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paperchaseguy
Feb 21, 2002

THEY'RE GONNA SAY NO

I never really felt tension.

I never really cared about the characters.

I never felt that the characters cared about each other. Sure, they tried a couple times having Poe and Finn find some immediate connection that is extinguished almost as quickly when they are split up for most of the movie, or when Finn and Rey celebrate escaping the TIE fighters -- again, forced and you'd miss it if you blinked.

The classic Red Letter Media reviews of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace had a great take on the character development: "For each character, describe them WITHOUT referring to how they look." And for the original characters from episodes 4-6 (Luke, Han, Leia, C3P0, etc.), there's plenty of character traits to describe them. The problem is when you get to the episode 1-3 characters (Qui-Gon, Amidala, Darth Maul, Mace Windu, Count Dooku, Bail Organa), these characters have NOTHING to describe them other than their looks.

You have a bit of the same problem in episode 7, though not quite to the same degree. Poe, Rey, Finn, Hux (who?), Phasma, BB-8, Maz -- quick, describe them WITHOUT referring to their looks. It's a bit easier than the Phantom Menace, but you're dealing with largely one dimensional characters (instead of zero dimensions in TPM).

And then Rey is amazing at everything she tries. This is a REALLY boring character trait to have. (This is also a big part of why everyone hated kid Anakin in the prequels -- you would have thought they'd learned.) She's a great physical fighter, she instantly is an amazing pilot, she knows to bypass the hyperdrive compressor, and this is BEFORE we get started on her Force and lightsabre abilities. Yeah I'm sure this will be explained away in the next movie by tying her into the Skywalker family tree, but still: boring. Compare this to Luke in episode 4: a good but not invincible pilot (which has a backstory), good at fixing droids (because he needed them for his moisture farm), mostly he runs away from immediate physical danger, and he uses the Force like twice. And he had a LOT of help, while Rey is the best at everything. (It could be worse, she could be a 6 year old expert mechanic and podracer with midichlorians.). Still, for the third time: boring.

Part of the problem is the constant expansion and increased Force powers over the course of Episodes 4-6-1-3. While it isn't as prevalent in this movie, one of the many elephants in the room is how to account for the Force WITHOUT making it the all-encompassing, all-controlling presence that only a very few have knowledge of. Take all the backflips, and dual-ended sabres, jumping out of flying cars, and single-handedly defeating armies in the prequels, and compare them to the one climactic lightsabre fight in A New Hope. Obi-wan tries to sneak his way back to the Falcon, and Vader confronts him. The fight is as much about their personal relationship as it is about their physical skill. It isn't clear who has the upper hand... maybe Vader? but then Obi-wan seems to have an opening to dash to the ship. Just as he could take it, a bunch of soldiers cut off the route (count them, it's like eight Stormtroopers). Knowing it's over, Obi-wan gives it up and sacrifices himself as a distraction so his friends can escape. Obi-wan's fight is a million times more climactic than the prequel fights, right?

So in episode 7, the major Force plot point only comes as the major villain and badass Kylo Ren fights two people practically untrained in the use of the lightsabre or the force, AND IS DEFEATED BY THEM. This makes laughably little sense -- to build up the major villain only to have him lose his only lightsabre duel to an amateur. The movie tries to have it both ways: Ren uses the force to be incredibly destructive, but then it's not powerful enough to defeat the spunky hero(ine)s. And then the major Evil plot point death star mk 3, a nearly pointless rehash of a rehash.

Another (minor) point -- which alien is more impressive and scary? The immobile Sarlacc, or any alien in episode 7? (I'm thinking specifically of the big mouthed aliens on Han's freighter.

Despite all my complaining, the movie does manage to be much better than the prequels, which only solidifies the poo poo that they were. I hold little hope that episode 8 will rival Empire Strikes Back, but Disney has its golden goose, so: gold painted eggs. Shiny! Are you not entertained?

2.5/5.

paperchaseguy fucked around with this message at 07:37 on Jan 26, 2016

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