Neo Special - Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

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Neo Special - Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Gundamn! @ MAHQ - Neo Special - "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review"
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Episode Summary:
Reporting from the field, Neo Lorrnoke reviews the blockbuster hit, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"! WARNING: Spoilers inside!

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Re: Neo Special - Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Neo, I thought you gave a really rounded review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You looked at both sides of things, which I appreciated. From what I've heard so far of the "first impressions" podcast on Chaos Theater after yours, it's generally leaning toward a "4.5 or 5 BB-8 droids out of 5." I think your "3.5 out of 5" is more accurate, personally.

Your review essentially mirrors the core of my thoughts. It was a fun movie with good production values, but fairly underwhelming as a whole--especially when compared to the gigantic hype behind it and commercial success it has had. It gives a fairly strong first impression in many ways, but the more I think about it, the more I take issue with a number of the decisions. There was way too much of, as you put it, "Star Wars' Greatest Hits." It telegraphed a lot, as a result, which is part of why
Han's death felt less shocking and impactful than it probably could have been. It wasn't bad, but I could kind of see it coming based on the series' history.

Also, its pacing and plot ultimately seemed to come across as a number of linked TV episodes compared to earlier Star Wars films; and even though I'm not a big fan of the Prequels, TFA had far less innovation, sense of scope, or defined identity of its own compared to them. As you noted, there were a number of weird things.
Kylo Ren wasn't much different from the young Anakin that has been maligned by so many fans for his temperament, and there were some odd (seeming) story holes that were conveniently glossed over, like how Luke's lightsaber ended up where it did intact, or how The First Order was going to pick up Kylo Ren for Snoke to "complete his training" when they were in disarray, trying to figure out if they should abandon their base, and the planet was exploding minutes later. Plus, lightsabers were hitting targets left and right in the finale, but the damage done--particularly to Kylo Ren--was far less costly. Am I supposed to believe that none of those were direct hits? And beyond that, why is Luke that important in the grand scheme of the galaxy at this point? That's what the movie was cast upon, like a McGuffin, but it wasn't clear to me why people were essentially fighting a proxy war over one man getting on in his years. Moreover, the recasting of the Empire to more closely mirror a certain party from WWII didn't feel right to me. Like many things you mentioned--including Rey's rise to Force Master--it felt either too convenient and/or conventional to me.
There are a lot of things I could get into, but I think your summary hit the core of things. Still,
I was hoping to hear your thoughts on the surprisingly cameo-like usage of the surprisingly inept Captain Phasma, and the enigmatic Snoke (who is seemingly Zentradi-sized and apparently somehow seduced Ben Solo away from Luke Skywalker). Those developments were also odd to me.
...I guess I'll touch on a few more things:

I think one of the things that struck me, when compared to A New Hope, is that there wasn't a ton of tension. There wasn't one scene as intense as Luke and Co. screaming and struggling in the Death Star garbage disposal block. In fact,
they even started breaking the fourth wall, winking to the fans, with jokes about there always being a garbage disposal, or "I'll drop my weapon, too" in terms of Jedi mind trick afterthoughts. They were a few steps shy of jumping the shark in some scenes, and making this a wink-filled pastiche of the past.
And with that tension, the action sequences, particularly the one-on-ones, weren't as interesting as some of the things we'd seen before. Thinking about the Prequels, for all their problems, the fights versus Darth Maul, or Jango Fett in the rain, or Dooku were more cinematically charged than what we saw here overall. The biggest innovation in terms of action/cinema in this was having
more terrestrial-based combat with traditionally space-based craft. Yet, there, you even have some curious choices. Why no TIE Bombers for air strikes, for example?
Now, quickly, I thought the acting and casting of the new heroes--Rey, Finn, Poe--was much better than what was seen in the Prequels, but some of the uneven ways the characters themselves were developed and positioned in the plot make me wonder how their arcs will be kept interesting for two more movies. The villains, aside from Snoke (who was unique in terms of his seemingly large size and mysterious in his sudden rise to power), didn't leave a very strong impression on me, though.

But I digress. The movie did what it had to do, which is restore faith in people who were 100% turned off by the Prequels. But by doing so,
it has sort of reset the story back to Episode IV and potentially bottlenecked a lot of plot threads. (I mean, they literally annihilated the core of the New Republic with the "not-Death Star" before we even got to see what it was like so that things could be simplified back to Rebels vs. Empire, but reskinned.)
This was largely Star Wars' version of Gundam Unicorn. I had fun with it, and it wasn't without its merits, but it didn't leave me hyped. Within that "fun," rather than hype, I felt more "confused" about what I saw, actually, and how I should feel about it. I think there needs to be a fresher and more daring approach to Episode VIII and IX; and like you, for better or worse, I'm now curious what Lucas had planned in his story treatments by comparison.
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