Spoiler-filled review of The Force Awakens


I know that social media will replicate the first few lines of a blog post, so I won’t put anything spoilery right here at the front. Also, I’ll use a cut.

But let me say that I mostly enjoyed it but didn’t think it was all that great. I certainly liked it less than John Scalzi did. Light sabers are still the most cinematic idea ever, but as for the rest of the story?


And please don’t ask me to “turn my brain off.”

Spoilers here, below the cut.

— Let’s just point out that, when I saw Return of the Jedi, I was disappointed that the plot focused on yet another (even more dangerous!) Death Star. I did not expect this film to make the same mistake.

— Out with the old empire, in with the new. The empire was supposed to be destroyed at the end of Return of the Jedi, but now there’s a whole new empire, with all the same ships and storm troopers, plus a Sith with a holographic Final Boss. We’ve seen all of this already, and we’ve seen it destroyed. Do we need the exact same bad guys all over again?

— I guess I’m not a fan of fan service. Thinking “I guess this is the new cantina scene” or “I recognize that guy from that other scene from 30 years ago” is the opposite of being drawn into a film. It’s too meta. I don’t want clumsy meta fan service.

— One of my personal rules is that I resent movies where the heroes come up with a plan and I, sitting in the audience, immediately come up with a better one.

So Han Solo is going to bypass the shields by flying through them in hyperspace, only dropping below light speed when he’s near the planet? Well, why not just send a volley of missiles through hyperspace instead? Why not target them directly at the oscillator and load them with nukes?

Okay, fine, there are no nukes in the Star Wars universe. Load them with rocks instead. A stone flying faster than light will do a lot of damage. Or maybe hyperspace isn’t about speed, right? It’s, like, wormholes?

So load the missiles up with the torpedoes you gave to the x-wings. Seriously, you don’t need pilots to deliver those torpedoes.

— The four previous points are why I was not all that engaged with the movie. I still had the visceral reactions I get from any action movie (teetering on the edge of a cliff! screaming in pain! surge of violins!) but the rest didn’t affect me all that much.

— Han Solo’s death was not a surprise, either. I thought: “It’s too early in the trilogy for the Sith guy to turn to good.” His son had the choice of killing a beloved character and remaining the only villain of note or he could have turned to good and left the movies with a bland male model general or a holographic cgi troll that looked like it escaped from a Hobbit movie.

— Seriously, that new “emperor”, didn’t Legolas already kill that guy?

— The actors were great. The fx were great. The sets and locations were great. Everything was beautiful, and some of the dialog was even fun. And I’ll repeat that light sabers are the most cinematic thing ever. Love them. I’m a fan of sword fights, and these are the ultimate (movie) swords.

The truth is that I was a big Star Wars fan when I saw the first movie in the theater in 1977. I was 12. I was the perfect age, and while I never became one of those kids who buys the toys/books/clothes/whatever, I did love those characters. I loved Darth Vader.

But I grew up. As the people around me continued to be die-hard fans (even while the prequels were being released and roundly condemned) I lost enthusiasm. Being surrounded by fanatics turned me into an apostate, and all the excitement surrounding this new release made me remember how disappointing many of Abrams films have been. (Super 8 was a hot mess.)

This is a mess, too. The original movies brought something new; this brings all the same stuff from those earlier films: the dogfights, the tentacle monster that eats people, the flying-along-the-trench scene, etc.

And that’s fine for the super-fans, I guess. They’re getting the same movie again. I thought it was a disappointment.

By which I mean, it was no MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.