Posted by: seanmalstrom | January 20, 2016

Email: I humbly request your opinion of The Force Awakens

Master Malstrom,

If you’re comparing Episode VII with the Wii U, then I must ask what your opinion of Episode VII was. Give us a full review! Here’s what I thought:

I’ve always disliked Abrams as a director, but after this movie, I have a new nickname for him: DJ Abrams. When given an established franchise, he is incapable of making new stories or new material. All he can do is remix classics, add a few new elements, and call it “new”.

Luckily for Abrams, Harrison Ford came back, and boy did he deliver. Ford carried that film from appearance until his death. Great banter with Chewie, and the new cast, too. The scene with him and the mercenaries that came to collect was easily the best of the movie. In fact, the film didn’t feel like Star Wars until he arrived.

Without Ford, The Force Awakens would’ve been easily the worst movie in the entire series.

Rey and Finn either aren’t ready to be lead characters (or lack the charisma), the plot copied A New Hope with only a few minor deviations (seriously, another Death Star? And how did the rebels not see THAT one coming), I couldn’t take Ren seriously as a villain once the helmet came off (also, you seriously left Rey guarded by a single Stormtrooper despite that you knew she could use force powers?), new characters like Captain Phasma were horribly underutilized, and Luke was absent until the very end.

Speaking of which, Abrams made a massive mistake in having Finn, Rey, and Poe play Luke by committee. Rey has the force and the lightsaber skills, Finn has the gun slinging, and Poe has the star fighting ability. It doesn’t work, and all the characters feel weaker as a result. He should’ve just had one clear main character instead of this nonsense. None of them have any stage presence, and

The prequels were overly wordy, but this film had barely any explanation for anything. Why is there a Republic and a Resistance? Shouldn’t the Resistance have become the Republic after the Empire’s defeat? And why did R2-D2 just stay depressed until the plot needed him to not be? Barely anything was explained, and it was stuff that needed explaining.

There were too many moments where it felt like he was copying A New Hope, but he couldn’t muster the same emotional impact. Jakku is a discount Tatooine, that planet cracker thing was a discount Death Star, that smuggler place they stopped at was a discount Mos Eisley, etc. The journey into the stabilizer to blow it up was especially bad as a discount trench run, as it only took like 30 seconds and ended in the anti-climax of Poe just blowing everything up rather quickly.

The worst retread however, was when Abrams blew up an entire solar system for no reason, and then hand waved it away. I actually thought Coruscant was destroyed, and felt like he violated the lore itself. It felt like the whole purpose was (A) to explain away why the Alliance could only send 12 X-Wings to attack, and (B) to reset the whole universe back into the condition it was in A New Hope. Trillions of people died, yet I felt more when Alderaan was destroyed (a planet we barely got to see and barely knew anything about) than when all those planets were destroyed. The lack of emotional punch was shocking.

Heck, the whole film lacked emotional punch. I actually forgot the rebel base was at risk of being destroyed by the space station because no one in the base was acting like they cared.

The second worst retread was having Ren be Han Solo’s son. It felt like Abrams was trying to copy ESB, but completely failed. I remember face palming in the theater because it was so obvious he was going to make Ren family to someone, somehow. Also, Abrams stole that plot twist from the Expanded Universe, which was incredibly classless on his part. Declaring something non-canon and then stealing from that non-canon material reeks of borderline plagiarism, not to mention it was done better in the Expanded Universe anyway.

Speaking of Han Solo, I knew he was going to die as soon as he went on that bridge. It was so obviously another retread of Kenobi’s death. Even worse, they killed the one guy (as I mentioned before) who was carrying the film, which made the death feel less sad and more idiotic. The new characters are going to have to get better at acting between now and the next film without him around to pick up their slack, or Episode VIII could get ugly.

Now, things I did like, besides Ford’s performance:
* BB-8 was definitely a discount R2-D2, but he was funny and helped lighten the mood.
* Adding new tricks to the TIE fighters and X-Wings (AKA the rear guns) was great.
* That melee sequence with the Storm trooper and Finn was great, and I’m actually sad the Stormtrooper died.
* The whole sequence on Han and Chewie’s freighter with those tentacle beasts was very well done
* The Stormtroopers were humanized more, and that was great to see.
* The old characters like Carrie also carried their weight well. Too bad they weren’t more heavily featured.

All in all, the film about met my expectations. It was terrible, but not as terrible like Episode 1 and 2.

Worse than terrible though, this film was utterly forgettable. Say what you will about the prequels, but at least they were memorably bad. This was basically the film industry getting its hands on Star Wars and completely stripping the soul out of it. It’s like if EA saw Super Mario Bros, and then tried to remake it and add bits of their own.

In terms of my personal rankings among the films, from best to worst:

Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
A New Hope
Revenge of the Sith
The Phantom Menace
The Force Awakens
Attack of the Clones

Someone needs to blacklist DJ Abrams from ever being able to work on any established sci-fi series ever again. First this man ruins Star Trek, now he tries to ruin Star Wars. The only good news is that he won’t be directing Episode VIII. Unfortunately, Disney is determined to run Star Wars into the ground by making a movie every year, and then shoot the franchise dead in a ditch once it can’t be exploited any more.

At that point however, it may very well be considered a mercy killing.

 

Remember watching Star Trek: Insurrection and thinking, “Man, this sucks”? If we only could go back in time and tell people to watch the Enterprise to save Star Trek from JJ Abrams. Our imagination could not conceive of Star Trek getting worse, but it did.

There are worse things than JJ Abrams. I could not imagine it, but here we go:

Who wants to watch this? Not any Trek fan I know. I expect Star Wars to get as bad very soon.


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