Sci-Fi Storm

Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

by on Jan.06, 2016, under Television

SW:TFA PosterKylo RenIt’s time. It’s been three weeks. I’ve seen it again. People NEED to discuss it. But in case you somehow haven’t seen it yet, SPOILERS AHEAD!

By the way, I saw it again this past weekend in IMAX 4k Laser 3D. This is an awesome way to see it – brighter and higher contrast. For most of the movie it was shown in the standard aspect ratio, which meant that the full height of the IMAX screen wasn’t used. But for many if not all of the scenes on Jakku it was filmed with an IMAX camera, and the full IMAX aspect ratio was used on our screen – even though this was in a digital format, whereas only the 70mm film format generally could be shown so large. IMAX has finally figured it out and figured it out well. Alas, I believe there are only 7 such projectors currently in the U.S., and about 13 worldwide at this point. So if you do have one near you, GO!

And visually, while keeping some of the classic feel of the original trilogy, it at the same time felt more realistic with the location shoots in a number of locations, especially in the outside scenes on Takodana.

Now, for the discussion points…if you’d like to take part in a discussion, join me over on our Facebook page and find the post for this article.

Kylo Ren

I was a little underwhelmed at the reveal of who Kylo Ren really was (or used to be) – it seems like there should have been a “I am your Father!” moment, but it kind of fizzled for me, and I had no expectation of it beforehand. And I REALLY couldn’t help think, “It’s young Snape!” when he took off his mask…

I am far more interested in what he has become. Who exactly are the Knights of Ren?

First, I don’t think they are Sith. Kylo did not take on the mantle of Darth, as did the Sith. Also, the Rule of Two doesn’t appear to be adhered to, as there are seven of them. What it could be is a different group of Dark Side users, following a different philosophy after the (apparent) ending of the Sith line, perhaps thought of as a failure of the Sith philosophy. It’s a big galaxy – there is no reason to think that the Sith are the only Dark Siders out there. Or that the Jedi are the only Light Siders. In fact, the Jedi could be seen as arrogant in their belief that their philosophy was the only valid one – which likely resulted in the rebellion of Anakin and their own ending. Thus the rebirth in the Knights of Ren mimics Luke’s attempt to bring the Jedi back in a perhaps new form – or tried to adhere to the old standards and failed with the turn of Ben Solo.

Who are the other six Knights though? I thought they might have been the other trainees of Luke – but in the brief glimpse we get, only Kylo bears a lightsaber. The others appear to be holding other weapons like blasters. Does this mean that they are not Force users? Or do they just want to be more versatile? Or maybe they don’t have sabers yet?

Speaking of lightsabers…Kylo’s is COOL. There has been much debate about it, however. It crackles and sparks, as opposed to the previously seen blades that simply hum and may flicker a bit (depending which version of the movies you watch 🙂 ). It also has the plasma crossguard quillons too, which has been a major part of the debate. There are a few schools of thought on this. One is that Kylo simply overpowered the saber, and the quillons are venting the extra plasma while offering some hand protection but as seen on screen another way of using it as well.

I’m more of the opinion that it shows lack of refinement. Kylo, having rebelled from Luke perhaps before successfully creating a saber under his tutelage, and built one that used a poor focusing crystal or something, making the blade somewhat unstable and the quillons were needed to help stabilize it to be usable. It seems unlikely that he would have been a trainee for long without building a saber, as we’ve seen a youngling wielding one at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and they are shown building them in Clone Wars, so I’m not sure about that, but I think the unstable nature of the blade mimics the wielder at least…

I also thought that Adam Driver’s performance was one of the weaker ones, if not the weakest of the major characters…a little too much whiny emo perhaps.

Lastly, when Kylo is speaking to his grandfather’s melted mask, he says, “Show me again the power of the Dark Side…” Did Anakin/Darth appear to Kylo previously, and turn him to the Dark Side?

Rey

OK, the big question…who is she? The most obvious answer is that she’s Luke’s daughter, although that still doesn’t get stated on screen. All we know is that she was left behind on Jakku in the “care” of Unkar Plutt. We know she’s been waiting a long, long time (approximately 20 years it seems) for someone to return to her, such that she is very reluctant to leave for any length of time – even after 20 years.

But all the signs are there…first, Anakin’s lightsaber calls to her. That’s a whole new aspect of the Force, but why would it call to her specifically? By the way, wasn’t that saber lost on Bespin?

Second, when she finally meets Leia for the first time, there are no words, but they hug as if they somehow know each other. It seems like something more than just the shared sadness of loss.

Third, R2-D2 is in low power mode since Luke left…until Rey arrives, as if he senses her…but why?

Fourth, at the very end, I’m not sure it is so much that someone found Luke and was presenting that saber, but more that it was her.

And the biggest thing, which didn’t actually appear in the movie but in the teaser – Luke saying how the Force runs strong in his family, “and you have it.” Who was he talking to?

Alternate theories? She could be another Solo, and being left with a scavenger/trader that Han knows might make a bit of sense – but then the interactions with Han and Leia would have been different.

Could she be another Skywalker somehow? I’ve heard that perhaps she could be a Kenobi – but that shatters any sort of familial connection.

Just please don’t bring up divine midichlorian conceptions…

What was interesting is that she seemed to know how the Force worked and could be used – even though never having apparently experienced it before and thought all the stories about it were a myth. But she easily uses mind tricks and resists Kylo’s mind probes, and learns really, really fast. Strong, she is…but suddenly skilled?

I was impressed with Daisy Ridley overall. I think she did very well. Some of her dialog seemed a little too pronounced, but otherwise a great performance.

Finn

I liked him…although I thought his defection was a bit contrived so early. If there had been more time to show him prior to the battle at the beginning, we perhaps could have seen the seeds of his dilemma…but to go from brainwashed stormtrooper/janitor to total Mr. Personality so suddenly was a bit hard to swallow. But John Boyega was I think spot on with his performance – he’ll be able to carry the humor when needed through future films.

Other Characters

Captain Phasma – probably the most built up yet wasted character, on the level of Boba Fett. Here’s a stormtrooper who’s different. A captain, the first inkling of a rank system beyond the troopers with the shoulder guards, with a mirrored/metallic armor unseen before. Something special – but gets little screen time and simply disappears off camera. I suspect that we haven’t seen the last of her, although escaping from a trash compactor AND leaving the planet in short order would be a stretch.

General Hux – I just didn’t believe him as a senior general – he even looked too young, as if they wanted someone of similar age to play off of Driver as a rival. But as a senior megalomaniacal general of the First Order? And I like Domhnall Gleeson.

General Leia – For those complaining about how Carrie Fisher looked, GET OVER IT. Things weren’t just peachy after Return of the Jedi – things were still very much a mess. I think she didn’t look haggard enough, frankly, having eschewed a return to political life for continuing the fight against the First Order.

Supreme Commander Snoke – Who the heck is he? Where did he come from to fill the void left with the Emperor’s death and create the First Order from the remains of the Imperial forces?

Lor San Tekka – The old guy at the beginning, played by Max von Sydow – I feel like we as the viewer should have known who he was, but that’s not true. It just felt like it. Especially when he mentions that Leia is still “royalty” to him. Until I saw the credited name, I didn’t know if he was supposed to be Bail Organa, or someone else we’ve met in the past or something like that. But he’s an all new character.

Miscellaneous

The map…was a lame plot device. Why do you need a path? Why not just “X marks the spot”? Much better if the pieces formed a clue as to the location. And where did these maps come from, if Luke already left? Perhaps he figured out where it was going and gave R2-D2 part of the map – but who did he give the other part to?

The sense of scale in the galaxy regarding the Starkiller cannon is WAY off. Sure, it’s a BIG gun. It took a planet and a sun to build and use it. And they use it to destroy all the planets in the Hosnian system including Hosnian Prime, the seat of the New Republic. But the destruction is seen in the sky of Takodana, on a scale that would have placed Takodana in the same system. But it wasn’t…

OK, that’s enough rambling. Head over to Facebook and tell us what YOU think.


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