Reviewed: Star Wars: The Force Awaken

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(The first of the 3 under Disney – the world of Star Wars have moved on and rebooted with a mix of old and new characters and some dose of the old movies. Poster source: http://www.starwars.com)

“A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…”

Those iconic words alone had my heart pumping hard and left me in a trance. The new Star Wars movie is THE movie that both me and my son have been waiting for ever since the rumors of a new Star Wars movie first started on the net a few years ago.

And when the day finally came, we wanted to book our tickets on the very first day but it was a good thing that my wife talked me out of it. After all, the cinema will definitely show it for weeks to come and we can pick out time to watch the movie leisurely. So why rush and get a screwed place in the cinema. But three days into the opening, we were at the mall for some shopping and whilst I waited for my wife to finish her shopping, I ventured into the Cineplex and noticed that it was almost empty and for the Star Wars screening, there were plenty of seats still left. That was interesting because I had friends who unable to get tickets for the movie. We immediately bought the tickets for the movie for the next day and on the day of screening, the cinema was only half empty – a number of them was elderly (must be diehard fans).

So, how was the movie?

In summary, the movie was awesome and was much better than George Lucas’ prequels. There is was less special effects and there was more meat in the storyline although killing off Hans Solo sucked. To be frank, the new movie almost mirror-ed the first 3 movies – still remember “these are not the droids that you are looking for?”. Yup, the same here but with cuter BB-8 and a very large Death Star.

Looper reported:-

Rey is an orphaned techno-wiz who lives on a desert planet called Jakku that looks exactly like Tatooine. She’s got mysteriously absent parents and the Force is strong with her. Sound familiar? There’s also the identical destruction of what is basically the Death Star on steroids, but more on that later. Chewy’s holographic chess set is back, killing your own father to fully embrace the Dark Side of the force is back—albeit with a twist—and there’s a cantina scene, complete with an array of new creatures run by, get this: Maz Kanata. Was Ms. Cantina too on the nose? Oh well, at least nobody shot anyone first this time.

Bingo!!

Seeing the huge crashed Imperial Star Destroyer on the desert reminded me of David Lean’s movies – the way JJ used the space and size to project the situation of the moment. Perfect! The first movie also seemed to be rushing to fill up the missing years between this and the Return of the Jedi. But there were plenty of questions that screams for answers and one hopes that we will get the answers in the next 2 movies. We did not get that in the first movie.

Questions like these:-

• If The Rebellion Won At The End Of Return Of The Jedi, Why Isn’t The War Over?
• Is The Resistance Part Of The New Republic?
• What Has Everyone Been Up To For The Last 34 Years?
• How Did The Lightsaber Get In Maz’s Castle?
• What Happened To The Shot In Teaser Trailer #2 Of Maz Handing General Leia The Lightsaber?
• Who Was Max Von Sydow’s Character? Why Did He Have The Map?
• How Does Rey Know How To Use Force Powers?
• How Do Rey and Finn Know How To Fight With A Lightsaber?
• Is Rey a Skywalker?
• Or Is Rey A Kenobi?
• What If Rey’s Parents Were No One We Even Know?
• What Happens In Rey’s Vision?
• Who Was Rey Raised By?
• Who Are Finn’s Parents? How Did He Join The First Order?
• Why Does R2-D2 Suddenly Wake Up? Why Did He Have The Map?
• Why Did Kylo Ren Turn To The Dark Side?
• Who Are The Knights Of Ren?
• Who Is Supreme Leader Snoke? Is He A Giant?
• Is Supreme Leader Snoke Actually Darth Plagueis?
• Why Didn’t Snoke Want To Find Luke Skywalker?
• Why Didn’t Leia Train As a Jedi?
• How Did Kylo Get Darth Vader’s Mask?
• Why Was Finn Unable To Kill?
• Why Did Luke Skywalker Disappear? Has He Turned To The Dark Side Of The Force?
• What Happened To The Clone Army? Could The Clones Return?
• Did Phasma Survive The Destruction of Starkiller Base?
• Did Hux and Kylo Ran Survive The Destruction of Starkiller Base?
• How Is It That Rey Understands BB-8 & Chewbacca’s Languages?

(Source)

And there was even more questions:-

Several glaring problems that are impossible to overlook, in no particular order:-

1. Orange Yoda has the saber Luke lost on Bespin, “but that’s a story for another time”? No. That seems pretty important. Tell us now.

2. We never find out how Poe Dameron survived the TIE fighter crash on Jakku and reconnected with the Resistance (all while completely abandoning Finn, his supposed new BFF). Dameron just shows back up flying an X-Wing, an odd thing for a dead guy to do.

3. Why and how was there a map to find Luke Skywalker? Shouldn’t it just be coordinates?

4. Why do Max von Sydow’s character (whoever he was) and R2-D2 share the two pieces of this map? Did Luke give it to them in case of emergency?

5. The Starkiller Base is used to destroy an entire planetary system, which we are led to believe is populated by the Galactic Senate. Or maybe it wasn’t? The aftermath of the First Order’s attack is not made clear. The First Order is also preparing to fire at the planet where the Resistance is based, yet nobody makes any attempt to evacuate? Leia just sits there, hoping the Resistance blows up the Starkiller Base in a battle that presumably takes place light years away.

6. The fact that those five planets were just wiped out by an opposing force doesn’t seem to matter to anyone once it’s done.

7. How were Finn and Rey able to use a light saber so expertly with no training? How could Rey fly the Falcon or use the Force? How were either of them able to take on Kylo Ren and not get killed within seconds? Clearly Rey is strong with the Force, yet we’ve always been led to believe someone has to receive training in order to wield it properly.

8. This also brings up the issue of it being unclear just how strong Kylo Ren is. When first introduced, he stops a laser bolt which was fired at his back from what essentially amounts to a sniper’s position. Ren then keeps the laser in mid-air — without even thinking about it — and while doing his mind-reading thing. We’ve never seen anybody do this before. Aren’t we to assume, then, he is very powerful and not to be fucked with?

9. If that’s the case, why is Ren then wounded by Chewie, whose presence was made as he screamed before taking the shot? Shouldn’t Ren have been able to stop that crossbow fire or at least block it with his saber?

10. The plot does not lead to its climax. The Starkiller Base is thrown in late and suddenly becomes the driving plot point, but prior to which the entire story revolved around the search for Luke. If you think about the rebels in A New Hope, their entire motive was destroying the Death Star. We don’t see all of it because we’re following Luke, but that’s their only goal. It all leads to the Battle of Yavin. The Force Awakens abruptly shifts from finding Luke being the most important thing to “Hang on, we gotta blow up this thing first. Shouldn’t take too long. No big deal.”

11. Han dies. Chewie cries. Leia makes a sad face. Then, five minutes pass and everybody moves on. Darth Vader got his own funeral scene! Han just falls off a bridge. More drama was felt when Han was frozen in Carbonite, no? Is J.J. Abrams video game-style pacing sloppy, or is it intentional so that the audience has little time to digest and scrutinize? (Chris Nolan is arguably guilty of the same with The Dark Knight Rises.)

12. “The Starkiller Base won’t detect you if you just haul ass directly into it at light speed! #yolo.” Remember the good old days when traveling at light speed required “precise calculations”?

13. What was the point of the Chrome trooper? She literally did NOTHING. If it was an effort to gender-balance, why not make the Grand Moff Tarkin Jr character female instead of casting Domhnall Gleeson?

14. What did the Starkiller being powered by the sun have to do with anything? How did that function as a plot point? And how was the First Order able to fire its weapon more than once if it drains the sun of its energy?

15. No Cliff Claven cameo.

16. It often felt as if Han or Leia didn’t give two fucks about their split-up or their son turning evil. Abrams’ spastic pacing may likely be the main culprit for why it was so difficult to feel sold on any characters’ motivations or despair, but you have to wonder if, in between takes, Harrison Ford was thumbing through a yacht catalog and thinking how he’s going to spend the big pay-day.

17. Another example of the audience’s emotional disconnect from characters: Were we supposed to care for Finn when he made what was an instant heel-face turn?

18. Why was General Leia’s military outfit called “The Resistance” when the Republic had been rebuilt after Episode VI? The First Order was not the dominant governing force, but an up and coming terrorist organization. They were more likely to be referred to as a “Resistance” or as “Rebels.” So why wasn’t Leia’s “Resistance” just called “the Republic Army” or “Republic Special Forces”?

(Source)

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(My 2 favorite characters in the movie – Rey and BB-8. Image source: http://io9.gizmodo.com/)

There is a mixed feelings on the new characters too…

The next “Darth” in this movie – Kylo Ren whilst had get potentials, he seems to be too emotional as compared to the Vader in the first movies where Vader (and even Darth Maul for that matter) is ruthless and all round powerful. And does he really need to kill his father (Hans Solo) to move on the next step towards the dark side? He sucks at saber fights as well despite able to hold blaster laser in suspense in the starting scene of the movie (that was brilliant!). He also highly over shadowed and down played by General Hux which should not be the case. I hope he redeems himself in the next installment of the new movie – a total failure in this movie.

On the other hand, the strong one in the movie, Rey was simply lovable and have plenty of promises and I can’t wait to see how she moves on with the Force in the next 2 movies. She is no nonsense Jedi in the making and it shows from the time she first appears in the movie. A scavenger, alone and away from family – she is tough and holds herself well. JJ made the right move in creating this character and wrote a good storyline to complement it.

The confused storm trooper, Finn is a big mystery here and is a complete waste of time and space. Firstly donning a storm trooper suit and unable to shoot and follow instructions is an insult to all that perfect, brave and efficient foot soldiers of the Empire and secondly it is clear from the start that Rey does not need Finn to save her. After all, she is more powerful, smarter and more prepared than him. I can still understand if they want to put Finn in the movie for comical situations but why he has to be a storm trooper! Further it seems like having Finn assisting Poe to escape seems to just an excuse to introduce the character. Blame it on Kylo Ren for having such a sloppy security guarding the most important rebel on the ship.

Poe Dameron suppose to be the best pilot in the galaxy but I don’t see him much better than Rey (when they escape from Jakku) or Hans Solo from the older movie. So once again, what is the point of having him in the movie again? The Death Star was destroyed from the inside by Hans Solo, Chewy, Finn and Rey and not be the pilot who managed to hit the bull’s eye (still remember Luke with the first Death Star?).

Maz Kanata is dubbed as the Orange Yoda in the internet and rightly so. She can speak better English than Master Yoda (get me, you do?) and I like her from the first time she appears in the movie. She is mysterious and aged but what she is doing in a bar? The new “emperor” Snoke is a still CGI, alien like character that still needs more screen hour. For now he is still a large hologram giving orders and promising to do this and that. This movie is not ready for him yet.

And finally, the star of the movie, BB-8. It is a mini R2-D2 but with less attitude than R2-D2. Just like R2-D2, it has a mission, very loyal to its master and critical to the plot and it is the droid that the new Empire is looking for. It is smaller and it is alone – no bugging C3-PO to question it’s actions. Now just imagine the dynamic duo in action in the next movie and C3-PO into the equation. It is going to be a blast.

Having said that, to be frank, the movie was worth the watch. It was great to see Millennium Falcon, TIE fighters and the formidable X-Wings again. Same goes to Hans Solo, Luke, Chewbacca, Leia, C3-PO and R2-D2. The next movie is scheduled on 26th May 2017 and the final installation in 2019.

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