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.
NELSON: Don’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).
CHRISTELLE: My god.
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?
BAO: I 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…