The 3 Worst Parts of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
I’ll start by saying I really enjoyed the movie. There’s nothing like getting what we expected—a return to the old formula, so much so that Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens obeys the same structure as A New Hope. What I would like to point out are the things that, having the luxury of sitting back and watching the movie (and not having had to create the thing myself), sucked me out of the film at times. You may find my complaints trivial, but to me, I couldn’t help but ask myself: Why?
1. The God-awful CG of Supreme Leader Snoke, That Guy Who Sells Powder Soup, and Maz Kanata
Okay—much of the CG was seamless. I’m sure the X-Wings and the TIE fighters were CG, as was the new Death Star. BB8, being a central character, apparently was a real robot. If any of him was CG, it was also seamless. Enter the first disconcerting CG character: That guy who sells Powder Soup. For some reason, he stuck out as being poorly designed, but, had he not been so obviously rendered from CG, I don’t think I would have minded. I’m sure they could have created a kickass costume and makeup for that character. This is the first time I said to myself—Why? If we’re trying to recreate the feeling of the original films, why randomly insert random CG characters that stick out like sore thumbs? As long as he was the last of the “rip me out of the movie” CG characters, I would have probably overlooked the blunder entirely. Then we get Supreme Leader Snoke. At first I was horrified that they’d made a giant humanoid, but, as he flickered away, I realized at least that much wasn’t true. What was, though, was the awful CG. I felt like I was looking at a reincarnation of Grendel from the CG movie Beowulf. His skin didn’t look like skin, it looked like that plastic-wrap fakeness that is the hallmark of painfully obvious computer skin. Again—why not, with all the money invested in this, opt for putting Serkis in a kickass costume, with makeup? This one, for me, was the worst offender. But then, as if to tell me they’re not done ripping me out of that good old feeling, they throw in Maz. She seems like the perfect candidate for a modern day, brilliantly executed work of puppetry or artistry in makeup and costume. Instead, they create this totally, popping off the screen ridiculous, animated character. I mean, had the CG been done seamlessly, perhaps with the proper blurring and extensive view-testing, I wouldn’t have minded the choice to use CG on these three characters. It’s only because they were so obviously separate from everything else in the movie that I found myself pulled, albeit temporarily, from the magic of the movie.
2. The Guys Who Come to Collect Han’s Debt
Remember the badass characters of Dengar and IG-88 and Greedo? How cool they looked, despite the lack of CG? Well, let’s forget that, and take a perfect opportunity to add a magical moment to the movie by allowing the scene to run with ordinary, forgettable, humanoids. Not only are they normal humans, totally uninteresting in their presentation, but the one guy has the thickest Irish accent ever. I’m not hating on the Irish or their accent. And for all of my cultural wisdom, it might have been a Scottish accent. But why!? That’s all that ran through my head as I was once again sucked out of the scene. You have the perfect opportunity to suck everything possible from this script, make every interactions as memorable as possible, and you say: Hey, let’s cast ordinary dudes and make one of them speak in the thickest accent ever. Not only does this remind me that we’re not in some galaxy far far away, where Earth countries don’t exist, but it compounds the issue of making two cool ass mercenaries into totally pointless figures as far as their own presence goes. This scene occurs rather early in the film, the perfect chance to capture my imagination with some new characters that would send me looking up their bios online. I’m sure there were plenty enough in the Star Wars universe to pick from, even if they chose not to create new ones. This scene pulled me once again out of the magic for a bit. I will say there could be arguments made such as—why should everyone have an American accent? What about Rei’s British accent? Why should anyone even appear precisely human at all? You could beat the death out of my argument I’m sure, or make some case that it’s inclusive of multiple cultures. I say to hell with that—it was a perfectly good opportunity wasted. Poor casting and decision making all around here.
3. The Force Abilities of Rei
Okay—I know she’s probably Luke’s daughter. But—they could have written her action scenes, and her force escapes much better. Hell, they could have even made Leia take her off somewhere for a moment and show us a bit of teaching. I don’t think anyone should be that good, naturally and without training, at using the Force. Remember, when Han says on the Millenium Falcon: You know all that stuff about the force? It’s all real. And then the characters Finn and Rei stand there slack jawed and wide-eyed. It’s apparent they had heard of it, but that it’s implied they didn’t so much as know it was real. For christ’s sake, give Kylo Ren some disadvantage or injury so that their lightsaber battle makes more sense. I won’t get on the subject of Finn’s apparent wondrous abilities with a lightsaber either. I would have liked to see them more imprecise, awkward, and lucky in their battles than that they showed great lightsaber abilities. I understand you need a cool lightsaber battle, but there seem to be limitless clever possibilities to get around to that without pulling me from the movie and making me ask myself: but wait? Luke, assuming Rei has his blood in her, needed both Ben Kenobi and Yoda to attain to the level of greatness he had. Before he could pull a lightsaber out of the snow, with a lot of effort (and not having to contend with another force-wielder to do so), he had (Ben Kenobi!) training him. So that’s enough to make me pause and say—okay, how can Kylo Ren, trained by Luke and at least a little (as is implied in Snoke’s statement at the end of the movie that Kylo must “finish his training”), not get the lightsaber when he is pitted against her ability to do it. And the scene of her mind controlling the guard in the new Death Star: it seems this was thrown in without an afterthought simply because its power as an homage must have been irresistible. Remember that it was Ben who had to do that in A New Hope. Anyway, this can all be overlooked, I understand, by saying she is just that special. And I can get with that. I just think you lose something by not adjusting the way it was done.
Despite the gripes above, I really liked the movie. And the above 3 things didn’t hinder my overall enjoyment of the film. Maybe because I’m a writer, I’m more nitpicky than most. Maybe some of you also felt like these three things pulled you out, even if ever-so-slightly, from the magic, before you said, “Okay, I’m not going to overthink this too much. It’s Star Wars. Anything can make sense.” I’d be interested to know your thoughts on my whining. Leave a comment below. (And check out my latest post-apocalyptic novels, The Rain TrilogyandWIPE—I’m sure you’ll have fun taunting me with all their loopholes and implausibilities!)
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I write mostly in the post-apocalyptic and dystopian genres, but have written in several others such as horror, science-fiction, and fantasy. Below you'll find some of my latest releases! Please check out My Books Section for a more complete picture of my books.