Posted by : Wendy B Sunday, 27 December 2015


My brilliant Christmas idea: get the family together after dinner to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That meant fourteen of us -- three generations -- piling into the theatre. Me in my lightsaber earrings and R2-D2 scarf, my brother in law in his Jedi Academy jacket.

Some of the youngest might not have appreciated Star Wars as much as their elders prior to this, and at least two people had only just seen the previous films and at least one person accidentally called the movie "Star Trek" (and was appropriately, lovingly mocked for doing so), but when we all walked out of the theatre, everyone was smiling, talking excitedly about it all through the walk back to our cars and then the drive home. And that's what it is all about. A movie that started something that has spanned four decades, and has now been revitalized again for a whole new generation.

That kind of legacy is simply awesome and exciting and humbling. Sitting in the theatre with my daughter on my lap, sharing this moment with her was everything and my heart just about burst with that last scene (that someone needs to find for me so that I can make it my new desktop wallpaper kthx). I can't wait to give her the Rey and Finn Funko POP toys that I got for her because I knew she'd appreciate them, while for me, these characters mean so much more. Who does she want to be for next Halloween? Why, Rey, of course. Representation is a powerful, powerful thing.

It wasn't until much later, exhausted and in pain from a twisted ankle, that the reality of The Force Awakens hit me and I summoned the moral support of Digitaltempest to help me work through the issues since there was no way I could get to sleep. Because omg are there ever some issues.

A few if the key points that arose during our after hours flail (SPOILERS FROM HERE ONWARD):

Did Rey just use Battle Meditation?? It's okay K-Ren, I still love you (and so do your parents, but they just aren't good at, you know, parenting) and will adopt you and give you lots of hugs). Every other Jedi has to figure their shit out over time and with lots of training, but Rey and Finn(?) get by with confidence and pluckiness. Why do we bother to have Jedi Masters anyway? Until someone (looking at you, Luke!) rewrites the stupid Jedi Code that talks about "There is no emotion, only peace" and allows for the fact that teens are balls of unstable emotion who cannot conceal don't feel, we are always going to have these switches to the Dark Side (which is way more fun anyway).

Snoke is actually only two feet tall, right? He's just projecting his inferiority complex onto Hux and Ren, right?

Three times now the bad guys have built massive world destroying weapons and the good guys never get the memo until something explodes. I'm no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but even I can see that there is no science going on here -- or logic for that matter. Worse, taking out those planets in a system no one gives a shit about has exactly zero emotional impact. [EDIT: Having now read Bloodlines, I get it. I get it!] The brilliance of the original Death Star was in how it was used. The second Death Star? Oh yes, it is fully operational. Surprise! And wtf was the plan to destroy the Starkiller? Um. We blow shit up. That's what we do. So um. We'll go crash into the planet and hope there is only one guard posted at each door and blow up random things below so that the fighters can blow up random things from above. And how does it even work? Is there a dial you turn to select the number of planets to blow up? Does the whole planet cruise around looking for stars to eat, hoping that this continuous upheaval won't cause too many structural issues in the design and the planet itself? Nah. There's no science here and it's pointless to pretend there might be, so stop it, Neil. This was just about making a bigger weapon and something to explode later. Abrams went the way of Michael Bay, with no shits given.

Good thing Leia sent her best pilot (which clearly should have been bolded, underlined, and italicized in the opening text scroll) juuuuust in case he got caught and had to fly a tie fighter out of there. (AND THEN MAKE ME THINK HE WAS DEAD FOR MORE THAN HALF THE MOVIE. DAMMIT POE. *sobs into a pillow*)
Poor Kylo Ren would not have these issues if Grandpa would just answer his calls. Why you no Force ghost for Ben, Anakin? Is it because his parents named him Ben and you're still a little bitter about that whole chopping you up and leaving you to die in the lava thing?

BB-8, you cannot be strutting around like you are Beyonce. If this unique and obvious droid is on a big ol' wanted list, can we not march him into a cantina full of people with questionable morals and loyalties? Stay in the house, Carl!

Was Finn's trooper training relegated to watching Little Einsteins videos? That would explain the niceness and hand holding and skipping down the hallways with his BFF. It doesn't quite explain how he's cool with killing all the other troopers or expertly showing off his mad social skillz. Oh right, this is his Force power I guess? Shucking conditioning since childhood and how to make friends and successfully infiltrate the (former) enemy you have apparently never been trained to know anything about (including their name).

What the hell has the Republic been doing all this time? I was so happy to see Leia again, and as a general no less! But then she does absolutely nothing. Remember the elaborate plans that went into the escape from Hoth? The attack on each Death Star? Now plans from the general basically amount to "Find my brother. What do, Luke?" (Good thing that last piece of the map to Luke popped up. Eeeeverybody's Google calendar was in sync.)

The truly frightening thing is that this movie has actually made me appreciate the prequels. Yeah. Those prequels. The ones I have refused to ever watch again after the first time. Don't get me wrong, they are horrible. George utterly let me down with his attempt to be an adult and explain away every perfect mystery behind the Star Wars legacy, but at least there was a plan there. The Force Awakens is just a whole lot of moments of sheer coincidence and someone will try to say that it all happened this way because of the Force. Han's been looking for his ship for decades and it just pops up today? The second last clue Luke's been trolling is just released today? General Hux wants to test out his new toy today? It's like everyone had this week and these coordinates circled on their calendar. Who needs Google alerts when you have the Force?

In short, The Force Awakens is the most ridiculously flawed and implausible film I have ever loved all to bits, filled with plot holes and character development leaps so vast, smeared over with lots of action, nostalgia, and well-timed humour to appease both old fans and the current Twitter generation of instant gratification. It would make the Island proud. All it needed was a polar bear.

This article more eloquently expresses the issues with this movie (and without the capslock that permeated my original flail):
"The jokes are good, the action is organic and compelling, the characters are well inhabited by competent actors, and the cinematography and music is excellent and consistently inventive. But everything that puts you in the moment, when you’re watching it, falls apart as soon as you turn your brain back on."
It also points out a few similar issues with Abram's inelegant approach to Star Trek -- but it also reminds us that Star Wars has never been a good story (though at least Lucas' films weren't quite as dumbed down as this one!). It's one man's childhood fantasy realized on screen and we gobbled it up. Even when the prequels or the expanded universe or the games sucked, we never turned our back on Star Wars. Abrams and Disney know what they have done and they have capitalized on it--because they never needed to sell this film to the established fans. They just had to make sure we dragged everyone else into the hype with us. Are the box office numbers really a surprise?

The Force Awakens is a movie for this generation. It is a new hope and the perfect place for new fans to jump in as the torch is passed (back) -- no wait, the sharing of the torch. Yes. That's it! The closing scene -- along with the fact that Abrams is no longer working on the films offers so much promise. I have not bothered with any of the theories circulating around right now (except the one about Snoke being Darth Jar Jar. Legit.) I just wait impatiently to take my kids and join my family and friends at the next installment.

This movie is trash -- just like me -- and I love every second of it.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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