The Force Awakens

January 7, 2016

Spoilers. Obviously. Don't read this if you care at all about the film, for I will ruin all of it.

Opening statements

I've seen The Force Awakens twice now and both times I really enjoyed it. It's so good to finally be able to say there's a fourth Star Wars film. The highlight of the film for me is Rey; I think her character is excellent and I think Daisy did a great job with her portrayal. Overall the cast and their characters are excellent.

Opening

The whole opening was surprising and delightful to me; it retained a classic Star Wars feel while still being distinct from the other films in the series. This is a theme that I think runs through the whole film, very Star Wars like, for the most part, but modernised very well.

Rey

What's her lineage? Skywalker? Solo/Organa? What about Kenobi? Or maybe the significance of her heritage is that it's not a family we know yet. Maybe she is the first Force sensitive person who's not a descendant of the Skywalkers since the fall of the Jedi.

A complaint I've heard of her is that she's some kind of Mary Sue, but I disagree. She's shown to be good at the things you'd expect her to be good at. Good with tech? She's spent her entire life scavenging and repairing it. Her physical skills? Jakku does not look like an easy place to grow up, and at this point everything worth scavenging is in hard to get places. She needs to be able to get to it and defend it to survive, to get food. So yeah, she's agile and a good fighter. As for piloting, I find it quite unlikely that she hasn't had a chance to repair and fly something in her life. She's also not that good at it, the entire flight with the Falcon looks very unrefined to me. There's also a lot of precedent in the Star Wars universe for Force sensitive people to be good pilots, with both Luke and Anakin.

Kylo Ren

Kylo's face reveal is quite shocking. I'm so used to seeing disfigured people under masks like that, but Kylo isn't like that. He's a perfectly normal, quite handsome looking, young man. Why does he wear the mask then? I guess the simple reason is that he's a Vader wannabe, which he is, but I think he does actually need it. It's his face to the world, it gives him confidence and menace. He wears it to try and give himself some authority.

Kylo's lightsaber was really cool, it looks and sounds like a tool for evil; it reflects Kylo nicely: unfinished, unstable and angry. I think there's a lot of room to explore Kylo in the following films, and I hope they do him justice.

Kylo's fight against Rey.

I've heard some complaints about this fight, suggesting that Rey shouldn't have beaten Kylo. At this point in the film Kylo is emotionally and physically a wreck, he's just killed his father, taken a shot from Chewie's bowcaster and a glancing blow from Finn. Also note that Kylo is not fully trained, we don't know how much training he got from Luke (also never given a huge amount of training) or Snoke, who explicitly says he needs to finish his training. I think it's reasonable to assume that he's not got much practice in with that saber; no one else uses one. He's learned enough tricks with that and the force to be a menace and a danger to a lot of people, but he's no Sith Lord.

As Han Solo dies he caresses his son's cheek, as if he's forgiving him. Han still loves Kylo (Ben), and Kylo sees that. That's gotta hurt. You can see that it hurts before fighting Finn; he keeps punching his wound, to remind him of the pain, to tap into his anger and hate. He's conflicted, and he's a mess. Rey, while not in best shape having been flung into a tree, is still in much better shape than Kylo.

She's been alone on Jakku since childhood, she's shown to be competent with a staff (her fighting style with the saber is quite similar to when she's using her staff) and she's consistently been able to look after herself. Until she taps into the force she's on the back foot compared to Kylo, but after her force meditation thing I don't find it implausible that she's able to overpower Kylo in the state he's in.

Closing statements

This is not a perfect film, there are many problems with it. The ending is iffy, and takes too long. Han Solo is too involved (but he needs to be for his death to be meaningful). Some of the humour misses the mark, for the UK audience at least, and the galactic political situation is unclear and somewhat confusing, when it shouldn't be.