The Force Awakens: My takes.
Spoilers throughout. Watch the damn movie already.
So Lucas responded to TFA with This and… TLDR TFA wasn’t original enough. It’s pretty much the idiocy we’ve come to expect from him lately. I get that he’s upset about how he’s been treated by the fans but… both trilogies start with the most important character on a desert planet. They start with a new threat being uncovered. They start with a key mentor being killed. They have a huge starfighter battle that ends up with some kind of trench run. In fact the main difference between them is I and IV end in parades while TFA ends with two characters staring at each other.
Now let’s look at the main differences. Maul and Vader are inscrutable, brutal characters whose depth is yet to be uncovered. Sometimes permanently. Kylo Ren is something completely different. He’s incredibly vulnerable, he’s extremely expressive and most interestingly; he draws a lot of strength from his weakness. His inability to part with his former life lights the fire that burns his rage. Compare this to Vader’s inscrutable, sinister demeanor, or Mauls acrobatic silence and he’s easily the most human character, something that took Lucas 3 movies to get through in the original trilogy, and, well, the prequels are a mess.
The script was incomparably better as well. None of this “ONLY THE SITH DEAL IN ABSOLUTES!” none of the godawful “romantic” dialogue that ruined scenes in the latter two movies in the prequels. Look at the banter that Solo had throughout, look at the cantina scene. Really. When you watch the movie again look at everything Mas says and does. More importantly, the movie left me wanting more in the right way. I want more Poe, I want more Rey, I want more BB-8 (and let’s be honest if they make a BB-8 ‘thumbs up’ lighter I might start smoking just to have a reason to buy one) I even want more Ren, who was the most difficult character for me.
The first time I watched TFA I didn’t like Ren at all. It seemed like the Knights of Ren were the Sith equivalent of One Direction. He wasn’t strong, he wasn’t particularly competent, and his power was more explosive and less controlled. Then I watched it again and my take on his characterization changed. He wasn’t weak per se, he was conflicted. His power came from something that he wanted to put behind him, and his fear of this weakness ruled his actions. I felt MUCH more confident about him after watching the movie a second time.
Another problem was Finn. I like Finn, don’t get me wrong. He’s a great character. But riddle me this. If he disappears completely from the movies, what happens? What have we really lost? Rey is THE Jedi, she’s the other pilot, she’s the one flying the Falcon. Really what does Finn do now? Poe has a niche, Rey is the star, Leia even has a niche. What happens to Finn and… who cares? He’s at the awesome end of the same scale that Jar Jar was on. I’m serious, Jar Jar was reduced to a token character, and it would be real easy to do that to Finn now. It would be a total shame because he’s a great, flawed, but potent character, but it wouldn’t break the trilogy like losing Rey would.
The one character I didn’t like AT ALL was Hux. This was the real “What were they thinking?” moment for me. JJ Abrams said he wanted him to be a tragic character and his youth made him more tragic. How is he a tragic character? He’s a bland, fascist pig running a military badly before he’s old enough to shave. His acting was of the “screaming general” type, his interplay with Ren made Ren look strong, which I guess is a plus, but I didn’t like the character, who was completely expendable, and I REALLY didn’t like the actor. I don’t care how hard up the Imperials get, there won’t be 20 year old generals running around. This isn’t Ender’s Game.
Also: Can we stop building superweapons? They just don’t work! I mean this one was at least fully protected, requiring some amazing Deus Ex Machina to get blasted apart, but FFS guys, quit building the damn things!