Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled to release on DVD and Blu-ray on April 5, 2016, This seventh installment of the Star Wars film franchise currently has an 89 percent audience score from Rotten Tomatoes and has earned $2.03 billion in gross revenue. You may be thinking, “This must be an awesome film.” You would be wrong.
The Force Awakens has been out a while. So, I don’t believe I am giving away any details that are not already in the public consciousness. Nonetheless, if you have not seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this review will have spoilers. You may want to click away and read this heartwarming story about PETA and pit bulls.
The film takes place approximately 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Remnants of the defeated Galactic Empire have reorganized into the First Order. Luke Skywalker attempted to reestablish the Jedi but failed. Ben Solo, son of Leia Organa and Han Solo, turns to the Dark Side renaming himself Kylo Ren, a Darth Vader wannabe.
My main criticism of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is similar to my prime dislike of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Each is a reimagining of the original Star Wars film, A New Hope. A Force-sensitive youth is found on a desert planet. Each is incredibly powerful, despite lacking training. The movie ends with overcoming a more powerful enemy and a planet threatening space station blowing up.
Let’s break down my other issues with Star Wars: The Force Awakens individually:
Kylo Ren is a big disappointment as the heir to Darth Vader. Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side out of a misguided sense of good and justice. He came to see both the Senate and the Jedi as corrupt and joined with Sheev Palpatine to bring order to the galaxy.
On the other hand, Kylo Ren comes across as nothing more than a rebellious child. He was raised by loving parents. His uncle, Luke Skywalker, was central in his life. This was a kid who was raised with a solid moral compass who simply chose the Dark Side. He was not seduced by it.
We see this reality about Kylo Ren several times in the movie. In one scene, Ren speaks to Supreme Leader Snoke stating, “I am immune to the light. … I will not be seduced.” In another, he confesses his conflict to his father, Han Solo, before killing him.
The circumstances of Anakin Skywalker’s upbringing placed darkness in his heart. He did not see the Light as the same as good, nor did he perceive The Dark as the same as evil. Anakin was corrupted but thought he was morally justified. Kylo Ren knows right from wrong but is being a rebellious brat.
It seems writers wanted Rey to mirror Luke Skywalker’s early life. Before the events of The Force Awakens. she was abandoned on a desert planet as a very young girl and has been optimistically waiting for her parents return. However, she was not left with trusted family members, nor with a protector keeping an eye at a distance. She was just abandoned.
The real problem with Rey is her Force abilities. Based on conversations within the movie, it is obvious she had little to no real knowledge of the Force prior to the film’s events. She believed it all to be just a myth.
Yet, somehow, with the first inclination the Force is real, Rey is able to perform the “Jedi Mind Trick” and telekinetically grab a lightsaber. Her abilities even seem more polished than Kylo Ren, who has had actual training. It would have been more reasonable to see her luck into her powers, rather than instinctively knowing how to use then.
There is also the secret behind Rey’s true identity. It seems obvious Han Solo and Leia Organa know who she is but will not speak up. Kylo Ren even seems to suspect her true identity. He offers to bring her to the Dark Side but was unable to convince her.
Leia & Han
The relationship between Han Solo and Leia Organa disturbs me. Each seems to have hit the reset button on their character development. Leia abandoned the New Republic to return to her life within the Rebellion/Resistance. Han Solo is nothing more than a smuggler.
Both are heroes of the Rebellion, but both have turned their back on the New Republic and the greater good. Leia seems to be obsessed, and would be fighting just to fight even if the First Order was not making a play. Han turns out to truly be the selfish coward he was at the beginning of New Hope.
One would think both these characters would have matured. You would think they would be far less selfish, but they are not. Between Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, there were short-lived careers rebuilding the Republic and creating a family.
However, when push came to shove, both fell back into old habits. One would expect that their life-experiences would have them prepared to handle themselves and make better choices. Unfortunately, they are ending their stories where they started.
The biggest disappointment is Luke Skywalker, who actually receives the least amount of screen time. Since Return of the Jedi, he attempted to restore the Jedi but failed. His nephew and student, Kylo Ren, turned to the Dark Side and destroyed all he worked for. I call bull.
This should not have happened. Kylo Ren is not a Jedi and doesn’t seem all that powerful. He appears impressive using his powers against everyday people. But, his lightsaber skills are obviously lacking, and Rey was able to best him with her untrained use of the Force. Even if Kylo Ren was Luke’s best student, which seems unlikely, he just does not have the skills, power, or innate talent to take out the new Jedi Academy, even if none of the other students were full blown Jedi.
Moreover, Luke Skywalker going into hiding seems overly dramatic. There is talk that he went on a quest to find the first Jedi Temple. Ok, but what he became was a hermit on some obscure planet. Unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi, there was no Empire or Darth Vader hunting him, and no need to bide his time. The reach of the First Order and Kylo Ren is very limited.
The New Republic & First Order
Viewers are left scratching their head about the New Republic, First Order, and the Resistance. It is all a bit confusing. We are given the impression that the First Order is almost as powerful as the Galactic Empire, and the Rebel Alliance is the New Republic, more an opposition government despite victories and holding territories. Some non-film resources give the real story,
The New Republic has completely defeated the Galactic Empire, and the First Order is only a shadow. The First Order holds a small remnant of the old Empire’s territory and exists as a government in exile. So then, who is the Resistance?
The Resistance is described as the veterans of the Rebel Alliance, supported by the New Republic. Are they the resistance within the territory of space held by the First Order or are they the military wing of the New Republic? One must go hunt for the answer.
Pieced together from various sources, the Resistance is the private army of Leia Organa. The New Republic, just thirty years after victory, would like to put their head in the sand and pretend the First Order is not growing in power nor a threat, at least publicly. Therefore. it is left to the Resistance to fight the First Order within their borders while the rest of the galaxy pretends nothing is happening.
There is a good bit more I could say about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. On the upside, the film is far superior to the prequel movies which were written just to milk Star Wars fans. However, it fell a bit short overall.
Kylo Ren was an attempt to create a more complicated character than Darth Vader, with more emotional depth, but he is not. Rey is designed more as a superhero discovering her powers than a Force-sensitive and potential Jedi. The New Republic has become incredibly out of touch and irrelevant in a very short amount of time.
A person who watches the Star Wars movies in the correct order of events should not need a road map. There are no great question marks between Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. We don’t know every detail between the two, but we don’t need that information to know what generally happened.
The Force Awakens leaves a lot of questions and plot holes.
Why was Rey abandoned on Jakku? — As a child, Luke Skywalker was placed on the outer rim planet of Tatooine. It was a planet furthermost from the Galactic Empire’s influence and the safest place to hide him from his father. He was also placed with family members.
Rey was given to strangers on a planet within or very close to First Order territory, She was left to fend for herself on a dangerous world, with no one looking out for her protection. It will be extremely disappointing if she turns out to be the daughter of Leia and Han or somehow Luke.
Why did Kylo Ren turn to the Dark Side? — He obviously has a strong pull to the Light. The only indication of why he turned is his reverence and admiration for Darth Vader. We just don’t know why.
His internal conflict makes Kylo Ren emotionally unstable. He cries and is prone to fits of anger. Anakin was this way, but Vader was much more controlled and intentional. Kylo Ren just seems like a spoiled and self-entitled Millennial. He has not worked to develop his powers or skills as either a Jedi or Sith, but he wants the respect and prestige.
Why did Han and Chewbacca return to smuggling? — We can all probably understand why Han’s relationship with Leia did not survive after their son turned. This just does not seem to be a good reason to turn back into a person who values profit over the lives of others.
Why is Leia Organa not supporting the New Republic? — Leia would rather be living and fighting within First Order territory than helping to support and grow the New Republic she helped found. She would be more effective working within the legitimate government than fighting an unsanctioned war.
What is Luke Skywalker’s problem? — After his failure, Luke thinks it is a good idea to become a hermit and let the galaxy fall into chaos. Kylo Ren appears in his early 30s, and the events of his fall to the Dark Side had to have happened a good 10 years earlier.
Luke gave the First Order an additional decade to grow power, which seems plausible since Rey was dumped on Jakku at least that long ago. So, just two short decades after victory, the galaxy started to go to crap again and Luke ran and let it happen.
How has the New Republic become so obtuse? — Imagine if in 1975, 30 years after the end of WW2, the world turned a blind eye to Germany remilitarizing under a new Nazi regime. It would not have happened. It would not have been ignored, and they wouldn’t have been allowed to go 30 years unchecked.
This leaves us questioning the New Republic. They are not really part of what is going on here, even though it seems they are providing some assistance to the Resistance. All the conflict is within First Order territory or the Unknown Regions they are attempting to expand into.
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