Star Wars Episode VII - Atoning for the Prequels

Discussion in 'Star Wars Movies' started by Joelist, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    As we all know, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the latest cinematic chapter in the Star Wars saga. After the three classic original films we had the prequels which were to me three of the worst movies ever made. And of course there was the literary world of the EU which ran the gamut from good to appalling in quality, the video games, toys, merchandise and so forth. It was against this backdrop that Disney bought Lucasfilm with the intent of moving the Star Wars franchise back into active status. And after a long and in spots controversial process the end product is now in theatres.

    So, how is it?

    The Plot

    The story is interesting in that it is both simple but there is depth in the right places. It also knows well what to explain and what can be left to the imagination. As a result, it is focused and not difficult to follow. As reviews in the media have said it resembles the plot for the Original Star Wars but only in more general terms – it is far from a copy/remake.

    It is in this plot that one can see the results of a decision made by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy that instantly perked up the Star Wars fan community; bringing in Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark) to both co-author the script and make sure the end product had the correct plot threads and elements to be “Star Wars”. All of the plot elements in the film fit perfectly into the Star Wars “canon”, the characters and their dialogue are right and so forth.

    Part of the plot of course is the characters and how they are drawn. And they are overall drawn well. Some characters that people expected to get more time were only there briefly (Captain Phasma, Poe Dameron). This was part of keeping the story focused on three of the new characters (Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren) plus Han Solo. Leia and other OT characters were present but more background. And like I said, they were sufficiently well drawn to let the actors really inhabit the characters which leads to…

    The Acting

    The acting was definitely a cut above what one would have expected and indeed compared to the flat, lifeless performances in the prequels it was a breath of fresh air. Harrison Ford gave a great performance as Han Solo – for the first time in years he felt like he really cared about a part and wasn’t just going through the motions. Daisy Ridley as Ren was impressive in both action and in inhabiting her character, who turned out to be more complex than originally let on. Likewise John Boyega was superb as ex-Stormtrooper Finn with guilt conflicting with determination. That brings me to what to me was the shock of the film – Adam Driver was amazing as Kylo Ren. It was a layered performance capturing not just evil but also lack of control and a burgeoning inferiority complex and inner conflict. Actually a VERY different character than Darth Vader was.

    Pacing and Other Elements

    This is where directing comes in and indeed another surprise. This movie does not feel like a JJ Abrams film at all. It’s tone, feel and pace are all very much like Original Trilogy Star Wars with the only real difference being the pace is a bit faster. This extends even to the fight choreography on the two lightsaber duels. The lightsaber duels in the prequels felt emotionless and were almost like dance numbers. Not these.

    These duels were heavy with intensity and emotion and both combatants were just whaling on each other. If I could compare these to any other duels in Star Wars it would be the last part of the Luke-Vader duel in Return of the Jedi where Luke explodes and just hammers Vader into submission.

    Also, the tone of the film is very correct for Star Wars. The background tone is adventurous but parts of the film have the needed humor, horror and indeed one moment in particular abruptly goes from tender to wrenching (Han Solo’s death at the hands of Kylo Ren). One added element is a couple of parts felt a bit like Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Visuals

    This is Star Wars after all. The first notable thing is it looks correct for Star Wars Original Trilogy. Practical effects were used everywhere possible and shooting was on location as opposed to in studios. It shows. The film looks GREAT and as a result the feel of it is very Star Wars too.

    Part of this is that everything has that “lived in and beat up” look that Star Wars made famous. It was well executed.


    Overall

    I have to give this effort high marks. It fully succeeds as a Star Wars film and indeed atones for the prequels (in part by literally ignoring them; nothing in this film refers in any way to the Prequels) fully by giving us a quality Star Wars film. I had a great time with it.

    I should point out that there are a couple of places where it could have been improved. One is that there are two places where it does run a little long and with them trimmed the film could have been ten minutes shorter. But that was not a biggie. The other is that the "big baddie" (Snope) was so briefly visited we barely know him. I would have liked to get a bit more time with him - but I guess that is for Episode VIII :).
     
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  2. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Tech Admin / Council Member

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    Can we promote this to a front-page article?
     
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  3. Overmind One

    Overmind One GateFans Gatemaster Staff Member

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    Done. :) It's a feature too.
     
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  4. yongjin02

    yongjin02 Well Known GateFan

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    Saw this tonight.

    Even with reading a lot of spoilers on the net, it was still well worth watching.

    There were some little things that I seemed were missing

    Like;

    was it discussed how Poe actually made it off of Jakku? We heard him say how he got out of the TIE (and what was that with the backward/fwd seating arrangement of the TIE? New configuration I suppose) but not how he got off of Jakku.

    Why spend so much great talent on so little? Max Von Sydow is to go down in the opening scenes and that's it? I am guessing we will see him in some flashbacks (gotta love those flashbacks these days!)

    this is on IMDB on the character:
    Lor San Tekka was a follower of the Church of the Force, an underground faith of loosely affiliated followers of Jedi ideals. He also knew the history of Leia Organa. He had dealings with the Resistance X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron and his droid BB-8 and kept a piece of the map to find Luke Skywalker. They were located by the First Order shortly after giving the map to Dameron, who hid it inside BB-8. San Tekka watched helplessly as he saw his hometown being burned down. Dameron was captured and BB-8 fled, while San Tekka was confronted by Kylo Ren, who killed him with his lightsaber after a short conversation in which he attempted to find the whereabouts of Poe Dameron, as well as San Tekka trying to reason with him because of Ren's family history.

    They got all of this from that brief appearance?

    Maz Kanata--she sounds like she should be a more important character. Are we to believe she knows all she does simply by owning a bar that caters to mainly non human species?

    But, I get picky, I know.

    I thought the movie was really good, easily as good as EP4. The only way that EP 4 could have been any better then this is if the SFX of today existed back then.

    A lot more humor than I thought there would be. Like Daniel Craig's 'cameo' as the stormtrooper guarding Rey. Interesting to see the man who plays 007 on the other side of a situation that 007 frequently finds himself in; tied up and seemingly a lost cause.

    With Ren. His rant while trashing the control console after receiving the report on BB8's escape. After he is done and his "is there anything else?" very calmly with sparks still flying is kind of like I always wanted to see from Darth Vader. The human side that explodes into thrashing your surroundings then his regaining composure. Just worked out well.

    And the 2 stormtroopers that hear Ren getting mad after finding Rey had escaped; they stop, listen then one gives the signal for "let's get out of here"- funny. How many of who have been in the military and tried to avoid an officer coming down the street, or anyone just trying to avoid the boss could see a bit of themselves in this scene?

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    I am also thinking that Rey and Kylo must be related. Either brother sister or cousins. We have seen the family thing play out in SW's before,so why not? It seemed to me that Ren has some knowledge of her anyhow. His "tell me about this girl" to the reporting officer and his interest in her-enough to cause him to hunt for her on his own during the attack on Kanata's place.

    Just because we didn't hear Han and Leia or Han and Kanata speak about her onscreen, does not mean she is not their daughter. More then likely,she is Luke's daughter. Whoever she is, we know she has been hidden on Jakku for her protection; was it from her big brother Ben?
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    Snoke? Thinking that the hologram projection of him is not his true form. Some on the net are saying that he is actually Darth Plagueis. It would be a disappointed though, if he turns out to be just a "no one" that is, somebody who we don't of from what is still canon.

    and I know it is Serkis in greenscreen, but couldn't we get a better more original look then some cross between Gollum and an Orc?
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    Also, wondering did anyone else pick up on the female stromtrooper? We don't see the face or anything like a ponytail from under the helmet, but when she gives a sitrep to Ren, it is clear from the voice that it is a female. (scene is on starkiller when they are searching for Rey-female Stormie comes to him in the hallway and reports that they have split up to widen their search for Rey) another reach out to the EU where we had stories of stormtrooper squads that were male/female integrated.
     
  5. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    I also suspect there will be some flashbacks in the next movie with Max Von Sydow (and remember IMDB is able to be updated by anyone so the character history probably is net nonsense). And yes they did not say how Poe got off of Jakku but then again it would seem that if he found his way out of the desert area getting off planet probably isn't difficult.

    Snoke they already showed was a hologram. I think it would be funny if he really is two feet tall and has a squeaky little voice.

    I also liked the humorous touches - they were perfect changes of pace for the more dramatic moments. Another example is how they "dispose" of Captain Phasma. It was a direct callback to the trash compacter escape in the original Star Wars.
     
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  6. Azaliarazor

    Azaliarazor GateFans Member

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    I am actually a bit miffed at the idea that Hans had to die because HF did not want to do anymore. At least when they killed off Kirk in ST it made more sense in the movies. They should have just sent him away to retire on his MF. I really don't like that his son killed him off to get rid of his own humanity and it makes NO sense, because, hello? MOM is still alive and kicking so what is she chopped liver? I read in a fan theory that this will actually wear on him and cause him to gradually turn back to the light side once he sees how truly powerful a person of the light can be in Rey. He will become upset that killing his dad did not make him stronger than her and realize that he was played, just as Grandpa Anakin was so many years earlier. You would think he would have learned that the bad guys lie!

    We watched EP3 again last night, and boy it really it evident that Anakin was not the brightest lightbulb in the box. He fell for the lie that the Dark Lord of Siths could save Padma, and then just believes it that he killed her himself in his anger, which why would that ever be directed at her or the babies, and did all the other pregnant woman in the world die too? What line of bunk was that? Clearly the Dark Lord dude did it. Then he does not even think to go looking for his kid and find out if it survived? If he did, he might have thought to go check out the kid's family on the desert planet and find him. Now, Ren is also not so bright buying that killing dad will make him all powerful and pure evil. What's the first thing he does? He gets shot by a wookie, his concentration clearly thrown. Then he get his bumm beat by his sister/cousin/somebody that never even had a lesson and this is all after he is dumb enough to remind her about her powers since he wants to teach her.

    Now, as to the elephant in the room for me. What is the big damn deal about the lightsabre? Who needs it? Since she is so powerful and Luke can train her, they can rebuild the Jedi's and fight the first order. Isn't the power in her and not in a piece of metal? It was never so revered like anything super special in any other SW movies? In this movie it was on a higher pedestal than poor R2D2, who was on "low current" mode, but they threw a damn tarp over his head!

    I will say that I don't think Rey should be Han and Leia's daughter. They spoke only of their son and even when alone with nobody else around. If she was their kid, and if they knew it, then it should have come up. Now that they also killed off Han, Leia and Han could never tell her they were her parents. This brings her to being either Luke's or Obi Wan's grandkid since both of them had the magic lightsabre for years before. Obi is more of a stretch since she never came up in originals but then again, SW is famous for hiding for kids on desert planets and never speaking of them.

    The new generation must move on but in my mind. Han grabbed a lightsabre, cauterized his wound which Ren failed to hit the heart and was caught by a a ship in mid air and flown to safety to live out the rest of his days in his new watering hole, that is not in a castle from the 18th century.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
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  7. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    I still think Rey is Luke's daughter. The movie did not speak to it and I expect that - as usual - the fan theory sites will be wrong. As to the lightsaber, it wasn't specifically spoken to but it was a trigger for things already latent in her. I was okay with it not being specifically explained.
     
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  8. Azaliarazor

    Azaliarazor GateFans Member

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    I wasn't. I felt it went against canon to make something that meant nothing in all other movies now how this special power for her. It would have made more sense if Darth Vader's helmet had done the same to Ren. Like the two next generations being given power by the first. They didn't do that, they just made him honor it in memory of him and it just sat there looking all burned up and sad. While the lightsabre was made to be something that gave her power which is against the canon that the power is from within the Jedi.
     
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  9. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    It isn't a special power for her - it just triggered her. We weren't told why it did but it triggered in her the exact same kind of visions Luke experienced in The Empire Strikes Back. I expect she will be asking Luke questions like this in the next film.
     
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  10. Azaliarazor

    Azaliarazor GateFans Member

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    Yeah, I don't buy that. It is an object, it should have no ability to trigger her in any way.
     
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  11. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Why not? There is nothing in canon stating that such a thing cannot happen. Also it plays into an oriental concept of weapons having spiritual properties from their owners if the owner was particularly powerful. And a LOT of Star Wars is drawn off of oriental (mainly Japanese) concepts.
     
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  12. Azaliarazor

    Azaliarazor GateFans Member

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    Because it is the same object that meant one thing in all the other movies and now can awaken a Force, so far too much different than the originals. They had it in a special box saved but they threw a tarp over R2D2 like something from Storage Wars. It just did not ring true for me at all. Plus the main thing drilled into your brain over and over again in originals is the force is in you, the Jedi and not their weapons. The weapons are just the tools.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
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  13. Bluce Ree

    Bluce Ree Tech Admin / Council Member

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    You're forgetting that Star Wars isn't science-fiction, it's a fairy tale filled with magic. It requires no consistency or basis in reality. Remember, the original "force" was something metaphysical all around us that we learn to harness and control as it passes through us then Lucas tried to sci-fi it by turning the force into bacteria in the prequels.
     
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  14. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Exactly. It is epic fantasy not science fiction. Plus the object triggering Rey's visions does not mean the object itself has Force powers per se. And it should be noted that we saw a place that was strong in the Force in "The Empire Strikes Back" on Dagobah.
     
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  15. Azaliarazor

    Azaliarazor GateFans Member

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    I don't see that as any more fantasy than Vulcan mind melds or Goa'uld's telekinetic powers, or half a dozen others in SG or ST. Remember all that stuff in DS9? If aliens are a part of space exploration and anything goes from them in what they create such as Asgardians or Ori...so be it, and let us not forget the magic age defying planet and cool time and space bending wave in ST.

    I guess you hate them all, I just don't see any difference in their level of closeness to reality in any way. They are all make believe. The lightsabre just irks me because it meant nothing in original movies and now it has ability to trigger a flashback for Rey. So, it goes against it's own rules in it's own universe of the force being in Jedi's and not objects.
     
  16. Azaliarazor

    Azaliarazor GateFans Member

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    OK, no it happened as she touched it. This means tactile nature of a force transference of an object that never had ability before.
     
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  17. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    No it doesn't necessarily mean that. All it means is something in her was triggered. Nothing else.
     
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  18. Overmind One

    Overmind One GateFans Gatemaster Staff Member

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    Triggered how? It literally CALLED to her from where it was. As though it had a spirit locked up within it. It brought back flashbacks and even gave her premonitions about her fight with Ren. Anakin had to train for his lifetime to be able to see the future. Like Azalearazor said, this is out of canon, since the lightsaber was never any sort of vessel of the Force or spirits. If that were true, then why doesn't somebody find Yoda's sword or Master Windu's? (BTW, we did not see him die).
     
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  19. Overmind One

    Overmind One GateFans Gatemaster Staff Member

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    THAT is why I just shrugged my shoulders. If they wanted to, they could easily add the ability to snap one's fingers and use the Force to instantly "pop" people from one place to another like in Bewitched and it would hardly matter. Q would be more at home in the Star Wars universe, as would Lexi from Falling Skies and Harry Potter and his pals. Harry Potter Finds the Force would work soooo well as a Star Wars flick!

    tumblr_lhuuy8RAds1qa8ir9o1_r3_500.jpg

    tumblr_inline_mtakdf51oB1qc9wc7.jpg
     
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  20. Errant of Patha

    Errant of Patha GateFans Member

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    In fantasy, objects can hold magical powers. When the object it is intended for touches said object can trigger what the original owner wanted.
     
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