Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thoughts on "The Force Awakens"

I can't stop myself. Must speculate ramble incoherently in a drunken way.

Spoilers. Be warned.

Still there? Foolish Jedi. The Spoiler Side is stronger.

Okay, so The Force Awakens takes place a good three decades after the events of Return of the Jedi in which Lando Calrissian, Wedge Antillies (sp?), and a bunch of teddy-bear aliens defeated the Empire with a little help from Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Chewbacca. Oh, and Luke was there, too. He was busy setting out daddy issues or something.

In the aftermath, Han and Leia got busy and, in due course, had a rugrat they named Ben.

Being the son of Leia and grandson of Anakin, little Ben was strong in the Force. When Luke decided to rebuild the Jedi Order (hopefully discarding the lies and garbage Yoda and Obi-Wan taught him), he took Ben into the school to teach him.

Then everything went wrong.

First off: how the hell did Luke screw that up? How did Supreme Leader Snape (Snorkel, Snoop-Dog... I can never remember his name) weasel his way into Luke's Jedi school and lure impressionable young Ben over to the Dark Side? And what the hell are the "Knights of Ren"?

io9 has a bunch of articles discussing backstory on all this. I'm disinclined to pay too much attention to backstory not actually covered in the movie.

My reasons are simple: if you need backstory from other media to understand what's going on in a movie, that's lazy storytelling.

So anyway, we find out that Ben Solo is now going by the inexplicable name of Kylo Ren (following in the Supreme Leader's footsteps of having an unimpressive-sounding villain name). He's got a mask to hide his coiffed hair and the anger-control issues of a demented fifteen-year-old boy.

Supreme Leader Snark's First Order (nice name) builds yet another Death Star (because the first two were obvious successes), only this one is built out of a planet and eats suns to blow up planets on the other end of the galaxy using hand-wavy Star Wars science.

All said, not a terrible plan.

Supreme Leader Sniffles and Kylo Ren are also looking for Luke who has gone into hiding after his school got wiped out.

My bad. Clearly, Luke learned his lessons from Yoda on how to be a whiny quitter instead of rolling with the punches and actually fighting the bad guys.

Apparently "Jedi" is a Galactic term for "weak-ass whiny punk".

For some reason, Supreme Leader Snotty is actually afraid of Luke and wants to find him. And there's a map.

Okay, wait. Why is there a map? And in a society with faster-than-light travel, why does that map have multiple points on it? Wouldn't it be better simply to have destination coordinates? As I understand it, hyperdrive can take you from where you are to virtually anywhere, given arbitrary fuel factors and what not.

*Shakes head*


Meanwhile, Finn (aka "FN-blah-blah-blah") showing actual guts, quits his job as a janitor stormtrooper (seriously, they have the black guy working in sanitation in the First Order? WTF?). He busts out a rebel resistance pilot and they steal a TIE and the fun begins.

The pilot, Poe, winds up giving Finn his name and they bond in what would make an awesome buddy movie.

Seriously, I'd watch the Adventures of Finn and Poe as they steal First Order spaceships and fuck up the bad guys. I think that would be tight.

Stuff goes on. Finn and Poe are separated. Then Finn meets Rey.

Okay, so Rey is becoming a lightning rod out there. There's accusations that she's a "Mary Sue". I don't buy it. Let's discount for a moment any ancestry issues we're working out with her. She was abandoned on a shithole planet and raised having to fend for herself. It's made her a tough fighter and given her a broad skill set. Add to that the fact that she's clearly strong in the Force without her brain being polluted by Jedi bullshit dogma.

So far she's the biggest badass in the show aside from Finn, who may or may not have access to the Force in any significant way.

They meet, bond, and steal the Millennium Falcon (what a coincidence!) then wind up embroiled in the crazy.

Rey's sharp but seems to think the family who abandoned her to slowly starve to death on a crappy junkyard planet will come back.


She's got a weird connection to Luke's lightsaber (somehow recovered from Bespin... also a weird coincidence). She's sufficiently badass that she is able to rescue herself from a cell using a Jedi mind-trick (without the hand wave). She can stop Kylo Ren's mind-probe powers. And she can pick up lightsaber skills pretty quick.

Okay, that sounds like an argument in-favor of the Mary Sue claim (despite the fact that "Mary Sue" can't possibly apply here, but I digress).

I think Rey's prowess isn't unreasonable. Luke had weird visions under weirder circumstances as did Anakin before him. Rey and Finn's ability to fight Kylo Ren (a trained Force user) on Starkiller Base seems ridiculous until you remember Kylo Ren had a hole in him from Chewbacca's bowcaster. And he was an emo, whiny punk.

Finn, a trained soldier, handled himself fine until Kylo remembered he has Force powers.

When Rey steps in, she's reasonably-fresh and has strong Force powers.

And then there's the parentage argument.

So it's implied (vaguely) that Rey may be Luke's daughter. Whether or not Luke adopted the whole "Jedi don't marry" thing, he still could have shacked up with someone and had a kid. As a child, Rey could have witnessed Daddy Luke lightsaber fighting and remembered some of that subconsciously.

Okay, that's a stretch, but we're talking about superpowered warrior monks. It's no weirder than the rest of the premises of the film.

So is Rey Luke's daughter? I honestly don't know. I know Abrams likes to tease and taunt with mysteries. I know Star Wars is supposed to be following the Skywalker family. Seems logical Rey is Luke's kid. A lot of that really depends on who her mother is.

Rey was abandoned on Jakku, a desert shithole junkyard where she lived a pretty terrible life.

If Luke is her father, seems he's going to be on the hook for neglect charges and therapy bills.

But Luke may not have known Rey was on Jakku. It's possible Rey's mysterious mom dropped her on Jakku, possibly being pursued. She may have intended to come back and met an untimely end.

Or it's a plot hole that will never be filled. Whatever.

Rey, when hearing Luke's name, seems to think he's a legend. She could have been faking, but if she's Luke's daughter, why react at all? Why just not shrug off the name. Seemed weird. It's possible Rey is Luke's kid but she was separated from him before she ever learned he had a name beyond "Daddy".

Seems like she was pretty young. I'm just sayin'.

If Rey is indeed offspring of Luke, it seems like old Ben Solo/Kylo Ren didn't inherit any ability to sense his cousins in the Force pool of powers. Leia may have. She and Rey hug when they first meet, which is weird. But that could also just be bad writing.

I'm nitpicking on these points because they bug me, of course. I still enjoyed the film immensely, but I really hope the writers have satisfactory answers to questions instead of Abrams' usual hand-wavy bullshit.

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