Road.

    Marvel movies are basically cinema potato chips. Safe, easy films based on a formula that appeals to the most people. They say nothing more complicated than you would read in a kindergarten book. Some people are bad and can be defeated by good guys who decide to be heroes. It’s a just world.

    That’s fine, btw. It’s nice to have simple, straightforward movies where the good guys win and the bad guys lose. But actively cheering for less interesting, individual films in favor of mass-market potato chip crap strikes me as very odd.

    Also you can’t “betray” a fictional character. They are fictional. They have never done anything “real” and, in the case of Batman v Superman, the characters don’t do anything that they didn’t do in other media (and nobody complained about it being a betrayal then) so that whole perspective – that certain things must NEVER be discussed or never shown, characters should never think of betraying some kind of “core element” that’s complete up to the individual viewer – frankly that’s shit. It’s a shitty, stupid thing to think, it’s a way to censor an artist. It’s the same kind of thinking that leads to some church-going idiot saying that nobody should be allowed to show the devil in films. Fuck off with that.

  323. The Original Paul

    April 10th, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Man, so much I want to respond to you guys on – I agree with both of you on some points, disagree on others – but here’s the bulletpoints:

    – Crushinator: I totally disagree on the idea of “betraying” a fictional character. Filmmakers have changed established characters a lot and fans have been accepting of it. If the filmmakers can’t make a film that’s accepted by the fans, then that’s the fault of the filmmakers, not the fans. And unless the fans are being completely unreasonable in their expectations, I don’t see any issue with this. And it has nothing to do with “censoring” an artist. You can make whatever film you please. You can’t force people to like what you’ve done to characters that they already have an attachment to.

    – Sternshein – obviously I disagree on the quality of some of the Marvel films that you refer to. And if the film doesn’t at least give me somebody to root for (and at least three of them haven’t) then as far as I’m concerned, that’s a fault with the film itself. Most of these films are about a fairly binary conflict – these guys versus these other guys – and if I don’t care which group of guys win, it’s removing any investment or stake that I have in the film’s outcome.

    – Both – I think the whole “mass-market versus interesting auteur” thing is a false dichotomy. I’ve enjoyed several franchise films that would be probably considered cookie-cutter mass-market (THOR, THOR 2, FAST AND FURIOUS 5, even to a lesser extent THE FORCE UNLEASHED) and also some more “individual” work (BLADE, DEADPOOL, DREDD). I’d rather see interesting films, but mass-market films can be enjoyable, if done well. My problem is when they aren’t. If you’re going to do filmmaking by formula then at least try to convince me that you’re attempting to do it well.

  324. The Original Paul

    April 10th, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    FORCE AWAKENS, even. I have no idea where I get “unleashed” from.

  325. “I totally disagree on the idea of “betraying” a fictional character. Filmmakers have changed established characters a lot and fans have been accepting of it. If the filmmakers can’t make a film that’s accepted by the fans, then that’s the fault of the filmmakers, not the fans. And unless the fans are being completely unreasonable in their expectations, I don’t see any issue with this.”

    With every incarnation of a superhero, there are always fans who will complain that they don’t get Spiderman/Batman/Superman right. I guess it’s no surprise that people complain on the internet, but I do think it’s often unreasonable, especially when the film doesn’t check off a list of character elements the fans have in their heads.

    I also think it can be restrictive. Creators deserve some freedom when working with these characters or else you’re just going to keep on pumping out crap designed for the fanboys, which will get really stale really quickly.

    There are clear moments in Batman v Superman that you can point to and argue, “This does not work.” But that’s not what most people are complaining about. Their arguments are vague statements about what Superman should be like or what he should do. They have a criteria in their head that they’re not able to articulate. I have a preferred version of Batman and Superman. But I don’t need every incarnation to look exactly like the ones written by my favorite creators.

    I actually thought it would be cool if, following Nolan’s trilogy, Warner Brothers would hand off the character to different directors to make their own Batman trilogies. They could stretch the character as far as they wanted to. This would mean that they wouldn’t be held accountable to the studio’s “shared universe.” Nolan’s Batman films are so clearly his that I would love for someone else to take ownership. Maybe Aronofsky could have restarted that insane version of Batman he was working on.

  326. The Original Paul

    April 11th, 2016 at 6:37 am

    RBatty – from what I’ve read, it’s at most a vocal minority of people who are just complaining about the portrayals of the two lead characters. I haven’t seen the film so I can’t judge it, but I’ve read a lot of stuff that shows that people have a lot more issues with it than just the “Not my Batman!” thing.

    But regarding the ones that are specifically complaining about this issue – so what? Some of these people are the same ones who were complimenting the “servant of chaos” portrayal of the Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT. Do you think they’d care if they thought it was done well? This is the issue that I have here. You seem to be assuming that people are complaining because the characters were changed. I think they’re complaining because the characters were changed badly. I’ve read criticisms, for example, that claim that Batman isn’t so much a character as a collection of plot points, and his behavior throughout the movie is inconsistent. That, again, is something I can’t judge the veracity of, because I haven’t seen the movie (although several commentors here have brought up inconsistencies that might tie into this). But it seems to go beyond just “This isn’t the character that I want him to be.”

    This is my problem. I agree with you that demands of “You only make this film exactly the way that I want it!” are unreasonable. But I honestly don’t think anybody would be saying that if they thought the film was really good. There are many, many different portrayals of Batman out there. How come (Nolan “Batman voice” issues accepted, which is a whole other problem) this seems to be the only one that’s taking this much flak?

  327. RBatty024— The AICN tall tale of Aronofsky’s proposed version of Batman, at the time, seemed dubious at best:

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/9819

    As it turned out, “Spooky” wasn’t too far off the mark after all:

    http://www.slashfilm.com/tales-development-hell-darren-aronofskys-batman-year-one-starring-clint-eastwood/

  328. I think it’s pretty clear from the huge drop off after the first weekend that the fans do not like this version of Superman and Batman.

  329. Well, boo-fucking-hoo.

  330. “The studio was intrigued enough to commission a screenplay, in which Aronofsky and Miller took a great many liberties, not only with the Year One comic book, but with Batman mythology in general. For a start, the script strips Bruce Wayne of his status as heir apparent to the Wayne Industries billions, proposing instead that the young Bruce is found in the street after his parents’ murder, and taken in by ‘Big Al’, who runs an auto repair shop with his son, ‘Little Al’. Driven by a desire for vengeance towards a manifest destiny of which he is only dimly aware, young Bruce (of deliberately indeterminate age) toils day and night in the shop, watching the comings and goings of hookers, johns, pimps and corrupt cops at a sleazy East End cathouse across the street, while chain-smoking detective James Gordon struggles with the corruption he finds endemic among Gotham City police officers of all ranks.”

    If this ever went into cinemas, half of all fanboys would die of heart attacks.

    Paul – But here’s the thing: there was nothing wrong about how Superman and Batman were characterized. They were well within the range of how the characters have been reinterpreted over the years. I’m not sure how you can say that Batman was a series of plot points, since he has a clear character arc over the course of the film. Sure, the film can be dark, but that in itself is not the criticism people are making it out to be. Who cares if a superhero film is dark? Why is that a problem? People just make that comment and then assume that the work has been done for them because the internet hive mind seems to agree.

    And the thing is, I didn’t even really like the movie. There were murky motivations, and it wasn’t clear how events in the story lead to the next plot point. The script was without a doubt a complete mess. I also kind of think that Snyder isn’t quite smart enough to pull off what he’s trying to accomplish. Still, there are some interesting ideas here. And the approach is sound, even if the execution is way off.

  331. Crushinator Jones

    April 11th, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    This whole “core of the character” argument is bullshit, anyway. It’s a way to try to pretend that something totally subjective is, in fact, objective reality. The argument is that there’s this core of the character and if you respect it you’ll always have a popular movie. And if you betray it – woe to you. Be true to the character! Be like Marvel!

    Of course it’s garbage. Somebody want to explain to me how Ripley in Aliens respects the “core of the character” from Alien? Somebody want to explain to me how nobody bitched in Superman 2 when he broke Zod’s hand and then threw him into a pit, killing him? (don’t give me that shit about the Donner cut, that was 20 years later) Oh and don’t forget that Superman went and beat up a powerless bully, too. Nobody cared because it was in a goofy, fun movie. Nobody cared that Ripley went from a scared lady to a fucking ass-kicker because it was a positive transition. If you pull a negative one – make the character doubt themselves, make them compromise or retrograde in some way – there’s always some nerd to talk about how you’re not being “true to the character”. Which is just a dodge to avoid saying “I identified with this character and you hurt him/her, and so you’ve hurt me” but of course you sound like an over-invested asshole if you say that.

    Core of the character. Bitch, please. Batman Forever crushed it at the box office with a goofy-ass Batman and aesthetic at the same time as comic-book Batman was in a much darker story getting his back broken by Bane. Batman Forever’s Batman killed people, too. Didn’t seem to phase anyone watching the movie at the time.

    When people talk about the “core of the character” they’re lamenting decisions involving the character that they don’t like. Pure and simple. It’s the same way with grimdark. “Grimdark” is a nothing word nowadays, overused to attack anything that tries to be serious. Fucking nerds getting out of hand, man. Everything has to be the movie version of chicken tenders and ketchup, or they riot.

  332. The Original... Paul

    April 11th, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    RBatty – I’m only talking about what I’ve read about the movie. I don’t know if it’s accurate because I haven’t seen the movie. I’m not debating whether the movie itself is good, bad or indifferent; I’m debating whether the “not the Batman / Superman I know” argument has any critical merit.

    Crushinator – you realise you just made an excellent argument for something being wrong with the film, and then blamed the fans for not liking it, right?

    This was exactly my point: all these different portrayals of Bats that nobody has any problems with, and now all of a sudden they do have a problem with this one. In other words: it’s not changes to the character that they’re objecting to, it’s the decisions made in this film. They’ve not had a problem with the previous films; why this one?

    Again, I may very well agree with your opinion on the film when I see it. (Which will probably happen, although thus far I haven’t been invited to a showing by anybody else and I certainly aren’t interested in going off my own bat.) I just think that you’re dismissing the “fans” by dismissing them as entitled juvenile cry-babies. And while there’s probably an element of that, it doesn’t square with what I’m seeing generally.

  333. Boy, I hope they get those plans to the Rebels! What a cliffhanger!

  334. At least there will be at least one person wearing flared trousers. I mean there has to be right?

  335. I’m surprised that Rogue One is only getting 85% positive on rotten tomatoes versus the 92% for Force Awakens. Rogue One just looks so much better. Though I have noticed that some of the negative reviews seem to be because the tone is different than any other Star Wars movie. Curious to see it and get down to discussing it with yous guys.

  336. Probably has something to do with Disney’s Star Wars fever cooling down since TFA’s release. People are starting to be mor objective and less biased with their thoughts on the franchise again.

  337. Broddie, it’s possible but I think there is going to be a backlash against this one from some critics because they asked for a different type of SW movie, they got it and now the ydon’t want it.

  338. NO SPOILERS Damn, ROGUE ONE AKA RISE OF SPACE GHOST DOG is so much better than TFA it’s quite astonishing. Don’t let anyone spoil this one for you – go see, dig and get your Force mojo back.

    (The one thing I will say is I’d love to *really* know the nature of the reshoots but I’ll save that for another time.)

  339. Guys! I’s good! It’s actually, like, a real good movie! In fact, I think it might have been an edit or two away from being actually pretty great (it may even have once been great, and they edited it down to good). I have a few kaveats, but this is honestly exactly what I was hoping for when Lucas sold off the universe… a fun, exciting tale set in the same universe but with a distinct character of its own. I’m honestly thrilled, especially after TFA was such a complete disappointment to me.

  340. I still will never bother with TFA or anything that follows it but I’m cool with the spinoffs. Those are less offensive. I won’t be seeing FAN SERVICE: THE ROGUE IS HERE on the big screen. Not when there is shit out there like ARRIVAL and HACKSAW RIDGE that I’d rather spend money on.

    When it comes on TV though I definitely will peep. Especially since it has nice cheesy ties to both the prequels (Jimmy Smits) and STAR WARS (CGI Peter Cushing and D. Vader) instead of choosing to pay reverence to one over the other.

  341. Rogue One is such a mixed bag. Walking out of the theater I was thinking it’s a solid C+, but the more I think about it I’m leaning more toward a C-. Honestly, the constant barrage of “Easter eggs” was irritating and most of the characters were flat and under-developed. And how do you make a heist movie but fail to have a cool, intricate plan for the heist? That being said, the third act was pretty strong compared to the rest of the movie, so I didn’t walk out angry. I was just sort of depressed as I realized this is going to be the future of Star Wars. Mediocre films that refuse to take any real risks and bank on our love for the previous films. Ugh…

  342. Interesting RJ thought it was blah and Mr. S actually dug it. Might be like TFA in that there may not end up being any real middle ground consensus.

    Which spinoff is next BTW? the Han Solo one by the LEGO MOVIE guys?

  343. Wow, I had almost the exact opposite reaction that RJ did. I was impressed by how FEW “Easter Eggs” they had in there; there are a couple, but they’re pretty incidental to the plot and seem more like fun little asides than major cornerstones of the movie. I really appreciated the film taking us to new places we’d never seen before and introducing new kinds of character we’d never encountered, giving us a look into a different part of the SW universe than anything that preceded it. I agree it’s not an intricate heist, but it’s more of a war movie than a heist movie, and I think it feels appropriate for that. And as far as risks go — I dunno, man, what more risk would you want? It’s a SW film with its own tone that explores something a little different than the previous films did, uses a different story structure, finds its own aesthetic. I guess they could make it into a miserablist avant-garde art film or something, but short of that I don’t really know what you’d do to make it more “risky” while still meaningfully using the property.

  344. Since we’re now making entire movies out of every single line of exposition in the OT, here are my suggestions:

    WOMPRAT SUMMER: A bittersweet coming-of-age tale about Luke Skywalker, his childhood friend Jek Porkins, and the used landspeeder that changed their lives forever. With a soundtrack filled with classic Tatooinian hits like “(Hive of) Scum & Villainy” and “Toshi Station Nights,” this is the film that will change the way you feel about power convertors.

    THE KESSEL RUN: Get ready for a light-speed laff riot as hunky Han Solo and his crazy co-pilot Chewie try to outrun the Empire, Jabba the Hutt’s bounty hunters, his former friend Lando, and a stolen Lambda-Class Shuttle full of Twi-lekian bikini babes in a galaxy-spanning space race with a planet-shattering payoff! Keep your eyes peeled for Asian superstar Jackie Chan in a belittling cameo!

    TARKIN: THE FOUL STENCH OF AMBITION: How did a ruthless Imperial officer with notoriously bad B.O. ascend all the way to the position of Grand Moff—only to lose it all in his moment of triumph? Michael Fassbender plays sexy but smelly Wilhuff Tarkin in a brooding, internal performance that will make you have sympathy for the Moff.

    GUINEA PIG: DEATH STAR: Just 90 minutes of Darth Vader watching his daughter get tortured by that floating ball with the syringe sticking out of it.

  345. Some quick SPOILERY thoughts on Rogue One. First of all, I didn’t hate it. It manages to capture the feel of the original trilogy even better than The Force Awakens was able to do. The Empire is super evil, and the Rebels seem scrappy and outmatched. The action scenes were appropriately huge and epic, though some of it I didn’t think was particularly well-directed. I especially love the big space battle at the end. That felt like they finally managed to do a space battle on the level Return of the Jedi. I like that everybody gets killed at the end. I was genuinely surprised that they killed off the main character like that.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t really care that much about the main character, or most of the other ones. Everybody is severely under-developed. Felicity Jones’ Jyn has an arc, but it’s basically just Luke’s arc again, a very lazy version of the hero’s journey, complete with two “death of the mentor” scenes. But she never really has much of a personality of her own. She’s sort of a blander version of Rey. The Mexican guy who I thought sounded French wasn’t any better. They sort of gave them hints of a love story, but I appreciate that they restrained themselves from going too far with that. Ben Mendlesohn was pretty great as… (checking iMDB) …Director Orson Krennic. (Really? Orson? Did they ever say “Orson” in the movie?) Unfortunately he never gets a really great, memorable moment of villainy. Instead he gets overshadowed by the villains from a better Star Wars movie.

    And holy shit, let’s talk about CGI Grand Moff Tarkin. First of all, he looks terrible. It’s like they didn’t even have time to finish the effect. He’s basically about the quality level you’d expect from a Playstation 4 game. The CGI Princess Leia at the end is only marginally better, but maybe that’s just because she’s only on screen for 3 seconds. Tarkin is in like 3 or 4 scenes, and he looks terrible every time. Also, why was he even in this movie? (answer: nostalgia bucks) He served no purpose other than to undermine Krennic. He should have been cut entirely from this film to give more breathing room for Krennic’s character to develop.

    Speaking of villains who overshadow Krennic, we have James Earl Jones phoning in a performance as the voice of Darth Vader, while some guy in a home-made Vader costume chops up a bunch of red-shirts in a hallway somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that little sequence with Vader going all Akira on the nameless stuntmen, but it felt entirely tacked on. Pretty sure this was part of the re-shoots. Why wasn’t he killing characters we cared about? Why was this part only 30 seconds long?

    And how about all the other completely unnecessary cameos? Why did we need to cut to Artoo and Threepio standing in the corner for 2 seconds? Why did our heroes need to run into the guys from the Mos Eisley cantina who harass Luke and Obi Wan? Shit like this just makes the universe feel smaller. I swear to god, they even re-use footage from the first film in the battle at the end when they cut to Red Leader and Gold Leader repeating lines from that movie. It’s honestly shocking how brazen it is. All of these little references feel so forced. It’s like they had no confidence in the film so they decided to constantly remind the audience that this film is connected to other films they love. It’s such a cynical way to make a movie.

    Here’s a tip for all future Star Wars movies: We don’t need any more characters saying they have a “bad feeling about this”; we don’t need any more droids talking about the odds of our characters surviving some crazy stunt they’re about to pull; we don’t need another scene with that holo-chess game; we don’t need another orphan protagonist searching for their daddy; we don’t need any more space stations that blow up a planet with a laser; we don’t need to be constantly reminded how much we love Star Wars. Just tell a decent story with compelling characters. And for god’s sake, try something new! Please!

    Rant over.

    So, it was okay. I give it two and a half out of five choking puns.

  346. Admittedly, I think Peter Cushing definitely became a worse actor after he became a cartoon zombie made of money.

  347. Mr. S, as to your question of what risks I want them to take, how about telling us a different kind of story for once? The Star Wars universe is incredibly rich. You could tell almost any kind of story in this universe. But we’ve had 8 movies so far and every single one of them has been about this same power struggle between the empire and the rebels. Would it really be too much to ask to just have a movie set on a new planet with new characters going on a new adventure and facing some kind of adversity that isn’t empire-related?

    When I first heard they were going to do these Star Wars “story” movies in between the main “episode” movies I was excited because I thought that would give them license to dip their toes into all sorts of different genres. But now I don’t think we’ll ever get, say, a Star Wars horror movie. Or how about a sports movie? Somebody has to enter the podraces to save an orphanage or something? I’m not saying I want these specific movies. I’m just saying, they’re going to be releasing one of these every year until we’re all dead, so it would be nice if there was a little variety.

  348. I learned that a bad opening hour is severely detrimental to filmic enjoyment, speeches should be made by people who can act (looking at Diego Luna mostly) the dead should stay dead, and Darth Vader should NEVER make puns.

  349. I’m kind of bummed you guys don’t seem to be digging Rogue One so far. I thought it was just decent, but was under the impression that the rest of the world was really digging it. And I’d rather live in a world where everyone is happy about something, even if they’re happier than me. Oh well.

    I personally think of Star Wars as a family-friendly fairy tale and don’t quite get the point of making a grim war movie in that universe while putting callbacks to movies people loved as children. So this darker approach wasn’t quite on my wavelength … but it seems to be what a lot of people did want.

    And somehow I thought that all you Clint Eastwood / Mad Max / Snake Plissken loving types here (especially Vern himself) would be all about this, so I’m curious what the missing ingredient was for you guys. Were the characters too beaten-down and not badass enough, or not heroic or likable enough, or is it something else entirely? I suppose we’ll get to debate this properly once Vern’s review is up.

    I did think it looked great, with a gritty documentary realism the other Star Wars films haven’t had. And I thought the acting was very good, especially Felicity Jones.

    And unlike y’all, I was completely blown away by the CGI Tarkin. Just half a decade they couldn’t even make a CGI young Jeff Bridges out of real-life Jeff Bridges without it looking off, but now they’ve done the impossible by finally making a passable CGI human. There are a couple iffy shots but 95% of the time it just looked like Peter Cushing to me. It probably would have been 100% if they’d just kept the character as a cameo, but they had the balls to actually give him a large role in the film.

    Darth brooks, it makes total sense for Vader to make puns. Threepio made puns in Episode II (“This is such a drag”, “I’m quite beside myself”) and Vader built Threepio, so it’s reasonable to assume that he put some of his own personality in his creation.

  350. [just half a decade *ago*]

  351. RJ, the movie clearly is making fun of the “I got a bad feeling about this” line.

    Also, I play a lot of PS4, the CGI faces were way better in this movie.

    Also,Vern is going to try but nobody will be able convince me episides one through three are better because all three are garbage.

  352. I liked this movie. I guess I would compare it to The Force Awakens where they’re both well-made films that keep on tripping over their own dicks for no good reason. I didn’t really buy Felicity Jones’s transformation into a true believer, but she’s always struck me as an actress who’s supposed to be good at acting simply because she has an English accent. Say what you will about JLaw, but she can spout out that Hunger Games nonsense with absolute vigor. But the worst acting in the film has to go to Peter CGIushing. I really have no clue what they were thinking, especially since they already recast Mon Mothma. And presumably they have a makeup department.

  353. Also, I think Episode III is hands down a better film than The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Episodes I and II are a different story.

  354. Me: Wanna go see that new Star Wars movie?

    Her: What’s it about?

    Me: Basically the opening crawl of STAR WARS but as a film.

    Her: Why?

    I tried guys.

  355. She sounds like a keeper, Broddie

  356. Episode 3 is garbage.

  357. If you live on a planet where “garbage” is synonymous with awesome then I agree.

  358. I enjoyed episode 3 more than THE FORCE ASLEEP

  359. You guys could never convince me I through III aren’t anything but terrible.

    Rogue One isn’t perfect but it’s a world I’m much more interested in than the over colorful, boring, and littered with terrible writing and acting.

    though Vader telling a pun is probably the worst bit of writing in every movie combined.

  360. That is a bold take on the Star Wars prequels and it’s good that this is being hashed out, finally.

  361. After a second viewing (already had the tickets) the flaws of the film weren’t as bothersome to me. So maybe I’m being too much of a stick in the mud on this one. It also helped that I knew the third act was coming up, and I think the third act is very strong. Whatever, it’s fine. But I’m definitely tired of people saying this is on the level of Empire Strikes Back.

  362. SPOILERS??

    I thought this was pretty darn good. Great locations, look-and-feel, casting performances, characters, emotions and human drama. Just a lot of fun. Easily the best Star Wars film in 30 years. I thought pretty much all the new stuff worked very well, and I’m a sucker for an extended Vader cameo. CGI Tarkin was pretty incredible, yet still failed to traverse the uncanny valley for my money. The subtler head and facial movements still aren’t there, resulting in a bit of a reanimated corpse vibe (I’ll grant that 1970s Peter Cushing himself may have had a bit of a reanimated corpse vibe, but this is beyond that). Interestingly, I thought CGI Leia was less convincing in about 2 seconds than Tarkin was. She looked like a very well-realized CGI Disney princess.

    Very solid film. Lot of fun.

  363. This movie sucks shit.

  364. If that’s true, the MPAA got a lot less strict to show that in a PG-13 movie!

  365. Mr. Majestyk, I think this discussion has moved elsewhere, but I salute you. I hope we all live long enough to get to see WOMPRAT SUMMER, but only if they bring back William Hootkins as a “cartoon zombie made of money” to play the aging Porkins recording his memoirs – seen in flashback – a la Richard Dreyfuss’s Writer in STAND BY ME.

  366. Except Porkins died in the first Death Star attack. We’d learn that in the onscreen text epilogue to WOMPRAT SUMMER, which also explains that Luke became a retired Jedi Arts professor and his schoolyard bully, Greedo Jr., descended into alcoholism and vagrancy after learning that his father was murdered in a bar without provocation. The killer was never brought to justice.

  367. Doh! Of course; I feel such a fool now. And there I was fretting how they’d contrive to get the young Porkins from Bestine IV to Tatooine.

    Am I wrong to hope Greedo Jr. will get his own shot at redemption?

  368. Ha ha, no, of course not. No one grew up with any Greedo Jr. merchandise so nobody gives a shit about telling his story.

  369. Since a lot of the comments here ended up being about the prequels, I thought this would be a good place to share this podcast episode I just listened to, which ended up being one of the best (and most balanced) discussions I’ve come across of the prequels’ successes and failings:

    The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 57!

    A Long Time Ago: The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
    This New Year’s Eve, ring in the coming year the old-fashioned way: Listen to Sean and Stefan talk about George Lucas’s Star Wars prequel trilogy for 80...

  370. It’s gonna be quite interesting to see if people are still recording podcasts and posting clickbait about the “successful” Disney SW films nearly 18 years later the way they are Lucas’s “failed” prequels. For some of the most hated films ever made, they sure are popular.

  371. Mr. M — well, to put that into a STAR TREK context (since the suits see them as similar enough to use the same director)…. awhile back, when INTO DARKNESS came out, I heard a hilariously awkward interview with Zachary Quinto where the interviewer asked him if he was having trouble with the “Notoriously obsessive” Star Trek fans, and he just kind of said, ‘ah, no, I think people these days don’t get as deeply invested in things.’ Right, it’s people who are different, not the movies? Abram’s STAR TREK films are the films STAR WARS fans *thought* they wanted — superficially complicated but internally dull space fantasy which deliver re-skinned versions of the exact same things they remember from the originals, entertain and are immediately forgotten. And they’re certainly the films the studio knew they wanted: easy to sell, innocuous, and with a built-in franchise potential. But I think it’s pretty telling that even when these films were still in theaters people had already moved on. Nobody wants to discuss how warp speed works in an Abrams film — and of course they don’t, because the movies themselves openly don’t care about that nerd crap. They’re for the masses, not for the nerds… designed and pre-packaged to be immediately digestible. And by definition, that doesn’t leave you with much to chew on.

    I think you once said something along the lines of “you make something for the normals, you eat well for a weekend, but you make something for the nerds, you’ll eat for a lifetime.” So we’ll see how well this works out for them. I got a feeling Disney will be selling Darth Vader toys long after they’ve sold their last Kylo Ren.

  372. That’s almost a word-for-word quote. I am legitimately honored.

  373. EPISODE VIII trailer:

    Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi Official Trailer (Star Wars Celebration 2017)

    Star Wars Episode 8 The Last Jedi Official Teaser Trailer featuring Luke Skywalker, Rey, Poe Dameron, Finn, Princess Leia, and much more! Star Wars Episode 8...

  374. They need to bring monsters back to Star Wars movies. It isn’t funny anymore.

  375. “Disney keeps hitting those fucking homeruns!”

  376. I fully agree about the monsters. My dream STAR WARS STORY is still a survival horror movie about a group of people who crash landed on a planet full of Rancors.

  377. I hope there’s a giant, planet-sized super-weapon in the next one!

  378. I hope someone finds out that they’re related to someone else in the next one!

  379. I will never see any of this neo STAR WARS shit. SW is pretty much dead to me but considering all the safe and easy money Disney will make between this, their Marvel shit and live action remakes (none of which I will see either sans THOR 3) these next few years the least they can do is throw a brother a bone and take a risk on TRON 3. I mean what do they have to lose? Peanuts compared to all the loot they will continue to make.

  380. Broddie – there was recently news on a TRON 3 in development but it was a new thing starring Jared Leto and didn’t sound like it would pick up on LEGACY’s “somehow computer graphics can be alive in the real world – just go with it, fellas” ending.

  381. This is the first time that I’ve ever watched a Star Wars trailer and I was so underwhelmed. I think I was as bored during this as I was with Episode III.

  382. Let me clarify. First time I’ve watched a Star Wars trailer without getting excited for the upcoming release. My earlier statement made it seem like it was the first Star Wars trailer I’ve ever seen.

    I’m not bored with Marvel yet though as Ragnarok looks like it could be a jolly good time.

  383. Hamill’s comments the other day were interesting. He said that he threw the script for 8 (and 7, as well, it turns out) onto the floor and then called Johnson up and told him he “fundamentally disagreed” with everything he did with Luke. This does not inspire me with any kind of confidence.

    As I’ve said before, these new films are not for me – they’re for the CLONE WARS/REBELS/those who are gonna go to Star Wars World or whatever it’ll be called kids.

    All these new films are going to do is take away the older characters one by one and make me feel like the bitter fanboy I am.

    I honestly wish they’d never made these new ones (ROGUE ONE doesn’t count), but I get it – there’s too money in them there hills.

  384. Vern – Wow. I’m of 2 minds. On the one hand at least they plan on still doing something with Tron. On the other hand it sucks that we won’t see cute and spunky piece of coding Olivia Wilde take on that nefarious Cillian Murphy and his old man David Warner. What a missed opportunity. I hope at least that Daft Punk returns.

    karlos – Well I actually do plan on visiting Star Wars Land even though I will never watch any of these movies and will miss all the references made to them in the theme park. So I don’t know if it’s appeal is strictly limited to the fans of Disney’s Star Wars.

  385. I really liked the teaser; the final line really has me wondering where they’re going. The safe, worst-case scenario, this is just “refusing the hero’s call” bullshit and the story will be about Rey helping restore Luke’s faith in the Jedi. The more interesting possibility is the stuff they’ve been hinting at in REBELS and ROGUE ONE, that they’re moving the idea of the Force beyond the whole Jedi/Sith paradigm. Like, Luke has realised that the strict monasticism of the Jedi Order is a dead end that just creates evil despots and oblivious elitists, and wants to create a reformed church that views the Force in a different, more holistic way. Now this is something that has been explored in the pre-Disney EU, but I’ll be impressed if that’s where they’re going.

    I don’t see Hamill’s initial reaction to the story as a bad thing necessarily. It means that they’re going somewhere interesting with it, which I thought was something everybody wanted.

  386. >The more interesting possibility is the stuff they’ve been hinting at in REBELS and ROGUE ONE, that they’re moving the idea of the Force beyond the whole Jedi/Sith paradigm. Like, Luke has realised that the strict monasticism of the Jedi Order is a dead end that just creates evil despots and oblivious elitists, and wants to create a reformed church that views the Force in a different, more holistic way.

    If that’s true, it’ll be Lucas who has the last laugh, because it will be exactly what he was doing in the Prequels that no one understood because he didn’t spell it out for them. I’d honestly be into that idea, although I doubt I’ll ever be back on board with the Disney sequels after FORCE AWAKENS was so dismal.

  387. Last laugh? Why does it have to be so adversarial? I get what Lucas was trying to do, I just want to see someone expand on that idea and maybe do better in the execution.

  388. It’s just very fulfilling to Lucas loyalists/proponents of the auteur theory like Mr. S and myself to know that everything good about STAR WARS still comes directly from the source.

  389. >Why does it have to be so adversarial?

    Because it’s a STAR WARS discussion on the internet. Is there any other way?

    I kid, but actually I think there’s a little truth to that; the fan culture of STAR WARS was so toxic for so long that it feels hard not to think of the Disney films as something of a repudiation of Lucas’s Prequels. Since it seemed like almost no one really understood what Lucas’s films were trying to do, I think it would be funny if Disney ended up doing the exact same thing thinking they were cleverly reinventing the series. I do feel like there would be some measure of Lucas’s revenge in that, especially since he was so publicly drummed out by the franchise’s new corporate overlords. I guess I’m still rooting for them to be good (in fact I was actually a littler warmer to ROGUE ONE than most people here) and I would be happy to be blown away by VII. But TFA did not inspire confidence in their ability to pilot the franchise to new territory so… if I can’t be delighted, at least I can be smug about being right.

    So yeah, I guess there is a touch of adversarial feeling between me and the Mouse. I’m not proud of it, but I might as well admit it. It personally offends me that SW ended up in the hands of a huge multinational corporation whose goal is nakedly to squeeze every last dollar out of it until it becomes unprofitable and then to reboot it a few years after that. I don’t think they have any guiding artistic ambition or interest, and so yeah, it kind of bothers me when people soak up the latest safe regurgitation they put out and rejoice that an actual interesting –if flawed– artist no longer has the ability to ruin the thing he made by doing something unexpected.

    All of which is to say, I really need to chill out and take this stupid series about space wizards less seriously.

  390. This film was a disappointing rehash of themes and elements from A NEW HOPE, that bored me when I first saw it and it only got worse with repeat viewings. It is not without its merits, but without Lucas steering the ship THE FORCE AWAKENS feels like a rudderless uninspired piece of big budget film making written and created by commmity then patched together by rewrites and reshoots without any strong singular creative vision. It is a bad movie, that only succeeds as a cash grab.

    Also, fuck them for how the did Han Solo!

  391. I know this site is full of cranky Auteur Fundamentalists who demand every film be a pure artistic expression of a single creative voice. I get that, but I suppose I’m less of a hardliner on that issue. I just want good films. I mean, there were a LOT of classic films, masterpieces even, that were made under the studio system. TFA is not a great film, and it’s one that feels every inch made-by-committee, but the things it gets right it gets so right that I’m confident they have a solid foundation to course correct, if they want to.

    And I guess I’ve grown up with so many STAR WARS comic books, video games, EU novels (things that Vern and others here would probably consider ancillary branded product and not creative works of fiction) and not really considered that they weren’t “real” STAR WARS, because to me STAR WARS is more of a place than a guy. Like it or not, Lucas’ own ferocious merchandising made STAR WARS something bigger than himself.

  392. Crustacean, we want the same things. All I want is a good movie regardless of how it is made. There doesn’t have to be a strong auteur vision for a film to work but more often than not film making by commmity in absence of there being some sort of vision guiding the project doesn’t work.

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