SPOILER: Wheeler’s Take on ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

By Dave Wheeler (@wheelerj28)

Star Wars: The New Hope of a Phantom Force Awakening

J.J. Abrams obviously didn’t want to give it this title, it would’ve been too obvious to the audience that the story line will mirror that of its predecessors.

-Deserted planet to find young, unassuming, untrained Jedi: Check
-Important information to the good guys hidden in droid: Check
-Bad guy with face covered: Check
-Elder statesmen wise in the ways of the galaxy to guide youth: Check
-Good guy had a bad son/bad guy has good son: Check
-Bar scene where passage off planet is sought: Check
-Good guys blow up battle station after finding an obvious weakness in its blueprints: Check
-Old Jedi finding refuge on a distant planet to be found to seek training: Check

Going into your bag of tricks is not a bad thing. You want to give the audience what they want. A card magician will fool you 12 different ways with the same slight of hand technique. And you know what? It never fails to wow the crowd and everyone walks away happy! Easiest way to make an old trick new again? Make it bigger. Enter: The Star Killer! 10 times the size of the Death Star and just as easily destroyed. You know the saying: The bigger they are…

Kylo Ren is a nice blend of Anakin Skywalker (pre-Darth Vader) and “The Empire Strikes Back” Darth Vader. He is half Skywalker after all, and the apple doesn’t fall far. I’m hoping that in the next instalment of the trilogy that it gets explained how a force wielding (I don’t care which side) is powerful enough to suspend a blaster shot in mid air and hold it for a period of time that he can carry on a discussion with someone before releasing it to finish its kinetic trajectory. And then fall victim to first time Lightsaber users at the end of the film? Sure, he just killed his dad and his emotions are probably somewhat scattered. His tantrum earlier in the film, when he takes out his anger by slashing some computers with his saber is evidence that he can’t hold his shit together, but come one… Rey literally found out she could use the force about two seconds ago and was scared to death of that saber leading up to that point.

Things I’ve learned about the Jedi while watching Star Wars over the decades:
-Jedi are bad at training Jedi.
-Untrained Jedi are still better than experienced Sith
-Skywalker family can’t be trusted

Seriously. How can any military outfit trust any Skywalker to head up some of their most important battles when the good majority of their offspring end up on the other side of the battle? Don’t get me wrong, they always seem to come out on top, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing more than a family feud, for generation after generation. And for some reason, people outside the family jump on board to help one side fight the other?! Someone should just end the Skywalker bloodline, good side or bad. Honestly, they don’t do anything but bring heartache to both sides of the war.
All this being said, I love the card trick. Show it to me again! Tell me the same story seven different ways and I’m in the front row on the floor with my legs crossed in front of the rocking chair. I’m not pointing out the flaws, just the consistencies in the franchise. History repeats itself. We’ve learned that in our history. Apparently no one kept track of it in a galaxy far far away.

There are a few things I am curious to learn in the upcoming sequels.

-How is Rey so in tune with the Force so quickly? Not even the immaculate conceived Anakin Skywalker didn’t take to this so quickly. Whose bloodline does she belong to? I’m led to believe she’s also a Skywalker, only because of the embrace she shares with (General) Leia after the final conflict with the (very underused) Star Killer station.
-Speaking of underused — Captain Phasma was also underused. Need to learn more about her rise to military power.
-Will Finn grow a set of balls? He fights out of necessity, he second guessed himself and his crew at every turn. He’s like a human C-3PO sans humour or intelligence. I’m curious to see how his character develops in the next film. How long until someone gets a vanity plate that reads: FN-2187?
-Why did Luke stand there like a goon on the mountain side when Rey showed up with his Lightsaber? He obviously knew she was coming. He’s powerful enough with the force by now that he could sense another force user from outside the planets atmosphere. Unless he wanted her to see the ocean in person, the one from her dreams.
-I know some will suggest that Rey and Kylo are bro/sis, similar to the Timothy Zahn books (would also fit into them being sent away angle). I’m not convinced. If that’s the case, than this is a giant intergalactic family feud.
-Mas Kanen will have her revenge on The First Order. She ran that cantina for 1,000 years and they reduce it to rubble in an afternoon? Only thing that makes that scene better is if Han flips her some credits on the way out and says, “Sorry about the mess.”
-Poe Dameron has to have a bigger role in Ep. VIII. Was extremely underused for a dude that seems like a major player in the battle.
-Why did R2 only perk up at the end? If it had to do with the map, shouldn’t he have awoken when BB8 showed up? Was it the presence of Luke’s lightsaber that jarred him from his low power mode slumber?

I really did enjoy the inner struggles inside the First Order. Similar to the first board room scene in Episode IV, where the board questions Vaders religion. That conflict is still alive and well between commanders of the First Order and Kylo Ren. Loved the mention of the clone army vs. trained child army. Great way to liven up the troopers. Curious if Supreme Leader Snoke is really 30-feet tall? Or if that’s just the hologram. Odds are he’s average size. First time we saw the Emperor, he was also of grandiose size. (Did I mention these movies have a habit of repeating themselves?)
The Falcon has never been portrayed better. Chewie is around for the next instalment, that’s promising. As the reigns seem to have been handed over to Rey to captain the Falcon.

This one is a stretch of a prediction, but I’m chucking it out there anyways.
The scene where Rey retreats to her downed at home on Jakku. We see a plant of some kind growing in a pot. For anyone that read “Shattered Empire,” we know that Poe Dameron’s mom went on a mission with Luke shortly after the Endor mission to retrieve a pair of “Force Trees” that were in the Emperors collection. One went to Poe’s parents to be planted on their homestead, and the other… we don’t know. Was this a hint to the connection between Luke and Rey? I’m betting yes.

To quote my earlier (spoiler-free) review of The Force Awakens: This film have my inner child everything it needed, and my 36-year-old soul everything it wanted. It’s still a 4.5/5. But you could have had two hours of a dude in an imperial guard suit waving a lightsaber around and I wouldn’t have blinked the entire time. Each film is better understood and enjoyed once the whole trilogy is finished. It would be unfair for me to rank this film against any of its predecessors before we see the completion of J.J.’s vision for the franchise.

Fingers crossed that Rogue One is just as badass as this one was! Already looking forward to Christmas ’16!


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