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Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Doctor Shark
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The thing is, the original Empire were like Nintendo, setting a very high bar with their earliest work, so anyone following has to go bigger or face critcism that they killed more people than that thirty-odd years ago on less powerful hardware.

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Finally watched this last night, and really enjoyed it – it was a great night out. I do have this nagging feeling that the overwhelming similarities to the first film undermined it a bit – there were so many bits that directly referenced or outright replicated scenes from the original that it took me out of the film. There’s minor stuff - like, did Jakku really need to be a desert planet with those moisture farm things, and Bedouin-looking robes, and bootleg Jawas? – but the biggest problem for me was the introduction of the Death Star 3.0, which seemed to drift in from a different draft of the script. The initial setup for the film is the search for Luke, and the Macguffin that everyone is looking for is a map to his location. Both the good guys and the bad guys are totally focused on this goal for the first half of the film; in fact the resistance could have found Luke around the halfway mark, just after they get hold of Scrappy Doo / that ball droid thing.

Unfortunately, at this point, that storyline is put on hold because R2D2 has the other part of the map to Luke’s Jedi temple, but can’t reveal it as he is spending a year dead for plot reasons. Then the bad guys remember that they have a sun-fucking superweapon and decide to stop looking for the map and use that to destroy the Alliance and the resistance; once this plot line is dealt with, R2D2 decides to come back to life, and gives up the rest of the map to find Luke.

Those two things felt like completely different storylines that were fused together a bit awkwardly; the search for Luke had very little to do with the DS3.0, which led to this awkward coda after the actual climax of the film where Rey finds Luke after about ten minutes of searching. I’m sure they could have figured out a way to make the search for Luke into the actual story of the film, and worked out some climax that allowed them to include all the (excellently done) character stuff between Han, Rey, Ren, and Finn without the contrived Starkiller plot. It feels like the film was going in that direction anyway, and then they decided they had to have an attack on a death star because that’s what you do at the end of a Star Wars film.

It was a shame because the death star stuff felt a bit vague. The driver behind the whole plot of the original Star Wars was stealing the plans that allowed the rebels to find out what the otherwise-impregnable superweapon’s weak spot was; in Return of the Jedi, many bothans died to bring them the information needed to attack the second death star. In TFA, nobody knows about the Starkiller until it displays its hazily-defined abilities by destroying five planets at once by probably firing a laser through hyperspace and then eating a sun. The secret to destroying it is found by a guy who used to empty the bins who makes up his plan off the top of his head after looking at a hologram for a couple of seconds. Compare that to the original death star – you knew exactly what it was and what it could do, and it was the story backbone that supported the whole film. Every bit of the film revolves around it, whether they’re trying to reveal it, find it, escape it, or destroy it.

Good analysis. I think Starkiller Base and the nebulous relationship between the Republic, the Resistance and the First Order works best if you consider it as just a backdrop. Starkiller Base does seem to be there as excuse for an X-Wing vs TIE Fighter climax and also as a plot device to even the odds for the next film, but really the focus of the final act is on Finn going after Rey and Han confronting Kylo Ren, all of which follows on naturally from the first half of the film.

Technically you don't need a big laser in the plot but I liked the sequences it allowed them to shoehorn in. The shot of the death-ray going across the viewing gallery of the Star Destroyer with Ren watching was one of the best in the film (I do believe JJ allowed himself some lens-flare then a well).

In script terms, I do think it was the weakest part though. I don't think you'd get half as many people claiming it was a remake of A New Hope if the last act had ditched the super laser and focused totally on the leads characters.

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As I mentioned, it's not necessarily a 'broken' or clunky plot device.

The quest to get the Map to the Resistance is rather dramatically interrupted by the destruction of the New Republic via the First Order's Doom's day device cannon gun thing.

It's understandable that you would put the original motivation aside to deal with a huge impending threat. The First Order also have to appear ominous otherwise they'll just be continually chasing the main characters. The McGuffin also kinda switches from BB-8 to Rey after she's kidnapped due to her memory of the Star Map.

I don't have a problem with any of it.

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Why is everyone so adamant that Kylo Ren is a teenager?

The actor who plays him is now 32. (maybe 30+ during filming).

Dad is 73...

and Mom is 59.

The events of the last film in the last trilogy took place in our time 32 years ago.

Y'know, maybe he is 30 something with anger problems. Which I think makes him far more fascinating than portraying him as Kevin the teenager with space magic.

I love the Kylo Ren character.

Yeah, I didn't get a teen vibe, but even if in his 30s, I've seen enough people posting on this forum to buy the stroppy guy with undefined force powers shtick.

Great write up earlier by K, incidentally. We're up to episode 1 (going chronological) with the kids. I was going to put this in the prequels thread, but it's relevant here.

After TFA, I really struggled with TPM, even as someone who liked it. I won't go into that, it's covered here and elsewhere. However, my overwhelming feeling was that had Lucas done prequels now, it would be much better suited to the action film/side TV series thing Marvel has going. Keep the films simple and with a decent clip, as the originals did, and leave all the political machinations to a TV series on Netflix or whatever. See, taking control via politics is perfectly plausible, and if we want to end up in dystopian future, the current erosions to civil liberties is how it starts. And all that's there, just utterly dull in an action film.

As Darren says, now that we've level set and got most people on board, and have great new characters, I hope they keep the themes to their appropriate medium, as they have with Marvel.

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Saw it on Sunday and I really bloody enjoyed it. A lot of my criticisms are set out in K's post (and by others) but it had pace, humour, character and eye-candy to spare so I'm happy to set aside the odd logic issue and feeling that it's just an excellent remix of ANH.

I'll spoiler this bit although I know stuff is out in the open now:

I don't want Rey (or Finn for that matter) to be linked to any of the existing cast, I'm quite happy for them just to be randoms from a vast galaxy that have been dragged into this. For Rey in particular, when she meets Luke at the end I'm happy to read the look on his face as knowing what has happened, that the living Force is awakening people and that they are coming to find him and drag him back into the war, and that he knows what Rey and others like her will have to go through. No dramatic need for her to be another Skywalker at all as far as I'm concerned.

Loved the way Kylo Ren's lightsaber echoed his half-finished training and his almost out of control mental state.

Even before we saw the movie, we were thinking Finn as the name for our little boy that's on the way. Might be more popular in the next year or so now!

All this talk in the last few pages about the Prequels reminded me of when TPM came out and I dragged my then-girlfriend to see it twice on the opening day. The poor poor thing. Dumped me not long after, unsurprisingly.

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It's the story of the Skywalkers and you'd have to be feeling massively cheerful to assume that Luke is going to make it through the next film. That would just leave the third episode to be Episode 9: A Diplomatic Solution on the team of the good guys.

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It's just occurred to me that this is the first time we've been left genuinely wondering what's going to happen next in Star Wars since 1977/78 (depending on when it came to your local cinema). After Empire we knew basically what was going to be in Jedi (Han's rescue, Luke vs Vader rematch). And the prequels were doomed with us already knowing how it all ended up and not really caring how they got there. I suppose we can predict that episode 8 will probably include Rey & Ren being trained but otherwise it's a blank slate.

(My fan-fic sequel in 1978 (I started writing it in an exercise book but lost interest after a few pages) was based around Darth Vader's damaged TIE fighter crash-landing on Earth, coincidentally at the same time as the Daleks AND the Cybermen launch invasions! Although I didn't work out how, Earth was going to be saved by Luke Skywalker with help from Doctor Who and the Six Million Dollar Man.)

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Absolutely loved it. And a theory has been playing on my mind since I saw it on Sunday. So here goes:

Han was a non believer in the force in ANH. But now, after everything he has seen and experienced, he knows what it is about, even though the force is not 'with' him.

"It's true. All of it."

My theory?

Ren isn't a Sith. He's a Jedi. His 'trial' was to prove to the first order - and Snoke in particular - that he has what it takes to be a Sith. To kill his own father. To deceive them into thinking he's truly turned. To bring them down from within - a plot Han and indeed Luke were complicit with. Han now realises destiny plays a huge part in the universe - and his own death at the hands of his son was his way of playing a part into bringing balance.

But he hasn't turned, - hence all the conflict, he's had to kill his own father in order to fulfill his own destiny - to bring balance to the force. As he says 'I will finish what you started.' What else could that mean?

Where Rey comes into this, I don't know. But I think this would bring even more dimension to Ren's character, which I thought was ace to start with.

I've no idea what episode VIII has in store but I bloody love VII and can't wait to see it again!

Darth Vader's damaged TIE fighter crash-landing on Earth, coincidentally at the same time as the Daleks AND the Cybermen launch invasions! Although I didn't work out how, Earth was going to be saved by Luke Skywalker with help from Doctor Who and the Six Million Dollar Man.)

Jesus. That's the best idea I've ever read!!!

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Ren isn't a Sith. He's a Jedi. His 'trial' was to prove to the first order - and Snoke in particular - that he has what it takes to be a Sith. To kill his own father. To deceive them into thinking he's truly turned. To bring them down from within - a plot Han and indeed Luke were complicit with. Han now realises destiny plays a huge part in the universe - and his own death at the hands of his son was his way of playing a part into bringing balance.

Wouldn't work out that way because the Force can tell the future in visions etc. He'd get found out soon enough plus if he was faking there wouldn't be a balance and another villian would be around.

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While a redemption for Ren in later episodes would match Star Wars' existing themes, it would be badass if he goes full retard on the Sith side of things to the point where we really can't see a positive outcome, and don't look likely to get one.

He's a great villain, full credit to Adam Driver because Vader is a pretty tough act to follow.

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My theory?

Ren isn't a Sith. He's a Jedi. His 'trial' was to prove to the first order - and Snoke in particular - that he has what it takes to be a Sith. To kill his own father. To deceive them into thinking he's truly turned. To bring them down from within - a plot Han and indeed Luke were complicit with.

Well, he does look a bit like Severus Snape... :P

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Just to jump in to the flow here, I bought my niece and nephew some Star Wars books from Amazon and picked up a bundle including TFA encyclopedia and cross sections (which have already been discussed) and, for an extra seven quid (rrp 35) The Art of Force Awakens.

By god it's absolutely superb. It's a lovely way of seeing not only the evolution of the art, but it's filled with supplementary and incidental notes from the artists about possible stories from Abrams and Kasdan that they hashed out pictures for too. It's all chronological and obviously it's fantastic to look at. The additional material is more than you'd expect too (for instance, the Coruscant type place that was destroyed was called Clyne and the city was called Dusseault).

Highly recommended.

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Seriously? From Finn meeting Rey to getting to space-Scotland is one continuous action sequence. That includes meeting Han and Chewie.

Sorry I'm not saying it doesn't happen at all. Just that not ALL characters are running about when they talk to each other.

The main cast meeting Maz, the interrogation scenes with Kylo, and the bridge sequence all slow the film right down.

I agree with you about Star Trek though.

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Wouldn't work out that way because the Force can tell the future in visions etc. He'd get found out soon enough plus if he was faking there wouldn't be a balance and another villian would be around.

You mean like the elusive Sith and the ENTIRE Jedi order - which included supposed badasses Windu and Yoda - weren't able to detect Darth Sidious?

And this was just the first of 3 films. There may well be another villain.

This is the offspring of Leia and Han. Nephew of Luke. Grandson of Anakin. He might well be very very good!!

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Disney wouldn't have done that storyline at all. Even boiled down to a rapid series of promotions based on emergency situations it's lacking in any form of appeal at all.

I didn't say they would. I meant keeping the non-critical stuff off the silver screen and entirely optional via other media.

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An amazing experience, and a wonderful film. I honestly thought it would be shit, but somehow they did the legend proud.

Casting and performances overall were excellent, with Rey, Finn and Poe shining a little brighter than others (as they should as the presumed future of this new trilogy).

Nitpicks would just be the same as have already been mentioned. A few too many echoes of the OT, Maz Kanata perhaps not fully realised, some emotional moments not really earned...

But I'm all in for Episode VIII. The hype has awakened in this once-cynical fan.

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Yeah, but you know, at least The Phantom Menace had a lot of new ideas. TFA has none.

Yes, I'd rather take quality over originality, but man, the more I think about it, the more TFA disappoints me :(

Staggeringly wrong. That's...that's an an amazing thing to witness. The birth of the new encyclopaedia definition for opinions that are comprehensively, hilariously wrong.
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