Last weekend, I went to the theatre and saw the new Star Wars movie. I’ve always enjoyed Star Wars but never been a superfan; my exposure to that universe is mostly from the movies. No, I’ve never logged in and played SWTOR.
But I’ve really been very happy with the franchise for many years. I had an inkling that a lot of people were disappointed with the prequels – Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – using incredibly strong language to vent their displeasure. I thought they were solid and fun. But to each his own.
I’ve been aware of George Lucas selling off Star Wars to Disney, and it did not sound like a good thing. Part of this has to be the disappointment many feel over the prequels. Part of it is likely that the man’s getting old and he needs to let go of his creation. Having had this happen, I didn’t really want to see any new movies, but neither was I determined NOT TO.
But the hype machine got to the wife who REALLY wanted to see the movie. Me, I wanted to let it marinate for awhile then see it later, but it’s always fun to take the family to a movie. Right ? You’ll get some fun for your $50. Right ?
I cannot believe how angry and disappointed I am with this movie. A week later and the Christmas holidays have passed, and all I can do is stew with my own thoughts about how bad the movie is.
Let’s read some critical reviews, I figure. That’ll help me get over my disappointment. Except every review of this movie says it was great. I can’t believe this at all.
I see movies and I like them, or I don’t. Usually. This movie was a total stinker, and yet, I am the only one I can find who’s saying that. So now it’s time for my therapy without starting more Facebook arguments or the blank stares of my wife (“I liked it !”) and detailing where the movies went wrong. I mean, aren’t you allowed to vent to your friends on Facebook ? Turns out, no, you’re not if you are discussing Star Wars with rabid fans.
The first few seconds of the movie begin with the word crawl to set things up. Remember at the end of Return of the Jedi ? The Rebellion succeeds ! The Empire is destroyed. The years and years of fighting are at an end. But we are immediately told………. JUST KIDDING ! Now, it’s the First Order who will take the place of the Empire, and the rebels, who presumably were part of the set up of the First Order……… are rebels again, part of The Resistance.
How can this make any sense ? It’s as if the last six movies didn’t exist. Maybe it will get explained later in the movie, I thought. (Nope).
Next we’re treated to Stormtroopers invading a village on a little planet, where a Resistance fighter (Poe) is getting a USB stick from some old man. Max Von Sydow, actually. I have no idea who his character is because he gets offed immediately. The USB stick is in Poe’s hands, but he’s clearly going to be taken by the Empire…. I mean, the First Order…….. so he hides it in his droid BB-8. The droid ends up on a desert planet, with the critical USB stick in its possession, trying to find the Resistance to hand it off to.
Sound familiar ? It should. This is exactly the Episode 4 storyline. If you like this, great, you’re in for more treats, but I was annoyed at watching a rehash of the 1977 movie again. At least the droid was well done. Not irritating like C3P0 and R2D2 could be, it managed to provide nicely done comic relief in several spots.
Poe is captured and is ready to be tortured by the Big Bad Evil Villian for the Force Awakens – Kylo Ren. He’s a force using bad guy with a big black helmet and a nasty looking lightsaber. Recognize this guy ? We’ve brought back Darth Vader again. Except Ren is conflicted, and feels the call of the Light Side of the force. This sounds pretty cool, except it never gets any development in the movie beyond being introduced.
Ren also takes off his helmet a couple of times. He’s not disabled in any way – he just likes wearing a helmet. And lest you don’t quite get the Darth Vader thing right away, he has the old Vader helmet in his quarters as part of some kind of Dark Side fetish-totem. The character Ren just doesn’t work at all, even though the actor playing him works at it really hard. He just wasn’t given enough to work with.
This is something I saw at almost every turn for the movie – good actors, given nothing to work with, and so they do a great job of vapid nonsense in the movie.
But before Poe is tortured, he manages to escape from the Empire’s Star Destroyer. Wait. That was the First Order’s very big starship, actually. Anyway. Poe escapes with the help of what could have been an awesome character named Finn.
During the attack on the village we previously saw, one Stormtrooper is acting weird. He doesn’t want to murder the villagers. One of his fellow troopers dies and plants a bloody handprint on his helmet. I can tell we’re being set up for this guy to go rogue, and sure enough, he does. Cool ! We’re going to get a Stormtrooper in the movie.
The problem is nothing about Finn’s conversion makes sense. I get that we’re watching a movie, so we can’t really see inner moral struggle too much, but Finn has decided to get out of being a Stormtrooper and join the Rebellion…….. Err, that was the Reistance, right ? ……. and so he helps Poe escape, gleefully killing the only family he’s ever known – all the other soldiers on the ship.
We don’t get any soul searching conversations with other characters, all we get is Finn jumping into a Tie Fighter with Poe and manning the guns, along with some shouted conversation between the two of them. Wasted opportunity, and it makes the Finn character a total joke.
Finn and Poe manage to crash land on the same desert planet that BB-8 is on. What are the odds here ? How does Poe know he needs to go here ? But Poe doesn’t survive the crash and so Finn is left to look for the robot and get it to the Resistance base.
(Poe isn’t actually dead, as he reappears in the movie later. Why are we led to believe he died ? Why don’t we get any kind of an explanation of what happened ?).
All the best parts of the movie are behind us now, as it’s once again a matter of joining up with the Resistance/Rebellion and blowing up the big weapon. We’re introduced to the new female Luke character (Ren) who manages to steal the Millennium Falcon, parked on the desert planet, and helps our cast of characters to get away from the First Order attack.
Ren doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the actress is fantastic. She’s tough, smart, moral and quick witted. And yet – we see her scavenging for parts and getting a single food packet for her trouble. Once she acquires the droid, instead of selling it for the mind boggling price of 62 food packets (Score !) she decides to keep it. For no reason, really, but she just likes the little guy. She acquires it from another scavenger for nothing at all, which is just ridiculous.
The next thing you know the action centers around the new Death Star. This is actually a planetoid that’s been turned into a planet buster. The planet buster harvests the power of the sun to create a light based weapon that shoots across the galaxy to destroy planets. My head hurts. Have we forgotten about light speed and the scale of the universe ? This is so stupid.
And the Resistance all gather in the control room to see if the new Death Star – I didn’t get the name of the thing from the movie, but it’s apparently called the StarKiller. Just in case you need to be hit over the head, Han Solo says “There’s always a way to destroy these things”, which just cheapens the whole thing. We’ve seen this happen twice before, so we know how to kill it – fly your Xwing to the spot labelled “Weak Point” and blow it up.
How can they know how to destroy it ? They don’t have plans to it, like they did in 1977. But now, our former Stormtrooper Finn claims to know exactly how to wreck it. Despite the fact that he’s an infantryman in the first scenes, we’re told he’s actually a janitor and he just lied to the Resistance leadership. Because he wants to save Ren, captured and held hostage inside of the Starkiller. The mobius strip of this logic doesn’t work, isn’t fun, and continues the slide of the plot down to the basement level of believability.
But it’s Star Wars. So everyone succeeds, and the Starkiller is blown up. Instead of a Lucas-style victory celebration, we are instead treated to Ren finally finding Luke, hiding in a remote corner of the galaxy……. they gaze upon each other…….. and the movie ends.
The action spots were fun. The actors were generally top notch; Harrison Ford steals the show and was the best part of the movie; Carrie Fisher is too old and wooden for whatever reason and was awful. But the plot. Oh. My. God. I cannot believe the plot they used for this movie, with more holes than a Swiss Cheese and twice as stinky. Believe it or not, I even went light with that wall of text above. There are even more plot holes to be irritated about but the above is almost too long anyway.
So the movie ended and I didn’t like it. Life is full of disappointment. What happened next is what I don’t understand. I am full of anger over the whole thing. Why ? Star Wars is fun but it’s never been a central thing to me. The whole world, while acknowledging the points that I bring up, still says it was a great movie. EVERYBODY loved it. Except me. So I at least had to write this, vent my disappointment, and put up an unflattering review.
I guess Disney knows how to manipulate critical acclaim. Maybe it’s just been going on generally for all movies of a certain caliber, and I haven’t noticed. Because for this stinker to get this much good press, something is going on besides the movie itself. A huge chunk of the movie just feels like the set up for the next one.
You can be sure I won’t be watching Episode VIII. The last thing I need in my life is more things to irritate the hell out of me for days on end. Zero stars out of four.