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Author Topic: Star Wars VII [spoiler thread]  (Read 1614 times)
Chairman Goodchild
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« on: January 11, 2016, 09:43:45 AM »

Since, amazingly, this thread hasn't been created already.  

My feelings?  All in all, positive. The movie felt real to me in a way that I hadn't felt since The Empire Strikes back. It didn't feel like a videogame, and it didn't have any Ewok/Gungun type characters. It felt like the universe of the original films. I really loved the direction in this movie. The first shot of the Star Destroyer eclipsing the planet below was a nice touch, a new twist on shot from the first film. The wide-open perspective of many of the shots reminded me much of Spielburg.  The film really got a chance to breathe visually, and not be the frantic cluttered mess of shots that the prequels were.  

And there were many small touches in the film that I really liked. The Han Solo scene on board First Order ship was a nice self-contained comedy/action break that the film needed, very much like the trash compactor scene on the Death Star. Han Solo: "Twice?" Chewbacca: *Nods and gives a Wookie grunt.* Small touches like that are really important. Another example: the First Order Stormtroopers that approach Kylo Ren's room as he's having a rage fit, then decided to just turn around and march back the way they came from.

The action scenes were well-done. The Stormtroopers felt more menacing and only wore the idiot hats when they had to advance the plot and keep the heroes safe.

And the callbacks. Basically the whole movie, literally from the first shot, was pretty much a callback to the original. And that's okay, this is the start of a new trilogy. Star Wars needs to earn its audience's trust back.
But the ending was way too much. The Force Awakens, which spends much time building up audience goodwill in the beginning of the movie, squanders it on three major mistakes at the end of the movie.  


The first major mistake:
ANOTHER DEATH STAR? REALLY? REALLY?
The first Star Wars was all about the Death Star, that was the whole plot of the film. The Death Star II, the point of it was Lucas wanted to destroy the Empire conclusively. It was all about the epic confrontation. And it worked, mostly. It wasn't perfect, but it worked.

The Death Star III? What purpose does it really serve? To show how stupid the Empire First Order really is? Narratively, it doesn't even do anything. It just shows up out of nowhere two-thirds of the way thru the film to blow up some random planet that we don't know or care about. Then we're just replaying Star Wars Death Star run. Admiral Akbar even shows up.






To retread the Death Star one more time is just agonizing.  The first time that that I saw the new Death Star, I knew it was going to be disabled during the climax of the film.  I just hoped it would be disabled without destroying the entire planet it was build around.  Nope.  Seeing the Death Star III destroyed is like hearing a joke whose punchline is worn out.  And the worst thing is, there was no real reason for it to be in this movie. Rey gets kidnapped by the bad guys with information that will allow them to destroy the Jedi Order? That's enough right there. Bust in, get her out, or the Jedi are doomed forever.  That's all the dramatic tension this film needs.  And forgoing the Death Star III plot would not only tighten the pace and plotting of the film, it would also focus more on Rey's vulnerability.  Which leads to the second major mistake of the film.  

Rey goes from being a scrappy but competent survivor that gains the audience's sympathy in the first half of the movie only to transform herself into an invincible Mary Sue by the end.

Rey's character wins the audience over when she's picking up trash and exchanging it for bread, and creates an empathy for her daily toil and seemingly utterly pointless and joyless life... and suddenly becomes Supergirl. It detracts from the empathy she had been building up with the audience. She should have had a harder time leaving her planet, but it didn't show. She should have struggled a lot more not just with Kylo Ren, but with herself as she discovers her powers. She suddenly discovers she had magical powers and she never appears to be too startled about it.  Rey is a charismatic character whom everyone likes who's already flying the Millennium Falcon like an expert the first time she steps foot in it, repairs its systems better than the guy who's been flying it for about thirty years after a few hours on board, kicks Sith ass, singlehandedly saves her boyfriend's life with a lightsaber the first time she picks it in a fight against a Sith Lord who's spent years in training, and at the end of the film flies away in the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca as her partner so she can meet her father, Luke Skywalker. Rey has gone into Mary Sue hyperspace.  And this leads me into the third point:


If you're going to build up the Big Bad Sith Lord of the new trilogy, don't have his ass get handed to him by a girl looking like she's about eighteen years old who just literally turned on a lightsaber for the first time in her entire life.

 I know, I know, Kylo Ren was wounded. But that's the problem. The direction didn't really sell the audience the idea that Kylo Ren was critically wounded by Chewbacca's gun before the fight, apart from a few token efforts, like a few drops of blood in the snow and having him pound his side a few times.  Kylo Ren never really looks like he's been badly wounded and after his show of strength during the fight versus Finn, he's overpowered by an untrained girl who's a foot shorter than he is, even when they've got their sabers locked against each other in a battle of brute strength. But she's not just using her brute strength, she's using the Force blah blah doesn't work. Because that doesn't come across at all to the audience.  It's really going to be hard to take this guy seriously for the rest of the trilogy.  Kylo Ren is a heavyweight fighter who's taken down by a welterweight in the first round.  Any rematch between the two of them is going to lose any kind of dramatic tension.


 
What should have happened?  

First: no Death Star.  Just spend the last act of the movie rescuing Rey from a heavily-fortified military base.  The only thing that really changes is that the movie's running time is shortened by about ten minutes that it really needed to have lost anyway.  

Second:  Rey is more vulnerable during the film.  She doesn't magically fix the Millennium Falcon.  Han Solo is cooler towards her.  She has a much more difficult time dealing with Kylo Ren.  And she's more obviously frightened by being suddenly thrust into the spotlight and gaining magic powers after a lifetime of being an anonymous scavenger.

Third: The fight between Kylo Ren and Rey turns out much differently.   Kylo Ren's defeat comes more from unlucky circumstances than a mostly fair fight.  Chewbacca's gun wounds him much more obviously, perhaps the explosion of the impact blows out part of the catwalk he was standing on, and he ends up barely making it back before the catwalk falls apart from the damage of the shot.   Then, after much more easily dispatching Finn, he spends the whole fight against Rey hunched over and in obvious pain. Still, he manages to beat back Rey despite his injuries, and is decidedly winning the fight despite a few lucky strikes by Rey, until Chewbacca shows up in the Millennium Falcon and drives Kylo Ren off. Rey grabs Finn and makes a hasty retreat back to the Falcon as more bad guys show up. Kylo Ren is still a force to be overcome.

But, I'll end by saying this: despite the faults of this movie, I'm looking forward to seeing the next Star Wars movie. I never felt that way with the prequel trilogy.  They've got something solid here despite all its faults, and now that they've remade the first Star Wars movie, and have the audience on board, it's time for them to depart from the first trilogy and do something different.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 01:38:10 AM by Chairman Goodchild » Logged
matweller
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016, 11:26:38 AM »

I think people like to say "Mary Sue." If we dismissed when that was done with male characters, it would reduce the total sum of movies ever made to a library that would fit in a large walk-in closet. I mean, Luke Skywalker is a Mary Sue--the premise of the franchise is that Mary Sues are cool and they win.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016, 11:48:37 AM »

It's also worth remembering the mythic frame. These are not the stories of what happened. These are the myths of what happened. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The frame excuses a lot of the epic storytelling.

Mythology, especially mythology within the same structure, tend to return to the same beats. Mythology is a way to teach lessons and repetition of a theme in multiple ages is a way to reinforce those lessons. If we threw out everything that comes back to repeat themes in the same meta-frame, we need to throw out Tolkien as a copying hack. I mean come on. Aragorn and Arwen? Just a straight up retread of Beren and Luthien.  Wink

Homer was drinking too much wine during three of the myths, or maybe he gave Hesiod too much latitude in his poetry. But he's back to form and the myths are glorious.
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Chairman Goodchild
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2016, 08:37:11 AM »

I feel like I should make a follow-up post.  I'll try to keep this short and let it be my last post on the matter. 

Quote
I mean, Luke Skywalker is a Mary Sue--the premise of the franchise is that Mary Sues are cool and they win.

Well, since you're bringing in Luke Skywalker into the picture, let's compare the two.  

Luke Skywalker was using the Force for years in The Empire Strikes Back, and was barely able to levitate his lightsaber back to him before being devoured by a snow beast.  Rey whips her lightsaber to her over a far greater distance on her first day of being a self-taught Force user in The Force Awakens, after she teaches herself the Jedi Mind Trick.  

Then she goes on to bring down a Dark Force user who's been training for a long time, several years at least, the first time she's held a lightsaber in combat.  How did Luke do in his first lightsaber battle after extensive training?



Not as well.  Luke had to earn his victories at a costly price.  Sure, he blew up the Death Star in his first battle, but he had a voice whispering in his ear the whole time, and couldn't have done it without some unexpected help from a friend.  And the movie made that clear.  

Quote
If we dismissed when that was done with male characters, it would reduce the total sum of movies ever made to a library that would fit in a large walk-in closet.

What if Rey were male?  Would I still be making the same complaints about about a male character who's hyper-competent at things that should be way beyond his abilities?  



Yes, I can state with confidence I would definitely be doing that.  

And I didn't dislike Rey's character when she was a hardworking down-on-her-luck character who got a few lucky breaks in when the punches started flying.  It's that things went way too far, way too quickly.  And I hate to use the phrase 'realistic' when talking about Star Wars, but the films definitely have a sense of their own verisimilitude and here it's being violated.  That's why I believe the label applies.  

« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 05:22:46 PM by Chairman Goodchild » Logged
matweller
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2016, 09:49:00 AM »

I feel like I should make a follow-up post.  I'll try to keep this short and let it be my last post on the matter. 

Quote
I mean, Luke Skywalker is a Mary Sue--the premise of the franchise is that Mary Sues are cool and they win.

Well, since you're bringing in Luke Skywalker into the picture, let's compare the two.  

Luke Skywalker was using the Force for years in The Empire Strikes Back, and was barely able to levitate his lightsaber back to him before being devoured by a snow beast.  Rey whips her lightsaber to her over a far greater distance on her first day of being a self-taught Force user in The Force Awakens, after she teaches herself the Jedi Mind Trick.  

For years? It's probably that I haven't been super invested in Star Wars, but I though he left the middle of a couple weeks of incomplete training from which his own master said he was not prepared. He took on the second most powerful force in existence for the other side -- a guy that could have choked him to death before he crossed the threshold -- and he didn't die.

Then she goes on to bring down a Dark Force user who's been training for a long time, several years at least, the first time she's held a lightsaber in combat.

She took on an already injured opponent who was self taught -- the equivalent of the Karate Kid learning out of a book before meeting Mr. Miyagi -- who was also hampered by myriad emotional issues.

Quote
If we dismissed when that was done with male characters, it would reduce the total sum of movies ever made to a library that would fit in a large walk-in closet.

What if Rey were male?  Would I still be making the same complaints about about a male character who's hyper-competent at things that should be way beyond his abilities?  

I wasn't calling you sexist, I was just noting how it's funny to me how obvious it is in the entire realm of fiction that characters having undeserved providential power to solve a problem happens ALL THE TIME. Even in non-fiction, the stories that get re-told are the ones where the person draws on some ability that nobody would have predicted could be possible to overcome odds that have destroyed everybody that has attempted it before. It's as common as telling stories in 3rd person past tense. It's one of the most common reasons to tell a story, of any kind, at all. Yet some self-important, gasbag blogger whines about it being a feminist issue and says "Mary Sue" and all of the sudden its a global chant.

It was a cute movie that was super-fun that came out a LOT better than most people would have dared to hope. It's easily the 2nd or 3rd best property in the franchise and bodes well for its future. I'm more excited about Star Wars now than I ever remember being and that's nice, and I'm happy to soak in it.
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stePH
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2016, 06:21:43 PM »

It's easily the 2nd or 3rd best property in the franchise...

Better than Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back? That's just crazy talk.
Personally I rank it below the original trilogy, but well above the prequel trilogy.

It's obvious that Abrams desperately wanted to make Episode IV, but unfortunately Lucas had already done it Tongue
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