"I'll just get my gear."

BEWARE! people talkin Star Wars

tn_starwarsPlease note, I will not be seeing the new Star picture until Friday night. I will be leaving the internet to seclude myself in the mountains or somewhere, hopefully to return with a review next week. I know some of you are gonna want to comment on it before then, so I made this post so you can use it and not some unrelated review where somebody might be reading the comments not wanting you to spoil FORCE AWAKENS for them.

But please remember that much of the world will not have seen the movie yet. Be honorable and not only try to avoid spoilers for now, but fill the beginning of your comment with a bunch of non-specific stuff so there is nothing even remotely midly almost spoilery in the “recent comments” thread. WE DON’T WANT TO FUCKING KNOW. Be nice.

“Patience my young padawan learner, be mindful of I have a special set of skills give me the fucking elephant.” –Qui G. Jinn

Happy Boonta Eve everybody and may the force awakening you! (that’s from Star Wars)

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2015 at 12:27 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

133 Responses to “BEWARE! people talkin Star Wars”

  1. NO SPOILERS

    I’d just like to thank the guy who managed to completely ruin my viewing experience of this by loudly talking about it to a random stranger as I walked to my screening.

    Cheers.

    Oh, the film…it’s OK, I guess.

  2. Karlos, why do I have to think of the flashback scene from THE SIMPSONS, where Homer walks out of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and declares loudly to Marge that he would have never expected Vader to be Luke’s father and accidently spoils it for the people, who are waiting in line for the next showing?

  3. The movie ends with Luke and Jar Jar’s wedding.

  4. Unfortunately a troll already semi-spoiled the movie for me, trolls have not made it their life’s mission to spoil something for everyone since those last two Harry Potter books came out, so I was a not as prepared as I should have been.

    But oh well, the spoiler in question is not hard to guess anyway.

  5. Saw it tonight. I really enjoyed the first 30 minutes or so, and virtually every minute after that it lost me more and more. Everything starts to turn increasingly derivative and convoluted and it kinda abandons a lot of its good instincts and new characters in favor of flagrant fan service. But still, it has its moments. I think it’s basically exactly as good –maybe a little better in some ways and a little worse than others– as the Abrams STAR TREK movies, whatever that means. I’ve resigned myself to basically just thinking of these as the most expensive fanfiction ever mounted, so I ain’t mad or anything, and had an enjoyable enough time watching. But I sincerely doubt anyone will be talking about these movies in any detail 10 years from now.

  6. This movie is awesome. What a frickin ride!

  7. Everybody I know seemed to hate it more than the prequels. Said it was a pointless rehash I was like “well it IS Disney”. I did the right thing by skipping it. Fucking JJ Abrams man. FELICITY really was a fluke…or so I hear.

  8. Yeah, some asshole spoiled a major plotpoint on facebook in a non-SW related group. Not a big deal for me, though. I really don´t take SW that seriously. I´m just there for the light sabers and the space shit.

  9. NO SPECIFIC SPOILERS I GUESS
    NO SPECIFIC SPOILERS I GUESS
    NO SPECIFIC SPOILERS I GUESS
    NO SPECIFIC SPOILERS I GUESS
    NO SPECIFIC SPOILERS I GUESS
    NO SPECIFIC SPOILERS I GUESS

    Saw it yesterday. Been pretty sick so haven’t had time to digest it properly but based on first impressions – In my opinion, lots of it was a facsimile of previous instalments, particularly A New Hope. Some of it was structurally weak and poorly written. There was a bunch of pandering fan service moments. Some of the character choices were questionable (Captain Phasma being the big one for me). It felt safe and derivative and restrictive for long stretches and there is an absolute mountain of material here for cynics to eviscerate and then set fire too.

    On the other hand, I found large sections of it to be exciting and emotional resonant and beautifully shot and staged and occasionally possibly iconic. The performances for the most part were great, the new characters were in my opinion likeable and engaging, and it contained a few of my favourite set-pieces in all of Star Wars filmdom. If all you can see in this movie is derivation, nostalgia and a vessel to sell merchandise then so be it but I saw genuine filmmaking passion in front of and behind the camera operating alongside all the rest of that stuff too. And, in certain moments towards the end, when the film finally breaks away from its past and becomes something of its own making, it really felt to me like I was seeing some (to quote Vern) “100% genuine” Star Wars shit.

    All I know is that I saw a little kid thanking someone working the candy bar afterwards because he loved the movie so much. So, yeah. I left the theatre feeling pretty good about that.

  10. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 18th, 2015 at 3:22 am

    ALSO NO REAL SPOILERS BUT I’LL STILL PUT SOME SHIT HERE
    ALSO NO REAL SPOILERS BUT I’LL STILL PUT SOME SHIT HERE
    ALSO NO REAL SPOILERS BUT I’LL STILL PUT SOME SHIT HERE
    ALSO NO REAL SPOILERS BUT I’LL STILL PUT SOME SHIT HERE
    ALSO NO REAL SPOILERS BUT I’LL STILL PUT SOME SHIT HERE
    ALSO NO REAL SPOILERS BUT I’LL STILL PUT SOME SHIT HERE

    Agree with MIXALOT pretty much 100%. Derivative story, lots of fanservice and some plotholes plus ridiculous coincidences, but man did it get the Star Wars vibe right. The characters (new and old) are great, there’s some real warmth and emotion to it, and the whole thing is just plain fun from start to finish. I loved it, warts and all. Pretty much the only movie this year that actually met my expectations.

    People saying this is worse than the prequels honestly do not know their shit – it’s a ridiculous statement to make.

  11. The peeps I know didn’t say it’s worse than the prequels they just hated it more. Which means that they also hated the prequels.

    However like some of us on this very sight they at least admired the prequels for their originality and boldness in going left while everybody expected them to go right. Also because they actually did feel large-scale and clearly wore their big budgets on their sleeve.

    What they told me about this one is that was a major disappointment because it recycled way too much from the previous movies and introduced very little new and original. They also said it felt cheap and almost TV scale at times for a Star Wars. Then again I don’t know what they expected coming from the quintessential journeyman director of the 21st century. If you don’t know what to expect from JJ “The TV level recycler” Abrams movie at this point I don’t know what to tell you.

  12. UNPOPULAR INTERNET OPINION OF THE DAY: I think I prefer GOTG (slightly) over TFA, if at the least because of pacing issues. (The magical midget Lupita segment is a slog.*)

    *=I’ll give that Collector scene in GOTG this: short, painless, and although he exists basically to show up in future Marvel movies, didn’t feel like set-up THAT MUCH in retrospect.

  13. ONCE YOU START DOWN THE SPOILER PATH, FOREVER WILL IT DOMINATE YOUR DESTINY
    ONCE YOU START DOWN THE SPOILER PATH, FOREVER WILL IT DOMINATE YOUR DESTINY
    ONCE YOU START DOWN THE SPOILER PATH, FOREVER WILL IT DOMINATE YOUR DESTINY

    Ok, so. This movie has the “Star Wars vibe”. It also has a very good villain in the form of Kylo Ren, who honestly is a 100% original dark side guy that has the psychological profile of one of those milquetoast white guys who does a mass shooting. It has very relatable, nice characters who are fun to be around and watch. It has good space battles and a return to the classic style of lightsaber fights, where they appear to weigh 20 pounds and are super-dangerous laser swords.

    Unfortunately the movie just completely falls down at world-building and at coherent plotting. Like, here’s the thing: I don’t mind the Ewoks beating the Empire in ROTJ. I really don’t. It’s a bit of a stretch but hey it’s their planet, they know the terrain, and Storm Troopers suck.

    This movie felt like the entire damn thing was an Ewok vs Storm Trooper fight turned up to 11. And again, I’m not “Mr. Realism”, I don’t go looking for plot holes, but this entire film just had one incredible coincidence stacked on top of another. To the point where one of the characters says to another “yes it seems incredibly unlikely that I have this thing, and no I’m not going to tell you how I got it” And again I gotta stress I don’t think movies should be “realistic”, especially magic space operas, but goddamn! I should not be thinking “oh come on, this is a bit much, isn’t it?” as it happens. It just feels like lazy writing, they couldn’t think of a natural way to do it so fuck it. Here’s a coincidence.

    It’s also derivative of New Hope to the extreme. Beat-for-beat reproductions of scenes and concepts all over the place. I don’t necessarily think that’s bad in-and-of itself but there are a LOT of them and some feel shoehorned in and unnatural. Also the “Hero rejects the call” scene was so forced. I could see them hitting the Joseph Campbell beats and I didn’t like it at all.

    I read someone else say that this movie is the exact opposite of the prequels in the sense that the prequels had good (if a little labyrinthine) plots in a shaded world that were largely let down by very wooden characters and dialogue. This movie is the exact opposite: good, relatable characters and “fun” dialogue in a largely nonsense black-and-white world. And it probably sounds like I hated this movie, but I don’t. It was pretty good. I don’t regret seeing it. But it definitely suffered some. That tends to happen when you’re compared to masterpieces, though.

  14. Man, you guys really really want to provoke me into getting into yet another Prequels argument, don’t ya? Well I’m… not… biting.

    *gnashes teeth…*

    Anyway I just wanted to pop in and comment that by all accounts it’s a good thing that the STAR WARS franchise has finally been taken out of the hands of serial “Worst Person in the Universe” award-winner George Lucas, and into the hands of somebody whose work is universally loved by all, especially the Internet. Sounds like the good Mr Abrams has done us proud.

  15. …………………………………………….Am I the only one who thought this thing was too fast-paced? There was so little weight to it that when something weighty finally happened it felt completely unearned. Overall, it was decent, but I was saddened by the lack of cool worlds and intergalactic goobers. A desert planet that’s less populated (and interesting) than Tatooine? A cantina scene where the camera swoops and cuts so quickly that barely any of the alien gomers even register? These things saddened me (as did a lot of the wonky CGI…Smoke, I’m looking in your direction). I could give half a shit about The Force and Jedis and stuff, I just want to see new ways to incorporate genitals and buttholes into alien facial structure.

  16. ONCE YOU START DOWN THE SPOILER PATH, FOREVER WILL IT DOMINATE YOUR DESTINY
    ONCE YOU START DOWN THE SPOILER PATH, FOREVER WILL IT DOMINATE YOUR DESTINY
    ONCE YOU START DOWN THE SPOILER PATH, FOREVER WILL IT DOMINATE YOUR DESTINY

    By big complaint is that I actually really dig Rey and –especially– Finn as characters; they have a nice rapport together and they have their own unique point of view. Everything with them is pretty solid, and when it was just them, I thought maybe I could actually love the Disney Wars. But once Han comes back, even though Ford is great, the movie starts increasingly sidelining its actual heroes to focus on a very underdeveloped plot about the Solo kid and his parents, which never really amounts to much because we don’t really know anything about their relationship. Rey gets kidnapped, but escapes super easily, and Finn goes to rescue her, but she doesn’t need it because she escaped easily already and then they find each other very easily, and then it’s out into the snow to have a fight with this sadsack Darth Vader wannabe who they have no personal connection to at all, with nothing really at stake.

    Meanwhile, there’s this eye-rolling Death Star 3.0 (see? It’s bigger! And it can kill FIVE planets at a time! Game changer!) which gets dropped into everything out of the blue and is not in the slightest related to any of the main characters or the stupid McMuffin about where Luke is. It’s big, but apparently ridiculously sparsely populated, because two old people can pretty easily blow it up without encountering any resistance whatsoever. Like the first two death stars, it ALSO has a weak point which can easily cause its total destruction if a single pilot gets near. It’s so easy to do with so little planning or buildup it really diminishes the stakes, and having Han die like a moron for no good reason doesn’t do anything to change that.

    Basically, this means the whole final third of the movie is a lot of wheel-spinning around an unimportant and ridiculously easily resolved problem which only marginally involves our ostensible heroes. Nevermind the coincidences on top of coincidences, you can’t really hold that against space opera. Nevermind the confusing politics (there’s a Republic again?, but there’s also a “resistance” (to what?) and a “new order”? What are they all trying to accomplish, exactly? Oh wait, is the Republic gone again?), because it doesn’t really matter very much. But like every big-budget movie today, this stinks of too many cooks in the kitchen, stuffing ideas together that don’t really belong to a whole cloth and inelegantly stitching them into a frankenscript. Eventually, it all kinda deflates, or at least it did for me. Still, there are elements here which are strong enough to give one hope about the future of the franchise, if the creators can have enough faith in them to let them actually take center stage.

    My other complaint is a little more elusive, but I just don’t feel like Abrams and co are worldbuilders on Lucas’s level of demented obsession. Abrams’ universe has a lot of weird masks and stuff, but feels small and rinky-dink compared to the previous STAR WARS films, even though I’m sure it was more expensive. Even things which are supposed to be huge and epic feel small-scale; it really feels a lot of the time like there are only a couple hundred people left in the universe. Everything feels kind of bland and under-established, despite the weird costumes. Lucas’s problems were many, but I think part of what made him special is his psychotic fixation on creating a vivid, living world which seems to spill off-frame in every direction. Abram’s universe feels small and superficial by comparison; I think a lot of people will respond to his greater emphasis on emotional intimacy after the cold prequels, but frankly there’s tons of movies out there where endearing actors crack a few jokes with each other. If STAR WARS has anything truly special about it, its the universe itself, and the obsessive amount of detail that went into it. FORCE AWAKENS is a perfectly fine movie, but I doubt many people will argue it’s in any way better than GotG, and that’s a dangerous thing for a franchise which became what it is by transcending its pulpy roots and establishing itself as a genuine cultural touchstone. There’s lot of fun space operas, and if STAR WARS is going to survive, I think it needs to dream a little bigger than FORCE AWAKENS suggests the current property owners are interested in.

  17. Since when were the works of JJ Abrams universally loved? Especially by the internet? Did I wake up in Bizarro world or something?

  18. Well, he isn´t universally hated either

  19. That’s right. He’s middle of the road. All the way.

  20. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 18th, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Definitely not universally hated. Imho, the only bad film he’s done is Super 8, the rest of them have all been good to great, Force Awakens included.

  21. “You’ve taken this to a place where respect is earned… respect is owed. God bless you”.
    — Actual geekspeak uttered from one SW movie patron (dressed normally) to another (in full Stormtrooper regalia) at the matinee showing of The Force Awakens that I attended earlier today.

    Fucking Star Wars nerds. Not exactly a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but pitiful just the same.

    There’s little point in retreading TFA’s various inadequacies many of you have already articulated. The only things I liked about it without reservation were Daisy Ridley’s performance and that elfin-lovable soccer ball droid. Everything else either started poorly or finished poorly or both.

    I will add this: if Episode IV by Lucas is the equivalent of one of Picasso’s better efforts, then Episode VII by Abrams is on par with a replica finger painting done by a first-year art school student who’s afflicted with a bad case of ADHD and a smidgen of Down’s Syndrome. The chasm between the two films is absurdly wide.

    AsimovLives was right… he was SO right. TFA never had a chance— it was FUBARed from the start.

  22. I’m with Subtlety on this.

  23. ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID
    ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES R2 A DULL DROID

    I haven’t seen this yet but don’t care about spoilers. But I am undaunted by these minor handicaps (!): I have to disagree in principle (we’ll see how that turns out in practice) w/ Subtlety about the worldbuilding thing vis a vis the prequels. I would totally agree that Lucas lives and breathes the world as only someone who created, embellished, and obsessed over that world for 35-odd years could. So, he’s definitely a worldbuilder and has more tools and knowledge of the universe to draw on. And I agree that JJ Abrams is a great purveyor of fan fiction rather than a truly original storyteller (though there’s a place for that, I think). He seems better suited to imitating or playing in others’ worlds or cinematic languages than building a novel world of his own, and it’s discouraging to hear that this film is safe, imitative, and fan servicey. Finally, I am disheartened to hear multiple people say that, at times, the film lacks a sense of scale or teeming-with-life-ness, or that it sometimes has tv-grade production values. If true, that is a real bummer.

    However, it is hard for me to imagine this being worse than the prequels (in principle or based on what I’ve been reading), because the prequels completely fail as films and are just foundationally flawed in so many ways. With the prequels, I see no justification for giving points simply for trying something bold, different, and ambitious but utterly failing to deliver on those aspirations–utterly failing to use those tools to tell a really engaging human story. The CGI and the expansiveness, scope, and visual diversity may have made this a great video game, but one-dimensional wooden characters, clunky dialogue, and the perpetual sense that 95% of what you are seeing is a really well done cartoon is just fatal. As is the basic fact that those films are inherently set up to be coloring in the lines of a foreordained (and rather gloomy) endgame. Cloud Atlas is another example of an ambitious, goofy, failed experiment. Certainly, I give the filmmakers (Lucas, Wachowskis, whomever) credit for trying to do something bold and different, but at the end of the day, I think you have to judge the film as a whole and on its merits–not on the couple things it did best or the potential for what it could have been or what it could portend as far as future films.

    Did I connect to the characters? Did I get lost in this world, in the suspension of disbelief? Did I care about the stakes and really want to see what would happen next? Did I get wrapped up in the plot? For me, at least, the prequels just completely fail on all of those scores, due chiefly to horrible dialogue, cartoon-like/green screen show visuals, bad acting (which may reduce to bad direction), and an over-expansiveness and over-convolutedness that makes it extremely difficult to really identify with or care about any of the characters. Seriously, name a character in the the prequels you really invest in and care about? Maybe Obi Wan, but even he is completely hamstrung by horrible tone deaf dialogue and being relegated to being a sidekick. And I am not a rabid Star Wars geek. My childhood was not raped, but they were not good films.

  24. SPOILER, I fucking love this movie! Where’s The One We Don’t Mention By Name now?

  25. I’m not saying I’ll like TFA either, just saying that, even if it shows a kind of opposite/bizzarro pattern of strengths and weaknesses, that doesn’t somehow make the prequel trilogy suck less. The TFA has a decided advantage in that it can conceivably go just about anywhere it wants to narratively. It is disappointing to hear that JJ played it so safe and imitative of ANH and the original trilogy. I’ll let you know where I come down on that myself when I see it.

  26. Actually, I realize I’m responding not just to Subtlety on the worldbuilders thing but also to Broddie where he’s talking about scale and expansiveness and “left turns.” I think the mavericky and technologically innovative aspect of Lucas is great, but the films are just horrible cartoony completely non-resonant dreck. Even the visual aspects of the prequels that appeal to some just fall flat with me, because I know all of it’s a cartoon, and I think a lot of it looks like a cartoon. Like the final Vader-Kenobi fight in RoTS is shot like it’s a video game (them fighting and jumping off of rolling volcanic rocks). Other than the time on Tattoine, the whole thing is like Space Jam or Roger Rabbit-level of cartoon-human integration.

  27. Sci-fi’s about two things; creating a world different from ours and have a story that could work in any of our world’s centuries. Does this movie deliver on these terms? YES!

  28. But I love that you sort of hate SW VII without having seen it, Skani…

  29. I think you misunderstood me or I misspoke, pegsman. Some of the concerns that Subtlety and Broddie raised about TFA give me some pause, but I’m prepared to still enjoy it (and, of course, judge for myself). My post was more about how much the prequels suck and should not be defended in general and can’t be defended just on the basis of the things they try to do that TFA does not. For example, just because the prequels are more expansive, weird, densely populated, and visually busy doesn’t make them good movies, and certainly doesn’t make them better than other movies (potentially including TFA) that create characters, relationships, story, pacing, and suspense that I really care about and which feels grounded in a tangible world–which, from the look of it and what I hear, TFA does orders of magnitude better than the prequels. Did that not come through?

  30. SPOILER I GUESS?
    SPOILER I GUESS?
    SPOILER I GUESS?
    SPOILER I GUESS?
    SPOILER I GUESS?

    Thought the movie was alright.
    The biggest takeaway i got from the movie, which was again reinforced from rewatching the old trilogy was the sense of time in Star Wars. In which people forget about stuff very very very quickly.
    How the fuck did the Jedi and the Force became myths and legends in the Star Wars Universe?
    The Jedi were THE peacekeeping force in the universe, had direct say in the galactical senate, and led armies of thousands.

    It’s been, what, 50 years since the destruction of the Jedi? It’s like saying USSR and Communism were myths

  31. This is everything I feared it would be. All of JJ Abrams’ films are good-not-great and that sums this one up. I liked it about as much as I liked his Star Trek movies. The thing is, I’m just a casual Trek fan but I’m a rabid Star Wars nut so I can’t help but be disappointed. Many of my problems have been already addressed by my fellow commenters. But the biggest problem is that the exposition of the stuff that happened in between Jedi and Force seems a lot cooler than what ended up on screen. It’s one thing if the exposition helps to build a character and fill in his backstory (like in Road House) but here it only shortchanges the characters. How can you get choked up about a character’s death when his relationship to his killer is doled out like a college freshma’s drunken fan fiction? That moment could’ve been powerful, rivaling the “I am your father” speech but like just about everything in the second half of the movie it feels rushed, unearned and reeks of fan service. The first half worked incredibly well and I liked the new characters (especially Kylo), but they sorta get shoved to the side when it becomes Solo: The Motion Picture.

    Also, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the character of Luke gets more screen time in Revenge of the Sith than he does in The Force Awakens. That’s just…….. There are no words for what that is.

  32. I think it’s fascinating that both TFA and the prequels feel like “the real Star Wars” in entirely different ways. I’m hoping that now that JJ has blown the dust off and given Disney shareholders a crowd-pleaser, we’ll see subsequent directors show a little less reverence to original trilogy’s plot movements and a little more of Lucas’ wild ambition, but with stronger characters and performances than the prequels. That Rey & Finn are so terrific together and apart gives me a lot of hope.

  33. SPOILS
    SPOILS
    SPOILS
    SPOILS
    SPOILS

    Subtlety – “I think a lot of people will respond to his greater emphasis on emotional intimacy after the cold prequels, but frankly there’s tons of movies out there where endearing actors crack a few jokes with each other.”

    For me this might be underselling the development of the characters a little bit and especially the commitment of the actors performing them – Rey, Finn and Ren especially. I think that what the audience is probably responding to is their relatability and complexity and the fact that the film regards them not just with an emotional gaze but an empathetic one, more so than that they’re just funny and off-the-cuff (though that would of course be a part of it too).

    Also I actually found that Finn and Rey did have enough of a personal relationship / conflict with Ren to make their final confrontation exciting and emotionally cathartic. I’ve seen this complaint all over the place but considering what Ren directly represents to both Finn and Rey personally (ally of The First Order / follower of the dark side of the Force respectively) and then their shared experience during the Han Solo confrontation scene, for me that’s plenty of relatable setup and tension for a throw down lightsaber duel(s) at the end. There’s much more to it that reverberates throughout the film, of course, but in space opera terms for me it was ample.

    A thing I really hope that Vern touches on, that reminded me a lot of his fantastic insights into the films of the Millerverse, is that it is two acts of kindness and humanity on the part of Rey (rescuing BB8 and then refusing to sell it/her/him for a stack of portions) that provides the catalyst for her adventure where she not only begins to figure out who she is and what her destiny might be but also influences others to join the fight against The First Order ultimately helping to save the day in the end. It’s a very slight tweak on Luke’s relationship with the droids in ANH, but for me it is a significant and powerful one.

  34. S
    P
    O
    I
    L
    E
    R
    S
    !

    Also, just to clarify, I know TFA has an absolute mountain of problems but there is plenty of intelligent discussion about that going on pretty much everywhere so I was just trying to articulate the aspects that I thought were special to me or that worked for me personally amid all of the other stuff that didn’t.

  35. I just git back and to be honest, I loved it.

    No, it doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel as far as Star Wars story beats go, but the back to basics approach makes sense considering this is the first non-Lucas Disney Star Wars, I’m sure that as the trilogy goes on things will be more different.

    Seriously, I loved it, I love Rey, Finn and Poe, I loved the look of the film, as a fan of not just Star Wars but sci fi films in general of the late 70’s and early 80’s it was incredible to see a modern movie with a visual style evocative of that era (was anyone reminded of the Nostromo from ALIEN by Han’s cargo ship?)

  36. SPOILS
    SPOILS
    WHATS IN THERE? ONLY WHAT YOU TAKE WITH YOU.
    SPOILS
    SPOILS
    SPOILS

    Mixalot — I don’t disagree with you, I really liked Finn and Rey, and their relationship is a genuine high point. My biggest problem is that I feel like they get shortchanged in the climax, just as their arcs need to really be coalescing. Your point that they’re fighting what Kylo Ren represents is well taken, but I still feel like it’s sort of peripheral, and it’s never really clear what the stakes are in the fight or what they’re fighting over. It would have worked better if it was set up as a duel of the fates, if you will — a philosophical challenge. But instead it’s kind of random, both in its context and in the way it plays out (right down to the end where a chasm happens to open up exactly in the right spot to enable a sequel). Frankly put, it feels like they fight Kylo Ren because this movie needed to have a lightsaber fight more than because it makes sense thematically or from the characters. They’re technically enemies, of course, but this was an odd time and place for them to fight. A bolder artist would have saved that confrontation til there was more at stake.

  37. Good things:
    1) I’m with Subtlety: the first 30-45 minutes were fun. I like Rey and Fin and Po. The writing for them was okay. The acting was pretty great.
    2) I liked some of the visual touches. That first scene where Ren’s ship lands looked like a dragon landing on the lip of a volcano. I thought it was awesome.
    3) Speaking of Ren…. that guy was fantastic. I loved his exterior look (from a distance he kind of looks like Ghostface from SCREAM, so he’s scary right off the bat.) I loved the look of the actor as well. He reminded me of that piece of shit Nazi Reinhard Heydrich. I also thought they totally nailed his emotional life and the way he should carry himself. He seemed like he was on the verge of tears all the time, only it wasn’t because he was pouting, but more that he was always on the verge of exploding.

    Bad things:
    1) That Super Star Killer Thingee is very silly, in every way.
    2) Ford and Leia never have a single moment in the film together that works. They just keep expositioning about their son and repeating themselves. It reminded me of watching a Harry Potter movie where none of the adults ever know what to say to Harry so they just keep telling him over and over how much he reminds them of his mom and dad.
    3) Leia tells Rey at the end “May the Force be with you.” Why would she say that? Did they have a conversation about using the force? Did they talk about what just happened? I feel like the whole, “I just saw your son murder your ex-husband and then I might have killed your son” conversation is kind of emotionally important. It was weird merely to imply it might have happened with this popular catch phrase.
    4) Did I miss something, or did we not see them actually destroy the oscillator thing? They were like, “It’s only partially damaged”, then we saw the fight in the forest, then the planet started falling apart. Maybe that would have been worth showing.
    5) Vader was powerful, but Dooku still kicked his ass at first. Luke was powerful, but Vader still kicked his ass at first. It made the villain seem really weak at the end to not obliterate Fin in about 0.5 seconds and then to be beaten by Rey, someone who has little training as a swordman and no force training.

  38. “5) Vader was powerful, but Dooku still kicked his ass at first. Luke was powerful, but Vader still kicked his ass at first. It made the villain seem really weak at the end to not obliterate Fin in about 0.5 seconds and then to be beaten by Rey, someone who has little training as a swordman and no force training.”

    I think that was an intentional reversal, Kylo Ren is not a fully formed Sith Lord like Vader was, he’s still green, but I have a feeling that he’s going to come back ten times more powerful than before.

  39. UPTON SINCLAIR’S OIL!!
    UPTON SINCLAIR’S OIL!!
    UPTON SINCLAIR’S OIL!!
    UPTON SINCLAIR’S OIL!!
    UPTON SINCLAIR’S OIL!!

    Subtlety – very well made points as always and I don’t disagree with you in the slightest. I wish that there had been more at stake dramatically and emotionally to really justify those final duels to their fullest potentials, but it absolutely worked for me during my viewing of the film anyway. Granted, it could have and should have been much more powerfully setup and paid off and I’d be the first to admit that.

    Compare Rey v Ren to Furiosa v Joe and it ain’t even a contest. Shit, compare MOST things to that and it ain’t even a contest. But I can’t deny that when Rey finally took hold of the lightsaber, as predictable as that shit was always going to be, I felt a chill. At that moment the movie had bypassed my analytical ramparts entirely and as someone who finds it hard to lose themselves in most films I was absolutely fine with that.

  40. Skani, my bad. I sort of jumped to a conclusion I now see isn’t there…

  41. SPOILERS I GUESS YEAH NOW I THINK ABOUT IT YEAH SPOILERS
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    Mr Subtlety is right.

    The more I think about it the less I like the film.

    As a business model, no doubt via the instructions Abrams was given before hand, it does it’s job, it’s a box ticking exercise: some new stuff, some old, call backs galore, re-do plot points from Eps 4-6, keep everyone happy. On that score, it’s fine.

    And to be fair, some of the new stuff works: I liked Rey and Finn and the little robot. The other newbies, though, left me cold – Shiny Lady Stormtrooper who gets to do nothing, the tiny wrinkly thing, Pasolini’s Decameron, and Emo Solo – nah, not for me. The last one in particular I found to be just such an uninteresting character it actually hurt.

    The Luke thing – well, such a cop-out it’s shocking, really. “Leave it til episode 8”, was clearly the mandate there. It’s not only piss weak storytelling but it goes against the character completely. It could be argued it’s continuing the SW tradition of families causing all sorts of bad space shit, but really it’s criminal that he’s essentially not in the film.

    I kept my expectations low but fuck.

    (I also think REDACTED isn’t dead, but maybe that’s a discussion for another day.)

  42. Man, you guys really are impossible to please sometimes, aren’t you?

    I’ll tell you why FORCE AWAKENS is a solid movie, it has the first “save the cat” moment I’ve seen in a movie in ages.

    A save the cat moment is when the protagonist does something nice to establish why we should care about this character (although it doesn’t have to be quite strictly that, just something that sets up the character, one example being when Marty blows out Doc’s giant speaker in BTTF), in TFA it’s when Rey’s gives up the chance to get a ton of rations to save BB-8’s life, that right there is proof that it’s a cut above the usual modern blockbusters, most movies today simply go “here’s this character” without establishing why we should really care.

    Captain Phasma was a little underutilized though, maybe she’ll be back?

  43. FORCE AWAKENS is an all around solid movie, is it flawless? No (bot how many movies are?), but I don’t think there’s anything major wrong with it besides the usual nitpicks the internet loves to find.

    I just don’t understand why movies like FURY ROAD get a pass where the entire internet agrees it’s good but not something like FORCE AWAKENS, that’s not to take anything from FURY ROAD, it’s an awesome movie yes, but this just seems totally random to me and it only happens once every several years, I guess FORCE AWAKENS had the bad luck to come out the same year as FURY ROAD because the internet was fresh out of free passes.

    I mean come on people, for the first time since 1983 we get a Star Wars that’s actually a good movie and that’s still not enough for you people?

  44. For now, I’ll just say that the film was the best case scenario with JJ Abrams directing. Overall, I really liked it. It was well crafted, and I really got into the new characters. I also got a sense of deja vu throughout.

  45. Looking back at my comment made me realize I goofed. I originally wrote a spoiler warning in between paragraphs but must’ve accidentally erased it while rewriting the last paragraph. Sorry if was too spoilery.

  46. Well I got tired of trying to avoid spoilers so I snuck out to see it before work yesterday and man I thought it was pretty damn great.

    I do feel like it was a bit rushed… must be a lot of juicy stuff on the cutting room floor. I kinda want an Extended Edition. If Disney is gonna steal that LOTR marketing maneuver, this’ll be the movie they try it out on. And hey, that seems okay to me.

    But yeah, for the first time in like 10 years I’m gonna go back and see a movie again in the theaters. I guess that means something.

  47. Griff – I think from now on, on this site at least, we should maybe ditch the phrase “save the cat” and replace it with the phrase “save the bull terrier”.

  48. Jesus! shading FURY ROAD just to make this one seem more favorable? Have we really sunk that low?

    Granted I will never entertain such a topic since I will never bother seeing this STAR WARS but something tells me that objectionally it’s not even a quarter as compelling as FURY ROAD was.

  49. Broddie – I hope you didn’t misinterpret what I was saying about FURY ROAD as I only ever throw big, bright, beautiful sun beams its way.

  50. Oh nah it wasn’t in response to the FR mention in your post mixalot it was in reference to griff suggesting that FURY ROAD got some pass just because people wanted to be forgiving and nice and wondering why the same courtesy isn’t being extended to Disney’s Star Wars.

    As if FURY ROAD didn’t earn those accolades on it’s own merits. Especially since unlike TFA it had so much doubt in it’s direction all through pre-release especially from people who thought Dr. Miller wouldn’t be able to hack it since he hadn’t done adult live action in so long.

  51. SPOILERS I GUESS YEAH NOW I THINK ABOUT IT YEAH SPOILERS
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    You know what, though, I gotta say, I am kinda excited about Part 8. Someone up there said Abrams did his part in the plan, to reintroduce a big, commercial franchise and check off all the boxes and give the fanboys what they think they want. I think that’s right, but I do think they set up enough good things here that now that we’ve got a lot of the references and fanservice out of the way, the next one is really set up to do something cool. They’ve got a hell of a cast now, likable characters who aren’t carbon-copies of the old ones and might genuinely have some interesting interactions if they ever get the chance to be in their own movie. And it would be a movie I definitely want to see.

    Come to think of it, this is the first STAR WARS ever, I think, which kinda ends with a cliffhanger. Even EMPIRE seems pretty resolved –they’ll have to rescue Han in the next one, but it resolves all its central conflicts. FORCE AWAKENS is all about introducing stuff, but leaves any resolution for the next one (actually I think this is its Achilles heel; it has no answers about its actual central question –where is Luke, and what’s he up to?– so it has to introduce a transparently pointless mini-boss (death star 3) so it has something to resolve.) It leaves us with many more questions than answers.

    It’s a little lazy and frustrating, but I gotta admit, the questions are interesting enough that I really want those answers. Who is Snoke, and what’s his deal (and is he 50 feet tall, or is that just the hologram)? What is Kylo Ren doing that he thinks is so important? What’s Luke thinking, running off in the middle of everything? Who are Rey’s parents, and why is her father Luke? Will Iko Uwais and Yuyan Ruhian be back to have a knock-down-drag-out-fight with Chewie? How come the universe is so full of millennials all the sudden (who puts a 30-year-old ginger in charge of the entire Imperial New Order fleet!?)

    As much as FORCE AWAKENS frustrated me, I admit it got me really salivating for some answers. I think a brilliant part 8 could really redeem this one as a necessary evil. It falls apart too much in the last third for me to really call it good, but compared with the equally unnecessary and fan-service-y JURASSIC WORLD, this is such an enormously better movie that I don’t want to be too harsh on it. It’s a pretty lazy way to bring back the franchise, but it did bring back the franchise — and if it has faults, it also sets up the next movie to correct those faults. If it doesn’t quite deliver itself, it certainly has enough good pieces to recall to a true SW fan the subtitle of a certain part IV.

  52. You mean to tell me I suffered through all this hype and the movie itself ends up being just another fucking teaser?

    It’s never gonna stop, is it? This is life now. This is the way things are. Just fuckin’ Star Wars all the way down.

  53. “I think that was an intentional reversal, Kylo Ren is not a fully formed Sith Lord like Vader was, he’s still green, but I have a feeling that he’s going to come back ten times more powerful than before.”

    That doesn’t help though, because even if Kylo was less an enemy at the time than Vader or Dooku, Rey had even less training than Luke or Anakin at the time of her fight. A lot less. Like, she had only been aware of her powers for a few hours. And that still doesn’t explain why a run-of-the-mill stormtrooper/sanitation expert with one battle under his belt was hanging with Kylo for any space of time. Fin even wounded Kylo! Can you imagine Han wounding Vader in a light saber duel in Ep. 4?

  54. Mr. Majestyk – Pretty scary to see for somebody who’s been a movie fan for a couple of decades now right?

    Welcome to the 21st century pop culture landscape. I’d like to thank Marvel Studios.

    I hope that the Zach Snyder steered DC extended universe avoids those same traps. On the flip side I’m with Subtlety on the episode 8 thing. I can’t front cuz I do plan on seeing that one because it’s the new ryan Johnson movie and I like Brian Johnson

  55. SPOILERS!
    SPOILERS!
    SPOILERS!
    SPOILERS!
    SPOILERS!
    SPOILERS!
    SPOILERS!
    SPOILERS!

    I bought Rey defeating Ren, because the dude had just been shot in the fucking stomach, and he just went through some pretty traumatic events. I don’t think his head was in the game. It’s clear that this the explanation from the film, and for me it’s enough of an explanation.

  56. Meant Rian Johnson but google voice bla bla bla plus I submitted it too early by mistake.

    Continuing where I left off like episode eight will do with this movie I really didn’t plan to watch any Disney star wars until they got Johnson for 8. I’m watching it because it’s a Johnson movie the same way I always avoid this one because it’s by Abrams and also because I could never put myself through ever watching the biggest spoiler in this movie actually happen on the screen. Sorry guys you know I greatly respect your tastes but no, can’t do it.

    From the little I saw and outright hated from JURASSIC 4 I really really doubt I would see the one by Colin Tomorrow. For me the sequel trilogy is going to be a one-off. However besides an SW from the BRICK guy if they made say JEDI ADVENTURES FEAT. OBI-WAN KENOBI & MACE WINDU starring McGreggor and Sam Jackson and LANDO & SON with Billy Dee Williams and Michael B Jordan I’m not going to act like they will not have my money at their respective box office. You listening Disney?

  57. But Marvel’s films just do what their source material has always done. Star Wars was designed to tell a story in three parts, not just duck around endlessly with unanswered questions so rubes keep coming back for more.

    Okay. Back to the Star Wars talk embargo. I will be lurking, though. One day I’ll see this outrageously adequate piece of shit and I’ll want every bonehead plot development spoiled for me well ahead of time.

  58. …and make TRON 3 while you’re at it dammit! It’s not like you can’t afford the risk. Especially now with Star Wars and Marvel in your stable of IPs.

  59. Well Majestyk to be fair Star Wars is modern serial adventures. So in that sense them being this blatantly episodic is understandable I suppose. That’s also another reason I’m okay with jumping into the story halfway with Johnson’s and jumping back out before it’s done and wrapped by Colin Tomorrow. That’s what a lot of people used to do with matinee serials back in the day I’m just going to carry on tradition.

    I will say this though fellas. Going off the spoilers of this one here it’s very very clear what’s going to happen in the next 2.

    So my suggestion is to not set yourself up in advance for disappointment by thinking that the next ones will not parrot plot beats and elements from the OT because they’ll probably do that even more so than this one. Especially since it’s the one element that a lot of the general public finds forgiving since they eat up nostalgia like a Mogwai eats food after midnight.

    This will be most transparent when son of Han gets redeemed Anakin style thanks to granddaughter of Ben or daughter of Luke whichever one she ends up being by the end of episode 9.

  60. Forgot to type SPOILERS BECAUSE IT’S NOT A TRAP before my last post there. Mea culpa. Please avoid the third paragraph of my last post if you can anybody that’s still interested in actually watching this banta poodoo.

  61. Actually it’s the fourth but eh semantics. After all it is a discussion thread for a series where the fourth entry is actually the original. You guys should be used to that type of stuff by now.

  62. Broddie – I’m not “shading” FURY ROAD, I’m not even saying FORCE AWAKENS is as a good as FURY ROAD, but I do think FORCE AWAKENS is awesome and I don’t understand why the internet can’t have two movies that they unanimously say “yeah, that was pretty good” in a year.

    But I’m not all that surprised, I mean it’s STAR WARS, of course nerds are going to be hyper critical of it, for one thing JJ is no “friend of the internet” like Edgar Wright or whoever, so I knew that was going to work against the movie.

  63. Griff JURASSIC WORLD had millions sing “that was pretty good” and “it’s the best Jurassic Park sequel”. Unlike FURY ROAD it made STAR WARS money. Yes there was a minority that didn’t take to it but the same could be said of FURY ROAD. So I would say that’s another movie that had unanimous praise this year from the majority so I don’t think it’s impossible. Star Wars just came out dude. I say give it time. The more people that get to see it the more that will appreciate it I guess.

  64. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 19th, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Not sure whether Griff meant the same thing, but I will say I feel like people here are a bit too lenient with Mad Max and (more than) a bit too harsh on The Force Awakens. It’s probably just personal taste and all that, but Mad Max – although it deserves lots of respect for many things, including managing to exist – was not as perfect as the hype and the trailers suggested it would be. It’s a good film obviously and it deserves huge respect for lots of different reasons, but I still left the cinema somewhat disappointed. To compare, after Force Awakens I left the theater with a big smile on my face and my dick in my hand, jerking off into random people’s faces. It’s the one film this year that met my expectations (which were admittedly not as high as the ones I had for Mad Max, but it was close), and because of that it’s at the top of my list for 2015.

    I probably shouldn’t mention that Mad Max is number 3 behind Kingsman. Might lose credibility if I did that.

  65. FURY ROAD is great, but people act like it’s not just the only decent movie of 2015 but of the whole 2010s, which is a bit much.

    Speaking personally I did enjoy FORCE AWAKENS more than FURY ROAD because come on, it’s Star Wars!

    I’m not going to say it’s objectively better than FURY ROAD, that’s just my personal opinion.

  66. SPOILERS (KIND OF)
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    This movie is exactly what Star Wars fans wanted to see — i.e what they have already seen.

    I’m excited for Episode VIII, though. Now that this movie has mined pretty much every nostalgic element there was to mine from the original trilogy, there’s not much left to do besides something new.

  67. Top 3 Part 7s of 2015:

    1) Creed
    2) Fast and Furious 7
    3) The Force Awakens

  68. JTS— Don’t be too proud of this box office terror you’ve contributed to. The ability to create a fresh and innovative Star Wars movie is insignificant next to the power of The Mouse.

  69. Undefeated Gaul – FURY ROAD will definitely be below KINGSMAN on my list as well. So you shouldn’t feel too bad.

    Although in my case my ambivalence towards FURY ROAD is down to the quality of screening, rather than the quality of the film itself.

  70. Amazing Larry– What you just wrote doesn’t make any sense, either as a statement in itself or as a reply to what I wrote.

  71. JTS— It’s a riff on a Darth Vader quote (regarding the first Death Star) from Episode IV:

    http://quotegeek.com/quotes-from-movies/star-wars/265/

    Hope this helps to clarify.

  72. I’m just far more interested in the world building of Mad Max than Star Wars. It seems like there’s so much more history in characters we only glimpse, like the Doof has a whole story but we don’t need to know it. Even the war boys, as much as is spelled out, the whole spray paint tradition? There’s a whole story behind that but we just know they’re committed to it.

    I guess the first Star Wars had that with stuff like the cantina but it eventually became a world that explained everything and more.

    It’s personal taste. I’m just more interested in a post apocalyptic wasteland than space wizards but I think it’s fair to cite the superiority in world building and telling a contained story in that world.

  73. I think it’s funny that some people here have criticized the prequels on the grounds that they look like animation. So animation is inherently bad then. Boycott Pixar I guess.

    As for VII, I basically agree with those who have so far said that it inverts what worked and didn’t work about the prequels. This movie is more audience-friendly and has more character-based humor and warmth. But it also seems less deep or weighty in its themes, and seems to have little ambition beyond rehashing the plot of the original 1977 film, almost beat for beat. (So now three out of the four films featuring the original cast have been about blowing up a Death Star. There has got to be another plot to plug these guys into.)

    To me the biggest oversight – and this didn’t occur to me until the next day – is that Leia doesn’t get to do much. If Ren inherited his powers from her then where are her powers? “You have that power too. In time, you’ll learn to use it as I have,” promised Luke in RETURN OF THE JEDI. And yet after 30 years she doesn’t seem to have developed her abilities beyond the low-level “sensing what’s happened to someone” stuff she could already do in EMPIRE and JEDI. Instead, Han gets the futile mission to “bring our son home” when it seems she would be a much stronger candidate to take on a Force-user.

    That is a seriously missed opportunity. The “You have that power too” line was even reworked into one of the trailers, so it’s not like the new team forgot about it. And the film was written by Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote RETURN OF THE JEDI in the first place. And Carrie Fisher not only was in that film but is herself a script doctor in real life! So how the hell did everyone involved miss this? Just imagine how the audience would have reacted at the sight of Leia drawing a lightsaber and using it to open a can of whupass! Instead she spends the final battle watching from the sidelines with Threepio, for no apparent reason other than that’s what A NEW HOPE did. Is it mainly the Y chromosome that carries the midichlorians in the Skywalker family?

    On a more positive note, I enjoyed the action scenes a lot. There’s a certain weight to them – the lightsaber fights look like two people swinging baseball bats at each other. J.J. Abrams may be a journeyman when it comes to WRITING movies, but I don’t see how you can knock him as a director. His films are very entertaining to watch, the camerawork swoops and soars, the acting is full-on.

    And I don’t think I agree with the complaint that VII lacks scale. It may seem small in scale compared to the elaborate prequels, but remember that the OT films mainly took place in out-of-the-way, less-populated areas and that this film was consciously designed to match that feel.

    Basically, my heart greatly enjoyed the movie, while my brain wanted something more.

  74. INDONESIAN SPOILERS
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    Mr. Subtlety was the only one who brought this up even in passing here, I think – SPOILERS for real, are people not talking about this because they want to preserve the surprise for everyone on a dedicated spoiler chat, or did everyone just roll their eyes at this as more fan service, and don’t want to dignify it? SPOILERS – when the stars from “The Raid” showed up to have a showdown against Han, I got a chill and said to my buddy: “Man this is about to get interesting.” And then … whatever happened happened. Anybody know if they were speaking Bahasa, or a Bahasa-inflected alien language?

    As far as it goes, I’m with Griff on this one: I had a dumb smile on my face through the whole thing, which actually puts it on a level with “No Country for Old Men” and “The Departed” for me, and way above my (non-fanboy, never-watched-them-till-I was-an-adult) experience with any other “Star Wars,” I through VI. Yes, derivative as hell; yes, corporate overlords; but coincidences and fast-paced “and then this happened and then this” have always felt like the bread and butter of the series to me. They ARE kids’ serial adventures, in the best way – and I’d argue TFA nailed that vibe better than any of them. The emotional beats were quickly sketched, sure – but they worked for me, on that broad-strokes level … They hit my lizard heart they way they were supposed to.

    The main thing I felt could have been better was the music. On that one point, even the “Phantom Menace” had this one beat to hell: John Williams’ Darth Maul theme was more memorable than any of this new score, which surprised me. I wasn’t humming anything on the way out. I get what people are ragging about with the vaguely TV-quality vibe of the locations, too: just a lot of temperate woodland everywhere, like the X-Files. I really dug Rey’s line about never having known there was so much green in the galaxy – but wouldn’t that feeling of deliverance from her abandoned desert childhood have been better-served by a dripping, living jungle world, instead of … what? Something that looked like Vancouver?

  75. Curt, I really agree with you about Leia – it would have felt right to have her involved and come into her own at the climax. Just for the sake of argument though, can you imagine that it might have come down more to Carrie Fisher than Abrams and Kasdan? She’s been great in the media for this, but at this point in her life she also might not have been up for shooting hardcore action scenes. Harrison Ford was definitely showing his age too, running around all those space hallways.

  76. Amazing Larry — Ah okay, I admit I didn’t get the reference. Still doesn’t make any sense, but now I understand it’s kind of like something Vader said.

  77. Totorito, you raise a good point. However, I will respond by saying that Carrie Fisher is “only” 59. Ian McDiarmid was that age when III came out, Alec Guinness was 63 when IV came out, and Christopher Lee was nearly 80 when II came out, yet they all got their share of lightsaber action. And Harrison Ford (at 73) and Peter Mayhew (at 71) take part in the action far more than Fisher does.

    I guess I can’t completely rule out the possibility that Fisher had some health reason for not taking part in more action, or maybe the insurance wouldn’t cover her, or maybe she was simply unwilling to do more than a glorified cameo. Maybe we were lucky to have as much of her in the movie as we did. But the fact that the script never even suggests she might have wielded Jedi powers at some time leads me to think that it just never occurred to anyone.

  78. Ok, so now people bash on FURY ROAD because people here doesn´t like STAR WARS as much. Very immature and complete nonsense. Grow up.

  79. Curt: Here’s Abrams’ canned answer about Leia, which I just ran into.

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Why Leia Didn't Become a Jedi - IGN Video

    J.J. Abrams explains why Leia didn't become a Jedi after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.

    You’re right, my impression of Fisher also is that she could have done the action if she’d wanted to – but that Fisher doesn’t do what Fisher doesn’t want to do. I shouldn’t have implied it was all about age – I meant “up for” action scenes either temperamentally or physically or both, but then focused just on Harrison Ford’s creaky running. If there’s any truth in what Abrams says here, she may ultimately have liked the idea of being a respected general more than going through more green-screen paces.

  80. I just went to see the new JJ Abrams movie Star Trek 7: La Forge Awakens, and I have to say it was pretty good! If you liked JJ’s last two Star Treks, I think you’ll enjoy this one as well. It seemed like an odd choice to skip over parts 3-6 and go straight to part 7, but it pays off because we get to introduce a bunch of characters from The Next Generation, including the titular character Geordi La Forge.

    Now, a lot of hardcore Trekkies complained about the first two movies because they felt like departures from the old series. They said JJ took a very thoughtful sci-fi show and turned it into a fast-paced space adventure like Star Wars, which is fair. I actually didn’t have much of a problem with that, but if you did then you’re going to be disappointed in this new one because he takes it even farther in that direction. I swear people are actually using lightsabers in this movie and talking about the Force and the new Enterprise looks an awful lot like the Millennium Falcon. And for Geordi’s origin story, they decided to make him a stormtrooper! At first I thought that was going too far, but it works! I’m a little surprised they didn’t bother to show how he lost his sight, but I guess they’re saving that for the next one.

    As for the other Next Gen era characters, I think they managed to fit in almost everybody, although they do it in a tastefully subtle way that doesn’t rub your face in it. An early version of Data is basically just a robot shaped like a ball who rolls around and beeps instead of speaking. Bold choice. Picard shows up with one of those robotic bandanas like Lobot on Cloud City. I’m pretty sure I saw Quark in the background of the cantina scene.

    It is weird seeing Kirk suddenly so much older than the last movie (and he’s even played by Harrison Ford, another “homage” to the Star Wars movies, I think) but it’s even weirder that they decided to make Spock into a 7-foot-tall walking bear/dog-creature who only speaks in growls and barks. And Kahn is walking around in black robes and a helmet talking like Darth Vader. But you almost don’t mind because the plot races along at breakneck speed, and there’s so much flashy action and quirky, funny dialog that you almost forget to even question all the little things that seem off about it.

    So as a Star Trek movie, it definitely captures that sense of fun and adventure that I enjoyed in the TV series and movies, but it’s pretty shallow. No real meat to chew on when you start thinking about it afterwards. Kind of like the last two Star Treks. But to be fair, I should probably also compare this to the Star Wars films, since JJ is trying so hard to make his own version of that. Looking at it through that lens, I guess it works pretty well as a Star Wars movie, but that’s only because it’s basically a copy and pasted version of the original. The basic plot-line, the heroes, the villains, the main threat/macguffin all seem to be lifted directly from the first film. Almost like they wanted to do a remake that took no chances whatsoever. I mean, sure it’s a fast-paced action adventure movie that constantly reminds me of movies that I loved when I was a kid, and it’s far and away better than any of those Star Wars prequels, but it would have been nice if they at least tried to do something surprising. That’s my take anyway.

    So it’s a good thing it wasn’t actually a Star Wars movie.

  81. “Just imagine how the audience would have reacted at the sight of Leia drawing a lightsaber and using it to open a can of whupass!”

    Hiding under their seats cringing, I imagine. People probably thought it would be good to see Yoda with a lightsaber until they actually saw him hopping around with it.

  82. The Original Paul

    December 20th, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Curt – if the prequels looked like animation, they’d be better films. I can “buy into” a film like TOY STORY 3 or WALL-E easily, because I can accept that the world that’s depicted onscreen looks the way it does.

    What they actually look like is some kind of hyper-glossy sterilised version of the “real world”, or at least the world that they depict. This isn’t an alternate animated reality. This is supposed to be the “actual” reality – albeit one in which other planets, space flight, etc, is a thing – except that clearly, throughout the three films, it’s not. It’s a nine-hour long case of the “uncanny valley”. It looks unfinished. It’s telling that by far the most effective scene in all of the three prequels occurs in almost complete darkness.

    Jimbolo – I will defend somersaulting lightsaber Yoda to the death. It’s the only scene in any of the movies he’s in where he doesn’t come across as either exposition-guy or hateable smug condescending prick. It says a lot about how cute Frank Oz made puppet-Yoda that people actually seem to like him. I call it the “Captain America” factor. If the character is cute enough, or the actor is convincing enough, or the fanbase is rabid enough, they’ll be quite willing to overlook what a massive fucking douchebag the character they’re idolizing really is, and how much they have to nerf the other (more likeable) characters in order to make the asshole appear in a good light. Just how many Death Stars had Yoda killed with the power of his mind before he started “training” Luke, again?

  83. Ha ha! Okay, but a CGI Leia bouncing off the ceiling and running up walls like Sonic The Hedgehog with a lightsaber? Or Carrie Fisher wheezing as she stumbles around skewering stormtroopers? Come on, Man. That shit’s undignified for an old lady. You’d have hated it, guaranteed. And none of it would have been worth giving up Han’s angry dad “REN!” shout.

  84. I thought he called him Ben.

  85. Totorito, thanks for the link. Though the explanation that Abrams gives (she didn’t develop her abilities because she just didn’t want to?!) is unsatisfying, it’s good to know they at least thought about it.

    Jimbolo, maybe you’re right, it could have been embarrassing to see Fisher try to have a duel at her age. So I guess it’s a good thing the middle-aged Alec Guinness didn’t have a sword fight in A NEW HOPE back in 1977, because it would have ruined the movie to see him huffing and puffing in an undignified manner.

    Seriously, what Hollywood does when they want an untrained/unathletic actor to take part in a fight is that they either train the actor to fight, or they get a stunt double for the wide shots and reverse angles and only show the actor in tight close-ups. It doesn’t have to be prequel-style CGI acrobatics (which Alec Guinness didn’t do either). And THE FORCE AWAKENS wouldn’t have done that anyway since the movie was at such pains to recreate the analog feel of the original trilogy.

    Also, I’ll never understand the hatred of seeing Yoda with a lightsaber. The Jedi are warriors, and the idea that their revered leader should not be capable of physical combat has never made any sense and never will.

    I saw Episode II at a post-midnight opening night screening, and I’ve never heard an audience cheer so loudly and unanimously as when Yoda reached for his saber. In fact I’ve never heard any reports of theatrical audiences reacting to that scene in any other way – people only objected on the Internet, not in real life.

    Star Wars fans always surprise me by liking lightsaber duels less than I would expect. I guess it really was always only about Han and Chewie for these folks.

  86. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense for Yoda to be a swordsman, it’s that he looked like fucking Taz from looney tunes.

    What prequel apologists consistently seem to ignore is the fundamental lack of competence with which nearly every aspect of those films was executed.

    SPOILERS

    I think if you removed or significantly rethought the Han/Leia scenes in TFA, the other fan service stuff would have come off better, but as it is a taint of desperation permeates the whole affair and I identify those two endless dialogs as the source.

    There is a huge chasm between the breathless sense of adventure you feel from meeting Finn and Rey, and then once Han comes into play, stuff feels more perfunctory. Still, I like that he spent his post-RotJ years smuggling, rapscallioning, and presumably shooting first.

    Much has been made of Death Star 3’s stupidity, but at least it had its own ecosystem and shit. That was cool.

    I teared up at the very end. SPOILERS Hamill managed to milk more genuine pathos out of a wordless stare than his fellow elders did out of their entire roles. I have always thought it was a tremendous loss that Hamill was relegated to voice acting, although his contributions to that body of work are superlative. Good to have him back, even if he is only allowed to play one character.

  87. There’s nothing I hate more than when a film has plenty of flaws to choose from and some moron decides to criticize part of the movie that was actually well done. I don’t know why, but this is absolutely one of my pet peeves. When it comes to the prequels you have a whole host of flaws you can point out, but I still see people complain that the light saber battles were too choreographed. What the hell is wrong with people? It’s like they’re complaining that these scenes are too exciting or something? I enjoyed The Force Awakened, probably more than most people here by the looks of it. But at the very least there are a handful of action scenes in the prequels that are far and away better than anything we get in the new film.

  88. Just got back from first viewing. I thought this movie crushed it. It looked wonderful. It looked weighty–things and environments have real substance. It was full of heart. I loved the characters, pretty much uniformly. I could identify certain things I liked a bit less than others or minor nits, but I was thoroughly engaged and invested throughout. I had a great time.

  89. >>>I think it’s funny that some people here have criticized the prequels on the grounds that they look like animation. So animation is inherently bad then. Boycott Pixar I guess

    Oh, boy, Curt. I gotta agree w/ Original Paul on this. It has nothing to do with whether one likes animated films, it’s the principle of creating ostensibly “live action” prequels to a cherished trilogy of undoubtedly live action films and then having at least 85% of what is on screen be animation. In the original trilogy (and in TFA), even when they are not doing actual location shooting, it feels like they are on real, carefully constructed sets that have a substance to them (Dagobah, for example). The prequels introduced a number of exceptionally cartoony characters (the Gungans and a number of other characters had a truly Roger Rabbit-esque quality) and there is this uncanny valley quality to almost all of the “locations” and the way even the humans interact with their green screens that completely takes me out of the film. I love this quote from Justin Chang at Variety (on TFA): “Gone, happily, are the prequels’ ADD-inducing background shots of spaceships zipping across a sterile cityscape like goldfish trapped in a giant screen saver.”

    Full disclosure: I don’t much gravitate toward animated films (Wall-E being a striking exception).

  90. Also, Subtlety,
    >>>Even things which are supposed to be huge and epic feel small-scale; it really feels a lot of the time like there are only a couple hundred people left in the universe.

    I went back yesterday and watched ANH before watching TFA today, and I have to say they seem about equal in terms of visualized population density. ANH certainly does not have markedly more diversity or density of organic/droid life forms and may even have a bit less. Same in terms of number and diversity of locations and planet types.

  91. I liked both Abrams TREKS quite a bit and have a feeling I liked INTO DARKNESS more than most people. I don’t think STAR TREK II has the same MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL status where it is inherently cringe-worthy to quote it. But Star Wars kinda DOES have that status and it is a bit eye-rolling to hear callbacks to the Trash Compactor shoved in there.

    But. But. Other things are not superficial callbacks. Using practical effects to convey a world with actual weight and physical substance is not a superficial thing, it makes a huge fucking difference. When BB-8 first flees from the First Order attack, through the desert at night, and this puppet alien lifts its head and blinks its glowing red eyes at the droid, that is in my opinion real fucking fantasy film making. Bringing back Kasdan, bringing back real effects, bringing back chemistry and humor between your characters, all of this is why Abrams is an effective producer.

    I really liked this comment from Walter Chaw (filmfreakcentral)’s review:
    “Star Wars, in the simplicity of its archetype and the obscurity of its universe, promised that while the world may be mysterious, the individual’s place in it was secure. It is the triumph of mythology to contextualize the un-contextualizable, and Lucas, with his liberal cribbing of Kurosawa and Joseph Campbell, tapped into a desire to be special and good and brave.”

    It’s the best explanation I’ve heard of the function of fantasy, which I think is often thought of as lesser than science fiction because it aspires towards world building (a man-childish pursuit) instead of social commentary. But there is a practical reason to set Star Wars in an obscure, unknown world, because it makes it that much more powerful to juxtapose the universality of the hero’s journey against it. I think Abrams *gets* this and I fucking love it when Finn says he rescued Poe because it was the Right Thing to Do, even if he takes it back a second later.

  92. I think the core of it is being organic, which is an overused term, but not just organic but physical. The OT and TFA are brimming over with hope, wonder, substance, humor, grit, love, pathos, heart, friendship, physicality, and, just, fun. Achieving that balance. Of course, there is all of the great fantasy sci-fi stuff, the amazing characters, the worldbuilding, and the Campbellian mythology. But at the root of it is engaging characters you believe, you watch them develop through earned character arcs, you care about them, and you just enjoy being with them.

  93. …and they do all of this in the context of a film where some of the main themes are fascism, oppression, and even genocide!

  94. Are there any themes of fascism, oppression or genocide in TFA? I’m still not sure about the relationship between the New Republic, the Resistance and the First Order. They were in such a rush to appropriate the iconography of the OT that they forgot to provide any context for it.

  95. SPOILERS (NOT REALLY, BUT JUST TO BE SAFE)
    SPOILERS (NOT REALLY, BUT JUST TO BE SAFE)
    SPOILERS (NOT REALLY, BUT JUST TO BE SAFE)
    SPOILERS (NOT REALLY, BUT JUST TO BE SAFE)
    SPOILERS (NOT REALLY, BUT JUST TO BE SAFE)

    I thought, overall, TFA rose to the level of ‘fine.’ Maybe even ‘good.’ But I don’t get how it could be praised for “worldbuilding.” Every single aspect of its “world” was a purposeful nostalgia-inducing rehash of something from the original trilogy.

  96. The Original Paul

    December 20th, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Renfield:

    “It’s not that it doesn’t make sense for Yoda to be a swordsman, it’s that he looked like fucking Taz from looney tunes.”

    And you think this is a bad thing?

    Curt:

    “I saw Episode II at a post-midnight opening night screening, and I’ve never heard an audience cheer so loudly and unanimously as when Yoda reached for his saber. In fact I’ve never heard any reports of theatrical audiences reacting to that scene in any other way – people only objected on the Internet, not in real life.”

    My reaction could be summarised as something like this: OMGHOLYFUCKINGSHITTHISISAWESOME!!!!!!

  97. SPOILERS, THEY WERE ALL DEAD THE WHOLE TIME
    SPOILERS, THEY WERE ALL DEAD THE WHOLE TIME
    SPOILERS, THEY WERE ALL DEAD THE WHOLE TIME
    SPOILERS, THEY WERE ALL DEAD THE WHOLE TIME
    SPOILERS, THEY WERE ALL DEAD THE WHOLE TIME

    Crustacean, I would say the Hitler-esque rally (pretty much everything about Hux), the mass slaughter in the first scene, and the 3 or 4 planets being obliterated simultaneously, as is pretty much everything about what storm troopers are and do. It’s certainly totalitarian and genocidal if not fascist.

    JTS, I would not so much say that this film is uniquely worldbuilding so much as the star wars universe is a rich world, so I guess TFA is world-inhabiting or world-interpolating or whatever. I honestly don’t really know what worldbuilding is (I heard Subtlety say it and figured it’s a thing).

  98. SPOILERS, THE LUKE GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY SUBPLOT SEEMED FORCED
    SPOILERS, THE LUKE GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY SUBPLOT SEEMED FORCED
    SPOILERS, THE LUKE GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY SUBPLOT SEEMED FORCED
    SPOILERS, THE LUKE GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY SUBPLOT SEEMED FORCED
    SPOILERS, THE LUKE GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY SUBPLOT SEEMED FORCED

    Also, the idea that all of the stormtroopers are basically kidnapped and enslaved or brainwashed qualifies in terms of genocide and oppression.

  99. The Original Paul

    December 20th, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    On the other hand, Renfield:

    “Using practical effects to convey a world with actual weight and physical substance is not a superficial thing, it makes a huge fucking difference.”

    Especially when the CGI world that’s been created has the glossy sheen of “uncanny valley” throughout the entire running time of three films. That lightsaber duel towards the end of AotC – a large part of which takes place in near-complete darkness – is IMO the most effective scene of the prequels for many, many reasons, but this is definitely one of them.

  100. The Original Paul

    December 20th, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    RBatty:

    “When it comes to the prequels you have a whole host of flaws you can point out, but I still see people complain that the light saber battles were too choreographed. What the hell is wrong with people?”

    Ok, I’ll take this one.

    We’re not complaining that they’re “too choreographed” (in point of fact, the Obi-Wan / Vader fight in A NEW HOPE was a letdown for me the first time I saw it). We’re complaining that the lightsaber battles are not used to build character, or do anything other than provide a spectacle.

    Look at the difference between Luke’s battle with Vader when the Emperor tries to turn him to the dark side in RETURN OF THE JEDI, and the Darth Maul / Jedi battle in THE PHANTOM MENACE (I can’t even remember what Neeson’s character’s name was in that film.) When Luke momentarily gives in to his “dark side”, he doesn’t wield the saber like a sword, he wields it like a club. He’s physically battering Vader into submission, and the expression on his face says everything about what he’s feeling. It’s not just a good bit of choreography, it’s showing us the conflict within the man. There’s a huge emotional payoff to that fight.

    Compare and contrast to THE PHANTOM MENACE. “Pretty vacant” sums it up nicely. Yes, it looks nice (although see my “uncanny valley” sentiments above), it has the dramatic music, etc; but there’s just no reason to care about the outcome. I don’t give a shit about Darth Maul or whoever the fuck Neeson was supposed to be playing. I’ve basically seen nothing from either of them up until that point anyway. As for MacGregor’s character, well, there’s an additional factor at work because anybody who’s seen the previous movies knows at this point what happens to him anyway, but that’s hardly a reason for this one specific scene to not engage me. All I ask is that every scene tells a story that’s engaging or emotionally significant. This lightsaber battle didn’t give me that.

    I think there are two very specific reasons why people might keep bringing this fairly minor point up:

    1) Because how they feel about this scene also describes how they feel about the prequels in general (certainly it’s how I feel about them).

    2) Because their criticisms were validated when the equivalent scene in AotC turned out to be the best thing by far of the three prequels. Seriously, just watch those lightsaber duels again. It’s one awesome moment after another. It’s the one time in all three movies where I was completely engaged.

    Shockingly, I didn’t hate AotC in the cinema; even though I think that by any reasonably objective standards you could apply to a film, it’s pretty awful. I do give it credit for trying to fix some of PHANTOM MENACE’s problems – the lack of humanity within the characters, the clunky dialogue, the emphasis on racial stereotype aliens, Jar Jar, etc – even though I think, for the most part, the way they went about doing so failed miserably. I honestly think that if the rest of the prequels were as good as that one scene, everybody would be talking about how great they were, and how much TFA had to live up to. I think it’s true that although I have no resentment against the prequels for failing to live up to the previous three films, I have quite a lot against them for showing exactly what they could be, in that one single great scene, but not living up to it anywhere else.

  101. The Original Paul

    December 20th, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    And on a lighter note, since it appears that my “Jar Jar is a Sith Lord” theory has been co-opted by the corporate scum, can I suggest the following alternative instead?

    1) Indiana Jones wouldn’t have given his father a drink from the grail without first testing it himself. If he got it wrong, his father would die an agonizing death – that we’ve already seen. Indy is quite willing to face death for his father – that we’ve also seen.
    2) If Indiana Jones took so much as a sip from the cup of immortality, he’d live forever.
    3) In KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, Indy becomes the first recorded case of a person having actual contact with an alien species.
    4) There’s only so much archeology that a man can do in thousands of years of eternal life. Clearly Indy is gonna get bored of Earth; and unlike most people, he knows for a fact that there are ways off of it without needing to rely on pathetic human technology. (Moon landing? What moon landing?)

    If you really think about it, it’s pretty much inevitable that Indy would flag down the first flying saucer that came his way. Maybe hitch-hiked his way through a convenient wormhole to a galaxy far, far away? I think I’ve made my point here. Let’s just say that only the most naive idiot would think it’s coincidental that both Jones and Solo are played by the exact same guy.

    My theory really only has one flaw in it. How the heck was Han Solo also seen piloting a submarine in THE WIDOWMAKER? I can’t fit that one into the timeline somehow. Oh well.

  102. Snoke is Jar Jar sans ears. At least I hope so.

  103. SPOILERS BB-8 IS JAR-JAR’S NEPHEW
    SPOILERS BB-8 IS JAR-JAR’S NEPHEW
    SPOILERS BB-8 IS JAR-JAR’S NEPHEW
    SPOILERS BB-8 IS JAR-JAR’S NEPHEW
    SPOILERS BB-8 IS JAR-JAR’S NEPHEW

    Skani: But all of that stuff, including the even-more-blunt Nazi imagery, is rehashed from the OT. The arc of the OT was all about the scrappy rebel underdogs overthrowing an evil fascist empire. There’s no thematic purpose to that stuff in TFA and the power dynamics are completely glossed over; it’s just there to give people more of what they liked before. I did like the stuff about the Stormtroopers being kidnapped and brainwashed from birth, as well as the small humanising touches that made them seem more like flesh-and-blood people than they ever have before.

  104. SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
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    SPOILERS

    The stuff about Stormtroopers being kidnapped and brainwashed from birth is cool, but Finn’s personality (which is otherwise fine, he’s a fun character and well acted) doesn’t reflect that. He’s very smiley and sociable and adjusted. There’s a very brief allusion to him being traumatized when he takes off his helmet after the opening massacre, but nothing after that. I think it would make more sense for him to be a new recruit that was seduced by First Order propaganda, or something along those lines.

  105. Paul:

    Yoda has taken up his sword many times, and in many dire situations. Each time he did so it was an affair of myth and legend. But then Master Yoda ascended beyond such rudiments, and the greatest of his battles were fought in Mind and Spirit, in conquest of the final limits of the Light and Dark sides. To a casual observer it may appear that Master Yodes was simply chilling, but the truth is that he was always embroiled in the heart of the Great Struggle.

    Then came a day when it came time to cast aside these lofty notions and take up sabre of light once more, for this was how dire was the events of Attack of the Clones. When Yoda reached for his lightsaber One Last Time, every audience member understood the moment’s gravity and were bowled the fuck over. But the truth is that Yoda Failed that day. “Into exile, I must go” he uttered, and many wept.

    ….at least that’s how I wish it had gone. I still don’t see the basic storytelling chops needed to do justice to a “Yoda finally kicks ass” climax. But I appreciate that this is one of the few moments where the PT attempts to wield its properties with genuine reverence, even if it fucks it up as usual.

  106. SPOILER
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    @JTS
    While i liked Boyega as he is a likeable fellow, Finn whole character arc was too weird for me.
    Finn is just a weird character to me
    The first thing we see him do is hold a dying stormtrooper in his arms who smears his helmet with blood, then he see the execution of innocent people.
    So he wants out that makes sense, he befriends the one that killed his “buddy” and just starts blasting through other stormtroopers.
    This i don’t get it. Wasn’t the dying stormtrooper his first trauma? The first death supposedly was pretty shocking, but minutes later he is going gungho against some poor stormies.
    Also everytime he would go “you didn’t see the things i saw” to supposedly some ancient aliens really amuses me. He literally had his first battle the day before, and before that he was a goddamn janitor.
    Then he managed to put a competitive fight against Kylo,arguably the best fighter of his army who to be fair was injured, but got his shit kicked out by TR-8T0R the random electro tonfa stormtrooper

    My guess is that he was bullied by his fellow soldiers, but even then, he lived with them for at least 20 years, but he shows no remorse of just mowing down them

  107. “Also everytime he would go “you didn’t see the things i saw” to supposedly some ancient aliens really amuses me. He literally had his first battle the day before, and before that he was a goddamn janitor.”

    I think he was referring to how the First Order operates, not things in the galaxy in general and how would an outsider know anything about the First Order, ancient alien or not?

  108. Crustacean, you are right. When I said this:

    “Of course, there is all of the great fantasy sci-fi stuff, the amazing characters, the worldbuilding, and the Campbellian mythology. ”

    …I wasn’t suggesting that TFA was, in and of itself, doing incredible worldbuilding. My point was that, although the creatures and worldbuilding and all the sci-fi fantasy trappings are a huge part of the appeal of Star Wars (as a series/universe/mythology), what ultimately makes them work is the characters, warmth, human struggle, relationships, heroism, humor, etc. So, my point was not that the epic worldbuilding of TFA is what makes it good, but that epic worldbuilding is secondary to story, dialogue, character construction and development, etc. Thus, for me, TFA succeeds simply by faithfull inhabiting and embellishing that world and creating new, interesting characters that feel like they belong there, because what it delivers in spades is the fun, heart, and emotional resonance of the OT.

    I do agree that the whole rise/constitution of the First Order and power politics are pretty much hand-waved over. I think it’s a big challenge to construct a credibly evil and powerful and iconographic threat on the scale of the Empire in just 30 years of time, so falling back on the old “RotJ was a fatal blow against Sidious and the empire in all its glory, but not enough to fully vanquish all its remnants” is probably the best bet. It’s hard to equal the empire or plausibly shoehorn in some new threat as great and iconographic as the empire, so I think this is the best and most plausible they could do. And it worked for me.

  109. And again, for me at least, the contrast of TFA with TPM (or any of the PT) proves my point: heart, character, good dialogue, fun, human drama, believale characters, and physical substantiality (collectively) trump expansive worldbuilding alone any day of the week.

  110. Paul – If you’re arguing that the films failed to make us care about these characters outside of the lightsaber battles, then I completely agree with you. But there are people out there who actually claim they are “too choreographed.” I wasn’t really aiming that comment at anyone here. I was merely venting some frustration, because I had heard that criticism multiple times elsewhere.

    I’ll somewhat defend the overuse of CGI in the prequels. I’ll admit that too often they seem cartoony, and I’m sure the use of green screen affected the performances (in addition to the fact that Lucas just doesn’t work well with actors). But I also think there was an artistic purpose in making the world look shiny and bright. The galaxy is less fragmented for most of the prequels. Although the Republic is decaying from within, there’s at least a sense that this institution has maintained a sort of equilibrium for generations, and Lucas tries to portray this visually. I’m glad that we’ve gone back to a grittier look in The Force Awakens, but I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that there’s sometimes a purpose to Lucas’s madness.

    Anyway, I did like The Force Awakens. It was a much more enjoyable experience than Episodes I and II, although I don’t think I would put it ahead of Episode III.

  111. When Yoda hulked out on Christopher Lee I cheered like a foodie at a free all you can eat buffet. I’ll never be ashamed to admit that.

  112. I enjoyed the Yoda fight, as well, though it was definitely cartoony. And, man, talk about “fan service” — that was fan service if I ever saw it.

    I think the prequels are interesting failures. I do give Lucas credit for what are some of the most ambitious and unusual big budget blockbusters ever, and I’m sure his technical accomplishments w/ the PT have had an influence. I just think he lost touch with what made Star Wars great, and so in a sense he pimped out some of the most beloved characters and ideas of all time in order to make this crazy gonzo vanity project. Not that this is what he set out to do, but it’s the net result. So, when he talks about this one satisfying the fans (in a kind of passive aggressive manner), it’s like, yes, how about satisfying the people who ratified the OT as one of the greatest cinematic achievements ever by giving them what they loved about those films? That’s not pandering or fan service: that’s just having a sense of great cinematic storytelling and the ability to discern and respect what it is about your previous work that people so loved. And if you can’t or won’t do that, then why use this beloved property and all the sentiment and goodwill it has achieved to do this other thing that really betrays the essence of what built that reserve of sentiment and goodwill in the first place. So, it’s not a question of refusing to pander to the fans; it’s an issue of slapping the fans in the face (not intentionally, mind you; I think Lucas just lost his way in the technology and echo chamber of micro managing the PT).

  113. Skani – I agree we should assume that the First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire. The use of the same tech, uniforms, techniques etc. highly suggests this is the case.

  114. Also, I think RotS gets way too much of a pass. The Anakin character arc is very poorly executed and just over-telegraphed. Compare to



    Adam Driver. He conveys more of the struggle between the dark and the light in a single scene than Anakin can muster in all of the PT and esp. RoTS. I honestly don’t get the love for RoTS. The character arc of Anakin is laughable, the dialogue continues to just utterly eat it, and the final showdown on volcano planet is a big overwrought, anti-climactic video game-looking goof. Just everything about it is so overstated and completely on the nose and bombastic. Compare that to the Kylo confrontation on that bridge, which is just two people in the foreground and very nuanced. It’s not even close.





  115. Irritable, yeah, no question in my mind it rose from the ashes, but I think the issue these other guys are raising is: is that a narrative copout or shortcut, and is it a betrayal of the RotJ victory? In some ways, I think the answer is yes. But I think it is frankly pretty plausible. Take what we’ve seen in post-Saddam Iraq or post-Gorbachev middle east. Democratic nation-building ain’t easy, clean, or quick.

  116. SPOILER
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    SPOILERSPOILER
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    Well, I completely understand why people have a problem with the prequels; their problems are self-evident. As everyone here knows, I still find them fascinating and worthwhile despite warts and all, but I would never fault someone else for not being able to get past some of the cringe-ier moments.

    However, I don’t know that I would agree that the father/son confrontation with Ren is “nuanced,” simply because we really know nothing whatsoever about Ren or his relationship with his father. Maybe later movies will make it more clear what exactly he’s thinking, but as of now I couldn’t really tell you why either of them does what they do. Obviously Ren is somewhat conflicted because he looks like he’s about a minute away from tears every moment he’s on-screen, but we don’t really learn enough about him for that to mean anything, or even know what he’s conflicted about or what he’s trying to accomplish. Frankly I thought the confrontation was as overbaked and unmotivated as anything in the prequels, and derivative to boot. We hope things will work out well because we love Han, but other than that the conflict there is completely undefined. And his fight with Finn/Rey is even more unmotivated. What’s he even doing out there anyway?

  117. …………..
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    …………..

    Subtlety, when I say nuance, I just mean in terms of the acting, dialogue, and the way the scene is visually set up and unfolds. It feels like a real, human moment, full of love, pain, and ambivalence between a father and a son. It is relatively “quiet” moment (maybe not literally, but in the sense of not being busy with activity, objects, frenetic movement, or moustache twirling). And Ford and Driver just crush it. Even though it’s the first time they are together, I immediately believe that they are father and son and I feel the wounds and angst and hope of reconciliation and tragedy.

    I think the conflict is very well-defined, and I think the mistake is believing that the move needs or even benefits from actually showing us (through excessive setup scenes) or telling us (through even more exposition-speak than we already get, which is plenty) all the tortured history of Ben and Han’s relationship. That is why I think prequels are fighting such an uphill battle: the fundamental premise is that all of the background details and machinations that led up to where things are now are interesting in their own right or in need of deep exposition. The beauty of the Han-Ben scene is that they communicate plenty about their history and their present predicament without me needing 45 minutes worth of flashbacks or setup (precisely my complaint about the first 30 min of Creed) to show me why this scene or relationship matters. It’s nuance in the scene vs. nuance as excessive build-up and exposition.

  118. Truthfully I always respect the prequels because at the end of the day its still the uncompromising vision of an independent filmmaker that always stayed that way. As a man with ambitions of becoming his own boss within the next 5 years I really always admired that about Lucas. Studio system didn’t work for him so he said fuck you and did it his way. Agree with his creative decisions or not which I don’t always do that’s some real bad ass shit right there.

    He was the only one of those New Hollywood guys that really bossed up and never remained a tool of the studios. He really did what he wanted and how he wanted it cuz he put his money up and I think it’s something that nobody in Hollywood today could ever accomplish. Well except for Cameron.

    I always maintained that if he would have done this movie I would have been there this weekend just like the rest of you. Truthfully episode 1 is the only one that ever offended me. That was the same year that I saw THE MATRIX & there was no excuse. I expected 2 and 3 to be so bad especially the way people reacted to them but I really enjoyed them despite their flaws.

    I waited for home video with part 2 because of the way I felt about part 1 but seeing part 3 in the theater was great. I’m glad I did because that was the end of the real star wars whether people like to admit it or not that’s the truth.

    I don’t know and I don’t mean this is as a slight to any of you guys personally because truth be told some of the most rational Star Wars talk always happens here at outlawvern.com but I’m seeing it all over the internet “its not the prequels so bla bla bla” but honestly I’m just like dudes get over it already.

    I swear man Star Wars fans are the worst bar none. Trekkies ain’t got shit on them though admittedly the Marvel guys are inching in on them. Still the Star Wars fandom easily the most spoiled bunch ever. So self-entitled it makes me sick sometimes. I mean that was fucking 10 years ago and you got your nostalgic sequels so what else are you really asking for? Do you even know?

    The past is dead just let it go you’ll feel better for it. It will be a giant gorilla off your back and at least you got new Star Wars movies that will remind you of your childhood instead of feel like a violation to it or whatever the fuck.

  119. Broddie, I completely agree that if all TFA can accomplish is being better than the prequels or not falling into the same pitfalls as the prequels, that alone does not make TFA worthy film. What I and others are reacting to is some of the oblique or less than oblique suggestions to the effect of “say what you will about the prequels, but at least they [unlike TFA?] were different and had a unique and ambitious vision.” TFA imho is just a good film and a very good Star Wars film, period. Here, my only comparison is the OT, which is the higher bar; I think TFA compares very favorably to the OT.

    I join you in applauding George Lucas’s Frank Sinatra “I did it my way” bona fides (and I dug all of Vern’s anecdotes to that effect in his series). But that doesn’t excuse the resulting films of the PT. I think they are utterly failed experiments and evidence that Lucas’s aesthetic filmmaking judgment was deeply clouded. I realize that rotting horse carcass has been beaten to a fine paste over the last 15 years, but trying to assert that the PT are good or better than TFA or more noble films or something is a kind of sleight of hand trick. They are ambitious, bold epic failures of filmmaking in the holistic sense that the most direct and immediate results are bad-to-laughable films.

  120. Any poignancy in that meeting between Han Solo and Kylo Ren was fanboy illusion and totally unearned. Han Solo?— we know what he’s about, what makes him tick. We don’t know jack shit about Kylo Ren beyond who his parents are. How difficult would it have been to give him a modicum of backstory?

    Establish how he became a bad apple: flashback scenes of him growing up— getting in fistfights at school, bringing home bad report cards, taking the Millenium Falcon out for an unsanctioned joyride, getting shitfaced at the Mos Eisley Cantina on his 18th birthday and landing in jail, then Han shows up and bails him out (“I’m not angry with you, just disappointed”).

    Finally Han & Leia have “the talk” with him, and tell him they’re sending him off to Uncle Luke’s Jedi Academy (in the hope that it’ll straighten him out). Maybe skip over the part when he goes Columbine on the Jedi Academy; too grim and it would add a good 15-20 minutes to a movie that’s already long enough.

    Anyway, it would’ve given that decidedly important scene a little more emotional heft.

  121. Larry, I have to disagree with you. I am not a fanboy. I saw each of the prequels in the theatre exactly once. I maybe re-watch the originals once every 3 years. I have zero Star Wars memorabilia. I’m a casual fan of the films. I may have been projecting or caught up in the moment or whatever, but it’s not the fanboy in me.

    And I fail to see how a montage or set of flashbacks would accomplish much or would justify the screen time given to them. What you seem to be saying is, it’s not enough that we find out the broad strokes of the backstory as the current story unfolds: no, I need a flashback or an additional 30 minutes of film at the beginning (or whatever it is you need) to lead my by the nose through Ben’s fall over to the dark side. That would have been a huge waste of screen time or an insult to the audience’s ability to track the plot and jump in where we’re at now in the timeline. Flashbacks or a 30 minute prologue or whatever would have been absolutely wrong. Again, this is precisely the flawed assumption Lucas made with the trilogies: that seeing the fine details or how the characters we love came to be the characters we love. Do I need to see all that crap about Anakin to feel like I believe him as a villain or believe his relationship with Luke or whatever? No.

  122. Do I need to see all the circumstances that conspired to get Adonis Creed to Philly to see Rocky? Not really. We could start the movie with Adonis approaching Rocky in the restaurant. Same thing here. Less is more. Over-expositing (through dialogue or unnecessary prologue) is an absolute drag on the momentum of the film, spoon feeding you all the between the lines stuff, taking away your ability to imagine and speculate and taking away screen time that could be spent on the current action, character development, and plot progression.

  123. Aw, Curt. I knew you were going to come back with a comment about Alec Guinness. You started off saying Leia could have opened “a can of whupass” in TFA and then compared it to Kenobi having “a sword fight” in ANH. Did you want whupass or a swordfight? Because there is a big difference between those two descriptions, unless you are actually saying that Kenobi opened a can of whupass on Vader? In that fight where he was outmatched by an opponent who was younger and stronger and openly taking the piss while blocking every strike the old geezer could aim at him? Yeah, whupass indeed. Or were you thinking of the cantina where he catches a drunk alien off-guard?

    The fact is that they are different characters. And yes, they are different actors. Carrie Fisher is a good actress (very funny as Rob Delaney’s mom in Catastrophe), great in interviews, but she looks knackered, which is fair enough, she has had a wild life from the sounds of it. I get that Vern has made the argument against ageism in his Expendables reviews, but the one thing those films have in their favour is that they know which of the old boys can still do the high-kicks and which to keep stood behind the cannons. I suppose they could have CGIed Leia, which would have looked terrible, or as you say, they could have used a stunt double and only shown her in tight close-up. Like a latter-day Seagal film. Um, okay. They could have done that, but in the same way that it would be weird if, say, Betty White turned up as a Bond girl, or Maggie Smith burned down the streets in the next Fast & Furious, I think they made the right choice choosing not to have this old lady whip out a saber and start tearing motherfuckers up.

    I never really got this desperation for everything to boil down to lightsaber fights anyway. Yoda’s speech in ESB describes the force as an energy that binds luminous beings, a powerful ally created by life. Oh, it’s just a talent for chopping things with a glow stick? Oh.

  124. On a different subject, Stormtroopers seem to have put on a bit of bulk since the old days. To be fair though, they have got some fancy new fight moves too.

  125. SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER

    Yes, Jim, on Leia. She is actually one of the few nits I would pick with the film. She did not look well and was kind of a shell of old Leia, and my sense was that this had to do with Carrie Fisher’s health or general with-it-ness. It was very much a kind of prop FDR up at the podium/Potemkin village thing going on with her performance. Her voice had this husky, slurred quality, and her face showed no movement when she spoke (facelifts?) Like all of the spark and dynamism had gone. I get the sense that JJ and co. got about as much as they could out of her. I think her presence is a definite net plus for the film, and it wasn’t like bad bad, but her speaking scenes were some of the few times when I found myself self-consciously thinking about the actor as a person vs. being lost in the character.

  126. SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER
    SPOILER – JAR JAR WAS VADER’S FATHER

    Jimbolo, this is going to sound crazy, but when I first saw Finn, my thought was that he had a bit of a stocky build for a storm trooper (like not super stocky, but just more of a kind of stout, waddle quality). Then I noticed the other troopers were similar, and I started to wonder whether they didn’t do that with all the troopers so as to make Finn seem like less of anomaly. I’ll admit that’s probably reading in to much, but it was my first hunch.

  127. Yeah, that does makes sense. It would be funny if the stormtroopers were all 6’5” athletes and then Jon Beyoga in the middle of them, standing on tip toes trying not to be a little short for a stormtrooper. Or maybe since they are now individuals and no longer clones it is reasonable to expect shorter, taller, fatter, thinner ones.

  128. Skani, I don’t think rising from the ashes is a cop out at all.

    Half the EU novels involve some aspect of that. The whole Thrawn saga is built on it. And it makes complete sense. The death star got destroyed, but there’s still hundreds/thousands of ships, and a plethora of admirals going to be milling about the galaxy. What else are they going to do?

  129. Renfield – I straight-up love your Yoda analysis. I still have to point out that it is about as justified by the facts shown in the actual movies as my “Indiana Jones is Han Solo” theory is, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. I wish it were true!

  130. grimgrinningchris

    December 22nd, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Funny all the folks who wanted more backstory on Kylo Ren.

    Don’t you remember what happened when we got more backstory on Darth Vader?

  131. SPOILER: DENGAR IS MALAKILI’S MOTHER
    SPOILER: DENGAR IS MALAKILI’S MOTHER
    SPOILER: DENGAR IS MALAKILI’S MOTHER

    Jimbolo, maybe I don’t realize the nuanced distinction between kicking ass and having a swordfight, but my basic complaint was that she does neither. I just thought it would be good to show Leia actually involved in the action and/or demonstrating her Force abilities instead of just keeping her in the proverbial kitchen the whole time. And seeing her wield a lightsaber would have achieved that, even if she just dispatched one stormtrooper with it.

    If Finn and Rey can each wield a lightsaber with no training then it’s kind of a bummer that the more experienced and midichlorian-rich Leia never got the chance to, even though the dialogue all but promised us this 30+ years ago. It seems we will subconsciously accept an older male (e.g. Guinness) in an action scene but not an older female doing the same thing, and Abrams-and-co missed a chance to rewrite that rule.

    But enough about Leia – there is another issue that you and I are in complete agreement on, and that is disappointment at Lando’s absence (which so far no one else has mentioned). I can sort of forgive it in this movie since it doesn’t really need more characters, but all of his major RETURN OF THE JEDI comrades did return (Ackbar, Nunb) or were asked to return (Wedge), and there are multiple visual reminders of his actions in JEDI (the Falcon twisting through the dangerous structures of the crashed Star Destroyer; the fact that the radar dish knocked off in JEDI has been replaced with a different model). But VIII starts filming next month and, sadly, there have been no indications of Billy Dee Williams being cast in that either.

    If Disney wants to make these new Star Wars films “for the fans” then giving Lando OR Leia something to do would be a nice gesture. I’m glad there are people praising TFA for providing a strong female character and also a strong black male character, but to me that triumph is undermined by the neglect of the only two OT characters with those same traits.

    Above these grumbles, though, I’d like to declare my belief that TFA is a very entertaining movie and that you have to evaluate the movie they made, not the movie you expected or hoped for. I have now seen it a second time, without the burden of wondering who was or wasn’t going to be in it or when they would appear or how much screen time they would get – and without those worries I liked it even more. I still think that the storyline is a bit too familiar and that (as Vern pointed out) there are plot holes regarding that map and Artoo’s slumbering, but those were not deal-breakers for me. Even as a “the prequels were more ambitious than this” Lucas apologist I enjoyed TFA very much.

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