Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Now that I watched the new Star Wars twice, the second time in glorious IMAX, I think I’m better equipped to dish out more informed observations and hypotheses. And of course, spoilers are to come.

Disclaimer: The Prequels and extended universe don’t exist *waves hand*. Also, the quotes I use are paraphrases, I didn’t bother to look up the exact ones.

  • Before I start, I encourage any fan to watch the movie twice. The underlying gravitas of the movie only got to me once the “OMG, Star Wars is back” cheeriness had passed.
  • Speaking of gravitas, this isn’t just an Original Trilogy-tier Star Wars film. To me, this is neck-and-neck with Episode V: Empire Strikes Back. It is very much a play-by-play of Episode IV: A New Hope, but the weightiness of ESB is very much present here, perhaps due to modern cinema tropes and CGI advancements.
  • Now onto nitpicks. When Han dies, I’ve heard discussions regarding Chewbacca, whether he went rampaging in retaliation or him simply carrying on like nothing had happened. Well, I still couldn’t tell the second time around, since Chewbacca isn’t a very emotive character to begin with (less than the droids, even). I couldn’t sense any violent, aggressive edge to Chewie post-Han’s death either, just him being visibly distraught after Rey and co. return to the Resistance base on D’Qar.
  • Another detail I picked up: It was ultimately Leia’s fault that Han died, having convinced him that Kylo Ren “still had light in him”. Han was hesitant beforehand.
  • Everyone’s up in arms about where Captain Phasma had gone off to. If we’re being cynical, she probably died via trash compactor as implied by Han, meaning the intimidating, second-in-command-ish “chrometrooper” Phasma would’ve died as the butt of a cheap throwback joke. Yeah, probably not true.
  • Rather than disappointed, I’m pretty excited about Phasma in future episodes. A personal theory is that she’s a conspirator against Kylo Ren, and that she’s vying for the apprentice role to Snoke’s master role (based on the Rule of Two). This leads her to being easy on Finn, Han, and Chewie when bringing the shields down and rescuing Rey, and letting them do the dirty work. Could make a great plot and a point of contention within the First Order, which we haven’t yet seen in the Dark Side. Although, we don’t know yet whether or not she’s Force-sensitive, a distinct feature of previous apprentices.
  • But what about Maz Kanata, where’d she go?
  • Another area of complaint I’ve seen discussed was Rey’s “sudden” adeptness in combat and use of the Force. Regarding combat, it could be an inherited trait from her lineage (in which Luke is speculated to be part of, particularly him being Rey’s father), but I’d wager that it’s simply from her experiences on Jakku. We’ve also seen her take down two thieves on Jakku before encountering Finn, as well as outrunning Finn and stopping him with her staff.
  • What I think is inherited from her lineage is her use of the Force, hence implying relation to Luke. But how’d she get so good at it? Simple: It’s stated that the Force’s purpose is to bring balance between the Dark Side and the Light. Before Rey discovers her powers, Kylo is the only active user of the Force in the Star Wars universe, given Luke has little use of his powers living as a hermit, and Leia isn’t Force-sensitive/uses it sparingly. The only way to counteract that is to bestow such powers onto Rey, perhaps even greater than Kylo’s to make up for “Light side deficit”, if we look at it mathematically.
  • When Rey co-pilots for Han on the way to Maz’s cantina, she remarks how she didn’t know “there was this much green (plantation) in the entire galaxy”. Han then blatantly stares at her for a while - a good two seconds, at least - perhaps showing sympathy, thus awareness of Rey’s origin and upbringing. Again, fuels the fire of the “Luke is Rey’s father” theory...
  • …or Han is Rey’s father. The similarities between Rey and Han might’ve not just been foreshadowing of Han’s death. Plus, I’ve yet to encounter contradictory evidence.
  • Finn isn’t dead. He’s clearly breathing when Rey kisses him on the forehead and leaves.
  • The length of Finn’s hair changes between acts. Rey’s tears disappear and reappear during her interrogation scene with Kylo. Just putting that out there.
  • Finn mentions a massacre on Han’s freighter, which Rey asks about. I think it alludes to Luke asking Obi Wan about the Clone Wars in Episode IV. Could it be referring to Kylo Ren’s massacre of Luke’s Padawans?
  • Finn also mentions being in the sanitation department during his tenure in the First Order. So how did he end up being sent to Jakku in the opening scene? Clearly there was no deficiency of Stormtroopers, so why him?
  • The final thing I want to address is the frustration over Starkiller Base, aka “Death Star 3”, and how “easy” it was to destroy as the last one. Well, it wasn’t. It required a much more elaborate plan than shooting a vulnerable opening with Force powers, as Luke does in Episode IV - not to mention a very specific skill set from the Resistance. Firstly, a shield was present and could only be bypassed by anything travelling at lightspeed, as well as the piloting skills and timing Han had. Only Poe was a credible alternative, but he had to lead the fleet into the oscillator. Even then, they nearly crashed into a mountain and ended up nearly flying off a cliff. I’d say they were a bit lucky.
  • Speaking of luck, they were incredibly lucky to have the sole defector of the entire First Order, Finn, with them at the Resistance base. Only he could locate Phasma once Han and co. were on Starkiller Base (how is beyond me).
  • The plan nearly failed when a big enough opening couldn’t be found on the oscillator. Only when Chewie detonated the chamber they were in - right as Poe and co. were ready to give up - were his fleet able to efficiently assault the Base’s weak points. It's deus ex machina like that only Star Wars could get away with.

That’s all I have to say about that. I recommend listening to The Incomparable’s Episode VII discussion if you’ve still got a Star Wars itch left to scratch (and a whopping three and a half hours to spare).