Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Steve Christou

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Jonathan Perregaux

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Rey also uses a Darth Sidious move, a stabbing motion style thus far not used by any Jedi. Like the Sith Lord, she instinctively uses the move several times. This proves that she is his father's, brother's, nephew's former room-mate.
 

Edwin-S

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That was good for a laugh. I cannot believe how pussy Disney is. Disney is just the worst outfit to have ownership of this property. The original movie not only showed an arm being hacked off; it showed the arm covered in blood. This Chewbacca scene shows the arm, essentially bloodless, landing on the table. The article writer goes on to say for "good reason".....what good reason? The scene is no worse than the arm slicing scene in the original film.

Hey, and the dude learned a good lesson. Don't f*** with the Wookie. :laugh:
 

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I love seeing Chewbacca ripping arms off as much as anyone but that scene wasn't deleted because of the violence, it was dropped because it doesn't work in the movie as a whole. At that point in the story, Unkar Plutt is finished so reintroducing him for 30 seconds just to get his arms torn off is pointless. Also, it raises the question of how did he find them (presumably, he had intergalactic lowjack on the Falcon) and having him suddenly pop up again on another planet seems more like it's a nightmare or vision than reality. I hope they have Chewbacca tear off arms in a future movie but I'm glad they dropped it from The Force Awakens.

Also, why is this suddenly a story when that scene was on the Blu-ray two months ago?
 

WillG

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I love seeing Chewbacca ripping arms off as much as anyone but that scene wasn't deleted because of the violence, it was dropped because it doesn't work in the movie as a whole. At that point in the story, Unkar Plutt is finished so reintroducing him for 30 seconds just to get his arms torn off is pointless. Also, it raises the question of how did he find them (presumably, he had intergalactic lowjack on the Falcon) and having him suddenly pop up again on another planet seems more like it's a nightmare or vision than reality. I hope they have Chewbacca tear off arms in a future movie but I'm glad they dropped it from The Force Awakens.

Also, why is this suddenly a story when that scene was on the Blu-ray two months ago?
Yeah, I can see why it was cut. While its not as graphic as what we saw in ANH, and Wookies are known to pull people's arms out of their sockets, Chewie has become a lovable character and now looks kind of out of character to see him do that (I guess even though he choked Lando in ESB). And then, as I also thought, how does Unkar find them. Presumably there's a tracker on the Falcon (which it seems remiss of Han to not have swept for) but that doesn't explain how he arrived there at least at the same time as Rey did. Either that, or it's an amazing coincidence they happened to find each other. Also, the scene really doesn't do anything to move the story along.
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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Ahead of The Rise of Skywalker on Thursday, I'm attempting to re-watch all of the previous live action Star Wars movies in chronological order.
With the enemy leader's top henchman -- who is powerful with the Dark Side of the Force -- in hot pursuit, an important rebel operative hides an important piece of data inside an Astrodroid and sends it out into the wastelands of a remote desert planet to avoid detection. In the desert, the droid encounters a teenager who has lived on the desert planet from an early age. This teenager doesn't know it yet, but an important destiny awaits -- one guided by the teenager's untapped stength in the Force. The teenager connects with an old man who is a hardened veteran of the wars that waged across the galaxy decades earlier. The teenager is reluctant to leave home on the desert planet behind, but comes to understand that home doesn't have anything to offer anymore. The old man takes the teenager to a cantina filled with lots of exotic aliens. Meanwhile, one of the enemy's top leaders uses a superweapon to destroy entire worlds. While the heroes are at the superweapon, the old man behaves nobly but dies. The rebels realize the superweapon can be destroyed with a targeted attack on one specific location. The rebels target the specific location with their X-Wings. The specific location is blown up, and the superweapon is destroyed.

Now which movie did I just summarize?

Ever since the first time I saw this movie, I was one of the ones complaining about how the ending ripped off the original Star Wars. What was striking this time around, having seen A New Hope only a couple days ago, is how this movie repeats that movie practically the whole way through. The details differ, the context sometimes differs, but all of the major beats in the two movies are the same.

The advantage is that the beats work; there's a reason the original Star Wars is one of the most beloved movies of all time. The disadvantage is twofold: the filmmakers have to deal with the audience constantly comparing how Star Wars did it to how this movie does it, and the audience has to deal with not getting a genuinely new experience. As reboot-sequels go, it's one of the very best. But it's still a reboot-sequel.

Max von Sydow is one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century, and it's always a pleasure to see him onscreen. But his character here doesn't work. He spouts a bunch of mumbo jumbo that isn't grounded in anything. He has a history with characters we care about, but we didn't get to see any of that history. He got this chunk of the map to Luke Skywalker, but we aren't privvy to how.

The biggest innovation of the early part of the movie is Stormtrooper FN-2187, who experiences death close up for the first time and chooses not to obey immoral orders. Finn is a character we haven't seen before, and he's a character that doesn't have a clear analog in A New Hope. Just his presence shakes up how scenes play out, and keeps the movie from feeling stale. The sequence aboard the Star Destroyer where Finn frees Poe Dameron, they escape in a TIE Fighter, and then crash land back on Jakku is genuinely thrilling.

There is a sequencing problem in this early part of the movie that Lucas wouldn't have made. In Star Wars movies, after the pan down from the opening crawl, new characters are only introduced when characters we've already met encounter them. The smash cut to Rey scavenging in the buried Star Destroyer violates this rule. The only change that would have been needed to obey the rule would be to have BB-8 find Rey first, then witness her scrounging routine through the droid's point of view.

Rey is an interesting protagonist, because she's been on her own for a great many years. Luke and Leia were both sheltered in different ways before they had greatness thrust upon them. But Rey's had to fend for herself. Accordingly, she is more mature than Luke was at the beginning of his journey. Even before she starts to use the Force, she's got a useful set of skills -- particularly, strong aptitudes for mechanical work and languages.

Rey and Finn's escape from Jakku delights me every time I watch the movie. The reveal of the Falcon is perfectly executed, and the whole sequence has a wonderful energy from these two kids going on an adventure unsupervised. They both feel a bit naughty about it, which is part of the fun for them, and they both realize they bring more to the table than they might have thought.

Han and Chewbacca finding the Falcon so quickly works for me, and doesn't feel like a coincidence. Rey states that it hasn't flown in years, and I can buy that it needs to leave the planet's atmosphere for Han and Chewbacca's intergalactic LoJack to work.

Han Solo in this movie is perfect. Rolling right from Return of the Jedi last night into The Force Awakens tonight, it's kind of staggering just how much continuity there is in performance. The return of Han Solo easily couldn't have been a disappointment, but Harrison Ford in this movie is exactly who we want him to be. It's a bit of an ask to believe that Han Solo would go back to smuggling after saving the galaxy and shacking up with perhaps the most famous woman in the galaxy. But the sequence on board the freighter is classic Han Solo, and then once they're untangled from that mess, you see the idealist underneath the hardened cynic slowly rise to the surface again.

Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is interesting for just how subpar of a villain he is, I think intentionally. Darth Vader was the real deal. Kylo Ren is just a poser. This movie never really adequately justifies his embrace of the Dark Side. He idolizes the infamous grandfather he never met and doesn't understand. He resents the hell out of the famous parents who are beloved heroes to the public at large. There's a certain petulant superficiality to his whole crusade. His lack of conviction may be part of why he fails.

Up until her capture, I think this movie does a really good job of portraying Rey's emerging connection to the Force. On Jakku, she's a pretty preternaturally gifted pilot. But so was Anakin, even before Qui-Gon found him. The way the Force called her to Anakin's old lightsaber, and the Force vision she experienced when she touched it, speak to the larger and unknowable currents of the Force. I really appreciated the depiction of the Force vision, with bits of the past and bits of the future and abstract symbolic imagery all thrown together at once. The first time I really call foul is when she uses Force persuasion to manipulate the Daniel Craig stormtrooper and escape from the interrogation chamber. The moment plays, because the audience remembers Obi-Wan doing it to the stormtroopers in A New Hope and Luke doing it to Jabba's henchmen in Return of the Jedi. But Obi-Wan was a Jedi Master with decades of training in the use of the Force under his belt. Luke had seen the technique firsthand, and perhaps learned more about it from Yoda. Rey doesn't have any of that background. It helps that Kylo Ren goes into the final lightsaber battle injured from Chewbacca's crossbow blast. But even so, someone with years of training like him should have been able to easily defeat someone who just realized they could use the Force within the last day or so.

While I have issues with Rey winning the lightsaber battle at the end, it was a joy to see the lightsaber fighting rendered so effectively. There were a lot of moments with the first three movies where the lightsaber effects just werent quite right. Here, they look great when the clash, and they slice through the obstacles in the surrounding environment like butter.

Poe's survival felt like a cheat. If they wanted him to survive, we should have gotten to see that journey.

Han Solo's death is one of the few truly cinematic moments in the movie. The way the sun finally goes out after Kylo Ren has made his fateful choice gives me chills. It's the biggest, ballsiest swing in the movie. And while it's another beat lifted from A New Hope -- where Darth Vader struck down Obi-Wan -- it plays in a whole different way because of the specific relationships and dynamics underpinning it.

The second ballsiest swing in the movie is the decision to make Luke Skywalker the MacGuffin. The journey on this point doesn't quite work. First, it doesn't make sense that R2D2 would have the entire map except for the one little pieces BB-8 was storing. While R2D2 came out of hibernation mode also isn't adequately explained. But the final scene is both one hell of an entrance, and one hell of a cliffhanger.
 

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Subversion of expectations is on full display in this film with turning Luke Skywalker into a MacGuffin and giving him about 30 seconds of non-speaking screen time at the very end. Dramatically speaking it really works though. It’s a fun film and works best when it concentrates on the new characters. I still think it’s super lame how much it borrows from A New Hope, but I enjoyed it as much as ever during my recent viewing of it.
 

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The biggest innovation of the early part of the movie is Stormtrooper FN-2187, who experiences death close up for the first time and chooses not to obey immoral orders
And then proceeds to mercilessly murder those same stormtroopers from his unit soon after and throughout the film. ;)
 

Greg.K

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The Falcon just being right there on Jakku just seemed like an extremely contrived coincidence to me. It makes the whole galaxy seem as large as a small town. And I do have some issues with how easily Rey is able to steal it and can fly it (and later is able to keep up with Han talking about the ship). But their escape and the flight through the bowels of the crashed Star Destroyer was a lot of fun.

I also didn't really like Han Solo's reverting back to his smuggling ways, but that bothered me less on my recent rewatch than it did originally. Harrison Ford does give a classic Han Solo performance here which makes up for a lot. I especially liked the bit where he fired Chewie's bowcaster, for apparently the first time ever.
 

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I think since Rey has learned to take ships apart for survival, it'd be strange for her not to know her way around a cockpit. The movies opens with her looking like she knows exactly what she's looking for. Makes sense she'd be able to talk shop with any mechanic.
 

Robert Crawford

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I think since Rey has learned to take ships apart for survival, it'd be strange for her not to know her way around a cockpit. The movies opens with her looking like she knows exactly what she's looking for. Makes sense she'd be able to talk shop with any mechanic.
A good point. I just finished watching "The Force Awakens" again. I hope in "The Rise of Skywalker" they not only address Rey's heritage, but how she seem so advance in "The Force" so quickly.
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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The Falcon just being right there on Jakku just seemed like an extremely contrived coincidence to me.
As as audience member, though, I allow it because it's basically the only coincidence. Everything that happens after they steal it is causation, not coincidence.

I think since Rey has learned to take ships apart for survival, it'd be strange for her not to know her way around a cockpit. The movies opens with her looking like she knows exactly what she's looking for. Makes sense she'd be able to talk shop with any mechanic.
When she's talking to Han in the cockpit, it's pretty clear that she was hired to do quite a bit of work on the Falcon while it sat there. So while it's true that her history as a scavenger gives her a really strong background as a mechanic. But in this case she had worked on the specific ship.

A good point. I just finished watching "The Force Awakens" again. I hope in "The Rise of Skywalker" they not only address Rey's heritage, but how she seem so advance in "The Force" so quickly.
I agree with this. Her heritage is the one thing from The Last Jedi that I hope gets retconned. This trilogy of trilogies is about three generations of Skywalkers. I need to know why her heritage plays into that story.
 

Josh Steinberg

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They don’t need to retcon anything from The Last Jedi, because the film doesn’t give us an objectively definitive perspective to be undone. Rey is told one thing about her parentage from an adversary who is trying to persuade her to join his side; there’s absolutely no indication given as to whether or not what’s discussed is true. It’s only shown that Rey, in a moment of distress, seems to believe what she’s being told.
 

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They don’t need to retcon anything from The Last Jedi, because the film doesn’t give us an objectively definitive perspective to be undone. Rey is told one thing about her parentage from an adversary who is trying to persuade her to join his side; there’s absolutely no indication given as to whether or not what’s discussed is true. It’s only shown that Rey, in a moment of distress, seems to believe what she’s being told.
But remember it’s REY who says her parents were nobodies. She wasn’t told by Kylo.
 

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