‘The Last Jedi’ comes out later this year. Looking back at the last numbered entry of the franchise, there are a lot of problems with it. Problems the prequels didn’t have. I know that this will be an unpopular opinion, but I do not think ‘The Force Awakens’ was much better than the prequels. Maybe even a little worse.
Now I’m not saying this to be a hipster or to be contrarian, but I would rather watch Episodes II or III over VII. Episode I is a garbage fire, but even it has aspects superior to VII. Few but they are there.
They Aren’t Reskins of the Originals
I’ll go ahead and get the most obvious point out of the way first. ‘The Force Awakens’ was for all intents and purposes ‘A New Hope’.
“Orphan” on desert planet finds droid with important documents and takes the Millennium Falcon. Han Solo filling both roles – his character and Obi-Wan’s. They meet up with Leia, still a princess despite the fact it’s been 30 years and the original war ended. The resistance to take on the evil space Nazis, their evil sorcerer and their death ball. They sacrifice the old mentor. Destroy the Death Star Killer by flying a ship through a trench and blowing the whole thing up with a single shot.
As dumb as much of the plot of the prequels were at least they were something different. “What about Episode I?” some may ask. Yes, some of it was like ‘A New Hope’. The old mentor dying at the hands of a Sith, blowing up the main enemy vessel with a single shot, and a kid from Tatooine. Even those are different in context and the rest of the film is dissimilar. For the worse I would agree, but I would rather have George try something new and fail. Than J.J. give us the exact same thing with a new coat of paint.
The Villains Are Actually Intimidating
Kylo Ren is a punk. I don’t mean that in the sense that he is an edgy rebel, he is a bitch. “But he stopped a blaster bolt in midair!” Yeah that was pretty cool, but why didn’t he deflect it with his lightsaber? Other than this show of “Force” he does almost nothing badass the rest of the film. Also as soon as he took his helmet off he lost any chance of me taking him serious. “This emo kid is supposed to be the new Dark Lord of the Sith?” was my initial reaction.
Captain Phasma was completely useless and was less effective than the regular Stormtroopers. Snoke was a nonentity and Hux at least was good at speeches.
The prequels gave us Darth Maul, who exudes badassery. Jango Fett, a mercenary so skilled he gets an army copied off of him. General Grievous, (while he sounds like the Cookie Monster) wields four lightsabers at once. He shouldn’t have lost to Obi-Wan. To top it off, Count Dooku, it’s Christopher fucking Lee that’s enough.
Also both Dooku’s curved handled saber and Maul’s double bladed saber are far and away more awesome than Kylo’s dumb cross hilted saber.
The Heroes are Active and Effective
This may sound counter to my previous point, but as an entity the First Order are effective. In fact by the end of ‘Force Awakens’ they are the only team I could root for. Yes they are the bad guys, but at least they are putting in work. The Republic, ya know the Republic the original trilogy spent their entire time trying to establish. Wasn’t a factor in the film and was annihilated in an instant. Why hadn’t the Resistance done anything about The First Order before the main cast got there?
The First Order built an army, a fleet and a massive planet weapon while the good guys were relaxing on their Barcaloungers.
The CIS on the other hand were hounded and attacked relentlessly by the Republic and the Jedi as soon as they found out about them. There was a fair amount of back and forth in the fighting but that is more ‘The Clone Wars’ series (which is quite good). I’m not counting that as part of the prequels for the sake of this article.
They Actually Try to Explain Things
This is by far the biggest problem with The Force Awakens; not a damn thing is explained. If they even gave crappy half-assed explanations I would give them some kind of credit, but nope.
No explanation for how the First Order was able to form and build a massive power base without anybody from the Republic stepping in to stop them beforehand. It’s not like they have any experience with armies of Stormtroopers causing problems in the galaxy. Oh wait! Or how Luke’s lightsaber he lost in Cloud City just happened to be at a bar on a planet the heroes happen go to. Or how Kylo Ren can know about Darth Vader and his fall to the dark side but somehow miss his redemption. It is Mass Effect 3’s ending bad levels of non-explanations.
The prequels went the other way. Often over explaining things and answering questions no one had. We knew how the Republic worked, to a grossly unnecessary degree, where the clone army came from. Why Anakin fell to the dark side. How Luke and Leia were separated. What happened to all the Jedi. What the Force is. Unfortunately, pretty much everything we’d want to know plus a hell of a lot more we didn’t need to.
If the Force Awakens took the time to answer some of these questions. Most of my issues with it would be resolved and I would be better predisposed to it.
There are a few more things, like unmemorable music versus Duel of the Fates. The whole Mary Sue protagonist thing that, while I agree with, has been beaten to death. Killing a fan favorite for a cheap surprise that was obvious the moment that scene started. These make Force Awakens not the renaissance of Star Wars many people seem to praise it to be.
Hopefully, ‘The Last Jedi’ address these problems and will be better, I’d love that. I love Star Wars; it is one of my favorite universes, and I want the movies to be good, but Episode VII is not. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Darth Lens Flare brings us.
And I swear if it is The Empire Strikes Back version 2.0 I’m quitting Star Wars.