By Request: A Spoiler-Filled Discussion Thread for The Force Awakens

Seen The Force Awakens? Want to talk about it without worrying about spoiling it for others? Here’s the thread to do it. Chatter away, my pretties.

(WARNING: This comment thread here will have spoilers, because, duh, that’s what this is here for.)

152 thoughts on “By Request: A Spoiler-Filled Discussion Thread for The Force Awakens

  1. My current favorite “origins of Rey” theory is that Rey is the daughter of Anakin by way of his second marriage. The only reason I invented this theory is for the humorous (to me) mental image of D. Vader showing up at a woman’s door with flowers and candy.

  2. My rating of the characters:

    Strong: Finn, Rey – They carry the story
    OK: Kylo Ren and the old guard, General Hux
    Superfluous: Captain Phasma, Poe Dameron – Merchandising extras

  3. Not a question but a clarification, because someone in the comments is going to ask about galactic politics eventually:

    -The First Order is a fragmentary but still powerful balkanized piece of the original Empire. We’re not clear if it’s a government, military, or terrorist group. But it has a big fleet and controls a lot of space.

    -The Republic is what became of the Rebellion, legitimized. They are definitely a nation, control lots of space and have a big fleet, and are ostensibly at peace with the remains of the empire, or at least in a condition of ceasefire.

    -The Resistance, containing Rebellion military diehards, is an insurgency group independent of the Republic, operating within First Order space, but receiving funding and weaponry, discreetly, from the Republic they were once a part of. This is actually stated on-screen, unlike everything else above, which ought to be explicit but is not. This is why the First Order attacks the Republic before the Resistance.

    The whole thing is, essentially, a Syria-like proxy war.

    This is a combination of rationalization of what happened onscreen and data filled in by supplementary materials, lest someone accuse me of just making things up.

  4. Yeah, who else are they gonna kill off next time? Luke? Would make sense, since Yoda bites it in Empire.

  5. For all that I’ll miss the EU (and probably be confused as to what is and is not canon), I’ve got to say that everything they borrowed or did similarly was done better here.

    My biggest complaint is Mark Hamill’s lack of lines and screen time. That was a pretty powerful wordless scene, though.

  6. Wait, General Organa is not a rogue Ollie North element, with a few wings of fighters and loyal hacks, wanted by both Republic and First Order? And what about Prime Leader Spoon? Who the heck is he?

  7. @david – it’s implied pretty heavily that Rey is Luke’s daughter. His lightsaber triggers a rush of memories/prescient visions in her. If she was Leia and Hans’ daughter I’d have thought that it would have been noted when they talked or when Rey and Leia met.

  8. My new favorite theory is that Rey’s birth helped prompt Kylo to the dark side. I’m assuming he hero-worshipped Luke and here’s Luke stepping away from the Jedi way to participate in carnal liasons with someone, possibly a not so light side force user (Mara Jade). Could mess up a preteen/teen.

  9. I felt Chewie’s grieving howl was edited a bit short compared to the similar howl from Empire. This bugs me and I don’t know what to do about it.

  10. In General Hux’s speech before firing the Starkiller at the Republic, he talks about “their lies”. I read somewhere that the idea is, officially, the Republic has a peace treaty with The First Order, so the separation between the Republic and the Resistance is for there to be some deniability. “Look, the Republic is peaceful, we’re not engaged in your war.” But, unofficially, they’re giving support to the Resistance. Probably along the lines of, “Hey, we just build X-Wings and then sell them. We can’t be responsible for how the buyers use them.”

  11. I can’t help but think of these movies in terms of a roleplaying game. Han is a DMPC and his old gaming buddies, the players behind Leia, Luke, and Chewy are dropping in to play using their old characters with the new group he got together. The campaign is kind of a rehash of the original one they all played in but it’s ok, the new kids don’t notice and the old gang enjoy the nostalgia. Finn’s player is an RPG noob who wants to play a Stormtrooper even though the PC’s aren’t Empire/First Order aligned, so he settles for “ex-Stormtrooper” and proceeds to create a totally un-optimized character (too many points in Charisma). He begs the DM to let him have Stormtrooper armor and the DM relents, but then maroons him on a desert planet with a dead suit power cell and enforces the hazardous environment rules. Poe’s player is big into the X-Wing tactical miniatures game and has dozens of mini’s (that’s why he got invited in the first place), but after the first session he only shows up when there’s a ship-borne encounter on the agenda. Rey keeps min/maxing by not declaring her feat and skill assignments when she takes a new class level until she hits a situation where she needs them in game.

    Viewed with this lens all the hokey plot issues and everything else are explained satisfactorily.

  12. @rickg17 – I don’t buy the Rey-Is-Luke’s-Daughter theory (and didn’t get that implication from the film at all), mostly because that makes him a challenger for worst-father-in-the-galaxy, and I’m not sure that’s the direction the films are going.

    I read her hallucinatory interaction with the saber as an echo of a similar occurrence in the cave on Dagobah, in that a location/object was heavily influenced by the force, and thus gave visions to force-sensitive people who came into contact with it.

    The theory on Rey’s provenance that I think is more likely is that she was a potential youngling that Luke had recruited before Kylo Ren destroyed his fledgling Academy, and he (or an agent on his behalf?) secreted as many of them away as they could, for their protection (a la Ben Kenobi in Star Wars).

  13. I audibly groaned at the “Starkiller” base-planet-thing and its beam that can be seen from light years away instantly. It only got worse when they tried to techno babble the way it works, by draining a sun until its gone. The whole subplot about the Starkiller could be dropped like a Jar-jar imho.
    I forgive the depiction of the multiple planets blowing up in one frame. That felt like it needed a tv commercial “dramatization” disclaimer at the bottom screen. Hokey, but the scene did its job. They could have done better if Rey had just reprised the obi wan line about millions lives being silenced, only from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know the force.

  14. @rickg17 I prefer the theory I’ve seen elsewhere that Rey was one of Luke’s students who somehow escaped being killed by Ren. She was taken to Jakku with [Max Von Sydow’s character] to discretely watch over her for safety. Thus touching the light saber triggers memories of knowing him when she was a youngling, seeing the fight between him and Ren, and being taken to Jakku.

  15. Liked Rey and Finn. Expecting big things from Captain Phasma. Loved Maz so very much.

    Someone above mentioned the “flashbacks” triggered when Rey first touched the saber. It makes me speculate on how much “get ahead” shooting JJ did here in support of Ep VIII and Ep IX.

    Appreciate the end scene, though I don’t appreciate that it wasn’t an end scene. (Guess they had to have something different from Ep IV.) (So little else was. Someone needs to quantify how many callbacks you can make before it becomes annoying or makes you look weak. This one was well over that line, IMO. Ditto Star Trek Into Darkness. Star Trek (20009) didn’t get to that point.)

    On the other hand, Mark H. looked great. The beard suits.

    Survived the 3-D by being at the back of the house and wedging the 3-D glassed behind my prescription glasses, but some of the 3-D was truly lovely. Some was pointless chaos.

  16. @Harry one of the many things that can be explained with the RPG lens. The DM needed some way to “show not tell” what was happening (seeing the beam) and techno-babble was the result of improvising to answer an unexpected question and then riding that when he needed a pressuring mcguffin later. Rey couldn’t give a reprise of the Obi Wan line because of DM knowledge (Obi Wan was the DM’s PC back in the original campaign) vs. Player knowledge issues. Rey’s player doesn’t know that that’s how the Force works so she couldn’t have tossed that line.

  17. Austin & Megan,

    Remember, though, that Rey was able to summon Luke’s lightsaber out of the snow even overpowering Kylo Ren’s summons. Would just any kid whom Luke recruited be able to do that?

  18. I enjoyed it, but the script was like fan fiction to me, a Star Wars Greatest Hits package. Typical JJ Abrams. Its about time he did something actually original.

  19. Am I the only one who instinctively wondered if Kylo Ren created a horcrux when he killed Han? (I also posted this silly idea on the 17th Shard. :-)

    SW:TFA is a tremendously fun movie that I will likely pay to see several more times.

    Based on my own casual observations, it seems as if those who like the film best are people whose main interaction with the Star Wars universe was watching the first 3 films (now called eps. 4-5-6). The more a person is familiar with all the novels, comics/graphic novels, TV shows, internet shows, etc., and even with eps. 1-2-3, the less they seem to like the new film and the harsher their criticism. So I’m pretty happy that I focused on the originals (saw “Star Wars” 10.5 times in 1977 and the next 2 films multiple times as well, but have never seen the digitally remastered versions nor do I desire to do so).

  20. So… I’m not insane, it really was heavily hinted that Finn is Force-sensitive also, yes?

    People keep disagreeing with me on that point because he got his ass handed to him in both his lightsaber fights, even one with a (admittedly veteran) stormtrooper. But have we ever seen a non-Force-user *ever* use a lightsaber, even briefly? And even if it doesn’t take Force sensitivity to use a lightsaber, the script sure takes the time to hit you over the head with Finn’s uncanny, totally-un-stormtrooper-like aim with two different, completely unfamiliar firing systems (the TIE fighter and the Millennium Falcon).

    Finn’s obviously not as much of a natural (or possibly trained in childhood?) as Rey, but. I *really* want to see the two of them together post-training kicking Sith ass in future films.

    Additional going out on a limb: is Finn’s Force-sensitivity why he was able to shake off his Stormtrooper programming? Are Force-sensitivity and empathy correlated? Or are they totally unrelated?

    On an unrelated note, https://twitter.com/KyloR3n is my new favorite Twitter account.

  21. I think it’s likely Rey is Luke’s daughter but I’m hoping they do something really surprising with her instead. One of the joys of Empire was the surprise of Luke’s parentage. I’d love to see the same thing with Rey. The difference now is we’ll all be theorizing so heavily we’ll manage to ruin it.

    I’m also enjoying the theories as to who Snoke is. I never really went beyond the movie’s with the series so I’m learning lots reading all the backstory (canon and not) from the big fans.

    And for what it’s worth I think the Snoke is Plagueis theory is strong and Rey should actually be the descendent of a powerful Sith, preferably Palpatine.

  22. I did thoroughly enjoy TFA. Got to see with my dad and brother, the same crew that saw Star Wars together in 1977. I was grinning throughout most of the movie. But…

    There was just one scene where I was taken out of the movie, where I thought TFA was slipping dangerously close to parody: the scene on Starkiller where General Hux is doing his best Hitler impersonation with a backdrop of giant red banners. Does anyone else think that scene was a bit too on the nose? I almost giggled.

  23. THANK YOU, I really needed a place to vent!
    The star-sucker annoyed the hell out of me. Still does. None of that makes any sense at all. Ok so it’s a hollowed out planet that sucks the plasma off of a sun?! Then shoots it lightyears away to another solar system, almost instantly mind you, to vaporize other planets. No, just no. I could have forgiven if star-sucker’s purpose was to destabilize a star and that way destroy the planets around it, but what they did was utter nonsense.

    I predicted that Han was gonna die by Darth Emo Angst’s hand pretty early on, and Han going out on the walkway like that seemed totally out of character. Abrams has said in interviews that they decided to kill Han that way to prove just how evil and big bad Darth Emo is.

    I vote for Rey being Luke’s offspring though it was pretty vague and might get changed up in the next film.

  24. To me it went wrong in the opening sequence – yes the ‘scroll’ or whatever it is called. How long since we last met the characters? Resistance to what? Already confused I then watched a (very) poor remake of the original film (droid with message for the ‘good guys’, etc., etc.). Then more questions, how can Rey fly the MF as well as she did, how did she command the Force so easily (Luke struggled), how does Finn the sanitation guy know so much? Really a crappy start to the ‘new’ trilogy – incomplete, muddled and an insult to old and new fans.

    Man I feel so much better getting that lot of my chest – thanks JS!

    One last thing – Rey not of Skywalker blood? Puh-lease!

  25. Okay, so Goth Vader got to kill his daddy–who didn’t see THAT coming? The staging of that scene on the catwalk was a direct repeat of the “Luke, I am your father” scene in a previous ep.

    What I think, however, is that Gothie boy will pay a HUGE price for that action. You could see in his eyes that he WAS wavering, yet Snoke’s teaching won out for the moment and he did do what Snoke wanted him to do. But, in a future ep, he’ll come to regret it and that will be a turning point of some kind, preferably with huge explosions. He can’t control his emotions yet (witness him beating the set to crap at least twice in outrage). So, I can imagine his emotions in this future scene, when he finds out he’s been played like a harp.

    As for Rey — I think it’s too trite to make her Luke’s daughter, or Han’s daughter (I mean, woulnd’t he and Leia KNOW they had a daughter and recognize her?). Clearly, however, she has some Force-sensitive heritage; perhaps as someone else suggested, Sith in her background, or I was also thinking that she was a youngling left on Jakku for her own safety.

  26. The biggest problem the movie has is that it’s a complete remake of the original, using the same sequences (with slight re-ordering), and the characters are exactly the original characters:

    Snoke is Palpatine v2
    Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is Darth Vader/Annakin Skywalker v2 (complete with Ren being an obvious title, from the “Knights of Ren”)
    Hux is Grand Moff Tarkin v2 (admiral of the fleet and Death Star v2 commander, not cowed by Vader v2 in the slightest, disdain of his Jedi obsessions – biggest surprise is that he’s ordered off the dying Death Star v2 instead of being blown up with it)
    Rey is Luke v2 (obviously)
    Finn is Han Solo v2 (bad background, lies and tries to cheat his way out, delivers Luke v2 and her droid to the resistance and walks away to the disappointment of Luke v2, runs back at the first hint of trouble, ends up in non-carbonite coma one movie earlier)
    Luke is Yoda v2 (not a surprise)
    BB8 is R2D2 v2 (obviously, but ony half of it, midway you get R2D2 back you need both to complete the original message, and then it’s R2D2 who travels with Rey to Yoda v2)
    Han Solo is Obi Wan Kenobi v2 (the old guys who stumble upon Luke v2, tells Luke v2 & Solo v2 that all those Force tricks are absolutely true, brings them to the Cantina to arrange passage to the Resistance base, consumed by guilt over the fall of Vader v2, offers himself to Vader v2’s lightsaber in the middle of the Death Star – ok he didn’t expect to die. The handing of the Heirloom Lightsaber to Luke v2 is shuffled off to Maz Kanata because the loss of the Lightsaber by his owner is completely different between ep3 and ep5)
    Poe Dameron is Leia v2 (same intro sequence, sends away the droid with info, gets captured, torture interrogation chair, gets sprung by Solo v2, they instantly hit off – not exactly romantically of course, but close enough)
    Leia is, funnily enough, the latter bits of Leia v2 (she’s still the Resistance leader, coordinates the assault on the Death Star v2, etc), chiefly because at one point, Poe was supposed to die rather than stay around, so the second half of Leia’s role would require someone else.
    Phasma is Boba Fett v2, and since Boba Fett wasn’t around for episode 4, they have absoluely nothing for her to do, so they end up forcing her into various random junior stormtropper lieutenant roles because marketing has her toy line ready so she needs to be seen.

    (C3PO and Chewbacca are mostly themselves, with relatively diminished roles)

  27. One of the things I liked most about TFA was the fact they took what would have been ordinarily a background player (a Stormtrooper) and brought him front and center. To take a character that usually stands for faceless terror and cannon fodder and make him pivotal was a terrific idea.

    Finn and Rey made the movie for me. Well, Ford too. Solo’s place was to anchor the movie firmly in the Star Wars universe. Finn and Rey will carry the next one, with Luke and Leia providing another hook into the original trilogy.

  28. @nosve – But have we ever seen a non-Force-user *ever* use a lightsaber, even briefly?

    Han used Luke’s to cut open the tauntaun in Empire Strikes Back. (I can’t believe I know this just off the top of my head.) So there’s precedent at least for non-Force users to be able to turn them on and wield them. Using them in a fight is a bit different, though.

  29. I know they didn’t allude to it at all, but I’m still holding out hope that Rey is Emo Ren’s twin a la Jacen and Jaina. This whole movie was a throwback to the original trilogy and a thumb in the eye to the expanded universe. I hope they throw the EU a bone somewhere.

    Also, re: Fin and force sensitivity. This is another reprise of Han Solo in the first movies. Han has so much dumb luck (until he doesn’t). But even in TFA and the scene where he shoots a storm trooper without looking there’s just a force-sensitive-level of luck going on. That the debate rages on as to whether Han had force sensitivity. I suspect the same will go on with Fin.

  30. @old aggie, that matches my observations.

    I’m a casual fan, I’ve seen the movies and bits and pieces of the video games and other stuff but never got seriously into the EU. My significant other is a really, really hardcore EU fan. I liked it, she hated it.

    It occurred to me during the Finn/Rey/Kylo fight at the end that I was on the edge of my seat, uncharacteristically. I’m so used to experiencing Star Wars as movies I’ve already seen, or supplementary media where there’s no real dramatic tension because the principle cast has impenetrable plot armor. It was thrilling to realize I really didn’t know what was going to happen next, especially since Han had just died.

    Also, I thought it was really weird that nobody seemed particularly bothered by the First Order blowing up an entire set of planets. Alderaan’s destruction wasn’t really dwelt on in the first movie, but it still was given more weight than TFA’s planet destruction scene was. And I almost said out loud “Dammit JJ, planets do not work that way, in either universe!”

  31. I just Hated two things in the movie, the 15 minute counter that stretches forever and the fact that they go from the crashed Falcon to the shield generator then to the oscillator or whatever it was then back to the Falcon (and they were kms apart) in approximately the same 15 minutes.
    Couldn’t JJ spare a speeder bike or two instead of making the characters walk that impossible distance in that time frame?

  32. @Paul Garbett:

    I rationalized the crawl (and 30-year gap) by pretending this was a serial like the ones Lucas was inspired by. You know, the ones with new episodes every week, and no reruns? The ones you hear about because your friends are raving about it, so you get to the theater in time to see Episode 4 and hope you can fill-in-the-blanks? The ones where you go away to school for a semester, and all of a sudden you’ve jumped from Episode 6 to Episode 16, and there’s so much you’ve missed?

    It’s not that this is a bad sequel to the original trilogy, it’s that this is Episode 14, and we missed (because Lucas never made them) episodes 7-13, and Disney misnumbered it.

  33. ‘Starkiller’ having charged by ‘draining’ a solar system’s star, isn’t using that power to blast the star’s now-frozen planets superfluous? Even Bond villains don’t waste their superweapons blowing up people they’ve just killed. Sure, bad science is fine in a space fantasy, but that’s like the First Order all having attended the Chief Inspector Dreyfus School of Overkilling, i.e., bad science spilling over into bad character-motivation logic.

    Even the prequel trilogy’s characters act from plausible motives, even if the dialogue barely meets B-movie standards.

    I haven’t yet seen the flick, as my Brian De Palma allergy lately affects Jar Jar Abrams (and also one suspects the extended-edition DVD might include vital plot bits from the cutting-room floor). However, my impression is that Abrams makes films by first storyboarding ten or twelve cool set-pieces, then writes thin interconnective-tissue bits to string them together. This is also the method Tim Powers cheerfully acknowledges using to write novels, but he’s much better at it.

    Rick Moen
    rick@linuxmafia.com

  34. @blaisepascal2014:

    Although I like the comparison to serials, I didn’t personally feel like the absence of bridging scenes felt like a lack in the movie. Actually, one of the things I thought was really successful, narratively, about this movie — and ANH also — is the way that both of them started in media res like they did. Sure, we could have had a whole movie about the crumbling Republic and the rise of the New Order, a movie filled with council scenes and politics. It might have been a good movie, who knows. But that’s not the movie I wanted to see. Here, we get a capsule summary at the beginning of the context we need to understand what’s happening, and then jump straight into the action. I liked that, and I also feel like it’s something the original trilogy did right as well.

  35. Ok, Disney better come up with plots better than “bad guys build superweapon and xwing fighters blow it up”. One was fine for the reboot. But just one.

    Rey was a little too good with the force a little too quickly. How long was Luke on Degobah getting trained by yoda? It seemed like the previous movies made it seem that a jedi took years of training to get good, but she went from zero to doing mind control, force pulls, and swinging a saber all in the space of… hours? Is it really that easy?

    And both Rey and Fin were way too good with a lightsaber, a weapon that has been pretty much agreed upon to lead to immediate dismemberment by the untrained. There is a pie chart about it somewhere.

    Rey was also a little too good with the Milenium Falcon, specifically. Sure, she is a scavenger and has to know what parts of an old, crashed Empirial Destroyer will get her a ration and what is junk, but the Millenium Falcon is a hunk of junk with a lot of custom mods by Han. And she just knew how it was plumbed.

    It reminded me of the annoyance I felt when Scotty made transparent aluminum on that desktop computer. Dude, it takes days just to figure out all the menus and submenus on that kind of software. And Scotty figured it out in seconds? But who wants to watch scotty or someone learn crappy win3.0 software, so…..

    I did not expect Han to die, but I have been avoiding reading anything about the movie or predictions about the movie or anything from behind the scenes. Maybe I would have seen it coming if I had thought about it, but it didnt enter my mind until I saw that catwalk. I figured someone would fall, possibly wounded or dead, but Han, if anything, has a long, long history of having a massive +10 luck roll, so he almost always emerges alive. Having him die made it feel a lot like the dark ending of ep 5 where the good guys lose a lot, rather than the beginning of ep 4 where Ben was killed by vader. I do hope Han does not come back as a ghost, because, that would be waaaay too easy and would rob all the weight and heft his death brought to ep 7. But then, the mourning for Han seemed cut short in the movie, which was a little odd.

    Fin was a little to skittish at the beginning. Not exactly sure what happened to him. They steal babies and brainwash them? He apparently was a stormtrooper for a long time and remembers all of it. But then the shock of combat snapped him out of it?

    Also, i wish he would have been a little more competent with skills. Rey is near perfect, rolling 20’s every time. The xwing fighter pilot…. what was his name…. Poe? We are told in the scrawl he was the best pilot in the fleet? And Fin is a trained stormtrooper, trained for combat drops, trained with multiple weapons, combat maneuvars, first aid, etc, but after his moment of shell shock, he seems to have dropped many of his skills and what was left is down a third. He seemed way out of his league compared to Fey and Poe.

    Poe, would have liked to have been shown him as the best pilot in the fleet rather than be told it. But showing takes time.

    Kylo Ren. I didnt mind kids being the new heroes. Rey and Fin working their way up the ladder like luke did in ep4. But vader was all powerful in ep4. Kylo Ren was just a kid, and poorly trained. Yet he was walking around with all the first order people terrified of him. It seemed like people were terrified of Vader because he was so powerful. I got the impression people were terrified of Kylk Ren because he was super-gullom’s favorite sith, not because he could force choke you from 10,000 miles away. I imagine if the generals tried to take out vader, there would be a hundred dead storm troopers before vader figured out who was behind it all and killed them with his mind, stopping 5he mutiny. Kylo Ren was defeated by a single untrained scavenger with unbeknowenst force powers. Makes him look a little out of his league compared to the generals he is walking around.

  36. I don’t know if Abrams had it in mind when he named Starkiller Base, but the original name of the hero in Lucas’s first draft of the Star Wars screenplay was Luke Starkiller.

  37. I’m a little hazy on exactly how old Emo Ren and Rey are eachh supposed to be, but I didn’t think they were far enough apart in age for Emo to go all Dark Side at Rey’s birth, or for her to have been stashed away when he did it. But maybe he’s older than I’m thinking?

    My personal crackpot Rey theory is that Anakin had a twin, and she’s Anakin’s twin’s grandchild. If Luke’s her daddy I’m going to be reeeeally disappointed in Luke. They’re going to have a hard enough time convincing me that he ran off and his for a really good reason as things stand now, but ditch your kid on a desert planet and THEN run off? Eh.

  38. My thought is Ren and Rey are similar ages to their actors, maybe slightly younger. Adam Driver is 32 and Daisy Ridley is 23. I’d peg Ren as late 20’s at the youngest and Rey as late teens or early 20s.

    In the sabre vision it’s clear Rey was left on Jakku when she was very young, maybe six or seven, so the question is, how old was Ren when he turned. I’d think late teens.

  39. My crackpot theory is that Rey is either Anakin or Luke’s distaff clone. She’s got a very intense level of raw power that she’s able to tap into instinctively. I just can’t see that coming out of the ether; there has to be a connection to one of the existing fonts of power.

  40. Saw an interesting theory that Rey was somehow a Kenobi, and making her Luke’s daughter just seems so obvious that I’m hoping for a twist. I don’t actually agree that it was a remake of Ep IV. I think they used a lot of the same archetypes, but gave them twists. It’s not like the characters in Ep IV weren’t just re-treads of a lot of classic mythos. Hero with daddy issues, wisecracking sidekick, etc.

    Despite his somewhat teenage-y angst, I appreciate that Kylo Ren isn’t just pure and good or pure evil. SW tends toward such clear black and white characters, that a bit of gray is fun for me. [I’d note that if anyone is going to counter that with Eps II or III, they don’t exist. Jar Jar and the POS of Ep. I broke me, so I refused to watch them.] I like the Finn was a Stormtrooper and changed his mind. Rey clearly starts out in a Luke setting (complete with outfit) but seems more like Han in attitude, and then again had a Leia sequence with her capture and escape. The movie has fun calling back to the original trilogy, but (to me) isn’t a copy.

    I thought it FELT a lot like the original trilogy, which to me was a good thing after the horros of Eps I-III. I giggled and grinned at the nostalgia. I did, however HATE the Starkiller and the overdone Nazi imagery was pretty one-note and boring, even for JJ.

  41. nosve asked: “But have we ever seen a non-Force-user *ever* use a lightsaber, even briefly?” Yes. General Grievous is the most dramatic example I recall, since he used several at once.

  42. I really liked the Force Awakens.

    That said, there were some minor annoyances.

    Rey was good at everything she did, to the point that she’s approaching Mary Sue status, or something else is going on. She has, as far as she knows, no force capabilities. Then after Ren tries to mind control her, she is mind controlling a storm trooper on her second try (a storm trooper played by James Bond, apparently). And she force pulls a lightsaber from the snow when Ren was trying to do the same thing. She’s also exceedingly good at lightsaber fighting, with no experience we know of, and with a weapon that pretty much everyone in our world agrees would result in dismemberment for 99% of people.

    Unless I misunderstood the sequence, her first lightsaber duel ends with her defeating Kylo Ren the alleged big-bad for the movie. Luke didn’t defeat Vader in his first fight with him, in fact he lost his hand and was cornered and only survived by jumping down an exhaust/garbage/plot shaft. Rey appears to defeat Ren and only a major tetonic shift separates them and ends the fight before she could have finished him. Either Rey is waaaay stronger than Luke was in Ep 4/5, or Kylo Ren is all show and no skills.

    Speaking of which, Kylo Ren seems to be all show and no skills. He is defeated by an untrained scavenger who never handled a light saber before. He can’t mind read Rey. And he can’t mind read Poe. Vader fails to get the plans from Leia in Ep4, but we later find out she is his daughter and quite strong in the force.

    In Ep 4/5/6, Vader force chokes several generals (sometimes thousands of miles away), he grabs a rebel soldier and throws him like a rag doll. The generals fear him because a mutiny of a hundred stormtroopers against Vader would fail, and then Vader would find out who instigated it and kill them and their families. Kylo Ren appears that he would get overwhelmed if half a dozen storm troopers came at him at the same time. Also, Vader never threw a pointless tantrum. Kylo Ren had two tantrums, he destroys first order equipment because he is frustrated and cant control his anger. I don’t recall Vader having that level of tantrum in ep 4,5,6.

    So, while I get the heroes, Rey and Fin (and Poe) all being new kids on teh block so the new audience can identify with them, I’m not sure it was such a good idea to have Kylo Ren be a 20 year old trying to run with the big dogs and fill Vader’s shoes. Only to have him defeated by a scavanger.

    I think the generals were afraid of Vader because he’d kick their asses if he wanted to. I got the impression the generals were only vaguely afraid of Kylo Ren simply because Big-Gollum liked him.

  43. I loved the movie overall, but given that I express my love through petty nitpicking, as is the way of my people(1), here goes:

    I don’t want Ren to be Luke’s daughter, or even one of his surviving students. If he knew her as a child, he’s the dick that abandoned not only his friends but his young daughter. If he didn’t know he has a daughter, that’s yet another thing blatantly copied from the original movies. I kind of like the idea of her being a clone, though, or something else more complicated than just “abandoned/unknown daughter/student.”

    Speaking of things blatantly copied from the other movies, can we maybe finally put a moratorium on Death Star lookalikes? Counting the space-base thingy in Phantom Menace, that’s four times in seven movies. Enough, already! If episode IX has the bad guys turning an even bigger planet into the Super-Starkiller, I’m gonna smack the bejesus out of someone.

    I also hated the fifteen minute countdown. It was even dumber than that sort of thing usually is, which is really saying something. How hard could it possibly be to either time things out better when you’re writing the script, or avoid specific numbers altogether? “The Ginormous Idiot Gun will be fully charged any minute now!” There, fixed.

    Speaking of the Ginormous Idiot Gun, I can’t decide if it was more or less dumb than the bug-fart asteroid that crossed the galaxy and hit Earth in Starship Troopers. I also can’t decide if people in different star systems being able to see the blast and the exploding planets is more or less dumb than Spock being marooned on a planet roughly twenty feet away from the imploding Vulcan in the first of the new Star Trek movies. The fact that I’m comparing at all is not a good sign, though.

    Okay, that’s all I needed to get off my chest.

    One non-nitpicky thought. I’m really hoping like hell that whatsisname, Darth Copycat, is now irredeemably evil and won’t be welcomed back into the Good Guys Club with open arms in the third movie because after killing his father and aiding in the murder of billions of innocent beings he finally decides that, gosh, that wasn’t a nice thing to do at all and totally repents, y’all. The Light Side of the Force is way too damned forgiving.

    1 – And yes, my wife is just thrilled about that aspect of my personality.

  44. When Kylo Ren yells “traitor” at Finn, he should have replied back, “Better to be a traitor to the First Order than to my family.” Or something about him Ren killing his own father. Of course that might have just got him angry.

  45. Awesome comments @Vincent Archer. Yes, it’s v2. But the dialog does not s%$k! There is actual, good direction and acting! It is a reboot. But there was not a Jar Jar in sight. I was 15 when Star Wars (episode IV) came out. I must have cried 12 times (ok, call BS: I *DID* cry 12 times) at this movie. It hit all the right notes. It’s light stuff but the quality was basically good. This movie will not be embarrassing in ten years. Han getting killed was the one thing that felt off-key. It felt like a contract problem with Harrison Ford, not a legitimate story point. I also do not feel it is required that Rey be a relative of Luke. Can’t Force sensitives just occur naturally?

  46. My theory re Rey’s parentage:
    Rey is the daughter of Mara Jade and Luke, but Mara never told Luke she was pregnant. Mara delivered the baby then had to leave her on Jaku (sp?) as a guarantee of her return. Something interfered with Mara’s return–maybe she’s being held against her will, maybe she’s dead.
    And it’s Han, not Hans.

  47. I predicted Han’d bite it days before I saw it, because Star Wars is a slave to the Hero’s Journey and that means you have to kill off the mentor character in the third act.

    Which brings up the idea of a Force-sensitive smuggler and ne’er-do-well, which is just delicious to me. I love the idea of Rey settling accounts with the Kanjiklub and living a little more in the grey.

    I think I agree with Tony Zhou’s complaint that it’s two movies awkwardly squashed together – that Finn and Rey’s story gets put on hold to set up Han’s final story – and most of the excitement is frankly from imagining where it could go, rather than where it actually did. But then that’s the fun of Star Wars – you can imagine a much bigger and more interesting world than the fairly mediocre movies that actually exist. And it does that, much more than the prequel trilogies did.

  48. Crystal Shepard: Thanks, yes, and I also read that (Starkiller Base zaps planets in other solar systems) in comments here just after posting.

    Reviews also said the weapon is powered only by a star being ‘drained’ and has no mobile ability, so your R&D has built an enormous mega-weapon that can be charged up and used once and then is dead and immovable? Seems wasteful even by the standards of government contracting.

  49. Rick: Well, it *was* a weapon capable of destroying lots of planets for that cost. Which presumably would be much more costly to your enemies than you. Even with its destruction in the movie, is might still have been worth it for the Republic production it destroyed.

  50. My biggest jump out of the movie scene was when all those people on different planets were all able to see the destruction of several planets, presumably all in different solar systems, at the same time. I’ve never written a professional movie review, but I am not convinced that mentioning this scene constitutes a spoiler, but this is Scalzi’s blog, and he can spoilerize what he wants.

    I’ve never read any of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, so I had never heard of Jade Mara Skywalker, but it seems likely that Rey will be revealed to be Luke’s daughter. I think it might be more interesting for Rey to be an unknown bastard (grand?)daughter of Emperor Palpatine. Another final showdown between the descendants of Skywalker and Palpatine in the third movie of the trilogy!

  51. Two biology-related points:

    Yeah, sure, Rey might be “descended” from Luke… but more likely via a cloning process (clown/clone wars, remember?). There’s no good reason that “I am your father” isn’t “I am your donor” this time around… particularly as Leia isn’t ready to be an aunt.

    But there’s another science thingy about the Force. My theory (since the first film came out) has been that a brain cell can be devoted to either rational thought or controlling the Force. This explains so much about how transparent every Jedi’s (or Sith Lord’s) plans have been; their ineptness at dealing with surprises; their willingness to repeat mistakes (well, a Death Star was vulnerable the first time, so let’s do it again!); their general imperceptiveness and inability to assimilate data. (Or maybe it’s the producers who have that problem.)

  52. I recall the Resistance mentioning that it was a “hyper-light” weapon. With some hand-waving, I can see that being visible to multiple planets when it was launched. Maybe it was perceptive to sentient beings without the limitations of speed-of-light. (waving hands really fast, nothing to see here, move along).

  53. I’m not seeing how Kylo Ren got off the planet/Starkiller before it blew up. Rey left him flat on his back, disarmed, and wounded in the leg (Finn) and shoulder (Rey) and hot footed it back to the Millenium Falcon to barely escape in time. Seems a waste of a good villain, now proven to be a father-killer par excellance.

  54. I too wondered briefly about how the weapon worked during the movie but quickly got back into the swing of things.

    My biggest plot question was how exactly Poe got off Jakka when it seemed like they made a big deal about how hard that would be. I suppose it was just easier for him once he and his droid were apart.

    I too don’t want Rey to be Han/Leia’s or Luke’s daughter. If she’s Han/Leia’s child, their caring for Ben Solo and abandonment of her clashes too sharply for my suspension of disbelieve. If she’s Luke’s it stacks on his abandonment of his friends as well. I suppose they could explain it in flashback in the second movie, but that’s a much harder bar to clear, and it likely takes away from the rest of the story.

    There will be a personal tie though, because that’s just how Star Wars works. Maybe she will be the child of a family personally known to Luke/Leia, who was part of the Rebellion and killed as a result?

    The deliberate throwbacks to IV worked really well for me, though. They apparently shot large parts of the movie on film, with 1970s lenses, specifically to evoke the feel of the original:

    http://www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2015/12/star-wars-the-force-awakens-set-visit-the-day-katie-flew-the-millennium-falcon/

  55. I think that Rey is probably Luke’s daughter, but he may not have abandoned her (which seems to be the most common objection to the idea). It could be that either her mother took her away, or he thought she died in the massacre of his students. Or, he may have hid her away for her own safety, just as Obi-Wan and Yoda did with him. In fact, I even think that maybe Kylo Ren/Ben took her away and was the one who hid her on Jakku (if Luke did leave her there, why would it be with that junk dealer?).

    But I like the idea better that she’s his clone. Someone speculated that whoever found his lightsaber also found his hand along with it, and that was what was used to clone him. The same person said that the first part of the flashback/vision Rey had was in Cloud City.

  56. Is the multiple solar system thing actual canon? Because how I rationalised the weapon when I was watching it was that it was built in one solar system, then drained that systems star to charge up, then jumped to another solar system with a *bunch* of Republic worlds and then fired its load to destroy all the Republic worlds in that one solar system before sucking dry the star of that system to be able to jump to another and repeat. It would not be such a large stretch to have 6-7 populated planets/moons in one solar system for an advanced star-faring multi-race civilisation. Sure, there are still limits on how close they can be, but if all the destroyed worlds are actually moons orbiting a single gas giant or a secondary star of this binary system?

  57. They specifically mention that the projectiles travel at hyperspeed, which frankly i’m fine with. I’m less cool with the fact that no one seems to care that the capital done got blowed up, and also that people can see things happening in other solar systems.

    Even if the projectiles move superluminally, the light they cast while doing so shouldn’t!

  58. So… I’m not insane, it really was heavily hinted that Finn is Force-sensitive also, yes?

    People keep disagreeing with me on that point because he got his ass handed to him in both his lightsaber fights, even one with a (admittedly veteran) stormtrooper. But have we ever seen a non-Force-user *ever* use a lightsaber, even briefly?

    Yes, Han uses to slice open the tauntaun to save Luke in Empire.

    And even if it doesn’t take Force sensitivity to use a lightsaber, the script sure takes the time to hit you over the head with Finn’s uncanny, totally-un-stormtrooper-like aim with two different, completely unfamiliar firing systems (the TIE fighter and the Millennium Falcon).

    Well, the Millennium Falcon hit is caused by Rey manoeuvring so that Finn – whose cannon was stuck – was lined up with the target. The TIE fight was down to Poe’s ability as a pilot, I guess. But Finn has been a soldier since infancy, and although the firing rig of the TIE is unfamiliar, he does know how to use weapons.

    Additional going out on a limb: is Finn’s Force-sensitivity why he was able to shake off his Stormtrooper programming? Are Force-sensitivity and empathy correlated? Or are they totally unrelated?

    I really hope not. I liked Finn deserting just because it is the right thing to do.

  59. OK, I am probably the only person in the universe who liked Episode I The Phantom Menace, and I am really annoyed at the casual hate it gets. There were things wrong with it but you know what, there were things wrong with A New Hope too. (I am not going to defence Episode II, although I liked Episode III more).

    Even worse… I liked The Phantom Menace more than I liked The Force Awakens. I was fed up with TFA with the scrolling text, which confused me no end. Also, while I enjoyed it while watching it (although I would have enjoyed it more if I had understood it wasn’t shot in 3D and had saved myself the extra expense and the headache and the bad artefacts) the more I think about it the more mad I get that I got to see A New Hope Mark II.

    I am thinking specifically of when I went to see The Empire Strikes Back, and that first scenes with the black probe in the snow… and it was completely different and yet the same universe. This doesn’t feel like completely different yet the same. This feels like a reboot.

  60. Having been 18 (more or less Luke’s age) when A New Hope came out gave me an interesting perspective on the movies. It also gives me an aversion to mirrors after looking at the aging cameos in the new film…:)

    For those of you who think that this movie is a clone of A New Hope, you are off I bit, in my opinion. Justification:

    My @Quora answer to Was Star Wars: The Force Awakens “not the film we wanted but the film we deserved?” If so, how? https://www.quora.com/Was-Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens-not-the-film-we-wanted-but-the-film-we-deserved-If-so-how/answer/Shava-Nerad?srid=uTkc

    For those of you too young to remember the cultural context of the original movie:

    My @Quora answer to Did Star Wars IV seem as dumb when it was released as Episode I did in 1999? https://www.quora.com/Did-Star-Wars-IV-seem-as-dumb-when-it-was-released-as-Episode-I-did-in-1999/answer/Shava-Nerad?srid=uTkc&share=a15bc9a9

  61. My thoughts on the Starkiller superweapon thingy.

    Okay, they do mention it’s got FTL firing range. I think “hyperlight beam weapon” was the phrase used? So it doesn’t have to be in the same star system it hits. This clashes with the way the beam crawls across space, but chalk that up to either creative license or the beam is being viewed from so far away that even FTL speeds look slow. Or it became FTL somewhere out of frame, and was an STL plasma flare during the moments it was visible.

    It’s apparently a fixed installation. They built it INTO an earth sized planet, they wouldn’t bother doing that if they needed it to move. Presumable they can aim it by way of planetary rotation plus gravitational lensing? Or maybe the fact it’s FTL makes aiming easier; fire it on a hyperspace path of your choosing and decide ahead of time where it reenters realspace, you can “aim” by changing the exit vector.

    That just leaves the ridiculously closely packed target planets (moons maybe?), and the fact their destruction was apparently visible in another star system without any light speed delay. I got nothing here, this one doesn’t make sense and can’t be rationalized. It was also the only thing I didn’t like about the movie.

    The weapon is powered by draining the sun. But wait, it fires once to show the audience what it does, then was going to fire again; it would need multiple suns if it drained them entirely. And an expensive super weapon you can only discharge as many times as you have stars in a system is a waste of money. Soooo, hmmm…

    What if “draining the sun” here only refers to heat energy, not mass? In other words, it builds up a charge, while lowering the sun’s average temperature, but only drains a small (in astronomical terms) amount of matter. Then, the sun goes dark (seen in the movie), while it undergoes a core collapse due to lack of thermal and radiation pressure; as it collapses, fusion speeds up, reheating the “dark” sun back to normal radiance. You can only charge the weapon once per a predetermined period of time, but once it’s done charging the sun will rebound, and you can fire it at your leisure. Once the sun has rebounded, you can charge and fire it again.

  62. Crap. Short version:

    Whoever is Rey’s parents, they left her there with no one looking out for her?

    If Luke left her there, then he wins second worst parent of the galaxy award, right after Vader. Because I see no breadcrumbs that he did anything to have anyone look out for her. But then that means Luke left his daughter on the same planet, and right next to, the Milenium Falcon? Which is just a weird, weird, coincidence.

    I’m wondering if maybe Han left the Falcon with the salvage guy as payment for looking out for Rey because she is his daughter?

    Also, Han and Chewie have been running around independent for 20 years or so. As soon as he sees Rey, he offers her a “job”? That’s kind of weird. Unless he somehow realized she was his daughter, and wanted to keep her safe? Is it really that hard to keep the falcon running that her fixing it was worthy of Han/Chewie giving up 20 years of the solitary life and taking on crew?

  63. So. Just saw it last night. Interesting that both Finn and Rey were separated from their families very early. Not a coinkydink.

    Finn will, it is almost assured, be spending some time in a sequel searching for his own parents. (Denzel, you’re up to play Finn Sr.) His parents will almost certianly turn out to be (or have been) Jedi. My feeling is that we’ll learn that the First Order either kidnapped and conscripted or killed the children and relatives of the Jedi trained by Luke, and that Finn was conscripted specifically to make sure he never learned he’s Force sensitive. I even had this crazy thought that he’ll find his grandpa’s purple light saber…..Finn Windu?

    Rey is almost certainly Luke’s daughter. She’s not Han’s daughter; Leia had plainly never met her before, but both Han and Chewie seemed to realize who she was. My feeling is that Han offered her a job because he put it all together and wanted to protect Rey for Luke. In keeping with my previous thoughts, Rey was probably placed on Jakku as a last-ditch effort to keep her away from the FO. We’ll probably learn that there was someone watching over her on Jakku – possibly Max von Sydow’s character from the very beginning, who seemed to be an ally of the Resistance and Jedi. And we’re never told who her mother is, which could easily flower into a subplot going forward. It will not be Mara Jade – all those books and storylines are now non-canonical.

  64. What JS said about entertaining plus what Bad Robot said about J.J.A. I had watched Star Trek Into Darkness on TV just a day before I went to see Star Wars. Both are well prepared leftovers. Tasty but not as good as the first meal.
    Sequel, prequel, remake, repeat. I hate Hollywood.

  65. Random thoughts.

    My favorite funny bit was when Emo Kylo Ren is having a tantrum, two Stormtroppers walk up, and decide “Nope, we’re gonna patrol this other corridor, over here.”

    I picked up on Finn having some Force sensitivity,too.

    Rey might be Wedge’s daughter? Or, she’s how Luke (inadvertently) brought balance to the Force by being able to (safely) use the Dark side and the Light side. She does use both, and maybe that’s the source of her power.

    Emo Kylo Ren knows he isn’t as powerful as Vader, who he’s basically cosplaying, and it’s explicitly stated he isn’t fully trained. Thus Hux being ordered to pick him up at the end so that his training can be completed.

    In Star Wars the various Imperial officers are bureaucrats doing their jobs, but Hux is a True Believer, and much more dangerous. The First Order overall seems much more competent and dangerous. No one gets Force Choked for screw ups here.

    The Stormtroopers are recruited, as it were, the way Jedi were in the prequels. Which is interesting.

    Loved the ending.

  66. Enjoyed the film thoroughly and agree with the general consensus that Finn and Rey carried the story very well. It was a pleasure to see Harrison Ford back on the screen as Han Solo. That said, how telling is it that I cannot recall the name of the primary villain in the film? The impression he left was, compared to what Vader left in IV, V & VI, anemic. I mean Vader walks in a room and an overpowering presence of impending doom follows in his wake. This git in Episode VII walks in and I wonder how long before he starts whining.

  67. @ Carl – I think that’s intentional. The sniping between Kylo Ren and General Hux, the random lightsaber tantrums, the whininess, the lack of gravity, the insecurity – that’s a pretty interesting villain, no? He’s volatile and unpredictable, but….maybe redeemable?

  68. Greg said: “Whoever is Rey’s parents, they left her there with no one looking out for her?”

    We don’t know, yet. It’s implied that she was hidden on Jakku to protect her, likely to due to her strong force abilities. It’s guessed that Max von Sydow’s character (and possibly the people with him) were there for the very reason that they were guarding her, just like Obi Wan and Luke.

    I’m wondering if maybe Han left the Falcon with the salvage guy as payment for looking out for Rey because she is his daughter?

    It’s said right in the movie that he lost the Falcon (you know, just like he won it from Lando) and then it was stolen by three DIFFERENT people before it reached it’s location in the movie. So yes, just a big plot coincidence that will happen in a big space Fairy Tale.

  69. Assorted thoughts during The Force Awakens:

    – Another freaking Deathstar?
    – Adam Driver really looks like Alan Rickman.
    – I really wanted Admiral Ackbar to say, “I’m getting to old for this shit.”
    – I have no problem with a black Stormtrooper, but I do have a problem with black X-wings.
    – That guy crashed Oceanic 815, who let him fly a X-wing.
    – Was that Desmond flying an X-wing? Red Five in attack formation, Brotha.
    – Snape killed Dumbledore.
    – “Sith Lords Don’t Cry” by the Force Seasons
    – The lightsaber chooses the wizard.
    – Rey, we have to get back to the island.
    – I should get tested for ADD.

  70. The main thing I thought was unsuccessful about the movie was Starkiller Base. It doesn’t work on so many levels: scientific plausibility, the physics of its observed operation, originality as a concept. It’s just the Uber Star. It was so half-baked that it threatened to take me out of the movie.

    The First Order is a cult of personality/fascist holdout of the Empire, right? It’s got less people, less planets, less resources – Jakku was littered with blown-up Imperial stuff from 30 years prior, so clearly the Empire suffered some reasonably horrendous losses – Jakku’s a backwater, so imagine how many rusty Star Destroyers are smashed across really consequential planets. So how does the FO even fund the construction of the base? I’d think they’d be more in the business of conventional attacks, terrorist actions, maybe redirecting the odd asteroid to pummel an inhabited planet….something a little less phenomenally expensive.

  71. I don’t agree with the idea that TFA was a shot for shot remake of EpIV. While I think JJ got a little too carried away with the callbacks (I’m looking at you Starkiller Base) the similarities are all in the broad strokes and not in the details.

    Reading the commentary above I see lots of complaints how much they’re the same but I also saw one on how Ren isn’t like Vader and another on how Rey isn’t like Luke. The strengths of this movie are in the characters, particularly the new ones, because they’re not like the old ones.

    Finn is an an ex-stormtrooper, definitely not something we’ve seen before. As a stormtrooper he has good combat skills but is a bit of mess emotionally. Considering his ‘upbringing’ and the whirlwind quest he’s dragged into this makes sense. I hope they have a side story somehow of determining his origins.

    Ren isn’t a Sith Lord. He’s a man with a lot of raw power whose parents badly bungled how to deal with that and then was exploited by a real and old power. The movie could of done a lot better laying that out but he’s definitely unlike any other Force sensitive character we’ve had before. He’s a child with adult power who can handle himself until things stop going well. Then he lacks control. I think his conflict is going to be one of constant internal struggle.

    Rey is our mystery but everyone going on about how she’s has no skills but learns everything instantly is forgetting that she’s a mystery. We don’t know what she was before she was left on Jakku and we have only a general idea of what she’s being doing while she’s on Jakku. What does seem plausible is she had some initial training, spent her childhood on Jakku, knows a decent amount of the stories of the rebellion, has spent her childhood with starships, and is a very capable fighter.

    So these are our core characters going forward, none of which is like any from the past movies.

    Regarding Ren losing to Rey in the final fight. She didn’t do it by herself. Ren lost to Chewie, Finn, and Rey combined.

    First Chewie gave him a gut wound with his bowcaster, a weapon that normally tosses people around. Then, while wounded, he went up against Finn, a trained soldier. He beat Finn but was obviously getting more and more weakened. Then he fought Rey and was beating her until she essentially levelled up. An interesting thing is she seems to be taking strength or knowledge or both from him every time he tries to control her mentally. It’s like everytime he uses the Force on her, she learns from it.

    TL;DR “Fight as well with a massive gut wound you would not”

  72. I think a lot of people are missing the fact that Kylo Ren was holding back in the duel with Rey. He didn’t want her dead—he wanted her as an apprentice, and had since they first ran into each other. That’s why he was so eager to get away with her on Takodana, even at the cost of leaving BB-8 behind.

    He could have force-choked the life out of her while she was lying unconscious, and could have cut her open a few times in the duel, but he wanted her in one piece (or, at least, no more than two,) presumably so they could one day overthrow Snoke together. You know how Sith are. When they run into another powerful force user, they’re not thinking, “Kill!,” they’re thinking, “I sure could use someone like you…”

    As for TFA being too much like ANH, I think that’s inevitable when you abide so closely to the hero’s journey. And as much as Lucas overdid the hero’s journey, JJ is just laying it on with a trowel here. I couldn’t stop myself from calling the chapters out of Hero with a Thousand Faces as they came up, and it kind of took me out of the story. Belly of the Whale? The Falcon is literally swallowed up by a larger spaceship. Meeting with the Goddess? Finn and Rey meet with a 1000+ year old woman who looks into their souls. Sadly, this may be the strongest evidence for the theory that Rey is Luke’s daughter: she sees him in a vision right when we get to Atonement with the Father. Wah-wah.

  73. @jamesbfranks I haven’t seen anyone else make the comparison, but I thought about it even as was watching this film. I was excited by TFA, I was *moved* by Guardians of the Galaxy.

  74. So much elevated fancanon…

    Anyway, a couple things about Starkiller Base: in 2 viewings, I can’t recall anything in the film to suggest that it can’t move. If nothing else, it has to rotate on 3 axes in order to aim at a particular star system. And it would need to be located in a place where it has a clear line of sight (not that hard to find on a galactic scale, but still). And of course, if it drains one star, it has to move to another star to fire again (kind of a two-fer, if you can put it around the star of a troublesome planet).

    So it has to move. But how, you ask? Same way you move a Death Star (which we know moves): hyperdrive. It’s just a question of scale. There are on screen suggestions of a minimum size a vessel has to be to carry a hyperdrive (“I fighter that size couldn’t have gotten this deep into space on its own.”), but nothing to suggest a maximum.

    Someone mentioned that Starkiller Base may be Earth sized, but that’s not supported on screen. The diagram Greg Grunberg projects shows that the relative proportions of Starkiller to a Death Star are roughly similar to the Earth and moon. But the Death Star was, very specifically, a small moon. More supportable to assume Starkiller itself is about the size of our moon. And if we have to accept that they built a cannon, that can hold the plasma from a star, into a moon, assuming they also installed hyperdrives isn’t much of a stretch.

    I was actually more concerned (for whatever value of concern you wish to apply) that the planetoid wasn’t a barren hunk of rock and metal. How does it maintain an atmosphere once you’ve made a jump to lightspeed? Why does sucking in, and then ejecting, solar plasma not scorch a significant fraction of the surface surrounding the inlet port and the cannon barrel? But then I remember, lightsaber = magical weapon.

  75. A quick few addenda (sorry John, though you could always enable editing…)

    +1 to everyone pointing out that Kylo Ren was a)injured, and b) trying to recruit Rey.

    +1 to everyone who is making the case that the Internet has gone completely off the rails on the concept of a “Mary Sue” much better than I could when you suggest that Rey is one.

    I’ve decided not to compare the relative dumb in the scripts to “The Force Awakens” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”. I know exactly why (besides pure nostalgia) I have an increasing fondness for the former and increasing contempt for the latter: I like all the characters in TFA, and want them to succeed. The “heroes” of GotG are all irredeemable assholes who deserve to die. (Yes, even Groot, who only flashes that winning smile after he’s brutally murdered dozens of sentient animals.)

  76. The “Mary Sue” snark is entirely bullshit. Quick, name the sci-fi character who’s a talented engineer, gifted pilot, fearless in a scrap, supernaturally skilled with an iconic weapon, and attractive enough to inspire smitten foolishness in their costar! Oh wait THAT’S ALL OF THEM. Luke Skywalker, Captain Kirk, Paul Atreides, Neo, Jake Sully, and every character Chris Pratt has ever played are all Marty Sues, but add boobs, and it seems too farfetched? Have a seat.

  77. So I have to jump on the “Starkiller = worst science ever” bandwagon. People have already pointed out most of the things that made me grit my teeth in the movie with the exception of: Where does the mass/gravity go? You suck up a sun into a small space… well I suppose that’s possible–neutron stars and black holes do that. But when they do, the mass and gravity are still there. By rights, everyone on that base should have been squished to little storm trooper pancakes.

    Also, who the hell does the Empire / First Order keep hiring to build these damn things? Seriously, why doesn’t the contract specify “build it without a ridiculously exposed weakness some teenager can shoot up with a blaster which would result in catastrophic failure”? And after the first two, what venture capitalists are funding these things and who is insuring them? THOSE are the most gaping inaccuracies I see!

    Ugh… Even despite all of that, I did appreciate the strong female character in Rey. “Stop taking my hand!” “I can run on my own.” And not waiting for the men to come rescue her. That’s fairly refreshing, although Disney has been pushing that way with their female protagonists. Bravo anyhow.

    Lastly: @apendragyn “Darth Emo.” Ahahahahaha!

  78. We saw Darth Vader interrogate a couple of people (Leia and Han among them) in the original trilogy. He never tried using The Force to interrogate anyone in the manner Ren did. Damn JJ Abrams just went and invented the Jedi Mind Meld.

  79. wizardru: t’s guessed that Max von Sydow’s character (and possibly the people with him) were there for the very reason that they were guarding her, just like Obi Wan and Luke.

    Ugh. That would be horrible. Luke leaves Rey with Max to protect her identity and to go off and hide? And then Max gives Luke’s secret location to the first XWing pilot who asks? What part of “My daughter and I both need to go into hiding” did he fail to understand?

    And why would Luke hide a completely different quadrant of the galaxy, far away from everything, and leave Rey in the “normal” part of the galaxy where everything seems to happen and there are carcases of emperial battle cruisers on teh ground?

    “It’s said right in the movie that he lost the Falcon (you know, just like he won it from Lando) and then it was stolen by three DIFFERENT people before it reached it’s location in the movie. “

    I forget now, but didn’t Rey say that? Which would be what the salvage guy would say to cover for Han. And if Han said it, he *would* say that if he’s trying to maintain her cover for whatever reason (maybe just terrified she’d turn into another Kylo Ren?)

    just a big plot coincidence that will happen in a big space Fairy Tale.

    Honestly, I would prefer Rey be unrelated to everyone. The idea that the masters of the galaxy all come from the same bloodline (Vader) is a little too Divine Right of Kings, and not enough Meritocracy for my tastes.

    But big plot coincidences is just annoying writing. If you’re writing a murder mystery, the story needs to keep throwing you off the trail with false leads, but too many big plot coincidences and I get annoyed. I was getting a little annoyed during the movie, I’m getting slightly more annoyed as I read various tidbits about the movie after the fact.

    If either Han or Luck is the father, then why in gods name would they hide her on a place where she lives one step above a slave? If someone else was her parents, at least they could give some backstory that they were on the run, didn’t have time, were about the be captured or something, and this was the only planet nearby to drop her off before they were captured and killed. Both Han and Luke are alive and well. They may have gotten captured and later escaped, but then they should have moved Rey to a better safe house/planet.

    She was, what, 6 when she was abandoned on the planet?

    aggie: Am I the only one who instinctively wondered if Kylo Ren created a horcrux when he killed Han?

    I had a similar thought.

    When Rey touched Luke’s lightsaber and had the flashback thingy, I immediately thought “The wand chooses the wizard”.

  80. Carl S: forgetting that Vader dragged the existence of a sister out of Luke’s head at a distance in rotj…?

    For me, the big thing was something my sister also noted. We have an action hero, kicking ass and taking names, who is a gifted engineer, a pilot, and is going to develop further. And it happens to be female. There was no nod to eye-candy, and a few “nah we’re not going to do that” references, which specifically attack the “let’s rescue the girl” meme. Not just the Finn bumble at the start (oh, let’s go help. Oh, she’ s already beaten them and she’s coming after me…), but also the rescue party finding her already loose and trying to screw things up for the First Order, when they arrive.

  81. I personally think the whole “can see the Starkiller beam moving from multiple planets” is entirely a JJ Abrams thing. In his Star Trek reboots, he has absolutely no sense of scale or distance in outer space. Both Vulcan *and* Quo’nos are a couple of minutes max away from Earth at warp speed. And Old Spock can clearly see the destruction of Vulcan while standing on a planet in an entirely different star system. Looking for an “in universe” explanation for why everyone in various star system can see the hyper light beam/missiles seems futile when talking about a JJ Abrams’ script. :-)

  82. I don’t know where people are getting the idea that Finn is force sensitive. He’s an excellent shot because he’s a lead character with a soldier background. His use of the lightsaber didn’t extend much beyond just swinging the thing around. Everything he did in the movie was something Han could have done in the OT. Besides, if he were sensitive, why would the movie be all coy about it while putting a big ol’ spotlight on Rey’s emerging powers? This is Star Wars, people. It’s never been especially subtle. Finn is the new Han.

    I don’t know why (might just be that I’m a curmudgeon), but I get kind of annoyed by the common assumption that one *must* be force sensitive to be able to fight with a lightsaber. I know *why* people think that; every Star Wars game ever made has included that limitation; but it doesn’t actually make sense. Sure, it’d be hard to get used to a weapon that has no physical mass beyond the handle, but that doesn’t mean anyone who swings a lightsaber without the aid of space magic is definitely going to dismember themselves. Using a lightsaber to deflect blaster bolts? Sure, you’d need some precognition and superhuman reflexes for that. Swinging it at some asshole’s head? Just make sure the business end is pointed away from you and you’ll be fine. It’d take a lot of practice to be any good with such a weapon, and you’re basically bringing a really shiny knife to a gunfight, but there’s really no reason to assume that “fought with a lightsaber a couple times” = “must be force sensitive”. If you can use a laser pointer without blinding yourself, you can probably survive picking up a lightsaber.

  83. A thought: when Luke tried to reestablish the Jedi Order in the backstory, presumably he didn’t _just_ look for Force-sensitive toddlers he could collect from their parents like the prequel Jedis did. If nothing else, he’d spend all his time toilet-training instead of Force-training :D . And if he was recruiting teenage/adult Force-sensitives, they could easily have had families. What if Rey is the daughter of one (or two) of Luke’s former students, who left their child on Jakku and kept running to lure Kylo Ren and/or the First Order away from her.

    And another thought, about Finn and the lightsaber: I don’t know what that thing the stormtrooper was using when he was fighting Finn (it sorta reminded me of a Warhammer 40K chainsword), but it wasn’t being cut by the lightsaber. If it was purely a physical weapon, it should have been in pieces. I think the First Order stormtroopers are a little higher up the food chain from the Imperial stormtroopers, and at least some of them have been taught how to wield Force-like weapons.

  84. That thing the riot trooper was using was essentially a techo-babble tonfa.

    It’s not the only time a non-lightsabre melee weapon has stood up to a lightsabre in the movies. Remember ROTS (ugh)? Couple of the droids had what were essentially techo-babble quarterstaves, and they stood up to Obi-Wan’s sabre just fine. Presumably a lightsabre can’t cut through a force field; just shield the business end of a shock weapon and you’re good to go.

    It does show that the First Order stormies have broadened their options from what the Empire used. And it could be a dual purpose weapon; normally it’s a riot control weapon, but it’ll serve as an anti-Jedi weapon if needed.

  85. Am I the only person who was bothered by how quickly Captain Phasma dropped the shields? I could understand if a random technician lowered the shields at gunpoint; but I would think a Stormtrooper Captain would be a little harder to force opening the base up for attack. It just seemed way too easy.

  86. What bugs me (that was not prviously mentionned) is to see so few fighters. The Rebellion seems to have a dozen X-wings, tops, and no other model. How can that be when in Ep. IV they had multiples of that, plus a number of other fighters, plus largers ships.

    I loved Rey. Fin is ok. Kylo is actually pretty darn good.

  87. The Rebellion seems to have a dozen X-wings, tops, and no other model.

    Some thoughts (by a RAAF PR bloke) on why there is only one type for the Rebellion:
    https://eamonh.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/joint-strike-starfighter-x-wings-the-united-states-navy-and-the-logistics-of-carrier-battles/

    While I’m here:
    The First Order Is Far More Frightening Than the Empire
    http://warisboring.com/articles/the-first-order-is-more-frightening-and-effective-than-the-empire/

    Star Wars Reading List (The Angry Staff Officer)
    http://angrystaffofficer.com/2015/12/15/star-wars-reading-list/

  88. I prefer my crackpot Rey-Anakin theory but after a second viewing, I’m reluctently leaning toward the Luke’s Daughter theory. John Williams lays on the Skywalker theme music pretty heavily when Rey picks up the lightsaber to face Darth Emo. I felt like there were hints that Han, Leia, and Darth Emo all knew something about her.

    I don’t think Finn’s force sensitive. He’s nowhere near as good as Rey with either a blaster or the light saber, even though he presumably has more experience with all kinds of weapons. And he’s no idealist. Luke, Yoda, Obiwan, and Rey are all interested in the greater good. Not Finn. Finn faces his fears and helps the Resistance so he can rescue his friend and for no other reason. Finn’s interesting, and I’m sure he will grow into greater acts of selfless heroism in the rest of this trilogy, but I think he’s Force-neutral. Or whatever normal people are.

    But Rey. I love Rey so, so much. That moment where she picks up the lightsaber is the very moment where I cried big, messy tears and fell head-over-heels in love with this movie. Rey is the heroine I always thought Leia should be–strong, smart, totally capable of taking care of herself thankyouverymuch and ALSO A JEDI. Apparently I really HAVE been waiting for that moment for 32 years and just didn’t realize how very, very much I wanted it. I love Rey so much I will forgive this movie pretty much anything.

    Also–Adam Driver with his black robes and angst and Darth Emo hair would make a great younger Snape.

  89. Gotta say- Poe and Finn have pretty amazing chemistry. Their couple of scenes together just click. That’s not to say Finn didn’t have great chemistry with everyone- John Boyega really stole the show. So did Rey, but Daisey Ridley stole it more on the basis of her own acting rather than her chemistry with others.

  90. @ Joss Delage: “What bugs me (that was not prviously mentionned) is to see so few fighters. The Rebellion seems to have a dozen X-wings, tops, and no other model. How can that be when in Ep. IV they had multiples of that, plus a number of other fighters, plus largers ships.”

    Because this isn’t the Rebellion. The Rebellion became the New Republic, which got the shit blown out of it by the Starkiller. The Resistance is the organization led by Gen. Organa, and it’s a smaller force, fighting what amounts to an insurgency in First Order territory, covertly funded by the Republic.

  91. “The Rebellion became the New Republic, which got the shit blown out of it by the Starkiller. The Resistance is the organization led by Gen. Organa, and it’s a smaller force, fighting what amounts to an insurgency in First Order territory, covertly funded by the Republic.”

    The politics of the movie left me baffled. I kept thinking if the Rebellion won, they should be the Republic now, so who the heck are they “Resisting”? The way I figure it, they will always use a name that suggests they are the good/little guy fighting the incumbent/big/evil guy. There is a strong emotional pull to root for the underdog.

    I never understood how “rebels” managed to have their own ships either. If they were rebels, scurrying around underfoot of the empire, I would think they would have to use empire weapons, but apparently they had their own defense contractors and everything. But then it would be a visually confusing movie with tie fighters going after tie fighters.

  92. from Carl: “The impression he left was, compared to what Vader left in IV, V & VI, anemic. I mean Vader walks in a room and an overpowering presence of impending doom follows in his wake. This git in Episode VII walks in and I wonder how long before he starts whining.”

    I kind of wonder if they’re setting up to try to retell the story of how Anakin went from being a whiny teenager to being Darth Vader, only doing it correctly this time around.

  93. One thing I’ve noticed in all the Easter egg lists for SW:TFA is that not one mentions that when Rey, Finn and BB-8 are in the Millennium Falcon trying to get away from the TIE fighters on Jakku, the ship that Rey flies the Falcon into is a Super Star Destroyer, a sister ship to Executor which crashed into the 2nd Death Star during the Battle of Endor.

  94. The fact that he’s been made Supreme Leader notwithstanding, it looks like Professor Snape has really let himself go.

  95. In teaser 2, there’s a voice over by Luke (“The force is strong in my family. My father had it. I have it. My sister has it. You have it.”) which implies that whoever he’s talking to (Rey?) is related to him, in some way.

  96. I am so relieved that I’ve finally seen the movie and can read blog posts without fear. It was getting harder and harder to remain unspoiled.

    SW:TFA is okay. The stuff that really bothered me is the same stuff that has bothered many other people: “Another Death Star with another design vulnerability noticed by none of its designers, contractors, managers or tactical commanders, but glommed onto immediately by the Good Guys?” And hitting the audience over the head with the FO = Nazi thing. Please.

    Got a big kick out of Darth Emo, especially his temper tantrums: that boy is a hot mess. While I hope Rey isn’t Luke’s daughter, just because it would be more interesting if she’s not, I found myself humming the theme song to the old Patty Duke TV series during her scenes with Kylo Ren (“..because they’re cousins! Identical cousins! Two of a kind!”) so who knows.

  97. “presumably he didn’t _just_ look for Force-sensitive toddlers he could collect from their parents like the prequel Jedis did. If nothing else, he’d spend all his time toilet-training instead of Force-training”

    A new universe of horror opens up.

  98. Ohmygosh. Snoke is Jar Jar. Jar Jar would be 60’sh years old by now. And in the intervening years he molted from his annoying tadpole form in ep1 to what we say in ep7.

  99. I personally enjoyed the movie. I think the acting could have been brushed up and some of the scenes a little less drawn out.
    It will never be the originals, but it wasn’t so bad for a continuation of the series. Darth emo’s temper tantrums were entertaining, if not a little scary. I really liked Rey and remember reading somewhere that there was a possibility of her being Luke’s daughter. Speaking of Luke, man he looked rough. Perhaps that’s what they were going for? Despite that, it was nice to see all the old characters that were brought back. Fisher and Ford were great, as always.
    I think that this would have been a huge undertaking for anyone. Star Wars is a great classic with a huge fan following. Abrams has a talent for creating visuals that make these worlds very believable. He doesn’t always stick to tradition, but in this film he had a bit more freedom there with it being a continuation rather than a remake.
    I hope and think that Abrams will be one of those directors who will get better with time. Who knows, this endeavor could turn into something timeless.

  100. I enjoyed it. I did think Daisy Ridley and Harrison Ford really carried the movie – Harrison was clearly having a lot of fun, and I’m not sure Ms. Ridley really appreciates how much this is going to change things for her.

    I’m not sure about Rey being Luke’s son – I suspect that will be the boringly predictable outcome, unfortunately.

    Biggest change for me was making the stormtroopers less faceless automatons – both Fin and the two who turned and walked away when Darth Emo was having another temper tantrum were fun.

    I wonder who the construction company is who keeps getting the contracts to build death stars/planets? I think the Empire’s procurement process is the same as the US defence contractors – bribe senators to order lots of unecessary crap at inflated prices (the obsolete M1A2 tank (thanks John Boehner!) Littoral Combat Ship, F35, etc. The built-in design flaw is clearly there to keep the production line open.

    The thing that took me out of the film the most was paradoxically not the visible destruction of other planets in real time, but Rey running around in a snow storm (that was cold to Chewy) with only the +2 bandages of warmth to keep her warm. And the rather odd way in which the make-up crew seemed to make her, um, glisten, in all her scenes, even the ones out in the snowy forest…

    And also BB8 has the least sensible locomotion technique ever developed.

    Anyway, a mindless 2 and a quarter hours, and way better than Ep 1. Though so is a root canal.

  101. “In teaser 2, there’s a voice over by Luke (“The force is strong in my family. My father had it. I have it. My sister has it. You have it.”) which implies that whoever he’s talking to (Rey?) is related to him, in some way.”

    I’m not claiming you’re one of them, but a lot of people think that was dialogue meant only for the trailer, and cut from the movie itself. In fact, it is flown in straight from ROTJ, from when Luke informs Leia of their parentage on Endor, just before he heads to the Death Star II to face their dad and Palpatine.

  102. And apologies for the sequential post, John, but I wonder if anyone else was pleased to *finally* see just how useful the crossguards on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber really were.

  103. Most of the holes in the movie can be filled by the media tie-ins. Which is really high on the cinemasins scale but there it is.
    1. Poe had a concussion. Woke up long enough to land the ship. Wandered out in a daze. Couldn’t find Finn. Ship sinks, blows up, he passes out. Gets picked up by another scavenger, saves scavengers life, gets help getting off planet.
    2. Leia pulled the Obi-wan. She knew about Snoke and that he was trying to reach Ben and didn’t tell Han. She thought she could train him. She was wrong. Han left because he thought it was his fault.
    3. In the novelization, the big gun sucks in dark matter. The movie version looks prettier.
    4. Aftermath and the novelization, the New Republic demilitarized hard after the civil war. Like it’s stated above, the Resistance is a covertly funded paramilitary organization in First Order space. Leia is as afraid of the Republic as she is the First Order. That’s why she wasn’t on the planet that got BLOWED UP. Sorry. That was inappropriate.
    5. I think Rey is Luke’s daughter. I think he was off planet when the Knights of Ren showed up. If Snoke and Ren are that scared of him now, he probably could have wiped the lot of them out when they attacked if he’d been there. They missed Rey or someone got her off planet during the attack. Probably Lor. Which is why he lives on a crapsack planet. Actually, probably not. He just found her. Someone else picked Rey up and dumped her on Jakku. Luke went into seclusion because he thought he failed everyone. His sister, his nephew, the mother of his child, and his child. If there had been evidence to the contrary, Lor probably would have told him.

    5 was really long.

  104. I finally saw this, so I can say things. Most of the things I’d say have been said above, though.

    “The Force Awakens” was a far better movie, as a movie, than the prequels. Yet, at the same time, some things about it actually had me missing the prequels a little bit. The prequels had flat characters and bad dialogue, got bogged down in political backstory, and two of the three were 80% inconsequential filler… but they were actually visually imaginative, taking us to all sorts of environments we hadn’t seen in Star Wars before, if ever. The much-maligned “Attack of the Clones”, in particular: that movie jumps all over the galaxy and every place is beautiful in a different and surprising way. What they lacked was that Ralph McQuarrie look that people associated with Star Wars; they were more blobby and Art Nouveau. Still, it was new.

    This one is the opposite. It’s got endearing characters played by promising young actors, wonderful return appearances by old favorites, a story that clips right along, some of the best dialogue written for a Star Wars movie… and a world that feels like leftovers. Everything in it is a loving tribute to some scene in the original Star Wars trilogy. Even the planets feel like retreads, even though they’re previously unseen planets.

    I understand why J. J. Abrams (and Disney) did this. Abrams was effectively kickstarting the beloved Star Wars franchise for a fresh start after what was generally regarded as an ill-advised detour, and the first thing he had to do was convince people that he got what they loved about the original trilogy and wasn’t going to screw it up. So he took no chances, and made a movie that was basically an extended tribute to classic Star Wars.

    But Episode VIII had better start to move on into some new territory, or it’s going to seem stale.

  105. When I first started reading some spoilers, I realized that I have already been spoiled by the original trilogy… and now I feel very disinclined to watch a second movie to see more rehashes. They could at least have played with our expectations, but no. Same character roles, same locations, same plot points. In a market more saturated than ever with special effects adventures, I don’t think this cuts the mustard.

  106. My Rey origin theory:

    When Mazz (or whatever her name was? I just thought of her as Yodette) peered into Finn’s eyes and said “When you’ve lived long enough, you see the same eyes in different faces” (or words to that effect), it reminded me of many similar scenes in Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series in which an old sorcerer looks into the eyes of a young man or woman and recognizes the reincarnated soul within. I think J.J. Abrams has added the idea reincarnation to the Star Wars universe — at least for jedi, but I think probably for everyone, since Finn doesn’t seem to be a jedi.

    Yodette didn’t look into Rey’s eyes, but I think Rey is also a reincarnation of someone. Someone with Force powers, explaining her miraculously rapid ascent up the jedi learning curve.

    She lives in the desert as a lonely young person of no particular class but with brilliant intuitive technical skills and she’s a wizard as a pilot. So, obvious speculation: she’s the reincarnation of Anakin Skywalker.

    It’s plausible, but I’m not quite buying it: it’s hard for me to overlook the fact that she has exactly the same accent as Obi-wan Kenobi. I think she’s the reincarnation of Ben.

    Another possible explanation for her instant Force training: When Darth Boyfriend said “I can train you in the ways of the force”, she remembered that he could pull knowledge out of other people’s brains, and she had already taught herself how to push ideas into other people’s brains, so she reached out to Darth Boyfriend’s brain and downloaded everything he knows about lightsaber fighting.

    Another is that she had some early padawan training and has forgotten it.

    (Note: I would like all of these explanations ever so much better if the film had made it clear that Rey’s instant skill acquisition, without so much as an ’80’s training montage, was intentionally set up as a mystery and a clue to her background. If there’d been a scene with someone saying “Where did you learn to do that?” and Rey saying “I… don’t know…”, I’d be much more excited about the fan theories. As it is, though, I’m just a little bit concerned that I may be handwaving over a giant steaming plot hole left by a dippy screenwriter.)

  107. BTW, I have a theory about J.J. Abrams. Many years ago when he was young, he won the love of a goddess, who granted him the gift of being able to precisely imitate exactly what you loved about all your favorite childhood films and TV shows. However, he spurned her love for another, and in her rage and fury she converted her gift to a curse, so that the magic would last only as long as it takes to watch each movie once. In the car on the way home from the theater, plot holes would begin to appear, and soon afterward the internet would fill with comments and think pieces questioning whether the early hype was truly justified.

    So, really fun movie, but I suspect we’re all going to be scratching our heads and disappointedly reconsidering it in about six months’ time, so everyone should go see it right away.

  108. This film looks to have pulled a lot from the books. The Starkiller Base, aside from being a nod to Luke’s original name, was included somewhere in there.

    Like others, I’m pretty sure that the next film will be giving the Mara Jade backstory as origin for Rey. It ties in too neatly to what happened in the books. If I recall Ben Solo went nuts and turned evil (Kylo Ren) and killed Mara Jade and a bunch of others. That combined with the final scene and the rather blatant “gosh, they have really similar eyes!” shot look like a pretty big giveaway to me. The lightsabre belonging to two generations of Skywalkers so far… It seems to be pointing in that direction.

    I loved the nods to the original films included all through this one. The look on Han’s face when they tell him they need to get this droid to the resistance. Classic. Reprising the bridge scene from Empire. I cracked up when they got to fly through that trench.

    I also love that Kylo Ren is such a Tantrum-Throwing Brat. Your menacing evil is basically an overgrown child with power and no control who has been (like Anikin before him) manipulated to become this monster but is struggling to manage it. The scene with him talking to Darth’s mask, he says he still feels the pull of the light side. Fighting Finn and Rey, he’s punching himself in his wounded side to get some rage up to fight with. It looks a lot like he’s being set up for a redemption story, but I hope they take him the other way. He could be a great villain if he commits.

    Poe Dameron was fun, but probably needs more screen time. Right now he’s a bit of a supporting role. Given the marketing beforehand I thought he’d be more involved. Also, he needs to say Nevermore at least once.

    What I’m really hoping to see in the next film is Kylo Ren really getting his act together as a villain, more of Phasma and of course the big reveal of Luke as Rey’s long lost father (Big surprise there). Obviously we also need the rebels to be knocked on the back foot, both because we’re following the same broad story arc as the first trilogy and because if they were on top there’d be no point in telling the story. Oddly enough, it’s Finn who I’m most interested in seeing in the next film. In many ways he’s starting from the lowest base story-wise. He has fewer hooks than the other players, so what do they do with him? More screen time for Poe would be nice as well. So far he looks a lot like Wedge.

  109. Regarding the fight scene between Ren and Rey (and hopefully dismantling any Mary Sue arguments therein):

    Kylo Ren is trained in the Dark Side and the care and use of a lightsaber (and sorry-not-sorry but his lightsaber is pretty bad-ass and metal as hell). His fighting style seems to patterned more after longsword fighting than the traditional swingy-hacky methods we’ve seen in previous SW films, made evident to me by that wicked cut on the spine that Finn took*.

    However well trained Ren may be, I seriously doubt he’s been truly tested until the events of TFA. Until the fall of Starkiller Base, his on screen opponents have been unarmed older men and inanimate objects. He may know techniques and have excellent form, but may have very little sparring experience.** This may not be a major issue in a fight against someone lacking experience in melee (Finn) or against your standard-issue armsman (Poe), but Rey?

    Well, we know that Rey’s been in a few scraps, has actual combat experience with a weapon, and can hold her own against more than one opponent+. So while she may not be knowledgeable with a lightsaber (she uses some staff fighting techniques when facing off against Ren, and LUNGES! Loved that!), she makes up for it by having been tested in fights. This means she’s aware and accepting of the risk (and likeliness) of getting hurt, so the fear of injury isn’t interfering.

    Ren’s not afraid of getting hurt, but I think that’s more from his overconfidence more than anything else. That smite to the face was a big wake-up call for him.

    —-

    *That’s a kill shot by the way, so Finn surviving that gives credence to his being strong in the Force, IMO.

    ** I’ve been training in Okinawan Karate for eight years now, and I know I need more sparring time, so I speak from experience.

    + Fighting Scene Peeve: Move your feet Rey! Don’t just hold your ground!

  110. Really enjoyed it. The desert planet scenes were very Lucas/Spielbergian in the best way. Two quibbles. 1. “You changed your hair” no! that is the exact same hairstyle she had on Hoth. 2. Chewbacca taking on a new co pilot immediately. Just lost his life partner, needs time to grieve.

  111. Chewie always has your back. Always. Being put in a situation where Han was going to get killed and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it must have torn him up.

  112. @Evan: Actually, I love the idea that Rey is the reincarnation of Anakin just for how much the realization would irritate Kylo Ren. “Why couldn’t it be meeeeeeee????”

  113. The whole business with Poe getting billed as a major character beforehand had be scratching my head for awhile. He’s basically nobody in this movie.

    Alternately, I feel like the marketing people went to huuuge lengths beforehand to disguise anything that would indicate that Rey becomes Jedi Rey. Sure, she’s huge on the poster, but Finn’s the one holding the light saber–she’d only got her staff. You’d think from looking that Finn ends up as the Jedi-to-be. Rey toys don’t have lightsabers, either (though neither does Toy Finn–he only gets a blaster.) Maybe they pushed Poe as yet another way of keeping Jedi Rey as their big reveal. And/or he’s going to be really important next time.

  114. Evidently, as Oscar Issac tells it, there was a point where Abrams and Kasdan wanted to do this big audience fake out where Poe would be pushed as the new Luke, then die in the first hour, making way for Finn to be the new Luke, only to have the big switcheroo we see at the end of the film with Rey. JJ does love his big audience fake outs.

    They changed their minds later, and wrote some additional adventures for Poe that made it into the novelization, but either didn’t get filmed or were cut in the editing process. Either way, though, the final script doesn’t really have much sense of trying to establish a trio. Ultimately, Poe’s story most parallels Obi-Wan’s in TPM, and even I don’t defend that choice. In my head!remake (and I have one for all 7 movies) Finn drags an injured Poe around Jakku, and the trio’s roles are firmly established on the Falcon (Poe = pilot, Rey = mechanic, Finn = gunner).

    I do appreciate that there is very little sense of trying to create romantic entanglements in among the three mains – unless you count the Finn/Poe shippers, who are many. :)

  115. Kylo Ren is also Luke’s child. Han’s ‘midichlorians’ got addled when he was in carbonite, so he and Leia raised Ben as their own, while Luke went off to replenish the Jedi ranks. Rey is his too.

    All to continue the re-booted JJ Star Wars plotline, so that in the next episode, the Vader/Luke Bespin confrontation is remade into a Luke/Ren battle:
    Kylo Ren: “I can’t come back to the light! I killed my father!”
    Luke: “No. I am your father.”

    Skullduggery happens; Luke gets turned into a Force ghost somehow. “More powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Yeah, right. But that’s another story.

    EP IX: Rey vs. Ren to restore the balance in the Force, BFFs.

    Rinse and repeat ala Battlestar Galactica.

  116. Am I the only one on the planet who thinks Rey is going to turn to the Dark Side? @Wiredog is the only person I’ve seen who has even mentioned the Dark Side with respect to her, but just look at the fear and anger she’s experiencing as she uses the Force. It’s so strong.

    Am I missing something?

  117. Just saw the film and I have to say, “What Spoilers???!!!” There were so many nods and repeats of events in Episodes IV-VI that there were no surprises. For me it was like attending a concert of a great ’70’s rock band. They play the same stuff but it is just not the same.

  118. Mycrazyhair, you’re not the only one thinking that. She seems to fight with a hell of a lot of rage. Meanwhile Ren had his little scene chatting with a burnt helmet where he says that he’s struggling to resist the light and needs help to stay on the dark path. Definitely room there for a redemption storyline for him. I’d prefer if they didn’t TBH. That would be too much rehashing.

  119. Was anyone else bugged that at the end Rey was in the driver’s seat while Chewie kept his copilot spot? Chewie has decades of experience with that particular ship, and has seniority over her like whoa. Super weird.

  120. Also, Chewie’s used to mentoring rookie pilots. Solo back when they first encountered Luke was probably just the latest in a series of pilots Chewie’d trained up so he could still get to be the one firing the big guns (Chewie really likes his boomsticks).

  121. Overall I put this down as my third favorite Star Wars movie after Empire and New Hope. (My list is Episodes 5, 4, 7, 6, 3, 2,1)

    The good: Maz, Rey, Han & Chewy, Finn, the sight gag of the Stormtroopers walking away during Ren’s tantrum, callbacks to the the original movie (the chess game, the lightsaber ball), more female background characters as Stormtroopers and X-Wing pilots.

    The okay: Ren was good villain until he took his mask off, not enough of Finn’s backstory. It was good to see Leia but her scenes with Han were awkwardly written, Not enough Gwendolyn Christie. I’m glad the Stormtroopers are getting more development but now they are two dimensional instead of one, BB8 is cute but sometimes reminded me of a fast R2D2.

    The Bad: I don’t care that Carrie Fisher “looked old” but she sounded like she was talking with a mouth full of cotton. Luke in the movie for 30 seconds and no dialogue. I know people have to die but Han Solo is what I loved about SW. This means there will be no scenes with the three human originals.(I understand that Finn and Rey are the main characters, but come on. One scene would have been nice) While the universe was Star Wars, it didn’t have the western feel of the originals.

  122. Stupid stupid Sith – a light saber lies five metres away from you. Do you just walk over and pick it up? No, you try to force-pull it for seconds… and it doesn’t work. Bet you felt like an idiot!

  123. Just saw it for a second time. I heard nothing from Leia, Han, or Kylo Ren that any of them recognized her as 6 year old family member dropped off on Jakku years ago. Not a word. The only thing was at one point, interrogating Rey, Kylo Ren reads Reys thoughts and “you see Han Solo as the father she never had”. A bit too on the nose to qualify as forshadowing. He tried recruiting her during the fight, but if he knew she was his sister or cousin, that would have been the time to spring it on her, get her to second guess herself.

    When Ren captures Rey in the woods, he says something like, you’re the girl I’ve heard about. Just after the general told him BB8 escaped with the help of a girl, and Kylo says “What Girl!?!” But no one ever says a syllable that they recognize her. Leia knew the moment Han died. I think she would have known Rey was her daughter the moment she laid eyes on her. Either that, or the force is a completely arbitrary set of plot solutions.

    Anyway, on second viewing, it seems fairly cl3ar that Rey was at Lukes academy when Ren freaked out and someone hid her. She has training and either forgot it or was mind wiped or something.

    Rey go dark? I would wager not. She might be tempted, but having the first female main character turn evil? Hell no. That would be like having the only black character in Pork Chop Hill be a coward. Plotwise, it is possible. But I think it would reinforce too much bigotted nonsense about why women shouldnt serve in combat. The shiny stormtrooper will give us the evil+woman+military combination. Rey can be good+woman+military. And Kylo Ren already serves as evil #2.

    She might be tempted, but I dont think she will embrace it. I have a feeling there will be plenty of dark things in ep8 without Rey becoming a Sith.

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