Thoughts on The Force Awakens

So I finally saw The Force Awakens yesterday. Here’s my thoughts. Spoilers, obviously.

  • I really like the strong female lead in this one, and that they even call it out a few times specifically (“why are you holding my hand?”). Really terrific.
  • I like the idea of one of the characters being a stormtrooper broken free, and hearing his perspective and turmoil. I felt like it was a bit underdeveloped though, probably due to screen time limitations.
  • Totally cool that they even got Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew to reprise their roles as C3PO and Chewbacca even though there was no need for that.
  • I remember thinking that Snoke feels a bit like Gollum in his movements, and then I just looked it up and they’re both played by Andy Serkis. There you go.
  • The handling of the Force was so much better in this than the prequels — thank goodness there was no mention of midi-chlorians! The Force was back to being a spiritual thing, and being strong in the force was akin to enlightenment. For me that was really reinforced by the visions that Rey had in the basement of the cantina on Takodana.
  • Kylo Ren took his mask off too many times. The scene with Han Solo was excellent — especially Han’s last gesture before falling off the bridge — but it would’ve been more powerful if that scene was the first time that Ren takes off his mask. It lacked impact for me because he’d taken it off already.
  • Speaking of Ren, his voice through the mask was terrific. A worthy follow-up to James Earl Jones’s baritone.
  • Overall I liked the story, but it wasn’t great. It’s basically the same plot as A New Hope and Return of the Jedi (small band of rebels trying to overcome a big bad ruling class with a planet-weapon). Maybe this is why I like Empire Strikes Back so much – it’s a totally different plot with some real tension.
  • The one writing thing that really bothered me was the scene where they came up with the plan to defeat the new weapon. It was comically brief: they came up with all the idea on how to defeat it in about 90 seconds, and then all run off to their ships to go an execute. In the original trilogy those same scenes were cut to imply a lot more time — it was clear they had spent time obtaining the plans (“many Bothans died to bring us this information”) and analysing them, and then once they have a plan they don’t run directly to their ships to fly off and blow stuff up.
  • In the final scene in the cantina on Takodana, Han does a look-away shot at a stormtrooper. That felt really unnecessary to me — he’s never been particularly good sharp shooter before (great pilot yes, sharp shooter no) and it kinda wrenched me out of the scene a bit.
  • I’m a bit “meh” about the final scene with Luke and Rey. I could’ve done with some dialogue.
  • The CG was really great, in that the movie is obviously chock-full of CG but it was really hard to see where it stopped and started. There were no moments where the CG stuck out and pulled me out of the scene, and I didn’t get that acting-to-a-green-screen feeling from the human actors like in the prequel trilogy.
  • Speaking of acting, it was really terrific, especially Daisy Ridley. Really, really great.
  • When is the Empire/First Order/etc going to stop with the all-eggs-in-one-basket gigantic weapon approach. That’s three times now, time to try something new.
Giant floating hologram of the Emporer
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  • If I’m ever a CEO I’m totally going to address my company through a 60 foot hologram, that shit is cool. I like how having a huge holographic Snoke echoed similar scenes in the original trilogy when Vader kneels before a giant holographic Emperor.
  • The little side bits on Ren’s red light sabre are unnecessary. Why do they have to keep messing around with the light sabre design? It reminds me of men’s razors - they keep adding more unnecessary features.