Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:38 pm

No spoiler tags in this thread - discuss the film in detail, read at your own peril!





So, I just got back from seeing it. Initial grumpiness at NOT getting to see the Star Trek : Beyond trailer in cinematic glory! Still, that aside...

This actually remainds me of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, not in terms of the detail of the film so much as how it's been made and the strengths and weaknesses.

On the upside... the movie is MILES better than the prequels. It's fun - I laughed several times. It's energetic, exciting, and it keeps you watching. The little ball droid thing is adorable. The world looks REAL. I've no doubt there were CGI sets and whatnot, but I didn't notice them. And many of the sets and locations are real actual places, that FEEL like real actual places. The locations are often fairly small-scale, too. You're in a room, it's a real room on a sensible scale, not some CGI background so they can have a room half a mile wide. It helps with the whole suspension of bisbelief thing.

The new characters integrate very well with the old. It helps that the original characters are viewed as almost mythic figures in the time of this movie - when Luke Skywalker is mentioned, Rey's reaction is an amazed and delighted "Luke Skywalker! I thought he was a legend!" And they play the older characters just right - I haven't seen Harrison look this interested in a movie in some time. Chewie is great, too, he does a lot more subtle little things to communicate than I've seen him do before - there are several little moments where Han will say something and Chewie will react in a way that's obviously amused or exasperated or doubtful, and it helps his character. Leia isn't in it all that much, alas - she's in a handful of scenes, and is essentially there to be "the woman listening to reports in the base", much as she was during the climactic battle of the original movie.

I haven't said anything about Luke, but that's because Luke is hardly in the movie. We get a brief glimpse in a dream sequence and then one scene at the end (the premise of the movie is that Luke is missing and people are wondering where he is and trying to find him.)

The new characters are... okay. The black Stormtrooper dude is decent, and gives us a glimpse into how these guys are treated in this timeframe (they're not clones any more, rather kids taken from their parents at a young age and conditioned somehow.) The rebel pilot is a bit of a cipher - all we really learn about him is that he's a hell of a hotshot pilot.

Rey is also pretty decent, though I found a touch of the Mary Sue about her. I'll talk more about that in the story description.

Seeing the Falcon flying again! The ship gets an awesome and funny introduction, and it's great how they handle it during the film.

Okay, now the not so great.

First, the story is... a little lacking in originality. As with Trek, JJ has obviously decided to take the things people like from the original movies and put them in there, all jumbled around a little. So for instance we kick off with a guy trying to convey secret information back to the Rebels, and then being stopped by an Imperial attack so he hides the data in a droid and sends it off to hide on a desert planet. Sound familiar?

The main thrust of the plot? The Empire (what's left of it) has built a gigantic planet-sized superweapon that can blow up planets! And the Rebels have to destroy it... which is aided by the fact that the weapon has one weak point which will blow the whole thing up if it's hit hard! But the weapon is protected by a massively powerful shield. So Han Solo leads a team to the weapon to disable the shields, so that the Rebels can attack. Sound familiar?

There are some similar plot contrivances and coincidences from the Trek movies, too. At more than one point people land on a planet - or planet-sized weapon - and find themselves coincidentally right on top of the person they needed to find rather than being a thousand miles away. I don't tend to mind it that much, but it may pull you out of the film.

Then there's Rey. Rey bumps into the ball drone whilst he's on the run from the Imperials and decides to keep him - it's a cute meet scene and a nice way to get her into the plot. And Rey as we see her is a pretty cool lady, spending her days scavenging parts off of wrecked Imperial hardware and trading them for barely enough food to stay alive. She's hard-nosed, but not in an overly cynical way. But we come to learn that she's a force-sensitive... and knowing this, she can from then on do pretty much any Jedi can do, more or less just like that.

So for example she does a mind trick on a Stormtrooper to get him to release her from captivity. She literally just asks him to, and he says hell no, so she asks him again, and he does.

Then later she light-saber fights with the Vader equivalent, and he's kicking her ass for the most part. And half way through the fight she goes "Oh yeah... the force!" and then kick his ass.

In the original trilogy, Luke could at first barely use the force, and it seemed to be something he did with considerable effort to achieve minimal results - blocking a shot from a remote, killing a Tie, pulling off the Death Star run, grabbing his lightsabre from the snow on Hoth. To become a serious force user he had some tutoring from Obi-Wan, then spent considerable time struggling on his own, then spent time being trained by Yoda - and he STILL had his ass thoroughly kicked by Vader. Only by the third movie did he seem confident in using the Force, and even then he only defeated Vader in the end after he really lost it and just went at him all guns blazing. I liked that moment because all that backstory made it seem like Luke EARNED that victory.

There's none of that for Rey. She literally just gets told the Force can help her and then every time it occurs to her to use the Force, she can do pretty much whatever she wants to do by pure natural talent. It's a real shame, IMO.

The villain, Darth Helmet or whatever he's called, I kinda liked. He's a lot more emotional than we're used to from Vader. Vader always seemed to be evil touched with melacholy to me. This guy is evil touched with anger. Vader might kill a subordinate who failed him; this guy flies into a rage and just smashes whatever happens to be within reach. And it works - he is like the embodiment of the "Fear leads to anger..." thing. The guy is terrified, and swimming in rage to cover his insecurities. It makes him different from the previous villains, which is good.

Han's death was a well done moment, I thought. I did see it coming as soon as the villain started talking about "I know what I have to do", but it's well handled and it was an "oh shit" moment for the audience.

Not too much more to say, really. Overall, I say it's worth a watch. I wouldn't say it's a GREAT movie, but it is miles better than the prequels - I'd rate it as lying between the old and new trilogies.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Griffin » Sat Dec 19, 2015 8:43 pm

Just got back from seeing it, and I'm still processing it/I am quite hungry, but there's two points that jump out of me.

1. What was the point of (apparently) blowing up the Republic? There was no tension there since it came out of nowhere without build up, and surely it means that the entire original trilogy meant fuck all?

2. I'm calling it now, Snoke is really short. Like 4 foot or under.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Lt. Staplic » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:15 am

I think blowing up the republic planet was supposed to be like blowing up Alderaan in IV. It shows that they mean business and serves as the "warning shot" to our heroes, and it was supposed to be more emotionally resonating for the audience since we were invested in the neo-republic after the first movies. Weather this is the end of that republic or not is to be seen. I.E. A nuke going off in Washington D.C. or London would certainly be a massive hit to the U.S. or U.K. respectively, but it wouldn't be the de facto end of those nations.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:10 pm

One thing I was a bit unlear about is that they seemed to refer to the Republic and the Rebellion as if they were two different things. I was curious why there even is a Rebellion any more, since the Empire has fallen and the Republic is back in charge in most places. I guess you could say they're rebelling agains thte First Order, but does that make sense? They're fighting them, sure, but rebelling would imply they're part of the First Order itself... shouldn't the Rebellion now just be the Republic military?
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Dec 20, 2015 11:43 pm

Ha, anybody see the Big Bang Theory episode where they go to see The Force Awakens? Wil Wheaton goes dressed in costume :

Image

:happydevil:
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Lt. Staplic » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:46 am

Graham Kennedy wrote:One thing I was a bit unlear about is that they seemed to refer to the Republic and the Rebellion as if they were two different things. I was curious why there even is a Rebellion any more, since the Empire has fallen and the Republic is back in charge in most places. I guess you could say they're rebelling agains thte First Order, but does that make sense? They're fighting them, sure, but rebelling would imply they're part of the First Order itself... shouldn't the Rebellion now just be the Republic military?


I was talking about this with my friend after the movie and the only explination we could come up with was the fall of the first Republic. The creation of the Grand Army of the Republic was the beginning of the end, so to avoid a similar fate they have some law or protocol against doing that again. This lead to them supporting while not directly affiliating with the Resistance. This is contradicted by a reference to the Republic's Star Fleet, though we imagined this as being more like a NATO group. Forces from different national militaries cooperating in a unified chain of command. This would allow them to have safe guards against the units being turned against a republic system.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Griffin » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:48 am

According to a few peripheral materials, the New Republic signed a peace treaty effectively neutering the Empire's ability to wage war. The first order being hard liners who fled to the "Unknown regions". The New Republic are apparently content to leave them there doing there own thing. Leia wasn't happy with this so formed the Resistance. Obviously since they didn't actually put that in the movie they don't get any points for it, but that's the apparent explanation.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Graham Kennedy » Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:33 am

So in a sense, they're actually rebelling against the Republic! Interesting idea.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby sunnyside » Mon Dec 21, 2015 5:45 pm

Graham Kennedy wrote:So in a sense, they're actually rebelling against the Republic! Interesting idea.


I don't think they're rebelling and hence the name change to the resistance.

I felt, deliberately or not, that this time the series mirrored our world quite a bit more.

The Rebellion won out some time after Episode 6 and reinstated the Republic. However, being a UN like institution or at least a democracy, they aren't so eager to launch wars against some group of fanatics turning children into soldiers out in some distant desert lands. The Resistance steps up to fight the battle the Republic won't. However much like if a bunch of us decided to buy up weapons and fight ISIS or whatever on our own, the Resistance is an illicit organization that probably breaks a number of galactic laws the Republic set up. However it sounds like the Republic is more than willing to turn a blind eye to that and actually shelters the Resistance, presumably by allowing them to operate in areas actively defended by the Republic fleet. Hence why the Republic was targeted by the Starkiller (besides the fact that the New Order surely wanted to catapult themselves to galactic domination and they'd obviously need to deal the with New Republic first).

There was some line about the X-wings in the battle on Starkiller base representing half the Resistance fleet, so I take it that the Resistance is much smaller than the Rebellion was. However I get the impression that the first order is much smaller than the Empire was.

At first I was disappointed that the others from the original cast got so little screen time...but in the end I could begrudge them giving all the lines to Harrison Ford instead. The others will get their moments.

While I felt the Death Star 3.0 part of the plot was a bit too repetitive, I don't particularly have a problem with such things being prone to blowing up. Aircraft carriers getting taken out with a single relatively small bomb is a thing that's happened. APFSDS anti tank weapons, and anti tank weapons in general, just poke a tiny hole through the vehicle. The ensuing explosions that hurl the turret into the air and the fire that engulfs the vehicle come from the vehicles own munitions and fuel being detonated. Basically if you want to harness huge amounts of energy for destructive purposes you're going to be vulnerable to it getting set off in a way you don't like.

There were a lot of contrivances. Though some had some reason in the movie. Han was sent on the mission because what Sith can resist dramatically confronting family members instead of just ordering their forces to swarm the area. While seeing Rey out the window was a bit of a stretch, my impression was that the Starkiller base had a single main base area on the planet, and all the action was going on around there.

The insta force abilities were a little annoying. But a perpetual problem for sci-fi writers is figuring out how to let the bad guy capture the good guy and have all that dramatic dialogue, but somehow have the good guy get away and/or prevail. Trek has it's share of shenanigans on that front too. An obvious option would have been Fin managing to rescue Rey, but I can appreciate the writers wanting to avoid that trope.

Though on that front I thought it was clever how they handled Kylo Ren. He killed Han, putting him off his game enough that Chewbacca could wound him. Being badly wounded, he had a hard time fighting Fin, who couldn't even take a Stormtrooper with that lightsaber. I was wondering if he was doing chest compressions to get his heart going when he'd stop fighting and thump on his chest for a bit. Then having lost even more blood and getting some extra wounds fighting Fin he then squares off against Rey.


The reason I like that is because it gives Rey room to grow. She can get a bunch of Jedi training and Kylo Ren can still be a frightening foe by merit of having a functional circulatory system going into the rematch.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby LaughingCheese » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:33 pm

Graham Kennedy wrote:One thing I was a bit unlear about is that they seemed to refer to the Republic and the Rebellion as if they were two different things. I was curious why there even is a Rebellion any more, since the Empire has fallen and the Republic is back in charge in most places. I guess you could say they're rebelling agains thte First Order, but does that make sense? They're fighting them, sure, but rebelling would imply they're part of the First Order itself... shouldn't the Rebellion now just be the Republic military?



THIS. That was one of my biggest gripes about the movie. Made no sense why the mighty Rebellion was now downgraded to a "Resistance." I suppose the Rebellion was rather rag tag too tho.


The explanation in this thread is really great, if only they had included it in the movie.


Griffin wrote:According to a few peripheral materials, the New Republic signed a peace treaty effectively neutering the Empire's ability to wage war. The first order being hard liners who fled to the "Unknown regions". The New Republic are apparently content to leave them there doing there own thing. Leia wasn't happy with this so formed the Resistance. Obviously since they didn't actually put that in the movie they don't get any points for it, but that's the apparent explanation.


That bit probably should have been in the opening crawl at the very least.

This trend of not actually telling the story, making plots confusing because that's "artsy" or whatever, and telling the story through "other media" has got to die!
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby LaughingCheese » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:27 pm

Sorry if I killed this thread, I guess no one else is as annoyed by that as I am? Or none of you see it as a problem?
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Graham Kennedy » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:33 pm

I thought it was weird, but it didn't annoy me all that much. I did keep wondering if the Republic was going to show up in a save the day kind of a moment, though.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Varthikes » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:39 pm

I saw it twice already. Really enjoyed it..

It was weird not have the FOX logo and fanfare. But, at least we didn't have the Disney logo--that would have been even weirder.

I felt Abrams did a much better job here than he did with his Star Trek movies. I liked the shot he did of the Millennium Falcon, looking back at her while in hyperspace. He did that with the Enterprise a few times. Some have said this movie rehashes the original. While I agree that there are some familiar story elements, the writers manage to carry them out in a way that's fresh enough. It was great to see the original characters returning--all of which were given great entrances. Though it is surprising to see R2 and 3PO are still around and operating smoothly, given that they're around 70 years old at this point.

There were a few things that didn't make sense to me. First, Luke's old lightsaber--the one he lost on Bespin when Darth Vader cut off his hand. How did it find its way into that lady's possession?

Speaking of Luke's hand... The replacement he got at the end of Empire had a more human look. I realize that, at the time, it was easier to have Mark Hamill use his natural hand than to try to make it appear mechanical. But, I liked that he had a more human-like hand vs. Anakin's robot hand. It gave a nice sense of technology progressing in the Star Wars Universe that we don't really see much.

Then, there's the Starkiller base--built within a planet. From what I gathered from the dialogue, the weapons sucks all the energy from the nearby sun to get its firepower. So, when the star is depleted, wouldn't the weapon be useless then? Unless the planet is equipped with a hyperdrive--like the planet Zanak from Doctor Who.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:07 pm

My main feeling coming out was that it was exciting, fun to watch and I recall being pretty stuck in my seat as the 2 hours and change passed. From that standpoint, it's a fantastic film as far as the basic purpose of entertainment. Really, that's the first criterion I use for most films.

As to the nits, I did observe the oddity of the planet-killer having to move to a different star. At least having the thing able to remotely destroy multiple planets with bolts fired at FTL is a sort of cool enhancement over the original Death Stars.

One more nit not yet mentioned is also common to Abrams' first Trek reboot: having the destruction of distant planets observable almost instantly. The superweapon's bolt is visible from afar, and the planets going boom is seen in the sky of (whatever the planet they were on at the time was called). At minimum, it's a cheating of the light-speed delay.

ETA: I'd wondered how Fin, as a non-force sensitive "normal guy" was able to hold off Kylo Ren in a lightsaber battle (as long as he was able to, anyway) but the injury to Kylo could play a role. As to the new characters I generally liked Rey and Fin, though Rey's quick adaptation to Force use did occur to me even as I sat in the theater as well.
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Re: Spoileriffic Force Awakens Thread

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:41 pm

I agree too with the comments on the new bad Dark Side guy (Kylo Ren). When I watched there were audible laughs in the audience the first time he went off on receipt of bad news. On reflection though it's not just comical but makes some sense, particularly given his youth and inexperience. Anakin, later in the stages of his turn to the dark side, also went through some hints of instability. By the time the fully formed Darth Vader was first met in ANH he was more brooding than incendiary (it would seem the NOOOOO! moment at Padme's death was a turning point for him).
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