STAR WARS editorial: The Force Awakens and the Future

DISCLAIMER: During this editorial, I will be referencing spoilers. So if you have not seen the recent EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS or any other Star Wars film, then you might want to avoid reading further. You have been fairly warned.

The highly anticipated STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS has come and now it is mostly gone from the cinemas. How many records did it break? What records did it almost break? Who’s counting that shit? Personally, I loved it. Saw it five times in the theatres. I didn’t write a review of it on WordPress, but I gave it a strong 4/5. Naturally, I’m not the only one who threw their opinion out there and it’s been a fun ride talking about it and comparing and contrasting. The film was a lot of fun, funny, intense, all around enjoyable and plays on your nostalgia like a boss. Rey is a great female lead, portrayed flawlessly by Daisy Ridley (by the way, there’s fan buzz of Ridley being the rebooted Lara Croft TOMB RAIDER movie. Fuckin’ on board with that idea). Finn is a fun character as well, also portrayed great by John Boyega. It’s great to see Harrison Ford reprise his role as Han Solo and take up the role of Obi-Wan from A NEW HOPE, Carrie Fisher as Leia, now General as opposed to Princess, oh man, I can gush all day long. The cast is just phenomenal.

Obviously, the film is not without its flaws. There are bouts of awkward writing, even bad. Snoak is an unimpressive CGI leftover from I AM LEGEND, and for love of mother fucking god I can’t stand Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. Seriously, worst Star Wars villain ever. Phasma is quickly shaping up to be the next gen cinematic Boba Fett: built up to be a bad-ass, executed to be a bitch. The Starkiller base meets an anticlimactic end (The Nostalgia Critic’s Doug Walker had pitched a much better idea. If interested his review is below).

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A few political questions weren’t answered, honestly, I’ll just cut myself off there and close it by saying this film had weaknesses. But it almost didn’t matter because of how well it was executed. In the moment, I didn’t care about the flaws, I’m just having a blast and I can’t wait to own this movie on Blu-Ray.

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But this is old news, am I right? Time to talk about what’s going to be new! Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing the inevitable reality that because AWAKENS was such a gargantuan titan of a hit, Disney has set the ambitious bar for itself to release a Star Wars movie every year. Oh yeah, folks, get comfortable because this movie franchise really isn’t going anywhere. I for one am not complaining in the slightest, but let’s discuss and nerdgasm about the two more immediate movies on the horizon. While we won’t get EPISODE VIII: TITLE AS OF NOW UNDECIDED until 2017, we are going to get the spin-off ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY later this year.

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Details are pretty scarce right now, but what I personally do know is that is stars the unbelievably talented Felicity Jones, who co-starred in 2014’s THEORY OF EVERYTHING, Forest Whitaker, who needs no introduction, Mads Mikkelsen, the villain of 2006’s 007 CASINO ROYALE, and Alan Tudyk for you fans of the TV show FIREFLY and his extensive career. Also, this movie takes place before EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE.

While I am more than excited see this cast in a Star Wars movie, I do have to express my disappointment about a few things. Primarily the subject matter: how the Death Star plans got stolen from the Empire and into Leia’s hands. We should be done with this story about the original trilogy. There’s plenty of stories being told on that front thanks to that animated show REBELS. If ROGUE ONE was smart, it would actually spend time on giving us more information about the factions at play in this new trilogy. What exactly is the First Order? Sure, the Empite didn’t have much explanation as to where it came from (as far as the original trilogy was concerned), but through dialog, we can piece together that the Empire, rather recently, finally destroyed the last of the old Republic. But I don’t recall a single line of where the First Order came from. “From the ashes of the Empire” makes sense from the Robot Chicken standpoint, but there’s still plenty of unanswered questions. The Empire, thanks to Palpatine’s influence, gathered enough resources to build two Death Stars, albeit only one completed. Where the hell did the First Order get the resources to build Starkiller? Not only is it more dangerous, as it has the capabilities of destroying multiple planets, but it’s… what, three, four, five times bigger? A bit unimaginative also, but whatever. Also, why is there a Resistance and a Republic? What’s their relation and why is Leia a part of it and not the Republic? The politics is pretty confusing and it’d be wise for EPISODE VIII to not dwell on this. But since ROGUE ONE isn’t following that line of logic, we will have to assume that VIII will explain the politics… or worse, won’t. Not a wise move either way, but any explanation would be better than none at all. But that’s what I wish ROGUE ONE would be, not what it will be. It’s a Disney property, chances are it won’t suck, but it’s not a story we the fans were asking for or certainly going to answer any questions that we have regarding this new set of movies. Obviously, it’s still Star Wars and I’ll see it. I just feel like I’m going to see it and walk away thinking how pointless a movie it was. Honestly, at best, the only real contribution I can see this movie playing is these rebel soldiers happen upon the plans for the Death Star and Starkiller. But then why would there be no mention of it in the original trilogy? Won’t know until it comes out, I guess.

But now let’s jump ahead to the real movie we want to see, EPISODE VIII!

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Since ROGUE ONE most likely won’t answer any questions, I’m hoping we’ll get a simple and brief explanation of the politics. But what else?

I kind of expect an EMPIRE throwback in Rey’s training with Luke. My only concern is that Rey will be too much like Luke. Like, she’ll be asking too many questions that have no answers, or complain and give up too easily. I want to see Rey embrace her destiny and surrender to her training and to the Force. Absorb everything that Luke is teaching her, adapt. That’s the primary thing I want to see Rey do. She’s had a hard-fought emotional journey to leave Jakku and accept the new direction her life is taking. I don’t want to see a retread.

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For FUCK sake PLEASE write Kylo Ren better! Throw away that whiny attitude, learn to be calm and collected. Learn to work with General Hux, instead of bickering like school kids. Be professionals, guys! You’re slinging immaturity around your subordinates and in front of Snoak… who has no reaction to this dick measuring contest at all.

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Snoak could benefit from some development too. I don’t care if it’s a full-on explanation of where he came from, but a demonstration of his powers would be nice. Otherwise he’s just the Thanos of the Star Wars universe. Disney, get that shit battened down! You’re villains sucking is traversing your realms! That’s not a good thing!

Oh em gee, I would love to see what Leia could do. Let me elaborate, you cannot convince me that Luke didn’t teach Leia something about the Force. Look, she doesn’t have to be full Jedi, lightsaber and all, but at least some measure of talent with the Force. Like deflecting blaster bolts with her hands, something like that. Also, see some real tactical input, really showcase being a general giving orders, coming up with plans, that kind of thing. I might even prefer that over Force-wielding. Both would make her so bad-ass, but actually being a tactical leader should be the primary concern if she is going to have a decent role.

Please God, do not make Luke mopey. Or overly harsh. He’s the new Yoda, basically. I mean, he probably shouldn’t have Yoda’s goofy comedy moments (doubtful they’d do that considering how they introduced him in AWAKENS), but he should have a reflection of Yoda’s wisdom. In fact, since Luke had been tempted by the dark side in JEDI, he could have some unique input on the Force that even Yoda didn’t teach. Which, could we see some of that in Rey? Imagine it for a second, a unique use of the dark side’s powers, but never fall into it. How awesome would that be? Not to mention make Rey and Luke more complex characters. Real threats to Snoak, Hux, and Kylo Ren. Oh, and Luke, Leia, and Rey need to be in the same room battle planning.

Of course, everyone needs needs a little more Poe Dameron and Finn. While I wouldn’t mind seeing a relationship blossom between Finn and Rey, it’d be nice if there was a Star Wars story that didn’t need to have one, but clearly Finn is attracted to Rey, so it’s a strong possibility. No real complaints if it goes in that direction.

Out of the new villains, the only one I really liked was General Hux. Never mind that he’s Domhnall Gleeson and he chewed the scenery like a tough guy who eats a bowl of cereal without any milk, but he seems to be the only character who maintains a sense of composure that Kylo Ren never did. I want to see him in a battle room dishing out commands, outwitting General Leia, getting beat by General Leia, once again, being a tactical leader.

If Phasma is going to be in the next movie, which I’m pretty sure it was confirmed that she will be, please make her do bad-ass things. Seriously, I don’t watch the movies between movies, I see what’s on screen. Phasma has been humiliated and tossed around like a bitch. If you’re going to have a character whose design is that cool, played by an actress that awesome, then you need to have a strong character to complement that. Otherwise it’s a total waste.

Oh, I should also tackle the subject of who’s whose kid. Is Rey a Skywalker? Doubtful. She has an English accent. Someone mentioned a theory that she’s a Kenobi, but Obi-Wan was a devout Jedi. I doubt he bumped uglies with with some Tatooine floozy. Plus the ages don’t match up. Honestly, I don’t want her to be related to anyone. Would it be so bad if she was just a young woman with the capacity to use the Force? But a relationship with someone from the core trilogy would explain Kylo Ren’s weird obsession with Rey. But she being a Skywalker doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Aside from the accent, she was abandoned on an entire planet by herself to be looked after by an agent of the First Order, the junk dealer Unkar Plutt. I doubt Luke would do that, and then once his name is dropped on the Millennium Falcon that her eyes would light up like they did. My guess is that Luke is a legend that she admires and they share a destiny. That’s all. But then why does Kylo Ren have that weird obsession with her? Probably some kind of Force dream about her when he was training under the Knights of Ren. And her reaction to meeting Luke for the first time doesn’t speak like a daughter seeing her father for the first time in decades, but rather, “dude, I went through a great deal of shit to bring you this saber, you’re a grade-A bearded bowl of awesome-sauce,” and Luke’s reaction is definitely not one of a father seeing his daughter for the first time in a long time either. So I’m calling it: no relation.

It would be awesome if Lando would make an appearance, but there’s no report of Billy Dee Williams’ involvement in the next movie yet. Here’s to hoping though.

And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t think my poor Peruvian heart can take the death of another OG character’s death. I can’t, I just can’t. At least not two movies in a row. Save it for the EPISODE IX.

And no more spherical weapons of mass destruction. I don’t want to see another Starkiller. The one we got was too brief and still wore out its welcome. Let’s get some creativity going on this front if we need another planet buster, but leave spheres out of it.

I think I covered just about everything else that I want to see. By the end of the day, the Star Wars movies have likely been mapped out as extensively as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever choices the filmmakers have made are the choices we the audience have to live with. I have high hopes that we will see great films coming out, but as good as AWAKENS was, I sure do hope that the creators of this new series are open to changes and acknowledge that there is room for improvement. But no matter what happens, I am devoted Star Wars fan. Always have been, always will be. I will be there with a packed wallet, a craving for popcorn, and an eagerness to be taken on a journey through that galaxy far, far away.

My honest opinion: it’s an exciting time for cinema and it’s time to enjoy the ride.

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