“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is an above average film with some very deep flaws, and these flaws are massively overlooked or pardoned because it’s a Star Wars movie that was not made or directed by George Lucas. And that’s not to say that TFA is a bad movie; it’s a pretty good movie, but I am getting kind of irritated by all of these people saying how flawless this movie is, or how it’s ground breaking cinema. It’s not. However, that’s not the reason I’m writing this. I don’t particularly enjoy pissing people off who love movies or tv shows that I think are overrated or garbage (except people who love The Walking Dead, because screw The Walking Dead).
The real reason I decided to write this is because a coworker of mine came up to me today and, after viewing my tweet about it, said that my opinion on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was worth not regarding my opinion about anything anymore. He obviously said this mostly in good fun and jest, but it shows that people are taking this movie extremely seriously. When my brother and I first talked about it, he told me that he loved it and gave it a 8-9 out of 10. I gave it a 6. When I explained some of my issues with the movie, he got mad at me and told me I have too high of a standard for movies, and that I watch people on Youtube that have too high a standard for movies. I later told him that the guy he was referring to actually gave it a higher score than I did. Anyway, my coworker asked me why I thought it wasn’t that good. However, because we worked with a lot of people who did not see the movie yet, I told him I would write something and post it to Facebook so that people can hate on my critiques about it. So here we go.
Wait, hold on, if you’re extremely content with how you view TFA and would rather just enjoy it without me pointing out its flaws, I would invite you not to read this analysis. It’s not my intention to change anyone’s viewpoint but to simply explain my own. If you’re not insecure about your feelings about TFA and are open for reading and debate, then please continue.
(SPOILERS. I’m going to spoil the crap out of this movie now, so if you haven’t seen it, this is your final warning to turn back.)
Before any of you go off on me as someone who would just hate something just because it’s popular, just know that I went into Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a completely open mind. I avoided reading reviews, I didn’t look at Rotten Tomatoes’ rating of it, I avoided half the trailers for this movie, I did everything I possibly could to make sure I got a good, clean, objective viewing of this movie. Honestly, I had a lot of fun with this movie; it’s a good pop corn flick that’s loaded with nostalgia and humor. But at the end of the day, there were a lot of things in this movie that bothered me and I could not ignore them. Heck, everyone who I’ve talked to who thinks my opinion is wrong ALWAYS eventually says “Sure, it’s got some flaws… BUT—” And at the end of the day, I sat down and asked myself, “If this wasn’t a Star Wars movie, would I give it the same leniency?” And the answer was no.
I’ve written down 5 overwhelming flaws in the movie, and I also wrote down smaller ones that I found annoying as well.
Reason 1: Finn’s character is entirely implausible.
I like Finn. I now like John Boyega as an actor. I’m not one of those guys who thinks that a black guy shouldn’t be in Star Wars (I still think that was just the stupid outrage brigade making a mountain out of an ant-hill anyway). And honestly, Finn’s and Rey’s chemistry is one of the greatest parts of the movie, but the fact is that Finn, as JJ Abrams created him, is a character that destroys a lot of the movie’s credibility.
And that’s because I find Finn’s transition from a Storm Trooper to a leading protagonist as thoroughly unconvincing. The only way I can make sense of Finn’s sloppy transition is that The First Order is terrible at what they do (and I’ll make that argument later), and if The First Order is terrible at what they do, why are they even that big of a deal in the first place? And why are we supposed to care?
If we are to believe what the movie is telling us, that Finn was taken as a baby, brainwashed and conditioned into being a soulless soldier in The First Order’s war machine, then why was it so brain-numbingly easy for him to switch sides? He didn’t even get through one single fire fight before he decided The First Order was bad-news-bears. That doesn’t cut it for me. Isn’t The First Order all Finn knows? Didn’t The First Order strip him of his individuality so much that he wasn’t even born with a name but a number (FN-2187)? And he wasn’t even allowed to fight until he was in his 20’s? And after two decades of brainwashing, he just snaps away from his training like that? Because he saw a bunch of people he was sent to kill get killed? Seriously, I feel like his transition from bad guy to good guy was cheap, uninteresting, and opened up a lot of unanswered questions about how The First Order even works.
I would have much rather seen Finn struggle internally with his fear of The First Order battling against the fact that they’ve owned him and conditioned him to fight for them. That would have made Finn a deeply rooted, amazing character. Instead, we get a Finn who quickly strips away The First Order, almost immediately accepts his individuality, and just kind of acts like he’s afraid of The First Order. Like I’ve said before, I like Finn, and I’m excited to see how his character develops, and how his friendship with Rey develops, but I also accept the fact that the way Finn is created harms the overall plot of the movie.
Now I get that internalizing what was supposed to be Finn’s inner struggle would have required quite a bit of screen time, and we still need to get Rey, Han, Chewie, Leia, and Poe (kinda) all up in this here movie. Finn’s lack of believability may very well be a product of needing to cover too much in the movie, so I accept this flaw sort-of… but a flaw is a flaw is a flaw. It’s almost a shame that Finn’s not even the leading protagonist; Rey is. Then again, Rey is really cool so it’s not that much of a shame.
Reason 2: The First Order is terrible at what they do.
And as I’ve said in Reason 1, if The First Order is terrible at what they do, then why are we supposed to care?
Seriously, these bad guys aren’t all that intimidating, and it really affects the direness of this movie. If we don’t have a bad guy/organization that’s threatening, then the movie is going to feel less compelling. The First Order was great at first! In fact, I have almost no problem with the first 15 minutes of the movie, and The First Order was EVERYWHERE in the first 15 minutes. However, as the movie plays out, it’s pretty clear how incompetent The First Order really is.
For instance, like I said, Finn’s easy transition away from them demonstrates that they’re pretty bad at brainwashing (everyone else keeps their brainwashing, but they weren’t lead characters in the story so….).
But also, did anyone else think that Poe’s and Finn’s escape from the imperial ship was extremely simple? If Finn was sent to “reconditioning” after Phasma examined him, then why was he allowed to even go near Poe’s cell? Why did Poe’s cell guard not ask him any questions? (“What? Kilo Ren wants you to BRING the prisoner to him? Wouldn’t Kilo Ren just walk back to his cell like he just did a few minutes ago? You’re acting suspicious bro.”) When Finn is leading Poe to the hangar, doesn’t any of the spectators know Poe’s not supposed to be there, or do prisoners regularly walk around a bunch of spaceships that would help them escape? When Poe and Finn highjack a Tie-Fighter, why didn’t The First Order close some gate that would’ve easily prevented them from escaping? Poe and Finn just need to shoot two guns off the First Order Ship in order escape? Really? How incompetent are these guys and why are they such a big deal if their protocols for handling simple threats are nonexistent? Next, when The First Order is chasing Rey and Finn in Jakku, why are the Tie-Fighters performing the air strike suddenly bad at shooting? They were on point when they needed to blow up the not-Millennium-Falcon ship, but after that, they conveniently can’t hit two easily-hittable targets, and they can’t bring down a non-moving Millennium Falcon (maybe they read the script and realized Rey and Finn were lead characters). This scene could have easily been fixed if the situation forced Finn to use his knowledge of Tie-Fighters to figure out the best way to avoid their shots (like he does when he tells Rey the best way to fly the Millennium Falcon to avoid the Tie-Fighters). Instead, they run in a straight line and they still avoid getting blown to smithereens.
If I see two lead characters who should’ve easily got smoked by massive laser beams, and they don’t, I can only assume it’s because they’re lead characters, and I for one am tired of lead characters escaping by virtue of them being lead characters. It compensates for lazy writing and takes me out of the action.
Finally, let’s talk about the Starkiller… the planet-shaped Death Star that got taken out by 4 ground troops and a baker’s dozen X-Wing pilots. If the Starkiller hosts thousands of Stormtroopers, if not hundreds of thousands (as they’ve shown in the movie), then why was everything so damn easy to take over? Why does the Starkiller have a similar weakness as the Death Star? And why is the shield generator for the weak spot, and the weak spot itself guarded by a graveyard shift?
If the Resistance is fighting an enemy that is so incompetent, why is this movie even a thing? The First Order is so unfathomably stupid that telling me that they are a force to be reckoned with sounds humorous.
Reason 3: This movie treats the Republic as if it doesn’t even exist, yet refers to it constantly.
Can we talk about the Republic? The thing that apparently The First Order hates and The Resistance is backed by? The Republic, the thing that presumedly resumed command of the galaxy after Luke, Han, and Leia save the day? It’s mentioned more than enough times to matter, yet shown throughout the movie almost nil.
The movie never ever gives you a grasp at how powerful the Republic is, how much influence they have over the galaxy, what exactly they’ve changed in the past three decades, and what kind of backing they’ve given General Leia.
I’m not asking for a Prequel-like mushroom building where thousands of figureheads float around in platforms endlessly debating about stuff, but I at least want the movie to explain what they claim exists. Instead, we’re just told there’s this ominous Republic that works but only kinda.
Why do they even mention the Republic anyway? “Well, we have to mention the Republic because… well… something HAS to take over after the things with the stuff… or something.” It’s honestly never explained, and it bothers me.
If the Republic is really in charge of the galaxy, why is General Leia given only a small militia? How come they don’t have a massive army branched from all planets everywhere? How were they supposedly overcome by the incompetent threat that is The First Order? How in the world did they not try to destroy the Starkiller before it even started? Are we to expect that they created the Star Killer in secret and nobody knew about it?
By the way, was the Republic on the planet that the Starkiller destroyed? Because I honestly don’t know. That part where Starkiller destroys a bunch of planets with a bunch of nobodies? Did they destroy the Republic? They don’t explain it! They don’t explain anything and it’s stupid as hell!
Reason 4: The Force Awakens essentially makes everything that happened before it null and void.
Think about it, what exactly has changed? Luke Skywalker goes from being a whiny coward on Tatooine to a whiny coward in hiding. Leia goes from fighting the Empire to fighting the First Order, and Han and Chewie go from being smugglers who owe bad people a lot of money to….. being smugglers who owe bad people a lot of money… And Lando wasn’t even anywhere in the movie, so we don’t know what he’s been up to.
The Empire has been replaced by The First Order. And the Rebels have been replaced by The Resistance. Darth Vader is now Kilo Ren, and the Emperor is now Snoke.
Essentially, the journey that Luke Skywalker goes through to become a master Jedi and killing the Emperor and turning Darth Vader to the good side (light side?) ends up in a Republic that may or may not even exist and a threat that is the exact same thing as what they were fighting the last 3 movies.
This may not matter to you, but if this movie is part of Star Wars canon, then all of the parts matter. I was extremely disappointed in the world that Han, Luke, and Leia ended up making because nothing improved. We don’t get to see the fruits of all the labors we watched as children.
I’m shaking my head as I’m typing this, but the Star Wars Prequels, as they stand right now, hold more story value than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. NO, I’m not saying the Prequels are better movies, I’m saying TFA basically makes the end result of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi worthless. Meanwhile, the Prequels, though they are complete and utter shit, were made to give more meaning to WHY the original trilogy happened.
I’m sorry to burst your “The-Force-Awakens-Is-Perfect” bubble, but this is a simple truth.
Reason 5: Star Wars: The Force Awakens rips off the plot of A New Hope to the point of plagiarism.
This is arguably the worst sin of this movie.
At first, I kind of liked it. I thought it was the movie paying homage to the original one. However, when the film finally ends, there are so many freaking similarities to both movies that it’s slightly infuriating. I don’t know why they did this. A friend of mine says that it was their attempt to stay true to the original movies and not stray from the formula in the hopes of not upsetting fans.
Maybe that’s true, but if it is, let me ask you: If ANY other movie franchise did this, would you be as forgiving?
The First Order is essentially the Empire 2.0
The Resistance is essentially the Rebellion 2.0
Jakku is essentially Tatooine 2.0
and good God, Starkiller is essentially the Death Star 2.0
Here is a list of sentences that simultaneously describe both “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”:
*The movie begins with an invasion of Stormtroopers against a group of soldiers hostile to them; these Stormtroopers are accompanied by the lead Sith character who emerges after the initial fighting is over.
*The end result of the fight is that the Stormtroopers overcome their enemy and an important figure is captured for questioning and interrogation.
*This important figure escapes with the help of one or more of the lead protagonists.
*A droid is given secret plans and ultimately escapes the bad guys while everyone else is captured.
*The droid is left on a sandy planet where they eventually meet the lead protagonist while in possession of a being(s) that wishes to profit off of said droids.
*The lead protagonist is poor, wishes their lives were different, and does not know who or where their biological parents are.
*The lead protagonist and the droid(s) are whisked away on a space journey accompanied by Han Solo and Chewbacca.
*The gang go to a bar with shady characters and a musical band in order to find someone who will help them.
*The lead protagonist is ultimately forced to face their fears and challenged to learn the ways of the Force.
*A huge planetary enemy weapon is used by the enemy to destroy planets killing billions of nameless innocents in the process.
*A military meeting occurs between the good guys and the protagonists where they discuss the weakness of the planetary enemy weapon and devise a plan to destroy it.
* The planetary weapon discovers the location of the main good army and must wait a period of time before it is able to destroy their planet before the good army destroys them.
*A showdown occurs between a good side character and the leading Sith character wherein the good character dies at the hands of the Sith character, causing great dismay to the lead protagonists and a firefight before the lead protagonists ultimately escape.
*A small fleet of X-Wing pilots go to the planetary enemy weapon to destroy it.
*This planetary weapon has a weak point that can be shot down with lasers from a fighter ship.
*The planetary weapon is utterly destroyed as the surviving X-Wings and Millennium Falcon fly away from it; meanwhile, the Sith character also escapes.
Can we really say that the amount of copying isn’t ripping off A New Hope in a lazy way?
— WHY IS THERE NO CAPTAIN PHASMA IN THIS MOVIE?! Seriously, the movie posters led you to believe Phasma was going to be at least a bad ass. But no, she’s just a kinda-sorta leader that sucks at her job, does nothing but stand around and/or be condescending, and then gets punked by Han and Finn in the final act of the movie. Not to mention she’s probably dead because of the whole Death Star 2.0 blowing up, so she won’t get a chance to be bad ass in the next movie.
— If finding Luke Skywalker was so important to the resistance (in fact, it’s the driving force of the whole plot), why do they send the new kid to go get him? Honestly! Shouldn’t they have sent a squad of people to retrieve him to make sure arrives safely and unharmed? Wasn’t that the whole point of finding where Luke was in the first place??? Yet we don’t even get an explanation as to why Rey is the one sent to go find him after being at The Resistance Base for all but 30 seconds. I at least wish they had a scene where they explained WHY Rey’s going to find the only hope of The Resistance, but we don’t get that scene.
–All of Rey’s conveniences are worth mentioning (how she is supposedly fluent in droid, how she supposedly is fluent in Wookie, how she can fly the Millennium Falcon without ever flying a ship before, how she can fix a ship she’s never messed with before, how she can shoot strait with a gun without ever firing one before), but they are explained by the fact that the movie very clearly insinuates that Rey is flowing with power from the Force. So her conveniences, unlike everyone else’s conveniences, are passable.
— Why does Poe get to Jakku, fall out of the crashing Tie-Fighter, and then never looks for his droid and instead goes back to The Resistance without looking for BB-8? Wasn’t that the reason Poe risked his life to go back to Jakku?
–I thought Rey’s vision-montage she got when she touched Luke’s lightsaber was kinda dumb… but what can you do?
–Do any of these ships have keys? Or can you just turn any ship on whenever you want and fly away with it?
— Han Solo’s death scene is predictable and did not stir up any emotion that I would have expected it to. I don’t know how this could have been fixed, but I saw Solo’s death coming from a mile away and was not moved.
That about raps it up. Now, you may be thinking that after looking through all of these things, that I’m a dreary nitpicker who hated the new Star Wars movie. If that is your conclusion, here are two things I want to leave you with:
1. I did enjoy this movie a lot. I initially gave it a 6 out of 10 (an above average rating), but on my second viewing I bumped it up to a 7 out of 10. These flaws do not ruin the movie for me, they were just disappointing.
2. I could very well be a dreary nitpicker, but it is far more likely that you are a fanboy who has blinders on and can’t realize this movie is far from perfect.
In conclusion, I hope the next movie is better than this one, and I hope it expands on TFA in a way that makes it a better movie as well. I like Finn (despite how implausible he is) and I like Rey. I love Poe Dameron. I think Kilo Ren is neat, and I hope his character grows in a way that is original and interesting.
I am open to your comments, suggestions, or critiques.
Here are some links to some stuff I found interesting:
A Dialogue about some of the flaws in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Update: After watching this movie a third time, I decided my final rating of this movie is a 6 out of 10.