Those of you close to me know I’ve been pretty upset about Disney getting their hands on Star Wars. It’s not about hating Disney or their movies–I like the Avengers movies a lot. It’s not about JJ Abrams, either, he did a nice job with Star Trek, as far as reboots/continuations go.
So what’s your problem, Mike? Is it that Disney decided to toss Lucas’s ideas on where the franchise should go? No. Is it that they decided to overwrite 25+ years of books with their own, tossing out great characters and wonderful stories? Not exactly–though that did hurt a lot.
The problem started when I saw the trailer for the first time. There was that nostalgic-spinechill moment when Han and Chewie stand in the doorway to the Falcon, and Han says, “Chewie, we’re home!”
I felt a disturbance in the Force, as if a million voices in my head cried out in terror, and were met with apathetic silence. Okay, not really silence. Not silence at all, actually. It was exuberant and barely concealed glee by those who didn’t give a rat’s sphincter about Star Wars after Return of the Jedi. You know who you are—if you didn’t know there was a Star Wars Role Playing Game, have never heard of “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” or “Shadows of the Empire,” I’m talking to you.
“Great,” I said. “Episode Seven is going to be a bunch of ‘ooo! Lookit that!” nostalgia and easter egg junk, surrounded by a not-so-creative summer sci-fi style movie.”
Holy mother of Tuesday’s left over pancakes, how I wish I’d been wrong.
I had some hope, though, leading all the way up to the day I actually went to see it. JJ Abrams came up with a Star Trek that turned out pretty cool. And young kids were going to get introduced to this as possibly one of their first Star Wars experiences.
I wanted to be wrong. I wanted the new episode of Star Wars to have the big-screen impact of the Star Trek reboot. I wanted interesting new characters, a new plot, new aliens, new planets, new ships, new new new infinite universe of Star Wars NEW, damnit.
What I got—what we all got—was a big pile of steaming crap.
Larry? JJ? Great fracking job ruining the entire post-ROTJ universe. *golf clap*
Okay, let’s get the SPOILERS portion out of the way, and talk about what they did wrong, what they did right, and what they could have done to make Episode VII a force to be reckoned with.
***Spoilers Beyond This Point***
What Went Wrong
The first of my complaints, and in my view the worst sin of all, our movie-making heroes did very little new. For the most part, Episode VII was hard-core rehash of episodes four through six, so crammed with references to the original trilogy that I almost missed they had created a bloated and bizarre new super weapon—the Hoth Star. I don’t know what they were thinking. It’s like JJ and Larry were afraid they’d botch it all up if they didn’t jam a reference to the original trilogy into every single shot. Of course, by worrying so much about it, they achieved exactly what they were trying to avoid—a complete Botch-u-lism. Yeah, I just did that. And I’m not sorry—because the whole thing made me sick.
Did you notice the part when FN 2187 (the name itself a reference to Princess Leia’s prison on the original Death Star), later named Finn, was going through the box of stuff on the Falcon? He was looking for a tool *not* called a hydrospanner, and he came across the spherical practice drone Luke used under the tutelage of Obi-Wan. Yeah, he grunts and tosses it aside. Most of the references in the movie were like that—little things you had to pay attention to notice, but there were many, many of them. I’m sure that someone out there has already compiled an Easter egg list… Let’s see. Yep.
Right here: Den of Geek
If you are a huge Star Wars fan, the kind that kicks a little ass at some Star Wars trivia, the Easter egg hunt that was the background of the movie was pretty damned distracting. It wasn’t even a hunt, really–they just kept shoving the damn things in your face, forcing you to think about what they meant, and making you miss the story while you thought about it. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to buy another ticket and see it again, right? Uhg.
Worse, most of the parallels weren’t even Easter Eggs–they were primary plot items! Boo! Hiss!
Got a downed starship to show how your character climbs around doing some serious parts scavenging? How about this horribly beaten Imperial Star Destroyer rusting in a Tatooine-like desert? Throw in a couple more ships, and you got yourself a bonafide Imperial Graveyard. Because the Empire is beaten, right?
Cut to FN 2187, who just proved he was a good guy by not joining in the slaughter of innocent villagers on old Tatooine. I mean Jaffa. Jakara? Something that starts with a J and means Tatooine. Oh, right, Jakku. Home of the exact replica’s of Uncle Owen’s moisture vaporators. FN 2187, fine, Finn, is moping around the deck of the ship he’s based on, feeling bad that his friend got blasted, and even worse that the rest of his friends are murderous stormtroopers willing to slaughter innocent villagers. Guess he missed that part of the Imperial Academy primer. It comes with the stormtrooper armor, Finn. I don’t care how much you wiggle the lines around to make it look like something new–you’re a stormtrooper. Now stop moping and act like it!
Is that his commander, coming over to straighten him out? Another stormtrooper, disco style! Gold and shiny and looking pretty much like a golden Cylon, she’s got attitude aplenty. And my, does the deck of this ship look familiar. I’m trying to remember what I saw a second ago in the establishing shot–what kind of ship was it again? Yes, sir, it’s an Imperial Star Destroyer, disco-style, er, slightly jazzed up to look like it isn’t a Star Destroyer, even though that’s exactly what it is. What’s that zooming around on the floor? A cleaning droid exactly like the kind they had on the Death Star thirty years ago? Huh. Galaxy must be in an economic slump, even the trash droids haven’t been upgraded in decades.
At this point in the movie I’m already pissed off–I have been since the trailers. What new starships did Larry and JJ bring to the table? None–at least nothing original. My favorite background aspect of all the Star Wars Universe has always been the ships, from droid fighters to Jedi fighters to Nebulon B frigates, to Dash Rendar’s YT-2100 Outrider, to Slave one, the Falcon, all the starfighters from the games, the capital ships–all the ships! And these jokers haven’t brought ANYTHING new to the series. Even Kylo Renn’s stupid name, er, ship, is pretty much a Lambda-class shuttle, disco style, with longer wings and a wider body. Lambda 2000 or some such. What do we use for fighters? X-Wings and TIE fighters. Nothing else. No A-Wings, B-Wings, E-Wings, no TIE advanced, not even a stinking TIE bomber. What about a cool getaway ship? Some new freighter or something the new characters can fly around in and make their own, earn a place in lore and legend for? Oh, no, we’ll just throw in that old YT-1300 modified Corellian freighter, the Millennium Falcon. People already like it–no risk there! By the way, we’re going to turn it into a Frisbee and skip it through sand and snow, just to show you how tough it is.
Worst of all the ship sins, the movie did present a new ship for the characters to use at one point, but then it blew up and Finn and Rey had to steal the Falcon instead. Convenient. Lame, but convenient.
Okay, okay, enough about the ships. Let’s talk bad guys. Kylo Renn. Tiny, skinny, not very fierce looking, and when he takes off the helmet? Moist-eyed and puffy-haired and he just looks like some try-hard school kid who’s probably going to get stuffed in a locker by Anakin. Just saying, but Han and Leia’s real son, Jacen Solo, who turned to the dark side, was bad ass. Kylo Renn? A serious wuss. But he has Vader’s burned out helmet. Ooooo scary. Then there’s his compadre, the Grand Moff Tarkin clone. Name not important, part not important, acting not important. He made me think, geez, the rebels, er, resistance, are going to have no problem cutting this cupcake down to size. And they didn’t either.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. They did A) nothing new and B) Nothing New.
What Went Right
This part is going to be a lot shorter.
First, they did send in the MadBalls(tm) beast to terrorize the ship that Han and Chewie were running, and that was fun. Second, the good guy characters, Finn, Rey, and Poe (all one syllable names, easy, you know, for kids) were witty, plucky, and fun. There was a glimmer of potential there that just didn’t make the final cut–because the muckity mucks were so worried about making one “For the fans.”
Thanks for that, mucky. I am not impressed.
Finally–and this is really all the good I could find here–the ACTOR who played Kylo Renn, Adam Driver, was great. I thought he had a ton of potential, the part had a ton of potential, but the writers turned him into a screaming whiny brat with completely transparent motives and no Sith-like aura of evil. He delivered exactly what they wanted. Unfortunately.
That’s it. Two ligthsabers down for this steaming pile, I feel sorry for all those people who thought they loved it in theatres when they go to do their first Star Wars Marathon including Episode 7 (which is already happening since it recently came out on disc), and they realize as they watch it in order–Hey, didn’t I just watch this damned movie a couple hours ago?
And finally, a word to all you Carrie Fischer Body-Shamers–You know who you are, you nugget-grinding butt-plugs, you belong in the locker right next to Kylo Renn. Get a life.