Big Star Wars Ramble & Discussion

Hi folks – I just saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Sunday, and now am looking to chat – in a way that keeps spoilers off of social media feeds.

TL;DR review – I loved it.

Therefore, I thought I’d put up this blog post so folks could talk all things TFA without risk of spoiling friends and fellow internet denizens.

That said, everything in the film is fair game from here below, including comments.

You have been warned.

I cried, friends. I cried with joy. It was Star Wars, and it felt like coming home.

Chewie We're Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved Rey, and was so happy with how fierce she got to be, how resourceful. She and Finn were really co-leads, and they had great chemistry together.

BB-8 was delightful – and so peppy! I had already bought a BB-8 Funko bobble head, and now that enjoyment is backed by the character.

Finn was great – his bluster, his moral compass, his bravery. And how he realized repeatedly that Rey was super-capable, and respected that.

I loved seeing General Organa, crochety old Han, and Master Luke.

And it was so quippy! I wasn’t expecting it to be that quippy.

The Force visions Rey had after touching the lightsaber were super-cool, and I need to watch the film several more times to unpack everything in there.

Captain Phasma was cool, though I hope we’ll get more of her in the next film, as she was fairly under-used in favor of Kylo Ren. I’d be very dissapointed if she turned into a Boba Fett type of character – cool visuals, kind of ineffective in practice.

 

Overall, it felt like Star Wars, and that was the most important thing for me. TFA presents a messier post-RotJ future than the EU did, where Leia’s Resistance/Rebellion is marginalized by the New Republic, facing a Thrawn Trilogy-scale threat in the First Order.

The Starkiller Base was an interesting variation/elaboration on the Death Star. I don’t think it needed to be able to destroy four planets at once, but I liked that it wasn’t just a third Death Star. Here’s hoping the new team can present strong threats/ending set-pieces without having to continually make new planet-killer weapons.

Something that I saw people talking about on Twitter and Facebook was how there were so many women in the film – crowds, Resistance fighters, First Order officers and Stormtroopers, and so on. It was really refreshing, and felt to me like the creative team had listened to fan feedback and made diversity in casting a priority.

Related, I want to know who that Asian (?) woman pilot in the Starkiller Base run character is – more from her, please. Give her and Poe Dameron some more X-Wing fighter-ing to do in Ep. VIII. Having Poe be ‘dead’ for the middle meant that there was more cast space, but I really liked what I saw of the character and am looking forward to having him around more, and in seeing his and Finn’s friendship continue to evolve.

There are lots of questions yet to be answered and revelations to be unpacked. I called the ending between Kylo Ren and Han as soon as Ren/Ben went out onto that bridge – the blocking and set space echoed Ep. V so hard it couldn’t be anything else.

That echoing meant that some of what might have been surprises weren’t, but I’m fine with losing a bit of that in order to capture the resonance the film has, the sense of being a continuation of the same story while clearly making space and passing the reins on to a new generation.

And the big ? for me is – where does Rey come from? Is she related to the Skywalker-Organa-Solo clan, and if so, how? Current bets seem to project that she’s Luke’s daughter or perhaps Leia and Han’s daughter.

In closing, here’s how I felt throughout most of the film.

Happy minion

Steven Universe Star Eyes

 

 

 

Wall-E Shiny Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what did you all think? Favorite scenes? Speculation on what’s to come? Additional reaction GIFs?

 

35 thoughts on “Big Star Wars Ramble & Discussion

  1. Paul (@princejvstin)

    I loved Rey. We weren’t told she was a mechanic and pilot of skill–we saw it.

    Finn’s arc was good, too.

    I was annoyed by the fake-out on Poe’s death. I think a single shot, after the Tie Fighter dying of seeing him survive, but Finn not realizing it, would have been better than the “out of nowhere” return.

    When Han and his son stepped out on that bridge…I knew how it HAD to go down.

    • Yeah – I get the structural reasons to having him off-screen – Finn’s motivation and making cast management easier in the middle of the film, but I would rather have seen it such that we the audience know he’s alive, even if Finn doesn’t.

      • Michael Lee

        I figure the trailers gave away that Poe survived 🙂

  2. Female x-wing pilot is named Jess Testor. She is played by Jessica Henwick, British actress of Singaporean descent. Jess gets name checked in Poe’s Before the Awakening story as a new pilot in his squadron after he transfers from the Republic navy to the Resistance, but there’s not really anything else about her. He’s actually got a second female pilot in his squadron, Karé Kun, and she gets dialog and such in the story even though she’s not in the movie.

    (I might be just a little excited about this please summertime just hire me to write about because women flying X-wings.)

    I actually got really annoyed about the planet killer, and thought it wasn’t really used well for narrative affect since it’s really “wait, what are those planets? What’s going on?” I just hope the First Order can come u with something better than “build an even bigger gun” in the next movie. Part of why I loved the EU stuff with Thrawn so much was how much shade he threw at the stupidity of building yet another Death Star after the first got blown up, and then he went his own way.

    I’m really, really really hoping Rey isn’t related to the Skywalkers. Let her be her own person and make her own family. The big family connection with Ren is interesting; adding more in there so everyone is related would edge into the ridiculous, IMO. People other than the Skywalkers are strong with the Force. Her being Luke’s father would make me roll my eyes (really Luke, way to make the exact same mistakes as your dad) but her being Han and Leia’s daughter would flat piss me off because there was no indication in this film, and I think Leia would remember if she popped a second kid out of her vag and said kid went missing.

    Poe/Finn OTP forever, I will fight.

    • Cool – thanks for the low-down on Jess Testor and the squadron. The starfighter stuff is some of my favorite in Star Wars (enhanced by the fact that I turned out to be far better at the dogfighting in Star Wars Battlefront than the ground combat).

    • I think it’d be cool for Rey to be unconnected to the Organa/Skywalker/Solo clan, but it doesn’t seem too likely. She might be an unrelated former student of Luke’s, spirited away by Kylo Ren, with her memory wiped or suppressed (that then helps explain why Kylo Ren latched on to her so intensely).

      • Paul (@princejvstin)

        We know that the traditional way Jedi get educated is young–younger than Anakin. Was Rey one of these students and then spirited away by her parents when Luke’s school went kaplooey thanks to Ben/Kylo?

        • Indeed. That seems like a solid possibility, though why Rey doesn’t talk about that when the Force comes up is a good question – requiring a memory wipe, repressed trauma, or something else to explain.

          • If she wasn’t related to a main character she’d have a surname. So unlikely that she’s unrelated. I think she’s Luke’s for sure, making her and Ben cousins. COUSIN FIGHT

      • Ben

        Compare the opening of Obi-wan’s theme (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKcvZjt1LUk) to the opening of Rey’s theme (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65As1V0vQDM) and let me know your thoughts.

    • The DeathPlanet was a disappointment for sure – in their defense, any Imperial heirs would probably always try to build a new one – it is the ultimate weapon – but for storytelling it felt tried and worn. Especially with the trope of “There’s a vent over here.” I really didn’t like how meta that scene got with the projections of the death star and planet. It felt self-aware and rushed, “We’ve done this before. Our audience knows the drill, so let’s just do it.”

      My biggest frustration with it was how ChromeTrooper willingly downed the shields with little more than a blaster to her dome. There was no clever plan, no real leverage, just a quick “Hey man, I cleaned toilets. But I know who COULD down the shields.” And what mid-level officer has access like that?

      That said, I loved them pulling out of hyperdrive under the shield, “I AM pulling up!” and absolutely loved the symbolic moment of light draining from the sky just as Ren made his own decision. Beautifully done cinematically as well as symbolically. Chewy’s reaction was heart-wrenching.

      Overall I loved the first act, it felt fresh and had some exciting reveals, the second act built really well, but the third felt too re-trod. We’ve done this before, twice, was my initial thought. That thought sticks with me. And why on earth didn’t they stop the movie at “We found Luke”? He didn’t even have a line!

      I loved that Rey never had to be rescued, and I loved her optimism. I loved that there was actual lethal intent in a lightsaber battle for once. I loved the dog-fights, and that someone finally thought to A) chain a Tie Fighter down, and B) arm a few storm troopers with anti-light saber weapons. I also loved Finn’s willingness to put his hand to things he’d never done, be honest with his intentions and desires early, and LOVED Rey’s development. The flashback/Force vision she had was AMAZING. One of the most inspirational scenes in the movie.

      • I also loved Ren’s immaturity balanced with capacity. His tantrums combined with forced reserve made him that much more daunting. He wasn’t a set-piece like Maul, and he wasn’t a whiny ***** like Anakin. He had serious internal struggles that came through well. I also loved that his infection was the light side – that he had to actively work against its incursions into him instead of the other way around.

        His mask too. Halloween 2017.

        • Totally agree on liking Ren being tempted by the Light Side. Ren’s journey may help flesh out the Force from a different POV – where his weakness and devotion to an imagined ideal in Vader creates a really believable redemption arc.

      • YES on lethal intent in the lightsaber fight. I loved that Rey was mostly thrusting, and her fighting style looked like she was using it as a staff without he other end. Both Kylo/Rey and Kylo/Finn had them fighting actually in measure, instead of swinging at one another’s blades (a common problem in the prequels, and in a lot of fan SW work).

        Agreed on the Starkiller Base. The Regulator as a weakness was better than a random exhaust port, and being able to target it with ground action as well as fighters made for a more dynamic finale. I am really hoping they don’t go back to the Super-Weapon well yet again in Ep. VIII and IX.

  3. I didn’t mind at all that you know what’s coming for most of the big stuff. Great tragedies lend themselves to that. It’s not as tragic if you don’t see it coming. It was all very purposeful and in keeping with the form

    Biggest dagger in the heart for me was when Han says Kylo Ren’s real name. When he calls out “Ben” I about burst into tears, knowing it was a master storytelling stroke meant to do just that. It’s a mythic story, built on those mythic structures. I feel like people forget that it’s like Cinderella or Beowolf.

    • Yep. This was Kasdan and Abrams and Arndt leaning into the mythic structure and resonance which made the original trilogy sing. Star Wars was, after all, a loving pastiche of 40s SF serials and The Hidden Fortress, stiched together into a beat-by-beat Monomyth narrative. I saw it coming, and I didn’t care, because the characters felt the scenes deeply, which meant I felt them.

  4. Kate Elliott

    I really enjoyed the film right up to the last third (or whenever the death star retread was revealed). At that point I just got annoyed, and I think the long infiltration/attack sequence was not well done besides being a less interesting repeat of the original. Hmm. Will there be a father/son confrontation? Check. Hmmm. Will they manage to kill the Death Star? Check.

    Also to be quite honest, I thought Carrie Fisher was given nothing but platitudes to say and that they could have taken her out of the film and nothing would have changed. Not Fisher’s fault. Lazy writing, and not treating her as a serious character.

    Rey, Fin, and BB-8 are great, however. I loved them, and was annoyed when BB-8 vanishes from the last part of the film.

    • I agree that the Base was by far the weakest section – I think re-treading the middle of A New Hope like that gave them the opportunity to highlight Rey as a character (escaping on her own, exploring her Force powers), but the beats of the base were played too quickly. What were those planets? Why do we specifically care that they are gone? Planetary annihilation is terrible, but we got about 5 seconds of emotional connection with anyone that had anything to do with those planets. Having Leia feel it was good, but I think at least one of those worlds should have been connected to one of the leads – Poe Dameron perhaps.

      • Kate Elliott

        Okay, let me be honest here: I am completely utterly over the latest Hollywood thing of “upping the ante” of killing 100s/1000s/millions/billions of people to show “wow these are bad people/we are in serious shit” unless it’s been earned, and it was not earned imo. It was just cheap window dressing. Totally done with this trend. Big body counts without connection or consequence turns me off film/tv faster than anything else these days.

        • Totally with you. And they had the Starkiller Base destroy four planets when it didn’t do a good job, narratively, of digging in to what it meant to destroy even one.

          • Kate Elliott

            What does JJ have against science? (the first ST reboot–the only one I saw–also had this problem). That scene was literally where my enjoyment turned into a big fat NO. Because I don’t care if it is “science fantasy.” It just isn’t possible to see . . . oh never mind. It irritated me so much because it wasn’t necessary. And that is my main complaint. It was the easy choice.

            Particularly irritating for me because I enjoyed the first hour so much.

    • Kate Elliott

      I should add here that I liked what they did with Kylo Ren. But the visuals/pacing/filmic use of the Death Star attack left me . . . bored.

    • A lot of people have said (rightly) that the film needed more room for things to breathe, especially for General Leia. If she’s really the beating heart of the Resistance, that’s super-interesting – spending just a little bit more time with her could also explain the current political situation with Republic vs. Resistance vs. First Order.

      I wanted more moments for the characters to process, to react. More moments for Leia that weren’t just family discussions with Han, especially. I’ll be very interested to see any Extended Cut they might have.

      I also saw from the Star Wars book editor that the novelization has numerous moments that didn’t make it to the theatrical release. Another place to go look for those in-between moments to deepen characterization.

      • To be fair there were a LOT of characters, and giving everyone a story was a lot to take on. I though Han wasn’t given much to work with either; same old story, but he got more screentime than Leia, which was a shame. She certainly needed more action. It was like hiring Lupita and then giving her a CGI character. Like, for real? You’re hiring an Academy Award winner and this is what you do with her? But again, there were SO MANY characters that ensuring everyone had enough to do became very weighty. I still loved it, though. Modern myth.

        • Kate Elliott

          Yes, I agree Han wasn’t given much to work with either. Although he can’t be taken out of the story and still have it work.

        • I imagine that the casting of Lupita as Maz and Christie as Phasma came late enough that they weren’t in a good place to fill out those roles, especially with so many characters already in the mix. I am assuming we’ll see more of Phasma, and hoping we get more of Maz, possibly as a counterpoint Force lessons mentor to Luke.

          • Michael Lee

            I loved Maz and thought she was great. And it wasn’t just a voice over job — Lupita was on set, and performed the character as motion capture. After all, we need more people to portray motion capture than just Andy Serkis. (I recall reading she loved the opportunity to be something really alien…that’s not a character she would be likely to play any other way, and she was awesome at it.)

        • Kate Elliott

          I was also really irritated that they CGId Lupita, and yet her voice acting was amazing — she did a great job.

      • Yes, this. Needed way more context on Republic/Resistance/First Order, what the players and motivations here were.

        Was also REALLY disappointed that the only real bit of Good Old Star Wars Wonky Dialog was reserved for Han/Leia. The scene where they awkwardly recite their breakup and motivations for same was super-duper underwhelming.

        • I really liked some of the patter that Finn & Poe got, and then Rey bypassing the Compressor and presenting her triumph to Han.

  5. I really liked the movie for what it was and for what it aims to be. All of the stuff we’re talking about and wondering about is ripe for the side movies and the sequels but for any of that to be viable they had to prove to us they know how to make a Star Wars movie that works in this day and age. And they did. Almost all of the critiques of this movie were leveled at Iron Man when it came out, but it did what it needed to do to show the new Marvel regime knew what they were doing, knew how to tell a story in that world, and knew what the fans wanted. Even though it was familiar and covered well-trodden territory, it was good enough to buy the filmmakers time to really get to work and build up the universe so we could get to the really good stuff. And the same is true of TFA.
    I can’t wan’t to see this Star Wars regime’s Avengers and Iron Man 3.

    • Totally agreed on the ‘this is set-up, let’s see where they go next.’ I like the possibilities they’re setting up with the Ep. VII-IX every other year, with anthology films along the way. Plus novels and comics, which it seems like the Story Team is interweaving much more directly than the previous regime did. And there’s 20-30 years between Jedi and Force Awakens to dig into – Luke’s New Jedi Academy, the formation of the First Order, the evolution of Rebellion->Republic->Resistance.

      • Paul (@princejvstin)

        I would like the timeline of what’s happened and happening fleshed out, so that can one ultimately understand Republic-Empire-Post Empire all flows together.

        Plus maps. How big IS the Republic and the First Order. Five planets get blasted–how much of the Republic WAS that? How much is the First Order? How much is unaligned or under local control?

        • Gilchrist Monaghan

          We just don’t know, because the movie didn’t do any setup whatsoever. The Republic is mentioned a grand total of two times, the second right before Hosnian Prime gets blown up, and never comes up again. The state of the galaxy is a total mystery, barring information from tie-in material.

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