NOCs of the Roundtable: Hot Star Wars Takes Awaken

You might not have known, but a little movie opens this weekend. It’s called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Heard of it? Well, it’s already shattering box office records worldwide, and it’ll probably be the highest grossing movie of the year. And there’s only two more weeks left in the year.

Anyway, a bunch of the NOCs have already seen the movie and want to share their thoughts. We’ll be updating this Roundtable throughout the weekend as more of us head out to the multiplex. In the meantime, know that anything and everything after the jump are massive Star Wars spoilers. Be warned.


NELSONDon’t think I’ve seen so many people waiting at a theater in many, many, many years. It was like SDCC with people lined up for all of the showings (luckily I was in a reserved seating theater so we didn’t need to line up).


NELSON: I will say this though, this was definitely the most diverse cast, particularly background characters, in a Star Wars movie thus far. And probably the most laughs in a Star Wars movie (where the audience was supposed to laugh).

KEITH: The galaxy had actual Asians this time! In addition to Ken Leung as an admiral consulting with General Leia and Yayan Ruhian and Iko Uwais from The Raid (though they didn’t really do anything), did you know the female(!) X-Wing pilot was Jessica Henwick from Game of Thrones!?

NELSON: Okay, so a few thoughts. 1.) Much of the comedic elements come from Finn but I couldn’t help think why he, as the only person of color of the major cast members, had to be the comedic, reluctant hero. I’m hoping the book (which I just downloaded) will shed more light on his background. They kind of elude to it briefly in the movie. 2.) The acting was soooooo much better than anything in the prequels. 3.) The feel of the movie was something between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. 4.) Women Stormtroopers (not just Captain Phasma) and women X-wing pilots! YAY! 5.) Wished Captain Phasma had a bigger role – why cast Christie if you aren’t going to have her remove her helmet? 6.) When will the dark side learn that giant weapons are not a good idea? 7). Lots of set up for the next movie.

If I was to rank all of seven movies, I’d put this one squarely at #3, before Return of the Jedi but after The Empire Strikes Back (#1) and A New Hope (#2).

SHAWN T.: I agree with Nelson on his first point.

KEITH: I’ll admit, Shawn’s Big Hero 6 critique came to mind a few times. Still, I really enjoyed Boyega in the film. I thought Finn, Rey, and Poe each had elements of Luke, Leia, and Han and really grounded the events of the movie. something the prequels sorely lacked.

SHAWN T.: So… Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It isn’t a particular good movie, but it is a great Star Wars movie. It gave you everything folks like in the franchise; great score, phenomenal aerial battles (this film has raised the bar to a whole other level), swashbuckling daring-do. It delivers over and over on what Star Wars fans want. The world building is top-notch and Abrams had an established universe to play in. But it is Abrams so the attention to detail (sets, clothing design, etc) was impeccable. Kylo Ren was a good villain and a decent nod to the now discarded Expanded Universe. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron was an absolute treasure.

And the 3-D was pretty awesome. Those were the Pros. The Cons? Not sure I have enough space. While I liked Rey as a character, Daisy Ridley gave off to much of a Keira Knightly vibe. From the tenor of her vocalized surprise, to her facial expressions, to her lipless smile… Had a hard time not thinking: Bend It Like Rey. Finn went OUT. Almost every joke was at his expense. And a majority of these jokes landed on his not being competent, being naive, or out of his depth. Dude was a part of the First Order and was trained for battle since birth. Why was he so wide-eyed and inexperienced? As Nelson pointed out, dude was the comic relief in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. I had to check in with myself: am I being overly critical, or is this shit really happening? Sanitation? Really? Dafuq? All of the major players got a ‘badass’ scene. He didn’t.

No, the lightsaber duel wasn’t badass. He got his ass handed to him. Hell, he got his ass handed to him on several occasions. He is a very gifted actor. He’s enjoyable enough to watch, but I was thinking the entire time: when is Finn going to boss up? He is a trained Stormtrooper and he fights like that? Like a punk? Also, why did Rey get to keep her accent and Finn went full American? It was good but still. Was being Black and English too exotic for folks?

BAOI think these observations are on point, and what I am going to say isn’t meant to contradict what you say, but to add a wrinkle. I think Finn is my favorite new Star Wars character to come along in a while, and it’s because he seems to be the only one who is making his own choices. He chooses to go against his training and not kill. He chooses to leave the Order. He chooses to escape with Poe. He chooses to try and help Rey. Everyone else, they seem to be “fated” to do what they are doing, or they have some grudging obligation to their actions. Finn is trying to find his own way and do what’s right, and that makes him admirable to me. Added fact that Boyega is such a charismatic and fine actor, I was drawn to the character, and think out of all of them, he had the most interesting character arc.

That all being said, I think you bring up good points — some of it doesn’t make sense. Even if he chose to give up, he’s still trained — so you’d think he’d be more proficient in battle, etc. My hope is that in the sequel he comes into his own and becomes a student of Luke alongside Rey.

NELSON: I agree though I did like Finn as a character that I could see as a developing character. I got the impression that there was something special about him to be able to bypass his programming but never was developed further within the movie, perhaps leading to how the Force was awakening in multiple characters without some of them realizing.

JULIE: I also had “WTF” moments with Finn. I thought his fight scene with Poe was mind-blowing amazing, and then his character just kept revealing one unfortunate detail after another. Why does he have to be ALL of the following: chest-puffing braggart, sneaky/scheming, weird references to slavery, cowardly, clumsy, falling in love with the first pretty (white) girl who is kind to him, blue collar, etc.? Made me uncomfortable, especially because Rey was annoyingly perfect at everything, like GOOP in space.

That said, the interrogation/power exchange scene between her and Kylo Ren was the single sexiest scene I’ve ever seen that didn’t involve actual touching.

Random thoughts: Adam Driver was divine as the hotheaded young phenom tortured by insecurity and regret. He embodied the adage “fear leads to anger, etc.” better than any other villain. I am definitely seduced by his Dark Side. Carrie Fisher won in my book for acting truest to her old character: she impeccably channeled her doe-eyed-yet-all-business Leia. The repeating of old themes (family betrayal, Death Star, balance in the Force, etc.) was nice.

Overall, thoroughly enjoyed watching it. They better do right by Finn, though. And Brienne of Darth!!!!! I wanted to see her face!!!

More to come…

8 thoughts on “NOCs of the Roundtable: Hot Star Wars Takes Awaken

  1. SFX

    It was all derivative. Nothing new. Nothing groundbreaking. BB-8 is just a smaller, rounder, cuter but less impactful version of the Artoo unit. No other new aliens or creatures or droids that stood out e.g. Jawas, Tusken Raiders from the days of yore. (Maz Kanata excluded.)

    So much could have been done to include drone droids, etc but instead all we got was BB8 and a red-armed C-3PO, a gaggle of blandies at the Mos Eisley Cantina 2.0 (Minus the cool music), and a solo creature on a mechanical elephantine thing in the Jakkuvian dessert. [Snoke does not count, any anyway it was bad CGI/motion capture, so was Maz Kanta for that matter. Serkis’ CGI looked way better in The Planet of the Apes franchise.]

    I wish Chewbacca spoke English after all these years or had an electronic translator. BTW, what was that glowing red eyed thing in the dessert BB8 rolled past…it reminded me of J.J.’s “Bad Robot.” Was that an homage?

    I was happily surprised to see Asians at all! Even though they were in more background roles, one was a general and a female was a pilot. The other crew on that ship that swallowed the Millennium Falcon was a little too stereotypical “Ming the Merciless” for my taste. I would’ve liked to have seen an Asian in a starring role, though.

    Captain Phasma—What a joke! People complain about Finn being inept, but they mucked her up, too! I wanted to see Gwen’s face and we didn’t get to see her fight. Boo! Phasma is supposed to have a future but I won’t be watching again so carry on.

    Maz Kanata– So, Lupita Nyong’O went full Andy Serkis? Why couldn;t she just play the character and be humanoid not motion capture. I mean, this woman just won an Oscar. Plus, if they were gonna have her play Maz why the skin color change to “high yellow.” Ms. Nyong’O recently said in an interview that she did not “want to be seen” due to her alleged overexposure in 12 Years a Slave as Patsy–the role and performance that won her an Academy award. I find that hard to believe especially since her next role is also an animated voice over in get this–The Jungle Book. [Wow]. Despite that Maz, was cool. But, I did not like how it was all done with the actress.

    Daisy Ridley as Rey was totally channeling Keira Knightly and I almost forgot that Knightly played Sabe in the prequel trilogy. I’m thinking Rey was like the female Luke Skywalker and that Rey might be Skywalker’s daughter given her strong Jedi sense (and with zero Jedi training?!) I know fanboys had their knickers in a bunch over Rey getting all the focus and Ridley might become the breakout star.

    I like how they had an Asian female resistance Fighter pilot in teh form of Jessica Henwick.

    “General” Leia Organa–She was still too princessy for me and was actually more formidable and ballsy in Star Wars V: A New Hope. She just looked sad, tired and weary. Not very commanding at all. I also did not buy that she gave birth to something that physically resembled “Kylo Ren” a/k/a Ben Solo–not when Han Solo was the dad.

    Well, Finn didn’t get to be a Jedi knight after all. I sadly went for the okey doke. I guess a Black man cannot be a Jedi except for the late Mace Windu. So, biased, Caucasian Fanboys were appeased after all! Rey totally emasculated him. the message was: White females are superior and must clean up after Black men for Rey had to be the one to deal with Kylo Ren effectively.

    Now you could blame this on genetics–meaning Rey is most likely Jedi progeny stemming from Luke Skywalker, but the underlying message was loud and clear. Boyega is winsome, likable and attractive but:

    A.) How come he could not retain his British accent like Rey?
    B.) No Attack the Block heroics were afforded to this gent.
    C.) His character was not fully developed to show why he became so disillusioned as a storm Trooper.
    D.) It has been said the Finn narrative is akin to a “slave narrative” (Black Man/White Storm Trooper (suit) Jeez. Why does it always have to be about that even in a galaxy, far, far away….?
    E.) Why do all the comedic flourishes have to be attacked to a Blach guy as the ultimate “buffoon”?
    G.) Finn had the worst, clunkiest lines but he still pulled it off! Bravo Boyega!
    F.) Are Finn and Dameron bromantic? Dameron let Finn keep his coat and that “guy hug”: was closerthanthis…They had more chemistry than Finn & Rey….Which, brings to mind that the emasculated Finn was last seen comatose with Rey giving him a chaste kiss upon the forehead at movie’s near-end. Someone laughably pointed out that SW VII has an interracial romance akin to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in A/K/A Jessica Jones but c’mon! LOL If you’ve seen A/K/A Jessica Jones you know that statement is a stretch.

    Well, I’m just glad he was in the movie. It was a breakthrough role that idris Elba could not have played due to age, and perhaps Finn can move up in the Star Wars galaxy in VIII or beyond.

    What a waste of Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. He was the obvious Han Solo successor in waiting yet we did not get to see nay of his natural sexual allure, swag or bravado. it was all toned down. Why?

    Adam Driver got to play Kylo Ren and frankly he looked better with the mask on. Why no mustache? He did not look like progeny of Hanleia at all. Kylo Ren was played a petulant, whiny, immature, unattractive, traitorous fool who killed his own dad! Jeez, is this a pattern or what?

    J.J. Abrams – Didn’t like what he did to Star Trek reboots (Bennie “Batch” as Khan? Oh come the hell on!) and really, dude, this Star Wars VII: A New Hope, I er, mean The Force Awakens was so derivative and so safe and so “riff-erential: to the original that it was predictable and lacked the magic of the first film. I could predict each and every scene. Blah humbug!


    But, you got my $6 in ticket sales and $9 in concessions, contributing to my portion of the $215 million in box office this film has allegedly already generated. I always liked Star Wars way better than Harry Potter.

    I did appreciate all the diversity in the background characters but the magic and mystery just weren’t there for me.

    The perspective I offered was that of a Gen Xer who saw the film in 1977 as a young child and who saw repeats as I got older. I saw SW V: A New Hope maybe 20 times, so I am bona fide Geek, who collected massive amounts of SW memorabilia.

    I say George Lucas’ masterpiece has no equal and the special effects revolution that Lucas sparked as a result of Star Wars (V), will never be equaled. Bravo George for giving us Star Wars. Not mad at you at all for selling it to Disney for $4 billion +. Karma is now in play as the Ultimate Creative Jedi Master sent the Force to Disney…..

    . . . May the Force Be With You! LOL

  2. i don’t know when i’ll see this, but the stuff about Finn is disheartening. it’s cool that he’s likable, but black comic relief co-leads/sidekicks usually are.

    thankfully, my expectations weren’t that high and they’re even lower after reading and hearing about some of the issues (Finn, Poe, and Phasma, to name a few).

  3. Someone wrote a feature on here about fear of being let down about Finn being a Jedi and well, that did come to pass. I guess I can live with that (Han Solo w/n a Jedi, either and he made the entire movie) but, I just don’t like how they showed how Finn could not “possibly be a Jedi.” Harummpf!

    And, basically how Rey showed him up and now he’s all out of action right now. I also don’t get WHY he had to lose his British accent when Rey spoke with a British accent, and as someone pointed out FINN is from the First Order.
    I wish we cold see Ming Na Wen in VIII.

  4. I watched this film today. It played it safe by recycling old plot devices to re-acquaint with the audience. But I think the new characters – except the droid – breathed new life into the franchise. I’m still clinging to the hope that Finn could still become a Jedi, and we don’t need the metacloriens to prove it.

    In comparison to other revived franchise this one is a success.

    1. The Force Awakens was good, clean fun especially for the newbies and it brought nostalgia to the ones who saw it first time out. Ridley & Boyega & Isaac where all great, given the material they had to work with. It just wasn’t magical enough nor did it have any new twists except for that one horrific incident “on the bridge.” Next time, will wait to see it on video. Carry on.

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  6. Thanks for this NOC. I was feeling that I was hanging out on a limb with my thoughts about Finn. I was hoping for a Black Jedi hero because in the Star Wars universe, the Jedi drive the story. It would have been a huge leap forward for Lucasfilms to put a Black male front and center as their Hero but Finn was not the Hero I was looking for. It appears that Kathleen Kennedy and the filmmakers wanted and succeeded in subverting the troupe of the damsel in distress with Rey that did not even notice that Finn feel right into the role of the funny, likeable side kick who happens to get beaten up the entire movie. Most of his actions in the film were in service to Rey even to the climatic battle where we see Finn get severely injured in order to give Rey the courage to accept the light saber and her destiny. The sad thing I have to admit is that the Finn character negatively affected me more I care to admit. I guess I am starving for a young minority lead in an epic speculative fiction story.

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