Movie Meltdown

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Spoiler analysis and thoughts)

by Kyle Armstrong

     Again, if you have yet to see the movie, watch it, because it is worth seeing it instead of finding out through some scumbag. Decided to wait a week, after most have seen it and wanted to talk about it as a whole. Last time I discussed Star Wars, I said Return of the Jedi didn't work as well without Kurtz, this is, in a way, fixing Return of the Jedi's mistakes. A big question is, what's with the smiles on the Stormtroopers? Well, maybe I can explain. In the original trilogy, I believed that Stormtroopers wore white as a way to present that manipulative side of the Dark Side. The idea of the Dark Side forcing a smile on the face of people like Finn, who don't want anything to do with it, it also looks very mischievous. People seem to have a problem with Kylo Ren, when I kinda think that's the point. Let me explain, Kylo Ren or Ben Solo, has lived in his parents shadow, his father is a legendary pilot and smuggler, his mother is a queen, Ben is just a kid who wants to make a name for himself. Why do I think this? Because JJ points it out to us, he has temper tantrums, like child and he looks like a child when he takes off the helmet, that's why the one guy behind me laughed when he took off his helmet. If we had gotten another big bad villain he wouldn't even graze the light of Vader, but because he is a reckless, rebellious kid, we get to see him grow and he is shown as a memorable villain. JJ tries to capture the beauty of a character like Boba Fett, with Captain Phasma, reveal very little, but suggest enough to give the character a reputation, but this is where we sort of have a problem, to create said reputation there needs to be more to this character. I think Boba Fett is great, but it runs into the problem of giving the character nothing to do, which is why I hope they didn't crush Phasma in the trash compactor because I would like to see more of what the character and Gwendoline Christie. Although, I think I can explain the lack of Phasma, the character is built on reputation alone, bit of a stone wall, and looks cool, even though she has barely any scenes, these are the reasons why I want more of her, we didn't get enough, when they built up the character way too much.

     The Nazi symbolism has bumped up to the extreme (which I like), to a point where we get angry speeches, standing in groups, and, I am not making this up, the Storm Troopers Sieg Heil. The only thing that really bothered me about Finn is his transition from good to bad, maybe we could've had more of how this obedience to evil has damaged him, but with that behind us, he was a great character. The scene where he gets (presumably a friend or close partner's) blood on his mask is chilling, this is the scene before Finn has his Vietnam flashbacks ("I don't see any connection to Vietnam, Walter"). I honestly believe that blood on his mask symbolizes the human aspect to Finn, the blood outside of the armor. I don't know how I feel about this being his first mission, seeing all this death phases him, but he's never shown any sign of disobedience, until now. I have no idea how the First Order trains their troopers, but it can't be pretty.

     I know no training can prepare you for the real thing, which is why I have mixed feelings about this. He has been trained to obey and to shoot before thinking (Well, if you're a Stormtrooper, before aiming), a life of eat or be eaten. I find it interesting that he questions his authority, in the face of death and destruction of what is going on, but as to why he has not questioned it before, shows that manipulative side of the First Order (Dark Side), I'm pretty torn. Everyone is pretty upset that Finn is able to use a lightsaber, while I'm not that upset about it. If it is the fact that he can turn it on, that doesn't make much sense, because Han turned it on in Empire, that exact same lightsaber (something I would like to discuss). Is it the fact that he can use it? Well, it these were more choregraphed, I would understand and would probably be mad as well, but he doesn't look like he knows what he is doing, he's just swinging it around trying to dodge Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren, with the both times that he uses it, he gets knocked down and hurt pretty badly. He doesn't know what to do with it, and if it is revealed that he has the force, I wouldn't be that mad because for a new rebellion to work, Jedi are needed, the more, the merrier. My question is, where did Maz Kanata get Luke's lightsaber? After Luke's hand was chopped off in Empire, it had to have been lost, so the green lightsaber would've made more sense. Speaking of lightsabers, I'm glad they went back to the main colors, blue and red, no purple, no green, just red and blue. 

     Rey is a very interesting character and the big question is, who's daughter she is, now from what we've seen we can say that she may be Luke's daughter, well, I disagree. If she has to be anyone's daughter, I believe she's Han Solo's, here's why: So Luke does mean bringer of light and Rey does resemble ray of light, but I think this is because Rey, like Luke once was, is the "New Hope", that light, is the hope for bringing balance to the force. Why is she Han's daughter? Kylo Ren tells her, at her weakest moment (or strongest, matter of perspective) "He's like the father you never had. He'll disappoint you", maybe foreshadowing. Why didn't Leia recognize her? Maybe she did. Why didn't Obi-Wan recognize R2D2 or tell Luke that Vader was his father? I don't think it is the time and it could tempt Rey to join her brother. Which brings me to my next argument, it makes the battle a personal one. Not only is it, once again, family vs. family, it is the fight for the memory of Han Solo. So why did they give her up? Well, they keep her away from her brother (the student of Luke's, who was tempted by the Dark Side), in fear that she may turn. There is an age gap between the two, now before you say "only 9 years", Jedi are taught at a young age, even 9 is pretty old for a student Jedi, making him 14 or 15 when he turned, which as a rebellious teen, sounds right. I understand that Luke has a child in the books, but the books aren't cannon, because they contradict the prequels. In the prequels it is said that Jedi cannot fall in love or reproduce (which is dumb). Now if we want to talk about the books, Han and Leia do have kids, one girl, one boy, the boy's name? Ben Solo, named after the one and only Ben Kenobi (which is odd, seeing Han and Leia weren't that close to Obi-Wan, not as close as Luke was. Also hearing Luke say "Rey, I am your father" is way too cheesy.

     Which brings me to the death of almost every Star Wars fan's hero, Ham Yoyo (as Harrison Ford would refer to him), I saw it coming, as much as I denied it going in. With Gary Kurtz's vision, Kasdan and Ford wanting to kill him off, Lucas off board, Han taking up the role of the mentor (which usually gets killed off), the villain being as close to Han as you can get without it being one of his friends or Leia, and Han walking onto that platform, resembling the "I am your father" scene in Empire, it was a bit obvious. Everyone is unpleased with Han's death, but the reality is, it is hard to accept the death our Star Wars hero (that isn't the protagonist), I think it is better coming from someone close, than some stranger. That image of the light in the sky going dark just runs shivers down my spine. That hope of light we see in Ben is gone, he has completely gone dark, and the only light we see is the light of the red lightsaber on Ben's face, showing the anger he has for his father. Taking off the helmet makes it even more personal, how it isn't a Darth Vader wanna be killing Han, but his own son. To me, this felt right.

     Let's move on to the new Han Solo, Poe Dameron, who I am glad they decided not to kill off, because Oscar Isaac is fun in this role and I can't wait to get more of this character, but the explanation for him being alive was a bit weak, however, I understand why they did it, they didn't want too much of Han Solo-ish personality in this film. I enjoyed each character, I thought each character was very fleshed out, not resembling our past heroes too much. Rey resembles Luke, that young character who wants to get away, wants to be a pilot, has the force, but she has way more depth and attitude than Luke had in A New Hope. The arguments of it being too much like the original, are arguments that I completely understand.

     There are times where it is resembling A New Hope and Empire way too much, and it plays it safe sometimes, the ballsiest thing they did was kill off Han Solo, however, at times it was its own thing and I respected it for that, but the idea of the bigger and better Death Star 2.0 is unneeded, and I only see it as the film's MacGuffin, although, I liked how they named it after the original name for Luke Skywalker, Starkiller Base, a name too violent for a Jedi that will bring peace, (maybe irony?). Lucas later decided to pass this name down to the lead character of the Force Unleashed video games, who was almost named 
Darth Insanius, or even worse Darth Icky (Lucas wasn't very good with names, seeing Yoda was almost "Buffy". Dodged a bullet there).

     The idea of taking all the energy from a star to destroy other planets, is like Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, unlikely, but as of a Star Wars story, I can see it happening. The final lightsaber battle is absolutely amazing, it is dark, thrilling, realistic, with a gritty backdrop, and it may have been one my favorite parts of this film. This has to be one of the greatest lightsaber battles in the Star Wars series. This is not like the prequels, we watch these characters as they look like they're in pain, not this choregraphed mess.

     This is what I want in a lightsaber battle, something that feels like a war, a gritty battle of good and evil. This battle had my eyes dead set on the screen. Seeing the lightsabers in Rey and Kylo's eyes is an image that is locked into my mind, showing that thin line between good and evil. I wasn't that upset with Luke was in the film for only a few seconds, because he wasn't really advertised and the characters have no idea where he is either, although, I love that he gets top billing with Ford and Fisher, I find that funny. I enjoyed Episode 7, I guess more than others. It is flawed, very flawed, I did not like the CGI alien chase, but I did like the homage it payed to Raiders of the Lost Ark. I liked Maz Kanata and I also thought BB-8 was adorable. I love seeing Star Wars get back on its old track again.



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