Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On The Force Awakens

  • I didn’t want to write about The Force Awakens right when I saw it because of spoilers and whatnot, and then I forgot to do it entirely; I just re-watched it, so let’s give this bullshit a whirl.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a deeply slight movie that doesn’t have a plot: a series of coincidences occur while people Star Wars at each other.
  • Except for Oscar Isaac, who thinks he’s in a Sidney Lumet film about junkies in Alphabet City.
  • We’ll get to him.
  • The creative team took all the elements from the OT (Only Trilogy) and mixed them up in a hat, then drew at random.
  • This is not to say the film is not enjoyable: I giggled and cheered and oohed and aahed just as I had upon first viewing.
  • You care about the old characters, and the new, and the Falcon is back and there’s a Secret Villain that the heretofore main villain kneels in front of.
  • Tobacco the Space Monkey.
  • So if I quibble, don’t take it as thumbs-down: This Star Wars product fulfilled this consumer’s needs, and I am interested in seeing further Star Wars products.
  • Anyway, we start with the crawling words bit because if you leave that out there will be a riot in the theater.
  • Then there is a remix of the opening scene from Star Wars.
  • (A reminder: I will not call the first movie “A New Hope” and the prequels do not exist. Thank you.)
  • Stormtroopers from the First Order come down to Jakku and start shooting people; there is a space flamethrower deployed at one point.
  • They are chasing Poe Dameron, who is talking to Max von Sydow and there are secret plans or some nonsense.
  • The secret plans are on a flash drive, and I feel that J.J. Abrams missed an opportunity at this point to add another Star Wars reference and use this one:
  • lobot flash drive
  • BoTotD gave me that for Christmas one year.
  • But then Poe Dameron hears a noise and, using the same binoculars Luke used, checks things out.
  • He gives BB-8 the space macguffin and tells the droid to roll into the desert to hide.
  • They are on a desert planet because of course they are.
  • Then Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma show up and they are so very evil.
  • They’re not even trying to hide it: one’s in a black cloak and scary mask, and the other’s in a chrome death suit.
  • Kylo Ren kills Max von Sydow and then interrogates Poe.
  • Acting is all about choices, and Oscar Isaac made the choice to play his character as Space Serpico.
  • Poe Dameron, you are my prisoner!
  • In the Star Wars Universe, people get taken prisoner (ineffectually) three or four times a week.
  • I say ineffectually because in the Star Wars Universe, prisoners are immediately brought to the place they were trying to break into.
  • While this is happening, a Stormtrooper is having a crisis of conscience; the filmmakers have helpfully had a dying buddy smear blood on his helmet so we could tell our hero from the rest of the ‘troopers.
  • It should be noted at this point that Star Wars is a visual and emotional world, not an intellectual one, and it always has been; you can’t analyze any of this as if it’s supposed to, you know, make any sense.
  • Stormtroopers are now snatched up as children during raids and conditioned to die for the First Order, which is not the way a professional army does things.
  • That Kony guy did it that way.
  • Did we stop him?
  • Now we meet Rey: she is scavenging in the broken remains of a Star Destroyer, which is an excellent metaphor for this movie and one that the writers and director must surely have been aware of.
  • If you give the movie’s creators credit for being at least as smart as you are, this whole movie plays like a meta-fictional observation on Star Wars, fan service, franchises in general, and the concept of the reboot; with different performances from the leads, The Force Awakens could easily be camp.
  • Luckily, the three youngsters and three old guns play it straight and let you get invested in the story, but make no mistake: The Force Awakens knows what it’s doing.
  • She has a landspeeder and a bo staff; also, like all desert scavengers, she has perfect teeth and a milky complexion.
  • And a British accent, which are distributed randomly in this film: the bad guy general has one, but none of the officers do; John Boyega (Finn) is British, but uses an impeccable American accent.
  • Maybe Daisy Ridley just couldn’t do one, and J.J. Abrams said “Fuck it, be British.”
  • Anyway, Rey does a bunch of scavenging that reveals her character (Plucky! Resourceful! On her own!) and eats some space food while Star Wars happens around her
  • Gonk droid!
  • Moisture vaporators!
  • A pretty white person standing on a sand dune in beige leggings and a tunic!
  • We smash our toys together in the playgrounds of our fathers.
  • Cut back to the Star Destroyer hovering above the planet, where Finn decides to defect and escape the clutches of the First Order; he rescues Poe Dameron, entering his cell like Luke coming into Leia’s cell on the Death Star and removing his helmet in the same way.
  • To which Poe Dameron responds, “Aren’t you a little black to be a Stormtrooper?”
  • I made that up and it was wrong of me to do so.
  • They begin to make love to each other with their eyes, and then consummate their union symbolically by freeing the tether on a TIE Fighter and shooting their way out of the Star Destroyer.
  • It’s a sex scene.
  • After watching The Force Awakens in the theater, I lost interest in Star Wars (UNTIL THE NEW ROGUE ONE TRAILER OMFG #STARWARSCOUNTDOWN) but read here and there Poe and Finn’s relationship had been noticed by both Tumblr and sources more academic as being–for lack of a better term–completely gay; I scoffed at this as overreach.
  • I was wrong.
  • They love each other.
  • And, as with the self-and-meta-referential moments in the movie, I have to believe the two actors were doing it on purpose: there is an intent behind their shared gazes that is both palpable and unmistakable.
  • Poe and Finn, sittin’ in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.
  • On the surface, they’re “shooting” the bad guys with their “cannons” but we know what’s going down above Jakku.
  • And then bad guys blast them out of the sky and they crash-land on the planet within walking distance of Rey because you shouldn’t think about that.
  • Rey has found BB-8 somewhere in here and people want to buy it, but they’re also working for the Order, and though I just watched this movie, I have forgotten it already it.
  • Rey also speaks droid, and this brings up a charge some on the innertubes have leveled against her, because accusing fictional characters of things is a favored activity of the innertubes: that she is a Mary Sue.
  • The character that can do anything, solve any problem, and knows everything.
  • Batman.
  • And, of course, there’s an inherent but arguable sexism inherent in the term and the accusation, but no matter: it’s simply not true.
  • Rey can’t do everything.
  • She can fix the Falcon better than Han or Chewie, and speak both alien and droid languages, and she’s a better pilot than trained TIE aviators, and she can beat up two assailants twice her size, and literally never misses a blaster shot despite having never used one before Han hands one to her, and she can lightsaber-duel a trained Jedi to a standstill.
  • That’s not everything.
  • She was, however, instantly a master of whatever skill the movie required of her at the time.
  • Anyway, Finn and Rey meet up because Finn is wearing his boyfriend’s jacket and BB-8 recognizes it.
  • Poe has supposedly died in the crash; in reality, the writers couldn’t figure out what to do with him in the second act.
  • Finn starts treating Rey like a girly-girl, which makes no sense: his Stormtrooper boss was a woman, which implies a certain gender balance in the Order, but he comes on like he’s heard of women but never actually met one.
  • The whole bit is grating, honestly.
  • They are being shot at by TIE Fighters and Stormtroopers and things are going PEW PEW and there is running.
  • Luckily, our heroes are in the Star Wars Universe, where you are always within sight of the most helpful object, and there she is: the Millennium Falcon.
  • Lying out there like a killer in the sun.
  • Rey knows how to fly it, because she needs to, and Finn hops on the laser cannons, which are loaded even though the ship has been sitting in a scrapyard.
  • And whereas up until now we have gotten a reboot, here we get a remix: Finn shoots using the same blocky, 16-bit targeting computer as Luke and Han in the first movie, while Rey maneuvers the Falcon through narrow metal tunnels like Lando in the third.
  • (Yes, yes: Nein Numb helped.)
  • ALL THE STAR WARS AT ONCE.
  • There is also a problem with the motivator on the Falcon, which is a very Star Wars problem to have, but our heroes escape and immediately get swallowed by a ship that looks like a whale shark.
  • They are boarded and prepare to kill the intruders using poison gas.
  • It is at this point that I note two things.
  • One: Star Wars has never been shy about killing people; all of the good guys are murderers many times over.
  • Two: this post is going to end up being 5,000 words long, so I’m going to split it up.
  • If you didn’t enjoy this, then you should skip the next one.
  • Although if you’re still reading, I think we can assume reader satisfaction.
  • Lemme pee and I’ll finish.
  • May the Force be with you.

2 Comments

  1. And may the be also with you.

  2. For Poe and Finn…
    http://youtu.be/MIM6MyHPVcM

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