Thoughts on Star Wars VII

Posted: 2015-12-19 in Reviews
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Image Credit: starwars.com

Introduction

I saw Star Wars VII on Thursday night. I enjoyed the movie and was certainly entertained. However, the entire movie felt like a recycled menagerie of episodes IV, V, and VI.

It is clear that JJ Abrams is a fan and really wanted to respect and pay tribute to the original trilogy but I think he went too far.  Instead of paying respect to the original trilogy, he copied it.

I had very high expectations for this film. Many of them were fulfilled. What follows are the things that had me scratching my head during the film, interrupting my immersion in the experience. Also know that I have not read any of the books. I’m a huge Star Wars fan but have only seen the movies; that is my point of reference.

Spoilers follow, so if you have yet to see the movie and want to be surprised, do not proceed any further.

A Bigger Death Star

Seriously? The Death Star was unique in ANH. In ROTJ, we were surprised that the Death Star under construction was fully operational. Making it bigger and housed inside of a planet shows a little originality but even Han Solo makes the case in the movie: “So, it’s bigger!” Aside from that it’s still too easily destroyed. Given the weakness of the first two being destroyed by small craft, one would think that the power array would be buried deep within the planet’s core instead of laying on the surface. As soon as I saw it I knew we were going to see X-Wings inside the structure to destroy it, just like in IV and VI. Not only did we get that but also a re-hashed ground operation to disable the shield just like on Endor.

Rey’s Back Story

Rey is Luke/Annakin on Jakku which looks a heck of a lot like Tatooine and she is good at fixing things just like Annakin. Echoes of episodes I and IV.

Rey’s Control of the Force

For a person who only days before heard of the force, she quickly gains the ability to resist Ren who trained with both Luke Skywalker and a Sith Lord for years! Maybe this gets explained in the next two films, but given the lack of information, I found this hard to believe given what we as an audience already know about the force. I think the explanation will be that Rey is Luke’s Daughter and thus has an innate ability to control the force much like young Annakin did while pod racing. But if this were the case, wouldn’t her ability have manifested sooner?

Rey’s Skill With a Light Saber

Her skills with a light saber are incredible given that the first time she turns one on is to duel with Ren. I was even surprised she could turn it on without even looking for the “on” button.

Kylo Ren is Han and Leia’s Son

We’ve seen this theme before and it was not a huge surprise. But it’s starting to appear that the Skywalker clan is the only family who can be truly powerful with the force or they are pawns in a proxy war between the Sith and the Jedi.

Han Solo

He was a General in the resistance, marries Princess Leia, they have a son and he goes to the dark side. Han and Leia are crushed and it tears them apart. Each dealing with it in their own way. Han tells us he just went back to what he did best (smuggling) but he still sucks at it because he still owes people money. Again, a recycled back story. Surely, Mr. Abrams could have come up with something better for a decorated hero of the resistance that is still fighting for peace in the galaxy. Then he dies. I was crushed. This was the only plot twist that totally surprised me. Star Wars won’t feel the same without Han Solo. The only thing worse would be to bring him back from the dead in episode VIII. Because there is no way he would survive both a light saber through the chest and a fall from hundreds of feet.

The Map to Luke

How did Leia find out about the map in the first place? Who was tracking Luke to get the details on his search for the first Jedi Temple? Why was it broken into pieces? How did the final piece get separated from the rest? If Luke, a Jedi Master, did not want to be found surely he would have erased the memory of anyone who had seen him. The whole missing map seems too much like the erasure of the planet Camino from the Jedi archives in episode II.

The Awakening of R2D2

R2D2 has been in low-power mode since Luke went into exile. Then he conveniently wakes up after the Super Death Star is destroyed? What triggered his awakening, the shock wave of the planet exploding? If he went into low-power mode after Luke left, how in the world would he have the rest of the map? Either I missed something or this makes absolutely no sense.

Too Many Unanswered Questions

At the conclusion of the film, the audience is left with too many unanswered questions. We get some very short dialogue alluding to explanations that may lie ahead in the next two episodes but for a two and a half hour movie, I expected to be a little more caught up on what happened during the preceding 30 years between ROTJ and TFA. Instead we get the highlight reel for the original trilogy. We have already seen the original trilogy. Most of us had a Star Wars marathon prior to attending episode VII. Seeing the movie does not move the story forward much further for the audience.

Conclusion

Episode VII brings us back to the original trilogy. It feels much more like Star Wars than the prequels ever did. The visuals are great, there is a lot of action, lots of X-Wing battles, and a couple of light saber duels. It’s fun and entertaining but it lacks some much needed plot development that I think many of us were hoping for and expecting. I have very high hopes for episode VIII but my expectations are considerably lower because it will take two incredible scripts to make up for this missed opportunity.

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