Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

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Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby mr_sooty » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:51 am

Just hoping I might be able to find a safe place here where I can dissect The Force Awakens, as I'm itching to do. Is this OK with everyone?
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby Nero » Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:27 pm

Spoilers warning is on the topic heading so I'd say go for gold.

I look forward to coming back here once watching it in the next few days.

Vent and get it outta your brain :)
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby mr_sooty » Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:19 pm

Ok well overall I gotta first say that it is a gazillion times better than any of the prequels. Yes it's overtly blatant in it's nods to the original trilogy, but so it should be. This is quite the heritage you're living up to here.

I thought the character development especially was light years ahead of the prequels. Nearly every character was rich with personality, including BB8, maybe especially. They did a brilliant job in creating a new droid character that was as lovable as R2, but without feeling like a copy of his predecessor.

Rey and Finn were also great characters, whom you couldn't help but like. I feared that Han wouldn't seem enough like Han, with the massive age gap, but he really did seem like the Han of old, or at least how the Han of old might have become.

The plot was thin, but hey, let's face it, so it was with the originals. The look was near perfect, taking advantages of modern technology without ever over relying on CGI. The only times the CGI was a bit too obvious was with the 'Supreme Leader', but given that he was a hologram, I could live with it.

While the 'twist' is a real bummer, it needed to happen for the sake of the story. For one thing, it turned an otherwise incredibly bland and non threatening bad guy into a monster. Now we hate him, as we should. Before, he was just some stupid kid. He still is, but now he's a stupid kid that needs his arse kicked. Secondly, it set up a new team on board the Falcon to take the franchise into the future.

My gripes are minor and pretty much isolated to particular moments. The biggest one for me could have so easily been better, and it was the moment Rey and Finn took off in the Falcon for the first time. Rey says 'it hasn't flown in years', but yet when they needed to take off it was as if it had been maintained and all ready to go. It fired immediately into life like it was brand new. It would have been so much better if it had coughed and spluttered, or needed a good kick, and if there was almost surprise that it worked at all. Also I thought maybe it would have been better if the chess board just didn't work anymore.

None of the baddies were particularly scary, with the exception of the Tie-Fighters. Kylo Ren kind of came across as a bit of a twat who needed a week with no TV to learn some respect. But I suspect he's going to get more nasty as we go on through this trilogy.

My other issue is so tiny I'm almost embarrassed to mention it, but the use of 'minutes', as in 'the shield will be down in fifteen minutes' grated a little, mainly because the Millennium Falcon made the Kesel Run in 12 parsecs. So consistency would suggest that the shield will be down in a measure of parsecs, or some other Star Wars universe measure of time. Such a little thing, but again, kind of broke the 4th wall a little.

Still, such a welcome return to form after the debacle of the prequels. I came out of the movie excited about seeing the next one, and gutted that I have to wait however many years for the next one, which is just as it should be. I love the characters and I care what happens to them. This makes a nice change from wanting Anakin and Jar Jar to fall off the face of the earth.

Hope I haven't ruined anything for anybody. Go see it, it's totally worth it.
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby soak314 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:40 pm

>None of the baddies were particularly scary, with the exception of the Tie-Fighters

Yeah, I agree with this. Also agree with Ren stepping up after his key scene. But the first order itself was highly unintimidating, even after they had exploded an entire system (probably because said system exploding gun got offed promptly after its debut)

>My other issue is so tiny I'm almost embarrassed to mention it, but the use of 'minutes', as in 'the shield will be down in fifteen minutes'

Also they totally took way more than 2 minutes to wrap things up after they called the 2 minute mark.

Onto a few personal points!

How did Rey git gud with the force so quickly? Manifesting with mindreading, straight to mind tricks, then managing telekinesis within a matter of hours? Did she steal the skywalker juju out of vader/luke's saber?

Why did R2 just conveniently wake up at the end there? If something triggered it I completely missed it.

Anybody else feel Phasma got marketed way too hard just to get shafted (lol) in terms of actually getting to do anything? It made her character look weeaaaak.

Is Kylo some sort of new pre-Darth sith ranking name? Given how Ben's in training. Is he going to turn into Darth Ren someday? This movie has very silly names.

Anybody spot any references to old media? i.e. Starkiller base possibly being named after Starkiller the sith assassin.

Other than that, just a few nitpicky nerd things overall, but I reckon it was a solid bloody movie and a proper return to form for the series. Cannot wait for more.

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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby mr_sooty » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:10 pm

Yeah with the force thing I kinda just figured she was unusually strong with it, but then if it came so easily you'd think she would have noticed she had this unusual ability earlier in her life. Agreed with artoo firing up, I guess he was just waiting for the right time.
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby Mr.Deflok » Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:11 am

On my phone but will contribue more later (massive Star Wars fan).

"The rebel base will be in firing range in seven minutes."
It's consistent with ANH.

Starkiller was the original surname for the Skywalkers.

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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby mr_sooty » Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:22 am

Ok well that's probably ok then. But then what's a parsec?
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby Mr.Deflok » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:06 am

mr_sooty wrote:Ok well that's probably ok then. But then what's a parsec?

It's a unit of measure (length) in the real world so it never made sense, ha.

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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby [omega] » Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:47 am

Mr.Deflok wrote:
mr_sooty wrote:Ok well that's probably ok then. But then what's a parsec?

It's a unit of measure (length) in the real world so it never made sense, ha.

One parsec one centon or even an eon :D :lol:
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby Sledgehama » Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:03 pm

Forgive my standard overly long and verbose thoughts, but here's my take on it all:

It’s a very tough balance to add in truly new and fresh elements that truly mesh with the tried and true elements we expect in a Star Wars film. The Force Awakens nearly achieves that well, but has some flaws that keep it from being an amazing film.

Starting with the characters, we have some truly great performances here pretty much across the board. Harrison Ford seems more alive and vital than he has in a decade (or possibly longer) with the return to the Han Solo role and Han plays such a central part that he really is the lynchpin of the film. The connection between Han and Rey feels very natural to the point that it became increasingly strange to think that the two weren’t related, but the juxtaposition of him so easily fitting into a parental role with a relative stranger vs. the broken relationship with his actual son makes for a nice balance. Han and Chewie play off each other as they always do, including some golden moments when Han borrows Chewie’s bowcaster, though they do seem to go to that well a couple of times and felt like it could have used a third to pay it off comedically (rule of three). The interaction with Leia is as heart-breakingly strained as you would expect it to be – they clearly love each other but just haven’t been able to keep it together, possibly because of what’s happened with their child, and that rings sadly true to life and these characters. It would have been nice to see a bit more there between them – have them both acknowledging that they still love each other (a good opportunity to reverse the classic ‘I love you’/’I know’ scene was sadly not taken up) or the like, but I can understand why they didn’t get into that, especially as it probably would have gone down the route of Han saying that he ran away from her after his ‘failure’ as a parent and that could be seen by some to undermine Han’s heroic nature, especially given that this is his swan song. Speaking of which, the confrontation with Kylo Ren was fairly wrenching – I knew from the moment Han started to head toward him that this was the end for Captain Solo, but I had hoped that we might have avoided killing him off. I think it’s fairly safe to say there won’t be any coming back for Han – there are a dozen ways you could save him from death given the way they did off him, but I don’t see that happening here. It’s a sad end for the character but does provide some thematic resonance – Han, the father, cannot save Ben/Kylo, the son as an inverse of Luke, the son, saving Vader/Anakin, the father. Not quite the blaze of glory end I expect to see for Han, but it rings true and really does set up Kylo Ren as a pretty irredeemable villain.

Chewie is Chewie – nothing more, nothing less. Probably the most consistent character from the original trilogy, it is nice to see him continue to play a part, even after Han’s death. Of course the irony of having Chewie live when he was killed off in the old EU is worth noting – he works in a visual medium in ways the books just couldn’t ever get right. Should anything happen to Peter Mayhew (God forbid), I can see the role continuing to play a part in the ongoing saga, and he fits in well. Much better use here than in Revenge of the Sith.

Leia is used sparingly but she’s true to form – she has plenty of bite, yet warmth as seen with the embrace with Rey at the end after Han’s loss, something she should theoretically be feeling much more strongly than Rey and yet she is compassionate enough to share that grief with Rey.

Threepio’s timing is perfect as usual and he seems to have a reasonable rapport with BB8, though that interaction isn’t given much screentime. I’m a little perplexed by the whole red arm which was then gone by the end of the film – what was the point? Without having read any current Expanded Universe material to explain the backstory there, I would have thought it a sign of how desperate things were for the Resistance that they can’t get matching parts to fix their equipment and droids, but that never seems to be presented, nor is there any justification for the switch back to gold – I would have thought it would be prime material for exploration or use as world-building.

Artoo’s position as a paperweight until required by the need to start things in motion for the sequel seemed fairly pointless – he would have been just as well to be with Luke at the end of the film rather than being deus ex machine and have some other means of completing the map – finding some piece of evidence from something Kylo Ren says perhaps as a starting point for the map fragment (ala Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade where all they needed was the starting point).

Luke, as expected, only shows up in the last couple of minutes, clearly to feed into Episode VIII. As such, there’s not much to talk about since he doesn’t really do anything apart from turn around. I can’t say I was a fan of that expression on his face though – annoyance, puzzlement, wonder? I don’t really know what it was and it felt like the shot lingered too long for that particular expression and I really wanted to hear him say something. Having been set up in the title crawl that he was missing, it feels like he should have more of a notable absence looming over it all, but it kinda felt like they had to keep reminding us that he wasn’t there and that he was somehow the ultimate mcguffin that everyone wanted to find for some reason or another.

Moving on the new character, this is largely where the movie really shines. We’re introduced to Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron very early and he plays it with a ton of charm and energy – right from his first moment on screen, you know that we’re back to the Original Trilogy style of more normal acting rather than the stilted style from the prequels. His relationship with Finn really clicks very quickly too without feeling forced and it’s a pleasure to see the energy these two have on screen together. However the big issue is that the film dumps him early on until a fair way into the film and that is a huge waste of talent. Sure, there’s plot and character reasons to get Finn alone, but how much more fun could that all have been with Rey, Finn and Poe having the adventure together throughout? At any rate, his sudden reappearance feels a bit odd and while he does a fine job in the rest of the film, he becomes a lot more of a supporting character rather than main cast, which is a real shame.

John Boyega as the newly christened Finn does a fantastic job giving real depth, humanity and humour to the former Stormtrooper, making him easily the most watchable of the new cast. Despite the odd circumstances Finn finds himself in, Boyega’s performance is never out of place and is believable throughout. The bait-and-switch that the marketing has encouraged of insinuating that he was Force-sensitive with the use of Luke’s old lightsaber didn’t feel too on the nose and doesn’t feel like it’s tarnished the character in the same way that the ‘mystery box’ approach harmed Star Trek Into Darkness’ Khan. It was rather odd to see a lightsaber being used as a sword but a normal person and I would have liked to see thee be some sort of comment by Kylo Ren about him not having Force potential (a simple ‘the Force is not with you’ would have sufficed) to note his surprise that a non-Force user could manage any sort of fight with the weapon. Of course, it does minimise Kylo Ren’s lightsaber skill level to say that Finn was able to mount any sort of defense, no matter how briefly, in a lightsaber battle, so maybe there is still the potential for Finn to have Jedi possibilities? Ultimately, Finn is left in bad shape at the end of the film which may allow for him to provide a means for a “here’s what happened while you were asleep” recap to bridge to the next film, but the fact that we’re left caring about him speaks volumes about how much effort Boyega put into the character and I find him to be a very worthy addition to the saga.

The majority of focus falls on Daisy Ridley’s Rey, and she does a great job of building up the character. Rey’s past is somewhat enigmatic and the fact that she’s not Han & Leia’s daughter did surprise me as it seemed a natural choice and the strong resemblance to Natalie Portman & Carrie Fisher has been noted multiple times. I can’t help but feel that there’s something more still to be revealed about her origins in future instalments, though. The bond between her and Han is fun to watch and you do feel how torn she is about wanting to accept Han’s offer of a job onboard – the unanswered question as to why she feels so bound to going back to Jakku being the biggest question mark which, along with the Force-inspired headtrip seems to back up the issue of there being a reason she lives on that planet – I’m picking she is Luke’s daughter sent there for her own protection with her protectors killed before they could return for her. She has strength, ingenuity and moxie, plus great skill with the Falcon. Even if her background hasn’t been revealed, I don’t think it was a great surprise that she turned out to be the Force-sensitive character, even if it was pumped up extremely with the lightsaber “calling” to her. I hope that she is revealed to have an extreme amount of Force potential to be able to pick up a lightsaber and beat Kylo Ren with it so convincingly – in theory he’s been trained and she hasn’t, so while I can chalk some of that up to survival and general fighting skills established on Jakku, I’d tend to think that there must be more to it than just that to allow Ren to be comprehensively trounced like that. The film clearly leaves her in an interesting place that will drive the next film – the only question is how far ahead in her training will we jump when we return for the next film. Again, a great performance and a solid addition to the Star Wars pantheon whose story I’m keen to follow.

BB-8 rounds out the new heroes and is a fun droid with some nice touches of character without becoming overwhelming. I don’t think you can really say anything about a character arc or the like, but the main thing is that I didn’t feel BB-8 was overused and I’m happy to see more of it in the future. It would be interesting to see if BB-8 feels torn between Poe and Rey.

Kylo Ren is the last of the major new cast members and has an overall excellent impression. The early confirmation that he is the son of Han & Leia wasn’t unexpected. His true name of Ben Solo is a bit odd – I wouldn’t have thought that they’d go anywhere near ‘Ben’ given that was Luke’s son’s name in the old Expanded Universe, on top of the notion that neither Han nor Leia were that close to Obi-Wan. As for Ren himself, he has an excellent air of menace and psychosis about him, with his early interactions with Poe Dameron setting him up nicely and furthered by the scene with the officer where Ren slices up the computer banks. It sets him apart as more of a rageaholic than previous villains and it makes his aping of Vader’s style more intriguing – he’s clearly trying but failing to emulate his grandfather. I would have liked to see some more of the ‘Sith fanboy’ aspect played up – the one scene of him talking to Vader’s helmet was nice, but I would have liked it if he had a larger collection of Vader or Sith artifacts that he could talk to another character about to help establish that mania and purpose a bit better. The struggle to extinguish the light in him is an interesting approach to take and of course plays directly into his murder of Han. A little more to expound on that would be nice – him hesitating before torturing someone or starting to let some of the villagers go at the start of the film before reemphasising his resolve by ordering their deaths would have been nice to show that some more and potentially increase the possibility that he is asking Han for help during their confrontation to make the fall into evil that much greater. There’s a strange antagonistic relationship between Ren and General Hux which seems to me realistic (and clearly based on the rather derogatory relationship between Vader and Admiral Motti in ANH) but rather strange given the way that the Force powered characters have been revered in pretty much every other instalment of the saga. Having neither clearly in charge of the other creates some tension between the two but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere this time around. As previously stated, I’m surprised that they allowed Ren to not simply wipe out both Finn and Rey when using their lightsaber against him as it would seem to lower his skill level. This could have been explained in-universe that his level of training isn’t as high as it could/should be and likewise some confirmation for the unstable nature of his lightsaber, but neither was touched on. Indeed, much of Ren’s flaws come from glossing over events – presumably he was the student of Luke’s that went bad and destroyed whatever Luke had established for a new generation of Jedi, but there’s no real detail there as to what he did. At least Vader’s backstory in ANH was developed by saying he hunted down and destroyed the Jedi rather than vague swipes. The final battle with Rey was a little confusing for me – it seemed to me like he got tagged an awful lot with that lightsaber and I thought he at least lost a hand in one scene but that doesn’t appear to be the case. What his injuries actually were are unclear, but part of me expects him to have been beat up so bad that the First Order rebuild him to be the new Darth Vader so Disney could get the evil Vader character back in play. I hope that never happens, but surely the temptation is strong and this would be a decent reason to head in that direction, as well as fulfilling the in-universe desires of the character to essentially become Vader.

The First Order side of things really goes downhill from there though. There’s little that can be said about Gwendolyn Christie’s Captain Phasma as SHE DOESN’T DO ANYTHING. Seriously the biggest disaapointment of the film and takes the Lucas approach of undercutting the cool cult characters to a new extreme and really raises questions as to if the character was made female just to appease the public outcry at the lack of female characters after the initial cast reveal. Honestly, it’s a waste of Gwendolyn’s talents – she could have just voiced the character and been done with it. Phasma could really have benefitted so much from a couple of small action scenes to make her a badass – having her in action a bit more at the village massacre and then have a fight sequence or some form of escape and further confrontation following her capture on Starkiller Base would have gone a long way and salvaged some of her potential.

General Hux, portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson, is just sort of... there. His impassioned, dictator-ish speech establishes his character sufficiently, but there’s really nothing to distinguish him from anyone else – he lacks the innate charm or creepiness that Peter Cushing’s Tarkin had in spades or really anything else that gives him any gravitas or drive. Something to help distinguish his actual personality would have helped the character immensely – look at the technological arrogance of Admiral Motti, the cool calm of General Veers, the slight out-of-his-depth aspect of Admiral Piett... all aspects that give the character life beyond the edges of the frame, which Hux really lacked.

Andy Sirkis’s Supreme Leader Snoak is a mystery – the initially subtle reveal that he was a hologram (technology has apparently gotten significantly better since the Original Trilogy) hinted that there might be a story there as to his true identity – a Wizard of Oz-type reveal seems a possibility, but what that reveal could be to make it pay off sufficiently beyond actually being Luke manipulating events from exile (certainly not my preferred storyline option), I just don’t know. At present, he’s just a generic CG creature – not even all that non-human to warrant the CG in my opinion – so I hope that there’s something more to the character than we’ve seen at this point.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lupita Nyong’o does a great job of endowing Maz Kanata with a worldly wisdom, even if her character is essentially a Force-less Yoda. Her performance is strong, even through the CGI, and the character works nicely and a little differently than the usual bar owner character would. Again a good performance that creates a character I’d like to see again, though in what context the character could appear in again, I don’t know as her bar seems pretty decisively trashed.

Max von Sydow’s brief appearance at the beginning of the film has weight and a sense of history, though what that history is will never be realised – he seems wasted in a bit part and reasonably unimaginative costume design. Remember, this guy was King Osric from Conan the Barbarian and Ming the Merciless – he deserves better clothes than what he got here!

It was also really nice to have Admiral Ackbar back in a brief appearance, voiced again by Tim Rose so he sounded just as right and aged as Han and Leia.

Music-wise, it is as you’d expect from John Williams. I can’t say I really picked out any tunes to hum on the way home afterwards, but there were plenty of great callbacks to previous themes and at no stage was I bored with the music or wanted it to stop.

In terms of effect, given that you have the premiere special effects company in the world at your disposal, it’s unsurprising that the effect looked gorgeous. Nothing looked out of place or cheesy, though Supreme Leader Snoak lacked quite the solid convincingness that I would have expected – how much of that comes down to the character design though is a good question.

The larger issues for me were the lack of some flourishes that would have built the story up to the epic nature it should be – there were lots of little instances where it felt an added scene or rewritten approach would have added so many layers to characters and events which would have felt even more Star Wars-y. It honestly felt like they were still a polish or two away from where the script really should have been to make it really tight and clear.

First of all, the confusing situation of the sides of this fight. So the Republic exists again, but that’s separate from the Resistance? And how exactly is the First Order distinct from the Empire? They really seemed pretty Empire-ish to me and there was no clear delineation as to what makes them different from their evil predecessors to the point that they may as well have remained being called the Empire, or the Imperial Remnant or some such. Which side is actually dominant? With the Empire it was clear that they were in charge and the Rebels were the underdogs. Here, the First Order’s powerbase is incredibly unclear – do they hold certain regions of space, are they well established or more cult-ish? How powerful is the Republic and why is there the distinction between them and the Reistance? The how and why of the situation isn’t as important as establishing what the stakes really are – at this point the only sign we have of First Order power is Starkiller base, so while presumably they have other areas under their control, the actual nature of it could seriously use some clarification – it’s a lot different fighting Soviet Russia than it is fighting Hans Gruber’s band from Die Hard.

Pretty much up until the TIE crashing on Jakku is great – the only downside is that 80% of Captain Phasma’s scenes are in this section here and none of them are impressive enough to warrant the excitement over the character. Von Sydow’s character could have used more screentime or something more to establish exactly who he is and what his history with the map is, but that’s a relatively minor gripe. The use of a map to Luke as a mcguffin is an interesting one – in practical terms, why would Luke leave a map in pieces of how to find him and why would he split it into pieces other than to have someone need to put it together? The notion expressed later that the map doesn’t match anything in their systems looks to be patently false when Artoo provides the rest of the map which seems to be the galaxy less that one section, so surely the ‘map without a starting point’ concept would have worked better and be a nice nod to another Lucasfilm property. It seems extremely odd that Luke would not even tell his own sister where he was going – this would seem prime material to be expanded on in future films, but notion really does strike of plot convenience rather than sensible and likely actions by the characters.

Finn going rogue is great – we hear mention of clone troopers as pretty much the only nod to the Prequels, but also talk of stormtroopers being abducted at birth and conditioned to serve which is an interesting idea and may help explain the lack of effectiveness of Imperial/First Order troopers. The idea that Finn may have broken the conditioning not only sets him up as someone special but also give some hope that these other troopers may have the hope of being swayed from their actions. Of course that does raise potential issues of how ethical it is to kill brainwashed troops, but FN-2187 becoming an individual is a great journey and it starts out of a great moment of human connection with another Stormtrooper.

The First Order’s Starkiller Base is both interesting and problematic. The idea of having a Death Star “but better!” is fine but smacks of unoriginality – Starkiller Base isn’t that substantially different from the famous battle station which, if watched in episode order was only just destroyed for the second time in the previous film, so it loses quite a bit of the novelty. The fact that it’s rather secondary to the plot makes it feel unnecessary and the lack of direct tie from the mcguffin of the story to this major threat only underlines the strength and elegance of the original film’s plot that this instalment lacks and makes it feel disjointed. The use of the Starkiller raises any number of questions – the First Order fire it against who exactly? I thought from what was being said that they destroyed Coruscant but later there was a brief mention of some other system. Nothing was really done to build up any sort of sympathy for those innocent victims beyond just a couple of shots of them – at least with Aldreaan we had Leia pleading their case. Did the Resistance base happen to be in the line of sight from Starkiller to the target system so they could see the blast sailing by? Even the means of destroying Starkiller – having X-Wing repeatedly blast a fairly large part of it lacks the beautifully simple focus of the trench run from ANH and generally makes that whole dogfight sequence somewhat unexciting and unfocused. It also seems to be a bit of a misnomer to have it use the local star as a power source – usually such things are either used as the very Achilles heel that leads to it’s downfall but no such clever use of that was seen here and I suppose it was just a fancy ticking clock – once the sun goes out, the Resistance is dead – but even that didn’t get much in the way of prominence to focus us on the idea and ratchet up the tension.

Han and Chewie happening upon the Falcon is a huge coincidence but we’ll overlook that given that so much of these movies rely on such contrivances or the will of the Force if you prefer. The confrontation between Han and the two groups of pirates was fun and showed Han in fine form and perhaps even more of a scoundrel than we’ve seen him before, though the creatures they were transporting weren’t that exciting and just come across as generic teeth and tentacles monsters that could have appeared in any one of a dozen films from the modern era. Giving Rey and Finn the opportunity to help out only for it to backfire was a nice twist, though Finn being abducted by one creature when all the previous attacks seemed to be purely kill on the spot seemed a bit on the contrived side.

Maz Kanata’s establishment seems a bit odd to be a bar – set up in some sort of temple/castle and once again attempting to outdo the Mos Eisley cantina rather than really doing something different. It’s a shame that the cantina scene casts such a long shadow over Star Wars as almost every film has it’s own version (Jabba’s palace, the Outlander Club of Ep II, etc) to try and show it ‘done right’ rather than truly be it’s own thing. The Force-induced freakout Rey experiences seems rather unconnected to the rest of the film – presumably some of the scenes we see here will be explored more in later films (the multiple Knights of Ren for instance) which is a very modern idea for seeding future movies rather than the approach previous Star Wars films have taken.

In all, The Force Awakens has a solid feel of being the logically updated approach to the universe we last saw in Return of the Jedi rather than the fairly drastically different progression we had between episodes of the Original Trilogy or the stilted stylistic choices of the Prequels. The characters really feel like Star Wars characters and are ultimately a joy to watch – by the end of the movie, we want to know what happens to Rey and Finn and even Kylo Ren (I do feel Poe’s momentum never recovers as it should to make him someone we really care about after the credits roll). It’s just a little sad that so much of the latter part of the movie seems so heavily based on what are regarded as the core concept tropes of Star Wars rather than continuing the newly charted course promised in the electric first few scenes. A bit more clarity on the universe and a few extra character scenes could have really kicked the film over into an amazing film, but instead it’s happy to be another rhyming couplet rather than a verse all it’s own, despite it’s strength really lying with it’s innovations. There’s nothing to be ashamed of here, and it’s a solid film, but to me it feels more of a course correction back to where the franchise was heading 30 odd years ago than really daring to chart it’s own course.
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby mr_sooty » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:06 pm

Good review Sledge. I have to say I was definitely disappointed with some aspects, but it's so much better the prequels that it's hard to be too critical. There were some awesome elements...I loved the idea of Rey scrounging parts and selling them to an unfair trader for crappy food. I loved so much of it actually, but there were just a few 'aargh...why couldn't they just make that bit work just a little better' moments.
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby Sledgehama » Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:56 pm

mr_sooty wrote:but there were just a few 'aargh...why couldn't they just make that bit work just a little better' moments.


Absolutely, and that's the only major gripe I really have with the film - all those missed moments where they could have just added a little touch and made it undeniably awesome.
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby Mr.Deflok » Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:05 pm

Not a review, just words I emailed a friend:




The movie is essentially A New Hope 2.0.



I think JJ and co were too scared to deviate so pulled ideas from the OT heavily to play on our nostalgia. It will be interesting to see the movie again without the impact of the throwbacks being so effective. I mean, Rey waiting for a better life on a sand planet (3 times now), escaping in the Falcon, a droid holding critical data, a superweapon, trench-run etc etc



It certainly wasn’t a bad movie though! Really enjoyed it, actually. What really made it was how likeable the characters were. Even though Finn does nothing other than to hold our hand to introduce us to the important characters I really appreciated how deeply he was affected by Rey treating him as a human. And when he takes on Kylo I think that was the most heroic moment in the entire film. He’s just a Stormtrooper running away from his life and he takes on a high ranking leader of the First Order, a dark force user, and someone he no doubt had seen in action and heard stories about. No chance he could win, but it was the right thing to do. Actually, thinking about it, his revelation that he worked sanitation shows how deeply he cares for Rey.



Rey learning the force in a seconds was interesting. I bet people will think it convenient and cheesy, and it probably is from a plot-device perspective, but I think adds to the mystery of her past. They perhaps should have played Maz’s voice saying “just let it in” but maybe that would be cheesey. I initially guessed she was the only Jedi student to survive Kylo and Snoke’s slaughter of the new Jedi but given Rey and Kylo appear the same age it doesn’t make sense (unless Kylo killed everyone as a small child?). She could be Luke’s daughter, which I would really like, and it would carry the family feud idea too – this time cousins at war. I hope they’re not twins though. But back to Rey, I suppose the interrogation removed the “block” she may have had and awakened her force sensitivity. It was alluded to with her piloting of the Falcon when Finn and Rey congratulate each other, she says something like “I’ve never flown like that before”



Poe. I had heard good things about Oscar Isaac but I thought, how interesting can you make an Xwing pilot? I never really cared for film-Wedge and Jenkins was just good for the lols, but Oscar really made Poe work. I think he might be one of favourite characters. Loved how friendly, caring and charismatic he was yet wasn’t a jerk or egotistical. I thought it was fantastic that he was able to interrupt General Leia while she spoke to someone more important than him because he wanted to help Finn. He seems like someone who could inspire you to greatness. Really hope to see more of him.



Probably the biggest thing for me was seeing there was no lasting “happily ever after” post ROTJ. The heroes failed each other and were torn apart. I’m a sucker for tragic heroes and so it really struck a chord with me. The nostalgia fuelled a lot of moments of tears but seeing Leia and Han meet again… and then when she feels his death through the Force… man.



Other points

I liked Kylo but I didn’t think it was necessary that he killed Han. There was no motive other than “I am evil” and to release Ford from any obligations to appear in future films. It will make the Han Solo film more appealing though. And man, Adam Driver is a weird looking dude. It’s actually distracting.



I was very interested to see Kylo ask Vader for forgiveness as the light was calling out to him. It means no-one knows Vader was redeemed. Also means Kylo isn’t completely evil.



I’m OK with Luke being the cliffhanger (almost literally) as it makes Episode 8 even more exciting. And with the need to homage the OT out of the way I hope they can focus on creating an original adventure piece.



I love that Chewbacca got a shot in on Kylo and that it caused him pain for the duration of the movie.



I also love that the lightsaber has so much horror attached to it being instrumental in the fall of the Jedi temple etc. I think that’s why Rey could hear children crying. Really want to see the vision again to pick it apart.



Was blink and you’ll miss it but Kylo sees the ocean and the island in Rey’s mind which later turns out to be exactly where Luke is.



Have to day, it made me appreciate the PT more. I’m of the minority that enjoys them despite their flaws. That Lucas was brave enough to do something completely different was great. He failed in characterisation but built an amazing world. It’s the only reason we have so many spin-offs.



Luke’s expression: was it fear, disgust, sadness, glee, was so hard to read..



Speculation time! I think Snoke might be Plagueis. I kinda thought Palpatine was lying about about him being able to cheat death (to lure Anakin in out of his fear of losing Padme) but what if it was true? Plagueis would no doubt have known about Palpatine’s plan to rise through the senate and in fact likely was the mastermind to this. So what if Snoke’s plan to let Palpatine “kill him” so the plan could be fulfilled and return only when Palpatine and his apprentice were out of the picture? It would be a good way to tie the PT and OT together and give more weight to the power of his character. Snoke probably couldn’t walk into politics as easily as a young humanoid male could.



And if Luke is Rey’s dad, then who is the mother?



Disappointments

· Maz’s bar? Cantina? In the trailers I thought this might be a temple for a seer or even Luke, especially with all of those flags outside (spotted a Mandalorian symbol, wonder what else there is). Was hoping it would be dark and mysterious but it was quite the opposite. The “story for another time” thing was either lazy or a setup for another movie/story.

· Snoke looked awful. Like they asked Weta if they could borrow a CG model of an orc. The CG wasn’t up to snuff either which is unfortunate as Maz was sensational.

· Captain Phasma. I don’t think she even fired her blaster? Boba Fett didn’t do much but he did nothing with style. Hopefully her role in EP8 will be more interesting. I guess she’ll be the villain for Finn. I mean, she dropped the shields without resisting or setting off an alarm etc.

· The plot is too ambiguous. Was it Hosinian Prime that was destroyed or Coruscant? Why is there a need for a Resistance when the Republic is in the seat of power? How did the First Order become so powerful? Who was the dude Poe was talking to in the start? Why did HE have the missing piece of the puzzle? What’s annoying it seems like it’s lazy storytelling/worldbuilding as JJ was asked about the politics about the Rebellion/Resistance et al and he answered by not answering. This is post release too. It reeks of plot for the sake of convenience and not for storytelling.

· The trailer showed some nice shots but I don’t think they represented the film well. JJ did a good job overall but his framing was poor and the action scenes lacking excitement. I was incredibly disappointed by the X-wing attack on Starkiller base. I did however appreciate that single shot seeing Poe take out the First Order TIE fighters where Finn comments on that being a great pilot.

· Probably need to listen more closely but the score didn’t stand out at all. The prequel trilogy had loads of memorable tracks and I needn’t say the same about the OT. Not sure if Kylo even had a theme?



All I know is that I really want that Visual Dictionary as I hope it fills in the blanks of which there are far too many.

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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby skydemolisher » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:36 pm

The minutes ties into ANH as well, when the Death Star Assault starts, inside the Yavin Base you will also hear that the Death Star is 15 minutes out of its firing range. I didn't take note of all the times in TFA but I think the timing will line up to ANH. Both are in firing range when they go boom, but where ANH has "What? Retreat at our moment of victory?" TFA has the more Hilarious line that their great commander has already pissed off. :P hahaha.

I think we will find that Rey is Luke's daughter, the grave we see Luke standing over in the end is his wife's. (Go by the Dak Horse comics, Luke's wife Mara Jade was killed by Jacen Solo) After Ben turned and slaughtered the Jedi initiates, it is likely meant to mirror Episode 3. Anakin has slaughtered the younglings, Luke and Leia are then taken and hidden. An heirloom to the family is held by someone else (Obi Wan/Maz Kanata) and Anakin was tormented in himself, just as Ben is. Anakin was led to believe the Darkside was the only thing with the power to save Padme, Ben is led to believe only through the power of the Darkside can the Galaxy be bought into line. Rey and Ben stand as the inheritors of Anakin's legacy, so Ben would be following in grandfathers footsteps, crush anyone who would challenge his inheritance. Rey had to die, but if she is hidden on some backwater planet just like Luke was on Tattooine and told she was dead, he'd move ahead with his quest for power. But like Anakin he had hang ups, something that stopped his potential that had to be removed, Padme/Han. Just as Luke couldn't be a Jedi until he faced and conquered his hang ups about Vader.
Maybe that also works as to why Poe went to Jakku who found someone with the map part, like Ben Kenobi lived in the area but wasn't an active part of Luke's life, the guy Max Von Sydow plays could have been similar, he'd kinda look out for Rey and when the time came pass on the map part so she can find her father.

Sucky as it is watching Coruscant be destroyed along with what they call the Republic Fleet, its kind of necessary to set up The Resistance as the new Alliance/Rebellion. It appears the First Order is the remnant of the Empire, but not the leaders of the Galaxy. That was the restored Republic, which couldn't openly enter war with the First Order, so they did the next best thing, they helped fund the Resistance who can fight the First Order, without the risk of putting the Republic back into a constant state of war. I'm guessing the First Order is made up of the people the Emperor picked out for Operation: Cinder where Resistance, Rebellion and Defiance were to be crushed out before the Republic could be reformed. But they failed and people wanted new leadership. I find it interesting that the First Order appears to use the same kind of I guess, conditioning that the Jedi Order used. Taking kids at birth or a young age to train them. Which leads me to think, since there have been a number of statements that Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren are not Sith or Sith affiliates, that Snoke and the Knights are Dark Jedi. Count Dooku was less known as Darth Tyranus and believed himself more aligned to being a Dark Jedi than he was a Sith like Sidious and Maul, and later Vader. Snoke may be a former Jedi who survived the Purge, or have been one of the Jedi who aligned themselves with Emperor Palpatine, possibly the child of Jedi who were forced to leave the order. Someone had to have taught him the darkside but they seem to be lacking in the Sith stakes. Though the story of Kylo Ren was rather small so its hard to pick up, in some ways it felt like he had fallen, been joined by some others who made up the Knights of Ren, but now Kylo is the only one left. **EDIT** Just had a thought... What if Snoke is a youngling that Vader thought he had killed but hadn't? Revenge against the the man who ruined his life came too late but his grandchildren.... If one could be turned and destroy his legacy.

I'm thinking it may be borrowing a bit from the prior Expanded Universe/Dark Horse comics series. Kylo Ren kind of has similarities to the Exar Kun and Jacen Solo characters and their stories.
The Starkiller weapon is a bit like a combination of the Galaxy Gun and Sun Crusher superweapons.
First Order a bit of the Imperial Remnant under Grand Admiral Thrawn.

I think The Awakening is not Rey's part though, its Finn. Something stopped him from firing, something made him stand out to Kylo Ren and I'm pretty sure the "There has been an awakening" is said before Rey starts to show her force talents.

I'm guessing that Luke will train Rey, Rey will in turn train Finn and some new Jedi will pop up from there.
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Re: Star Wars TFA Discussion *WITH SPOILERS* (OK?)

Postby mr_sooty » Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:29 pm

Now ^^that^^ was an interesting read. I'm going to go see it again this afternoon once I've finished work.
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