Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Star Wars Spoilers — Review, Analysis, and Predictions!

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars! Give me those Star Wars! Don't let them end!

Here's the long-awaited spoiler review of Star Wars, with my thoughts and predictions as well. Basically, this is you and I have both seen Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens and are now talking about it; at least, that's the idea.

Spoilers after the jump . . .

I got to watch the movie again this weekend and I was pleasantly surprised that all of the little nitpicky things I didn't like about it in the first place were completely addressed when you looked a little closer at the film.

I unabashedly love this movie and watching it a second time has only reinforced my love for the movie even more. I don't think it's as good of a movie as Empire, but I enjoyed it more than any of them. It's the most well put-together film and absolutely has the best cinematography.

So let's get into the movie's events.

I was expecting to start with Han when the crawl says Leia sent her best pilot, but Poe is an incredible character and more than any other pilot in the Star Wars films we really see his ability as a pilot. That scene where he's coming to Maz's castle and lighting up tie fighters and storm troopers is incredible. One hell of a pilot. 

I loved Poe's instant acceptance of Finn and their relationship was incredible even for how little it was on screen. They're wonderful together and I'm really hoping to see more of the two in the sequel. I'm a little worried that Poe may be more of a side character, but his attitude, personality, and superior piloting ability was awesome and it'll be a waste if we don't see more from him in the future.

Knowing through the entire film that Han is going to die and his eventual futile attempt to try to redeem Kylo let you in on a lot of the subtlety in Harrison Ford's acting of the character. There were many times where you'd see an expression on his face or in his eyes that let you in just a little bit into his psyche and ultimately made his death scene a lot less rushed/forced and have more emotional weight. My first time watching the film I thought it was too predictable and telegraphed; it had no more weight than going, "well that's probably why Harrison Ford signed on to the film to finally be killed off". The second time, I was much more affected by the scene. I didn't view it as a hero's sacrifice or even still as a son killing his father, but you could see the betrayal and it did have impact. I still think that it would have been a lot better if the two could have had some more interaction earlier in the movie besides Han watching Kylo carry Rey into his ship.

Rey is not a Mary Sue. She is not wish fulfillment for the author (the real definition of Mary Sue) and she is not overly, inexplicably competent any more than any character in any movie is (the definition most people are going with in this case). Some of the cues were blink and you miss them cues, but practically everything has been explained with the possible exception of her understanding of the Wookie language. Still, we are not surprised when any other character in Star Wars knows every other alien language enough to understand, so I don't view her knowing Wookie as an indicator of her being a Mary Sue.

She's a scavenger and mechanic. She has to know parts well enough to disassemble Super Star Destroyers and she's obviously worked on the Millennium Falcon itself as part of her service to Unkar Plutt. She describes the modifications made to the Falcon in several scenes and how she's argued against them herself with Plutt. This explains both her familiarity with the Falcon and her ability to seemingly drive it better than Solo himself (when in reality he's not used to the modifications that have been made). Her familiarity with a speeder is clearly greater than Luke's was and her mechanical ability is more explained than either of the previous Skywalker protagonists; if Luke can take out the Death Star after only flying a speeder, then I don't have a problem with her being able to fly a ship that she's worked on personally through ruins that she knows intimately.

Combat-wise, she gets off a couple shots with a blaster, but makes the mistake of not taking off the safety. She then gets owned by Kylo Ren. For her lightsaber duel, watch it again. Kylo Ren is in complete control despite being probably mortally wounded by a bowcaster and having already fought one battle. It's not until she taps into the Force that she is able to hold her own against Kylo and had the circumstances been any different, he dominates her.

Force powers. I didn't have any problem with her using force powers the first time I watched it and I definitely don't now, knowing that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda have both interacted with her from beyond the grave and that she is strong in the force. The scene where she touches the lightsaber, we hear Kenobi say, "Rey, these are your first steps," and we hear Yoda as well. Although Yoda's lines were in the past, the line from Alec Guinness/Ewan McGregor is NEW, as in, that's 100% a force-ghost talking to Rey through the force. Also, Frank Oz had come in to record more lines as well, but they ended up using lines from the past in the final edit. In one article I read, JJ Abrams said he wanted to reveal that Rey is as connected to these characters as it is possible for her to be.

If you have two of the greatest jedi talking to her, even subconsciously, then I have absolutely no problem with her being able to tap into the force in limited, temporary ways before she is fully trained by her dad, Luke Skywalker. Come on, she has to be related to the Skywalkers. I really think that her mother got pregnant with Luke's kid and then ended up abandoning her on Jakku. In the novelization, there is a scene with Leia and Rey where Leia says to her basically, "What happened with our son won't happen with you." Why would she say that unless she was worried about the influence of Vader? And why would Vader be influencing her unless she was his granddaughter?

Everyone caught that the Starkiller base didn't blow up, right? Was that just me? It turned back into the star it was using for fuel once it couldn't hold it anymore. If it hadn't been full at the time and they blew up that component, it wouldn't have affected the base overall AT ALL. Also, the idea that they had to blow open a hole, get in there, cause more damage, etc. I thought it was the most satisfying destruction of large base in the entire series. (The fourth in the series by the way: two Death Stars, a droid control base, and this Starkiller base).

I thought Finn's progression was beautifully done. Someone that can't ignore injustice but really wants to. The fact that he spends half the film looking for a blaster and then is stuck with a lightsaber was a nice touch also.

And I didn't have a problem with a non force user using a lightsaber either. He's not the first and I'm sure he won't be the last. The Mandalore leader of the Death Watch in Clone Wars (which is canon) used a lightsaber effectively enough to fight off and kill jedi. As soon as Finn encounters a stormtrooper with his lightsaber, the stormtrooper immediately pulls out some sort of electric tonfa and starts dueling him. I haven't watched VII enough to see if all Stormtroopers have these on their belts, but it stands to reason that Finn has been trained in melee combat with weapons and if that's the case, then he can make do with a laser sword at least as well as any trained fighter. He wasn't doing flips or deflecting blaster bolts with the lightsaber, just swinging it at people.

I also think that Snoke is Darth Plagueis. It would make sense and he has that lightsaber-looking head wound. Who else besides Plagueis would be able to come back from that? If he's not Plagueis, then I hope they go way old-school and have him be an ancient sith lord, like before Darth Bane ancient.

Anyway, any spoilery things you want to discuss? Look forward to hearing your opinions!

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