‘Episode VII’ kind of sucks
Several glaring problems that are impossible to overlook, in no particular order:
1. Orange Yoda has the saber Luke lost on Bespin, “but that’s a story for another time”? No. That seems pretty important. Tell us now.
2. We never find out how Poe Dameron survived the TIE fighter crash on Jakku and reconnected with the Resistance (all while completely abandoningFinn, his supposed new BFF). Dameron just shows back up flying an X-Wing, an odd thing for a dead guy to do.
3. Why and how was there a map to find Luke Skywalker? Shouldn’t it just be coordinates?
4. Why do Max von Sydow’s character (whoever he was) and R2-D2 share the two pieces of this map? Did Luke give it to them in case of emergency? [Ed. Note – Jordan: Yes, I assume it was some sort of contingency plan in case of extreme emergencies. More pressing for me is why does R2 power up at the end to provide some very literal deus ex machina?]
5. The Starkiller Base is used to destroy an entire planetary system, which we are led to believe is populated by the Galactic Senate. Or maybe it wasn’t? The aftermath of the First Order’s attack is not made clear. The First Order is also preparing to fire at the planet where the Resistance is based, yet nobody makes any attempt to evacuate? Leia just sits there, hoping the Resistance blows up the Starkiller Base in a battle that presumably takes place light years away.
6. The fact that those five planets were just wiped out by an opposing force doesn’t seem to matter to anyone once it’s done.
7. How were Finn and Rey able to use a light saber so expertly with no training? How could Rey fly the Falcon or use the Force? How were either of them able to take on Kylo Ren and not get killed within seconds? Clearly Rey is strong with the Force, yet we’ve always been led to believe someone has to receive training in order to wield it properly.
8. This also brings up the issue of it being unclear just how strong Kylo Ren is. When first introduced, he stops a laser bolt which was fired at his back from what essentially amounts to a sniper’s position. Ren then keeps the laser in mid-air — without even thinking about it — and while doing his mind-reading thing. We’ve never seen anybody do this before. Aren’t we to assume, then, he is very powerful and not to be fucked with?
9. If that’s the case, why is Ren then wounded by Chewie, whose presence was made as he screamed before taking the shot? Shouldn’t Ren have been able to stop that crossbow fire or at least block it with his saber?
10. The plot does not lead to its climax. The Starkiller Base is thrown in late and suddenly becomes the driving plot point, but prior to which the entire story revolved around the search for Luke. If you think about the rebels in A New Hope, their entire motive was destroying the Death Star. We don’t see all of it because we’re following Luke, but that’s their only goal. It all leads to the Battle of Yavin. The Force Awakens abruptly shifts from finding Luke being the most important thing to “Hang on, we gotta blow up this thing first. Shouldn’t take too long. No big deal.”
11. Han dies. Chewie cries. Leia makes a sad face. Then, five minutes pass and everybody moves on. Darth Vader got his own funeral scene! Han just falls off a bridge. More drama was felt when Han was frozen in Carbonite, no? Is J.J. Abrams video game-style pacing sloppy, or is it intentional so that the audience has little time to digest and scrutinize? (Chris Nolan is arguably guilty of the same with The Dark Knight Rises.)
12. “The Starkiller Base won’t detect you if you just haul ass directly into it at light speed! #yolo.” Remember the good old days when traveling at light speed required “precise calculations”?
13. What was the point of the Chrome trooper? She literally did NOTHING. If it was an effort to gender-balance, why not make the Grand Moff Tarkin Jr character female instead of casting Domhnall Gleeson?
14. What did the Starkiller being powered by the sun have to do with anything? How did that function as a plot point? And how was the First Order able to fire its weapon more than once if it drains the sun of its energy?
15. No Cliff Claven cameo.
16. It often felt as if Han or Leia didn’t give two fucks about their split-up or their son turning evil. Abrams’ spastic pacing may likely be the main culprit for why it was so difficult to feel sold on any characters’ motivations or despair, but you have to wonder if, in between takes, Harrison Ford was thumbing through a yacht catalog and thinking how he’s going to spend the big pay-day. [Ed. Note – Jordan: I don’t agree with this. I thought Ford’s performance was fine, but I do not understand for the life of me why he walked out onto that bridge to face Ren.]
17. Another example of the audience’s emotional disconnect from characters: Were we supposed to care for Finn when he made what was an instant heel-face turn?
18. Why was General Leia’s military outfit called “The Resistance” when the Republic had been rebuilt after Episode VI? The First Order was not the dominant governing force, but an up and coming terrorist organization. They were more likely to be referred to as a “Resistance” or as “Rebels.” So why wasn’t Leia’s “Resistance” just called “the Republic Army” or “Republic Special Forces”?
19. When exactly did Ren build the Starkiller Base? It must have been done by that Harry Potter-looking villain long before Ren turned to the Dark Side. Right? The lack of explanation is confusing and just kinda lazy, or, worse, presumptuous in that, because audiences felt so wounded from the prequels, that they’ll just ignore anything questionable as long as it was cool.
20. And, BTW, that Harry Potter CGI villain was atrocious.
21. In fact, we’re not even sure how convinced we were of any of the CGI or mo-cap characters. Like, those monsters in Han’s freighter and the creatures in Orange Yoda’s casino? Did not impress. And this isn’t a blanket statement about CGI, mind you. That alleged rapist bear in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant was A+. [Ed. Note – Jordan: I liked the creatures in Orange Yoda’s place, with the exception of Orange Yoda.]