Review 73: Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (.5/5)

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Directed by J.J. Abrams

Starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow, Gwendoline Christie

Released on December 14, 2015

Running time: 2h 15m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Adventure

I’ve had a decent history with the Star Wars universe. I grew up watching the movies. A New Hope was the first one that I remember watching. Despite its corniness, it’s a fantastic movie, and it and the rest of the movies will remain staples in sci-fi, for better or worse. I would give it a 4.5 out of 5. The Empire Strikes Back took it to a whole new level, and it is one of my personal favorite coming-of-age stories. I would give it a 4.5 out of 5. Return of the Jedi wasn’t as good as the previous two, but it was still damn good. And no, I didn’t mind the Ewoks. I would give it a 4 out of 5. My views of the prequel trilogy have probably been tainted because of how young I was when I saw them. Because I think they, at the very worst, are just fine. I would give both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones a 2.5 out of 5 on a bad day, and possibly a 3 out of 5 on a good day. I legitimately liked Revenge of the Sith despite some crappy romantic dialogue. It even contains one of my favorite moments in cinema. Remember the scene in which Anakin is in the Jedi council room, and Padme is at her and Anakin’s home, and they’re just staring out the window in the general direction of each other? Nothing really happens in this scene, except just focusing on Anakin and Padme fearing not only for events going on and their own relationship, but what the future has in store. Not only is there a war going on, not only is there corruption in the Senate and the Jedi, not only are Anakin and Padme having a harder and harder time keeping their marriage secret, but Anakin and Padme are going to have a child, and it’s going to be born into a war-torn galaxy. Oh, and there’s Anakin’s visions that Padme dies in childbirth. It’s a legitimately powerful moment that shows that when done right, some of the most powerful scenes in cinema need no dialogue whatsoever. I would give the movie a 3.5 out of 5 on a bad day, and a 4 out of 5 on a good day. The saga as a whole is, on average, good, and I’ll definitely watch all six movies multiple times in the future.

Rumors of a sequel trilogy had been circulating for decades. I never took them seriously until maybe 2014.

When I first heard about Disney buying LucasArts, I got angry. When I heard about Star Wars VII coming out, I scoffed. When I heard that Disney had declared that all of the Star Wars Expanded Universe content was officially declared non-canon, I was absolutely pissed, as I loved a lot of the Star Wars Expanded Universe content. I loved seeing the journeys of characters I loved before, between, and after the films. I loved meeting new characters and following them through their adventures. I could step into the shoes of Galen Marek in The Force Unleashed and kick ass with him as he, in his personal war against the Empire, became the spark that would ignite the Rebellion. In The New Jedi Order, I could fight alongside the characters from the movies as well as their children and other characters in the Yuuzhan Vong War. I could follow Jacen Solo on his journey to the Dark Side and adopting the name Darth Caedus in Legacy of the Force. I could step into the shoes of Cade Skywalker in his final battle against Darth Krayt in Legacy. In Death Troopers, I could both laugh and be terrified as I fought alongside Zahara Cody and Trig Longo against the zombies reanimated by the plague known as Blackwing. I could regard Darth Maul as much more of a badass as I read about his earlier life. I could kick ass with Dash Rendar in Shadows of the Empire. I could play as Darth Revan in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I could be with Wedge Antilles as he led Rogue Squadron. I could even imagine what happened if events in the films had gone differently with the Infinities stories. I could even read the graphic novel adaptation of George Lucas’s original The Star Wars screenplay. The Star Wars universe was rich, ripe, expansive, and full of potential for tons of storytelling until Disney declared all of the Expanded Universe content non-canon, despite the fact that the Outrider, owned by Dash Rendar from Shadows of the Empire, actually appears in the Star Wars IV Special Edition.

However, as the movie’s release date drew nearer, I actually became more optimistic, thinking, How bad can it be? It’s Star Wars, dammit. And then Star Wars VII finally came out. I intentionally avoided looking at how well the movie did critically. I didn’t want to spoil it for myself. I thought to myself, Some sequels actually seem to be doing decently this year. Creed was pretty damn good. How could Star Wars VII not be? About a week after it came out, I went by myself to the nearest cinema. This was before I moved out of my parents’ house to go to college. I bought my ridiculously overpriced ticket, popcorn, and icee for about thirty bucks (seriously), went into the theater where the movie was showing, sat down, and prepared myself. I was not exactly excited, but I was interested in how creative of a story that J.J. Abrams, director of the okay Mission: Impossible 3, the good Super 8 and the solid Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness, had come up with. How could he impress me? Obviously, I knew that to even be passable, the movie would have to be really damn good. By the time it was fifteen minutes before the movie started, the theater was packed. There was not a single seat left empty in the theater.

And then the movie began. I smiled and clapped with everyone else as the opening theme blasted from the speakers and the title sequence we all knew and loved played on the screen. My smile began to slip as I realized that the opening text crawl just didn’t have that unique feel of telling its own miniature story by itself. It wasn’t grand or sweeping or epic. It didn’t immediately engage me and suck me into the world of Star Wars. And even the opening theme sounded off. And as the story began, my smile slipped farther. And when the movie ended, I was the only person in the audience that did not clap. In fact, I quickly exited the theater before anyone else did.

As I exited the cinema, I attempted to gather my thoughts and discuss the movie with myself as I drove home. But as I stepped out of the cinema doors, I realized that I remembered so little of what I had just seen. I knew I hadn’t been distracted. I knew I hadn’t fallen asleep. But I remembered maybe ten to twenty frames from the entirety of the movie. I barely remembered the elements of the story, except the realization that it mirrored the plot of A New Hope almost exactly. I realized that I hadn’t even been able to do something as simple as assign an adjective to each of the characters. I realized that none of the dialogue was quotable. I realized that the soundtrack, while well-written by the legendary John Williams, was nowhere near as memorable save for a few moments. I had been able to hum the Imperial March to myself since my early childhood. But I could not and still cannot hum the theme to be associated with the bad guys in The Force Awakens. But all of this was dwarfed by the stunning realization that dominated my brain at that moment. I realized with absolute certainty that this, above all others, was easily the worst Star Wars movie I had ever seen. Even the prequels had been better. Yes, even The Phantom Menace.

When I got home, my parents and brothers could barely believe that the new Star Wars movie was somehow bad. And then I consulted Wikipedia just to remind myself of what had even happened (if I actually had to consult Wikipedia just to remind myself of the plot, you did something wrong, movie). And that’s where I saw that the movie had received almost as good of reviews as Star Wars IV, making it the third-highest-reviewed Star Wars movie, just behind The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. What were the critics smoking?  The next Saturday, I tried and failed to upload a video of me talking about the movie. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t like the format my video was in, so I wasn’t able to post it. The rest of my family saw the movie about a week or so later, and while most of my family thought it was good, they understood that I didn’t like it. In fact, my mother doesn’t like it anymore. But my oldest brother, who’s two years younger than me, hated it. He agreed with me that it was definitely the worst Star Wars film. I may have not liked Star Wars VII, but I definitely didn’t think it was awful.

The movie dropped off my radar for about three months, well into my first semester of college, until I saw that it was coming to my local second-run theater. I thought to myself, I need to see this again to get a better grip on it. I need to get a better idea of what I might have missed that all the critics enjoyed. I went and saw it on March 5th. I snuck my laptop into the theater so I could take notes.

The movie was worse than I remembered. It still wasn’t absolute piss in a bucket, but still was awful. I was able to remember more of what I saw. It wasn’t much, but it was still too much.

From the instant the movie began, I noticed that the opening music actually felt way different. More hostile. Sure, it’s a new decade, and they probably needed to get a new orchestra, but come on.

We learn from the opening crawl that Luke has disappeared. Why he has done so will actually be explained later, even if it’s only in one sentence.

From the collapsed Empire, the First Order has arisen. Why didn’t they just call themselves the First or Second Galactic Empire? In the Expanded Universe, it was shown that the Empire needed more than the deaths of its two biggest leaders to collapse. In fact, the Empire lived on for over a dozen years before finally capitulating to the New Republic.

Leia Organa-Solo now leads the Resistance, which is backed by the new Republic. Why is it not still called the Rebellion? Also, if the Resistance is backed by the new Republic, and if the First Order is an up-and-coming terrorist organization and an offshoot of the collapsed Empire, shouldn’t the First Order be calling themselves the Resistance and the Resistance be calling themselves the Republic Army? Plus, the First Order sounds nowhere near as sinister as the Galactic Empire.

Leia has sent the Resistance’s best pilot to find an old ally of the Resistance on Tatooine – I mean, Jakku.

Question. Didn’t Anakin Skywalker already bring balance to the Force by killing the Emperor? Is this movie just going to ignore the prophecy? Scratch that – is it just going to ignore the prequels? I understand why, but this is a serious plothole that needs to be addressed.

Max von Sydow’s unnamed character gives Poe Dameron (Isaac) a section of a supposed map to find Luke Skywalker hidden on a futuristic flash-drive-type gizmo. Within seconds, we hear that ships from the First Order have landed. Poe puts this flash drive inside his BB-8 droid, which is essentially a smaller version of R2-D2’s head on a big ball a little smaller than a beach ball. I get that the production team actually built BB-8, but how does it last more than a second on sand? Anyway, the First Order ships land and Stormtroopers, led by Captain Phasma (Christie) who wears chrome Stormtrooper armor and a cape, come out of them, firing on villagers and killing those who try to fight back. And these new sturmtruppen look terrible. Their new costumes look like they were made on a significantly smaller budget, and they look like, well, costumes, rather than military uniforms equipped with body armor, and their blasters look more like, well, toys, rather than military-grade weaponry. Poe and BB-8 try to escape in Poe’s X-wing with Poe trying to shoot at the sturmtruppen rather than take off, but fire from the sturmtruppen prevents it from taking off. Weren’t sturmtruppen supposed to be unable to hit the side of a barn? One lone Stormtrooper (Boyega) seems to not be able to handle the violence, and his experience leaves him with a bloody handprint on his helmet from one of his fellow sturmtruppen.

Another ship, a sleeker, Imperial Shuttle-esque one, lands, and here is where we get a look at our villain: the dastardly Kylo Ren (Driver), who has probably the pussiest villain name in Star Wars movie history. The names “Darth Vader”, “The Emperor”, or Darth Sidious”, heck, even the names “Darth Maul” and “Count Dooku”, “Darth Tyranus”, “General Grievous”, and even the names “Grand Moff Tarkin” and “Boba Fett” scream evil. They emit this undeniably threatening aura. The name “Kylo Ren” does not. And then we actually see our villain, and oh my gosh, he is skinny. And his helmet is the bastard child of the helmets of Darth Vader and Darth Revan. It’s not obvious to the uninitiated, but it’s still undoubtedly a cruddy version of Darth Vader’s helmet, somehow looking less futuristic and advanced. And above all, Kylo Ren is just not threatening. What made Darth Vader stand out was his very evil look, being dressed entirely in black, and towering over everyone onscreen. He stood out from the white walls on the Tantive IV. Plus, his costume has become iconic. Thank you, David Prowse, for walking the walk, and James Earl Jones for talking the talk. Unfortunately, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is skinny, just barely taller than Max von Sydow, and his helmet’s mask has a voice changer to make his voice deeper, deeper so than James Earl Jones. Jones’s voice was relatively untampered with. Kylo Ren is one of the most annoying characters in the movie. Not his voice; not like Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks or Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker. It’s his personality. But I will go into that later. I should mention that Kylo Ren is not his real name. That name is such because Kylo Ren is the leader of a faction known as the Knights of Ren. What are the Knights of Ren? We don’t know! The movie only mentions the Knights of Ren once! I will go into greater depth with the character of “Kylo Ren” later.

Now, it was big news when Max von Sydow was cast in Star Wars VII. He was billed pretty high, too. Surely he has some decent-sized role in the movie, right? WRONG! Kylo Ren kills him before the character has even had two minutes of screentime, reducing his role to a hyper-glorified cameo! By the way, I think Kylo Ren’s new lightsaber just looks tacky. When The Phantom Menace introduced Darth Maul and his double-sided lightsaber, ass was kicked. Everyone I know will say that it kicked ass, and we will agree that it was at least one element in The Phantom Menace that kicked ass. Unfortunately, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber does not kick ass. It’s bulky and unnecessarily large. It looks like it’s about to explode all over Ren at any moment. Whenever Ren used it, I was always amazed that he didn’t chop himself up with it. You would need years and years of training just to learn how to use the damn thing. Also, Ray Park, who played Darth Maul, was an experienced martial artist with more black belts than I can shake a stick at, so he could handle his double-sided lightsaber with ease and not look like he was about to chop himself into pieces with it.

Anyway, Poe tells BB-8 to run away and attempts to snipe Kylo Ren, but Ren uses the Force to stop the blaster bolt in midair. I call BS. Poe is brought before Ren, who questions him without even thinking about the blaster bolt. Poe is taken away, and the sturmtruppen massacre the rest of the villagers. That One Stormtrooper from earlier cannot bring himself to fire a single shot. The blaster bolt from earlier is left to fire into something. Kylo Ren clearly notices that That One Stormtrooper is having conflicting thoughts, but does nothing about it because…plot, I guess. The troops leave and go to a Star Destroyer wannabe that is never fully shown.

That One Stormtrooper, whose number is FN-2187, is apparently pretty scarred from the incident. If only we actually saw more atrocities than we did, and Boyega’s acting was more convincing. Captain Phasma – oh, forget it. Her costume and name are so stupid; I’m just going to call her Chrometrooper. Chrometrooper orders FN-2187 to submit his blaster for examination and undergo some sort of psychological examination. It is in this scene that FN-2187 removes his helmet, revealing that he’s a black guy. I had no idea that these Space Nazis (quite literally) were so racially diverse. I’m not racist, and have no problems with a black Stormtrooper, but it just looks out of place.

Much like Chrometrooper. Gwendoline Christie as Chrometrooper was heavily marketed as a big character in an attempt to appeal to the Internet Nerd population. She was even more heavily marketed than Max von Sydow. I may be an Internet Nerd, but I was not impressed. But Chrometrooper is in Star Wars VII for maybe four scenes. She speaks in three of them. She has less than five lines in the first two, and maybe five in the fourth. Her role is also little more than a hyper-glorified cameo. I’m not kidding when I say that she literally has a minute and a half of screentime. Max von Sydow had more screentime.

We then meet Rey (Ridley). Her age in the movie is unknown, but Daisy Ridley is twenty-three, so I’ll judge her by that. She lives on Tatooine – I mean, Jakku – in a crashed Star Destroyer, from which she scavenges parts that she barters for food. In the one day we get to see her daily life, we see her get one quarter of a day’s rations. She’s eating less than one meal a day. And yet she looks surprisingly healthy. I call BS. She still lives there for some strange reason involving her family leaving her behind. One day, she rescues BB-8 from another scavenger who lets BB-8 go pretty easily for some reason. I don’t know how far BB-8 had to travel to get to that location, so I have the right to say that I think Rey and BB-8 encountering each other is way too convenient. Apparently, Rey can understand BB-8’s blips, beeps, and screams (how?), and learns that it is carrying important information to the Resistance.

I think that the battle on Jakku which caused the crash of that Star Destroyer would have been a better movie.

Get used to Daisy Ridley, as she can’t act to save her own life. Seriously, the only emotions she can actually emote are concerned, slightly concerned, bored, and asleep. But that’s just her vocal acting. Her facial acting consists of four facial expressions: 1) resting bitch face (pardon me), 2) widening her eyes, 3) holding her mouth agape, and 4) widening her eyes and holding her mouth agape. Thankfully, her bodily acting consists of just enough energy to not be ungodly sluggish. Seriously, Daisy Ridley gave a significantly better performance as a naked corpse in Silent Witness.

Poe is interrogated, but no one can get any information out of him until Kylo Ren is brought in. Ren tortures Poe with the Force, not killing him because plot, and learns that the information is inside of BB-8, who is still on Tatooine – sorry, Jakku – screw it, I’m just going to call it Tatooine. Why not just rely on Kylo Ren first for successful and thorough interrogation? It is about now that we meet General Hux (Gleeson), a high-ranking official of the First Order. And Domhnall Gleeson desperately wants to be Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin. But Gleeson does decently enough, save for one scene which I will talk about later. But enough about him. FN-2187 breaks Poe out of his interrogation chamber through flagrantly idiotic methods, and the two steal a clearly painted black TIE fighter and escape. Why did FN-2187 rescue Poe? I can understand when FN-2187 says that it’s the right thing to do, but why was the decision made so quickly? Poe and FN-2187 introduce themselves, and Poe gives FN-2187 the name Finn.

Finn? Rey? Poe? Kylo Ren? Hux? Phasma? These names aren’t nearly as inventive as earlier Star Wars media. Hell, even the crap-ass names they came up with for Star Wars: The Clone Wars were more inventive!

Poe and Finn, in the TIE fighter, head back to Tatooine to fetch BB-8, but the Star Destroyer Wannabe shoots the TIE fighter down. We never see the crash, and we see the destroyed TIE fighter in a ridiculous position. Despite hurtling toward Tatooine’s surface at top speed, the two somehow survive. Finn is thrown from the crash somehow. Poe is nowhere to be found (and yet his jacket is still there because plot) and Finn presumes him dead. Yeah, I’m sure he’s dead. I seem to remember the trailers showing him alive and well later in the movie. How convenient that the two of them got separated. Finn forgets about Poe for now, takes Poe’s jacket which was somehow not on his body, and starts walking in an arbitrary direction. By the way, the movie never explains what happens to Poe – he just appears inexplicably later in the movie. Thas totes not lazzy ritig at al. Is totes smrt ritng lik 4 rel u stipud fagaht.

Finn coincidentally reaches the same small village where Rey trades spare parts for food each day because he and Poe totally crashed in the same general area as Rey out of all the possible places to crash on an entire goddamn planet. He comes across Rey and BB-8. Rey receives one half of a day’s rations for the parts she scavenged, and after some thought, decides that BB-8 is not for sale. After some funny business involving the shop owner ordering some thugs to steal BB-8, Rey fighting them off, BB-8 accusing Finn of stealing Poe’s jacket because he’s black (becuase that’s totally the only one of that type of jacket in the galaxy), and Rey attacking Finn, Finn lies that he’s with the Resistance, and says that the map that BB-8’s carrying leads to Luke Skywalker. Rey has always believed that Luke Skywalker was a legend, even though he was one of the biggest figures in the Rebellion. Does she at least know that it was him that destroyed the first Death Star and, according to everyone else except him, killed Darth Vader and the Emperor? Apparently not. Rey, Finn, and BB-8 don’t have much time to talk, as a TIE fighter airstrike is ordered, and the three run to Rey’s speeder, but it is blown up in the airstrike. Why was this airstrike ordered? The map that the First Order is looking for could easily be destroyed by the damn airstrike! The three then spot the Millennium Falcon sans Han Solo and Chewbacca. How effing convenient! Wait, what? The Millennium Falcon? Where are Han and Chewie? Why are they not with the Millennium Falcon? How could anyone have stolen the Falcon from Han and Chewie? Anyway, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 hijack the Falcon, which is somehow functioning after all this time, requires no keys or button combinations to activate, and is somehow travel-worthy, and after a shootout with two TIE fighters (try spinning. That’s always a good trick. [no it isnt u f*kg fagot]), they escape Tatooine, somehow not running into the Star Destroyer Wannabe, which should still be right effing there. During all of this, Rey is flying the Falcon almost effortlessly.

Aboard the Star Destroyer Wannabe, Kylo Ren is informed that Finn, Rey, and BB-8 escaped from Tatooine. As I asked myself why Ren couldn’t just do all the damn work himself, Ren then showed how much of a pussy his character is by throwing a literal temper tantrum. He gets out his lightsaber and slashes the hell out of some innocent machinery. Though I laughed in the theater, it was in this sequence that I asked the question, How has Kylo Ren not sliced himself into pieces with that thing he calls a lightsaber?

Finn, Rey, and BB-8, in the Falcon, experience a breakdown. They fix the problem, but they are captured by a First Order ship. Telling Rey that the sturmtruppen’s helmets only filter out smoke and not toxins, Finn and Rey get to work un-fixing the problem. Why the hell has the First Order never thought of adding a toxin filter to the helmets of the sturmtruppen? But the capture by the First Order is a fakeout, as this ship is actually owned by Han (Ford) and Chewie (Mayhew), who are happy to have the Falcon back in their hands again. Why the hell was it not in their hands to begin with? Sure, we get a half-assed explanation about it being stolen, but Han and Chewie would have fought to the death to keep the Falcon. Also, why the hell are they not with the Resistance? Where the hell have they been for the past thirty years? Why the hell did they leave Leia? And I know that this is kind of a nitpick, but what the hell is up with Chewie’s costume? I know it’s the same actor in it, but did they have to make a new costume? It’s definitely not the same costume I saw in the original trilogy and even in Revenge of the Sith. In fact, the overall costume design in Star Wars VII is pretty bad, especially in the case of the sturmtruppen. The costume design just doesn’t feel very Star Wars. In fact, I am stooping to the level of saying that the costumes in this should have gotten nominated for a Razzie, not an Oscar. By the way, what are those three little weird cylindrical thingies in Han’s jacket?

Anyway, after some funny business involving two gangs that Han owes money to (which include two cameos from The Raid 2), some black-market tentacle monsters that Han has aboard his ship, an obligatory “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”, some really idiotically convenient circumstantial happenings, and the Falcon somehow being broken but somehow not, Han, Chewie, Rey, Finn, and BB-8 flee in the Falcon. Also, I love how Rey magically repairs the Falcon, pinpointing the problem before Han does, despite Han having flown the Falcon for over thirty years and Rey having only just flown it for the first time today. its bcuz reys a womxn and we hav 2 b incilsuv u fagat.

Kylo Ren and Hux leave the Star Destroyer Wannabe, and go to…well, what else can I call it? They go to the Death Star 3.0. The Death Star 3.0 is ten times bigger than the original Death Star. Wait, I thought that the First Order was a fringe remnant of the collapsed Empire and therefore is not the dominant force in the galaxy. How the hell did they get the resources to make a planet-sized weapon that has the ability to store all the energy of a freaking sun inside, and that has the ability to destroy multiple planets? And how the hell did they manage to conceal this weapon’s existence from the Resistance? The Death Star 3.0 is clearly part of the green screen. To describe how bad the Death Star 3.0 effects are, just imagine a circular cutout in the green-screened space filled with mist that looks like the Death Star 3.0. That effing bad. It is the worst special effect in the movie. At least the first two Death Stars were actually there. In fact, here’s the Death Star 3.0 for your viewing pleasure!

The real name of the Death Star 3.0 is Starkiller Base. And yes, I realize that Starkiller is the code name of the main character from The Force Unleashed. But thanks to effing Disney effing declaring the Expanded Universe content effing non-canon, this is apparently totally effing okay.

Plus, this is just another Death Star. Do the bad guys in Star Wars ever learn?

It is here that we meet our Darth Sidious Wannabe, Supreme Leader Snoke (Serkis), leader of the First Order. And I take back what I said about the Death Star 3.0 being the worst special effect in the movie. This is the worst special effect in the movie. Here it is. Pretty unconvincing, huh?

Snoke tells Kylo Ren of an awakening in the Force that will never be addressed again in the entire movie. Also, Snoke reminds Ren (but really he’s just telling us) of his father’s identity: Han Solo. Wait, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher combined results in Adam Driver? So, this is just Jacen Solo, right? Oh, wait, this is evil Jacen Solo, so Darth Caedus. Also, here is where the Knights of Ren are mentioned for the only time in the entire movie.

Sometime around now, we get a brief exchange between Darth Caedus and a heavily burned helmet of Darth Vader. Wh – how the hell did he find that? Darth Caedus is internally conflicted, but he has resolved to finish what Darth Vader started, addressing the helmet as “grandfather”. I guess Darth Caedus is a copycat killer. Woo hoo. Also, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Darth Vader who started the Great Jedi Purge. It was the Emperor who executed Order 66. So, shouldn’t Darth Caedus be idolizing the Emperor? Plus, does he not know that Darth Vader became good before he died? Or did Luke keep that a secret?

In space, Han, Rey, and Finn have some sort of conversation about various plot points I’ve talked about already. But in this conversation, we learn that in between Return of the Jedi and … whatever the hell this crap is, the Jedi have been completely forgotten, including the fact that it was Luke that destroyed the first Death Star, and, according to common Rebel belief, killed Darth Vader and The Emperor as well. How in the holy names of God and all His angels has the galaxy forgotten about all of this?

Our heroes land on the planet Takodana (my brother and father had a decent laugh at “taco-donna”) to visit Maz Kanata (Nyong’o) for…some reason. I forget. Maz is just an alien version of Edna Mode sans accent. And her castle is…ugh…where’s the Mos Eisley Cantina when you need it? And the music being played inside…ugh…where are Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes when you need them? Han discusses stuff with Maz, a First Order spy secretly lets the First Order know that BB-8 is there, Finn breaks off from the group to get a job with…some guys, Rey tries to stop him and fails, and Rey goes down to the basement to discover a box containing…Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber. … How the hell did Maz find that lightsaber? Upon touching it, Rey has a disturbing vision involving…stuff that relates to the plot…somehow. I don’t even know. When the vision concludes, Maz finds her and tells her that she’s…special. Rey essentially says “f— this”, and runs away.

And it is in this next scene, at the Death Star 3.0, where we see Domhnall Gleeson’s ridiculously, laughably over-the-top acting. This scene is intentionally reminiscent of a Hitler speech, which should make Jews older than their seventies very uncomfortable.

Hux gives a hot-air-filled speech saying that the Republic is bad and that today it shall be destroyed by the Death Star 3.0. But Gleeson doesn’t just chew the scenery. He devours it whole. When I first saw this movie in theaters, I burst out laughing at this scene. And then the guy sitting next to me told me to shut the f—k up or he’d shut me up. The guy next to him then told him to shut the f—k up. I thanked the second guy, and burst out laughing at Gleeson’s acting again.

Hux gives the order to fire. The energy beam that the Death Star 3.0 fires is red rather than green, and the beam splits into multiple beams. Darth Caedus, on his ship, watches the beam fly past. We see that J.J. Abrams has graduated to red lens flares. Each of these beams hit a planet and destroy it. The soundtrack says that this is supposed to be a devastating scene, as the Republic is being destroyed. But the Republic has not only been mentioned very few times in the movie, but we’ve never seen it onscreen, so this scene feels pointless. What reason do we even have to be devastated by this destruction? Are there any characters we know on these planets? Heck, none of these planets are Coruscant. Why has the Galactic Senate relocated? Or was this even the Senate? The aftermath of this genocide is never expanded upon, and never seems to matter to anyone after it happens. In fact, even mentioning the idea that the Republic has reorganized after the death of Vader and the Emperor was completely pointless. The movie could have just said that the Empire was still going strong and that the Rebellion was still fighting against it.

Back on Takodana, Finn sees the destruction, ditches his new employers, and rejoins Han and Chewie. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber. But when asked where and how she found it, she dodges the question by saying that it’s a tale for another day. To give you an idea of how stupid this is, Corporal Hicks used the same idea to explain his survival in Aliens: Colonial Marines, a game that made many “Worst Games of 2013” lists. Dammit, Maz! This is an important question! Tell us how you found the lightsaber! First Order forces land and start shooting up the place, and Finn gets the lightsaber out and starts using it. Obviously, no Average Joe can just pick up a lightsaber, as Finn clearly has no idea what he’s doing with it. Though he kills a few sturmtruppen with it, once he gets his hands on a blaster, he’s able to contribute more to the fight. After some funny business involving a weird Stormtrooper who’s clearly trying to make the most out of his one scene that carries some sort of weapon that’s able to withstand a lightsaber, Finn, Han, and Chewie are captured. Of course Han and Chewie got themselves captured again. However, a Resistance X-wing strike force comes in and quickly overwhelms the sturmtruppen. In fact, Poe is leading this strike force. And I’m not a fan of the X-wings’ new paint job. And I call BS on Poe destroying five TIE fighters in less than ten seconds. But off in the nearby woods, Rey is accosted and captured by Darth Caedus after somehow having become a perfect freaking shot with her blaster pistol when compared to legions of sturmtruppen that have trained their entire lives for crap like this, but BB-8 escapes and rejoins Han, Chewie, Finn, and the Resistance. I love how Darth Caedus thinks that he doesn’t need BB-8 now despite it having the freaking star map, and can just decipher the map from Rey’s conciousness And it is in the sequence in which Rey is captured that John Boyega showcases his own few seconds of over-the-top acting.

FINN: [Sees KYLO REN’s ship take off with the captive REY inside.] NO! REEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYY!

Why did the Resistance strike force never think to at least disable Darth Caedus’s ship?

As the sturmtruppen retreat, a Resistance ship lands, and at long last, we get to see Leia (Fisher) and C-3PO (Daniels), and oh, wow, has Leia gotten old. Leia has a significantly less tacky hairstyle, and 3PO has a red left arm. We never learn why 3PO has a new arm. Han and Leia have a very deadpan reunion, and of course 3PO never knows when to shut up. Also, it’s been at least thirty years since Leia was made aware by Luke of her capacity for Force usage, and yet Leia has not capitalized on it one bit. By the way, this is totally what the fans wanted to see. They totally wanted to see one of their favorite badass onscreen couples GET DIVORCED.

Han, Chewie, Finn, and the Resistance forces leave Takodana and fly to some planet in the…uh…Ilenian system? I think that’s how it’s spelled. Poe reunites with BB-8, and then reunites with Finn with a bro hug. I know that Poe survived the crash earlier, but he only tells us that he was thrown from the crash. He does not tell us how he made it back to the Resistance. R2-D2 is seen, but it has deactivated itself since Luke’s disappearance. Finn somehow knows info about the Death Star 3.0, and he is brought into the Resistance HQ. It is here that Finn and Poe tell us that the Death Star 3.0 is about the size of a small planet. Finn somehow knows all about the Death Star 3.0 because…plot. It forms its beams of energy that it uses to destroy planets by sucking every last bit of energy from a star, hence the name Starkiller Base. And Neil Degrasse Tyson was quick to point out that trying to fit all of the energy from a star into a terrestrial weapon would vaporize the planet. But Finn points out that the Death Star 3.0 has some sort of oscillator that, according to fans, negates that risk.

Fans of Star Wars VII, please stop trying to tell me that the oscillator negates the risk of the planet getting vaporized. You’d need a pretty big oscillator to do that. One that’s much bigger than the one on the Death Star 3.0.

Also, where the hell is Lando? This is a big character to leave out of your movie. I can understand not having Wedge Antilles there because Denis Lawson said that the movie would have bored him, but what was Billy Dee Williams’s excuse? Oh, I know why. Disney just didn’t cast him for some reason, much to the displeasure of fans.

Poe plans to lead the fleet of X-wings to the Death Star 3.0 to destroy the oscillator, because of course the big bad superweapon has a weak spot that the bad guys have overlooked. After Leia implores Han to bring their son home, Finn, Han, and Chewie sneak in ahead of the fleet to disable the shield and rescue Rey. And then we get this little exchange:

HAN: What was your job when you were based here?

FINN: Sanitation.

HAN: [Immediately incensed. Slams FINN against a wall.] Sanitation? Then how do you know how to disable the shield?

FINN: I don’t. I’m just here to get Rey.

HAN: [Taken aback.] People are counting on us! The galaxy is counting on us!

FINN: So? We’ll figure it out. We’ll use the Force.

HAN [Taken even farther aback.] That’s not how the Force works!

CHEWIE: Aghh-rrrgh-urrgh.

HAN: Oh, you’re cold?

Best damn exchange in the entire movie.

Oh, and I just realized the racist implications of the black guy being the sanitation worker. HA.

Darth Caedus enters Rey’s interrogation chamber. He takes off his mask to reveal that…he’s just a normal guy. No scars, burn damage or anything. Give me a moment; I want to address the rest of the scene before I rant again. Darth Caedus attempts to interrogate Rey and…somehow get the map from inside her head. But Rey turns the interrogation around on him with her newfound Force powers (uh…), and she learns that Darth Caedus is a whiny, insecure little emo manchild that idolizes his grandpa. It’s all Rey can do to not laugh at his baby face. As if we needed any more reasons why Darth Caedus is such a non-threat. Darth Caedus leaves in frustration and whines and complains to Snoke. It’s the equivalent of passing yourself off as a big bad bully, but when you get the absolute crap kicked out of you in a fight, you limp away, bloody, bruised, and crying, saying, “I let you win!” Meanwhile, Rey tricks her single guard (Daniel Craig cameo) into letting her go and giving her his weapon. Rey flees the room, and when Darth Caedus returns, he throws another temper tantrum.

First problem with the scene, Darth Caedus. Darth Vader wore a helmet because it was physically necessary. He needed it to survive. Darth Caedus wears his helmet because he’s insecure, and wants to be like Darth Vader. Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader because of severe emotional trauma. He had foreseen his wife dying in childbirth, he was desperate for any way to save her, and he was finally claimed by the dark side when she died. He didn’t even know that the child(ren) had survived until The Empire Strikes Back. Jacen Solo became Darth Caedus out of insecurity and other reasons that we’re going to have to wait for the sequels to learn. If you really want to make your character a threatening villain, this is not how you go about it. Our villain is little more than a cosplaying child. He was picked on in the lunchroom in elementary school, and now he’s made a planet-sized wedgie machine, but when he picks a fight and gets his scrawny ass kicked, he’ll limp away from the fight, bloodied and bruised, shouting “I let you win!” That reminds me – why is Jacen Solo Darth Caedus to begin with? When and why did he leave his family to join the dark side? I know that I forgot to mention that Luke took Jacen under his wing to teach him the ways of the Force and that Jacen rebelled and became Darth Caedus, but we’ve never learned why.

Second, there’s Rey. Are we seriously expected to buy Rey just learning how to use the Force in seconds? It takes years to learn to use the Force. It took Anakin Skywalker years to learn how to use it correctly, and he was the Chosen One! It took him until he was twentysomething and in the middle of the Clone Wars to earn the rank of Jedi Knight! Why is Rey so good at using the Force now? Rey didn’t even know that the Force even existed until that very freaking day! I understand that you want a strong female character. I get that. In fact, I’m totally for that. But you have to make your character realistic and human. That’s how we identify with them. But this is just ridiculous.

Third, screw Snoke and all of the subpar CGI in this movie. Go back to costumes like in the original trilogy! At least they were actually there and looked impressive! Here, I know that these creatures are not actually there. For comparison, I shall bring in the bear from The Revenant. That was CGI. And I believed that that bear was really there and attacking Leonardo DiCaprio.

It is now that the First Order begins to harvest the energy of the nearest star, much like the Sun Harvester in Transformers 2. I think Star Wars VII needs a science lesson: A star is not a big ball that happens to be on fire. Stars are made up entirely of gas and plasma, mostly superheated hydrogen and helium. If the energy of a star is sucked away as if through a gigantic straw, it would not recede like the tide going out. The star would just shrink.

Strangely, the Resistance, knowing that the Death Star 3.0 is about to fire on them, make no attempt to evacuate.

Finn, Han, and Chewie enter the base, force Chrometrooper to lower the shields, and toss her into a trash compactor. That was unnecessarily cruel, but considering that Gwendoline Christie’s reprising her role in Star Wars VIII, she’s still alive.

So that means that Chrometrooper has done absolutely nothing in the entire movie. That’s…actually kind of funny.

Poe shows up with a fighting force of maybe thirty to forty X-wings. That’s pretty pitiful considering the number of TIE fighters at the Death Star 3.0. At least half of the X-wings are shot down pretty quickly. And the battle is pretty terribly structured. All of the other movies had better space battles than this. Oh, wait. The Force Awakens has no space battle. In fact, so little of The Force Awakens takes place in space. The X-wings fail to destabilize the oscillator on the first run, so they go back around again.

Oh, and by the way, apparently the Death Star 3.0 won’t detect you if you just haul ass directly at it and don’t pull out of light speed until you’re maybe about a thousand miles above the surface. YOLO! Remember when light speed travel required precise calculations?

Han, Chewie, and Finn coincidentally run into Rey. They set explosive charges to the oscillator. However, Darth Caedus senses their presence, and takes a squad of sturmtruppen down to the oscillator. Darth Caedus walks out onto a walkway over the oscillator’s reactor for some reason. Han sees this happen, walks out to the walkway himself, and calls his son’s name. And his name is not Jacen. Darth Caedus’s real name is Ben.

What reason did Han and Leia have to call their son Ben? Luke Skywalker at least had a reason to name his son Ben; it was the fake name that Obi-wan Kenobi had used for years. Luke and Obi-wan had had what could be considered almost a father-son relationship. Luke naming his own son Ben was his way of naming him after Obi-wan. Leia only knew Ben as Obi-wan. Han is the only parent in this situation to have ever known Obi-wan as Ben, but he was never shown to have been that affected by Obi-wan in any of the previous movies.

Since this is not Jacen Solo, I can’t just call Kylo Ren Darth Caedus. So what should I call him, then? Hold it – an idea just came to me.

So Han tries to talk to Pussy Darth Vader Wannabe, whose performance ranges from slightly bland to a very strange display of emotion. But as Harrison Ford is desperately trying to act off of Adam Driver, he starts to show that he’s starting to get a little decrepit. I like him as an actor as much as the next person, but ever since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, his age has really been starting to show. But Ford shows his age in not only becoming less able to do action scenes, but by straight-up forgetting to act in some scenes. Like this one. Ford’s mood in this scene never strays from “I’m done with Star Wars. This is my last scene. Just finish it, give me my check, and let me go home.” This is particularly evident, as Han’s tone of voice barely shifts from “Leia told me to bring you home, so I guess I have to do it.”

Han tells Pussy Darth Vader Wannabe that he and Leia miss him, that he has become Snoke’s pawn, and that he should come home. PDVW tells his father that he’s being internally torn apart, and that he needs his help. Han quickly agrees to help him. I personally would have told him, “All you need to do is toss that helmet and that lightsaber over the side, and go home to your family.” Had Han said that, PDVW might actually have done it. But Han doesn’t. And as Finn, Rey, and Chewie watch, PDVW shanks Han with his lightsaber. Gasp! PDVW shot first!

HAN: I love you.

PDVW: I know.

Han briefly caresses his son’s face before he falls off the walkway into the oscillator’s reactor.

I stood up in the theater and yelled, “Oh, come on!” I am not the only guy to get pissed at that. The Force Awakens just killed off the only major character from the original trilogy that had a starring role in the first installment of the sequel trilogy. Though to be perfectly honest, once I removed that reaction from my brain the second time I watched the scene, I realized just how unintentionally hilarious it was. I seriously laughed for ten freaking minutes.

Yes, I get that PDVW is not a straight-up evildoer, and that he’s more emotionally complex than that. I get that he’s a person behind that mask. But here’s the thing. When the original trilogy began, Darth Vader was just a big, bad man in a mask. But as the trilogy went on, we slowly learned about Darth Vader’s inner struggles, and by the end of the trilogy, he became a really tragic figure. And PDVW is a poor recreation of Darth Vader. His internal emotional turmoils were revealed too early, and now, PDVW’s emotional journey has pretty much nowhere new to go, and he as a character has no new territory he can explore, save for either turning good at the end, or remaining evil. Oh, and it’s pretty obvious that he will inevitably sacrifice himself for the good of the galaxy, just like Darth Vader.

Finn and Rey shout “NO”, Chewie screams, and Leia, who’s still back at Resistance HQ, makes a sad face. And then the death of Han is pretty much forgotten. Come on, I felt more emotion when Han was frozen in carbonite in The Empire Strikes Back, and felt even more when the movie ended on one of the biggest and greatest cliffhangers in film history! Darth Vader got his own funeral scene! Obi-wan Kenobi’s death affected Luke Skywalker for the rest of the original trilogy!

Chewie takes advantage of PDVW’s distraction to shoot him in the side. I called BS, as PDVW had previously been able to stop a blaster bolt in midair. He was even able to keep that blaster bolt in midair while killing Max von Sydow! Is a blaster bolt from a Wookiee bowcaster just too strong? Couldn’t he have just blocked it with his lightsaber? How strong even is PDVW? Considering the first scene of the entire movie, are we to just assume that he’s that powerful and not to be effed with? If so, then why is he so weak in this scene?

Finn, Rey, and Chewie escape the base as Chewie detonates the explosives in the oscillator, seriously damaging it. Chewie goes a different way than Rey and Finn go, and makes it to the Falcon. It is now that the Death Star 3.0 finishes sucking the star dry. Considering that the star was about the same size as our sun but is much closer to the Death Star 3.0, Finn and Rey have maybe four or five minutes before the planet completely freezes. Rey and Finn are accosted by PDVW, who briefly incapacitates Rey. Finn pulls out Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber and duels PDVW. As expected, PDVW quickly gains the upper hand, injures Finn, and renders him down for the count. Though, to be honest, I’m actually pretty stunned that Finn, a non-Force-user, held his own against a Sith Lord that spent most of his life being trained by Luke freaking Skywalker for as long as he did. Rey comes to. PDVW attempts to Force Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber into his hand, but Rey out-Force-es him. Seriously, she out-Force-es a freaking Sith Lord. She duels PDVW. I was hoping for another black Jedi, but instead we just got serious suspension of disbelief.

Meanwhile, Poe and the remaining X-wings are getting their asses handed to them on silver platters. Poe sees the explosion caused by Chewie, and rallies the remaining X-wings for a final push. They cover him as he just blasts the heck out of the oscillator, finally destabilizing it and causing the Death Star 3.0 to start falling apart.

And after about a minute of getting her ass handed to her, PDVW offers to teach Rey in the ways of the Force. Reminded of the Force’s existence, Rey calls upon the Force and immediately turns the duel on PDVW. And she kicks his ass, despite not having known of the existence of the Force until that very freaking day. She seriously injures him, but before she can kill him, the Death Star 3.0 further starts falling apart, and a crack separates the two. She returns to Finn, even though Finn was clearly on PDVW’s side of the crack, and Finn and Rey are rescued by the Falcon.

Snoke orders Hux to bring PDVW to him to complete his training. The sequence of PDVW’s rescue is never shown.

The Falcon and the remaining X-wings flee the Death Star 3.0 as it goes boom in one of the worst explosion effects I’ve ever seen as the Death Star 3.0 transforms into a small star. The scene from 2010: The Year We Make Contact in which the monoliths transform Jupiter into the star Lucifer looks infinitely more convincing than this.

First, we have Rey. Usage of the Force came to her within seconds. And now lightsaber combat comes to her in seconds. Luke trained with Yoda for months and still got his ass handed to him by Darth Vader. Yet Rey can pick up a lightsaber and kick the ass of PDVW in seconds? Again, I’m all for having a strong female character in a movie, but this character has to be realistic! If she’s not realistic, she loses her humanity, we can’t identify with her, and any of her potential of becoming a well-known hero is gone.

Second, the Death Star 3.0 was able to be destroyed just by blasting the oscillator. It didn’t require a precise proton torpedo shot or going into the reactor core and bombarding it until it’s destroyed. It was just blasted willy-nilly with the laser cannons of an X-wing fighter! Starkiller Base was thrown in late in the movie and all of a sudden became a driving plot point, but prior to its introduction, the movie was entirely focused on the search for Luke Skywalker. Do you remember the Rebels in A New Hope? Their entire goal in the movie was to destroy the Death Star before it could destroy them. This all led up to the Battle of Yavin. However, in The Force Awakens, the Resistance’s goal was to find Luke. But when the Death Star 3.0 was brought to their attention, they quickly switched their goal to “Oh, wait! We gotta blow this thing up first.” Also, when exactly did PDVW build the Death Star 3.0? The lack of explanation is lazy and presumptuous.

Finn, Rey, Chewie, and the remaining X-wing fleet return to Resistance HQ. Finn is taken to the medical bay for his injuries. The movie forgets about Poe. Leia ignores Chewie. Rey and Leia hug despite not knowing each other. R2-D2 reactivates (HOW? WHY?), much to the joy of 3PO and BB-8. We bear witness to the film’s biggest Deus ex Machina: R2 has the rest of the map to Luke Skywalker in his system. BB-8 completes the map, revealing that Luke Skywalker is on…some unnamed planet. Why did Luke leave a freaking map instead of coordinates? And why did he give the last section to Max von Sydow? How does Luke even know Max von Sydow? Also, with R2 having an incomplete map, couldn’t the Resistance have possibly singled out an area where Luke might be?

Finn is still comatose from his fight with PDVW, so Rey bids him goodbye while banishing him to the friendzone. She takes Chewie and R2 in the Falcon to go find Luke. Leia stays behind because reasons.

And they find Luke on some unnamed planet. Yeah. Screw the Resistance; they’ve only been spending the entire freaking runtime of the movie trying to find him; Rey finds him like that *snaps fingers*! Rey finds Luke standing out in the open. Rey presents him with his father’s lightsaber.

Now, Mark Hamill reprising his role as Luke Skywalker was heavily advertised. So you’d expect him to do something cool, right? WRONG! Luke doesn’t take his lightsaber. He doesn’t even get to say a line. All we get is a terrible 360 shot before we iris out and see the end credits.

The first time I saw this in theaters, I facepalmed as literally everyone else clapped.

It is the worst Star Wars movie I have ever seen for a reason.

Literally everything Luke, Leia and Han fought to achieve, what countless Rebels fought and died for, and what finally drove Anakin Skywalker to return to the light side of the Force and sacrifice his own life for, WAS ALL FOR NOTHING. Seriously, just think about it: the Galactic Empire is back as the First Order, with forces more numerous and weaponry many times more powerful than ever before, and is again led by two Sith. Luke’s new Jedi Order has been completely destroyed, and he is so ashamed that he has gone into hiding. Han and Leia’s love has fallen apart, their own son has turned to the dark side and has become a mass murderer on a galaxy-wide scale and worships Darth Vader, and Han has even abandoned the Rebellion for a time. The galaxy has even completely forgotten just what the Rebellion has done for the galaxy. Everything that Luke, Leia, Han, and countless rebels fought and died to achieve has been for absolutely nothing; worse, the galaxy is now in an even worse position because of what they did. Move aside before you break a hip, you geriatric geezers, it’s time for the next generation to step forward!

I was not kidding when I said that The Force Awakens is worse than the prequels by a long shot. Do you know what the prequels did? They actually tried. Whether or not it all worked out is another question entirely. But at least the prequels introduced subjects into the Star Wars universe that were new and unheard of at the time.

But The Force Awakens is basically the same script as A New Hope. It’s the same story with the same characters, but with the original characters shoehorned in because fanservice. Really, the only thing different between The Force Awakens and A New Hope is a slightly different tone.

And people ate it all up, giving the film over two billion dollars. How did Disney and J.J. Abrams manage to repackage A New Hope and resell it to audiences a second time thirty-eight years later? Because it’s exactly what audiences wanted. They wanted the exact same movie, repackaged and resold. It was a corporate repackaging of a nostalgic product purely for the sake of making one of the most massive film profits in history. It was a cautious retread done for job security and to milk every last teat dry on the cash cow, made up entirely of pandering to the fans. And audiences ate it up. I can’t say that The Force Awakens insulted its audience’s intelligence, because these trained seals and moronic sycophants that make up this movie’s audience have no intelligence to insult. Bread and circuses, people. Bread and circuses. It’s times like these that make my faith in humanity drop that much lower. Imagine that you got the A New Hope DVD a few Christmases ago. You’re expecting a Christmas gift from your friend this year, but he has no idea what to give you. So he sneakily steals your A New Hope DVD, gift wraps it, slaps a snazzy bow on top, and gives it to you for Christmas. That’s how I feel. Now get the hell out of my house.

Though to be honest, I can’t really get too aggravated at this movie. It had a lot of expectations it needed to fulfill. It needed to satisfy every single Star Wars and/or Internet nerd’s lofty demands. It needed to apologize for some of the mistakes made in the prequel trilogy. It had to reintroduce the franchise to a new generation. It had to make enough money to pay for the rest of the franchise an hundredfold. It needed to tell an interesting, well-written, memorable story. It needed to introduce a new set of characters while still featuring the old ones, and make the new characters interesting, well-written, and memorable. It needed to showcase the talents of a slew of newcomer actors and rising stars. And it also had to be a good movie in the process. No pressure. And to be honest, I realize and respect that a lot of effort went into making this movie. But some areas were worked on harder than others. And the areas that were neglected should have been the ones worked on the hardest.

The plot had no structure, no driving Force. Ho, ho. This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened, all with no plot threads connecting them. In fact, even though the story is very small-scale, it felt very rushed, despite the fact that a ninety-minute story is being stretched out to fill a one-hundred-and-thirty-five-minute movie. It’s pacing was very, shall we say, spastic. It felt like the shortest Star Wars movie I had ever seen. It simply has no time to tell a good story or develop interesting, relatable characters.

It was a complete retread of A New Hope, from the cute droid on a secret mission to the big bad superweapon that can destroy planets. And fans of this movie need to stop trying to tell me that The Force Awakens needed to prove itself by redoing familiar material. Just rehashing old, worn material is no way to prove yourself if you do it in such an immature, arrogant, lazy, politically correct way. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Kotaku put it perfectly:

“If Kylo Ren drops an ‘I am your brother’ bombshell on Rey, I’m totally going to walk out of the cinema.”

So let me rephrase parts of the plot for you so I can further overstate my case. The film starts with the Galactic Empire – I mean, the First Order – pursuing a Rebel leader – I mean, a Resistance pilot – who has the Death Star plans – I mean, a star map to Luke Skywalker’s location. The Rebel leader – I mean, Resistance pilot – stores the information inside of R2-D2 – I mean, BB-8 – who flees into the deserts of Tatooine – I mean, Jakku – to somehow get the Death Star plans – I mean, star chart – back to the Rebel Alliance – I mean, the Resistance. The very literal Space Nazis are led by an evil Sith Lord named Darth Vader – I mean, Pussy Darth Vader Wannabe – who was once the apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi – I mean, Luke Skywalker – but turned to the dark side because of all sorts of emotional trauma – I mean … oh yeah, we literally have no reason why PDVW turned to the dark side. On another part of Tatooine – I mean, Jakku – lives Luke Skywalker – I mean Rey. R2-D2 – I mean, BB-8 – conveniently finds Luke – I mean Rey. Luke – I mean, Rey – through perilous circumstances, meets up with Obi-Wan Kenobi – I mean, Han Solo – who will serve as a mentor figure. Toss in a space cantina scene. We learn that the Galactic Empire – I mean, the First Order – has created a massive Death Star – I mean, Starkiller Base – that has the ability to fire a laser beam to destroy a planet – I mean, multiple planets. Show an actual planet-destroying scene. The heroes sneak into the Death Star – I mean, Starkiller Base – and disable a particular system in it. They escape, but Obi-Wan – I mean, Han Solo – dies. The Rebels – I mean, Resistance – discuss how to destroy the Death Star – I mean, Starkiller Base – which has an easily exploitable weak point that only a group of small fighters can access. The fighters can fly through a trench-like structure and blast the weak point, somehow conveniently blowing the whole damn thing up. That happens. The Force Awakens even tosses in a scene from The Empire Strikes Back in which Luke – I mean, Rey – leaves the Rebels – I mean, the Resistance – to seek out Yoda – I mean, Luke Skywalker. OBVIOUS YET?

The only way to impress anyone (namely me) with a new Star Wars movie is to create an original story, and do it well. Tell an original story. Bring back the old characters and give them starring roles. Introduce the new stars, but make sure that the old stars are still stars instead of side characters. Write a good script. Have memorable, well-written dialogue. Compose a memorable soundtrack. I know that J.J. Abrams has the ability to head all that. He’s done it before with both of the solid Star Trek movies, Super 8, and Mission: Impossible 3 to a lesser extent. In fact, I feel like this movie’s failure (in my eyes) was the fault of Disney, not Abrams.

Do you remember that A New Hope was a standalone story? The Force Awakens is not. Too many plot points were either not explained or simply alluded to. It’s okay to do this in the sequels, but never in your first movie. The only nod to a sequel to A New Hope was Darth Vader escaping in the end.

The number of in-jokes in The Force Awakens was absolutely excessive. It’s the equivalent of a guy sitting next to you, constantly roughly elbowing you in the ribs, getting in your face, and loudly exclaiming, “Hey! Hey! Remember what franchise this is? Remember what franchise this is! This is Star Wars! This is Star Wars, goddammit! Hey! Hey! Hey! Asshat! Remember what franchise this is! Hey!” The guy has yellowed teeth, horrible breath, dirty clothes, urine-stained pants, grimy hands, dandruff to the nth degree, and hasn’t showered in months. He occasionally stops to pick his nose and scratch his ass. It’s literally impossible to turn away and ignore him. Oh, and you’re sitting next to him on a bus trip from Seattle to Miami. Annoying yet?

At the end of Return of the Jedi, a new era of peace began with the collapse of the Empire. It took years for the Empire to finally collapse. The galaxy entered a new era of peace which was quickly ended by the rise of the First Order. So what is the political climate in The Force Awakens? Are the First Order in control of the galaxy, or are they just a newly emerging threat? If the Republic is in power, why is the Resistance called the Resistance? The prequel trilogy got criticized for being too involved in political maneuvers. The Force Awakens went too far in the opposite direction.

If casting a black guy, a British woman, and a Hispanic guy as the leads was done to be politically correct, then why would you do it in the first place? It’s pointless.

Speaking of political correctness, why is Rey made to be a perfect character? How is she able to understand BB-8’s chatter? How is she such a good mechanic? How was she able to fly the Millennium Falcon flawlessly? How was she able to learn to properly use the Force in seconds? How was she able to take on PDVW in lightsaber combat and not only not get killed in seconds, but actually defeat him over the course of about two minutes? While I admire the fact that her morals are sound, it’s the degree to which it went to.  Luke Skywalker was flawed. He was headstrong. He was impatient. And that was his downfall in his first duel with Darth Vader. He finally overcame those flaws in Return of the Jedi. Rey is completely flawless to the point of being ridiculous and unrealistic. When she’s so good at everything and has literally no relatable character flaws, she ceases to become relatable, and therefore ceases to be human. But hey, it’s the age of the social justice warrior, and if Rey is even the slightest bit imperfect, then the insane, overly sensitive, loud, shrill, easily offended harpies will go ballistic.

Finn’s kind of a weakling, Rey’s “Practically Perfect in Every Way”, Poe’s barely in the movie, Han’s getting really old, Chewie’s not as much of a big, furry, lovable goof as he used to be, Ben “Kylo Ren” Solo is a pissy pussy (HE’S SO WHINY AND ANGSTY! HE’S LIKE BELLA FROM TWILIGHT!), Snoke’s just not threatening, Hux is over-the-top, Captain “Chrometrooper” Phasma is underused, and Luke and Leia don’t get nearly enough screen time.

At least the acting was decent. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher did as well as they could, considering how little material they had to work with. Peter Mayhew was Peter Mayhew. Sure, John Boyega was cheesy at times, but he did pretty decently for being this early in his career. Daisy Ridley was insufferable. Adam Driver was really weird when his helmet was off, but when the helmet was on, he did at least okay. Oscar Isaac at least acted like a badass, but he didn’t have enough screen time to cement his character. Domhnall Gleeson was actually pretty good when he wasn’t laughably over-the-top. Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis, and Anthony Daniels, to a greater extent than Oscar Isaac, simply didn’t have enough screen time to properly cement their characters, though they did well with what they had.

The cinematography was unflattering and at times awkward. The battle sequences were rushed and not thought out.

And my final question is this: What awakening in the Force even happened? If this is what consists as an awakening in the Force, I can’t wait until Episode VIII: The Force Says “F— That Noise” and Episode IX: The Force Goes Back to Sleep.

Because this is just ridiculous. It will never measure up to the original Star Wars.

And to me, it will never be canon.

Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars.

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