Fiddler's Thoughts on Episode VII wrote:I enjoyed the film, but my overall opinion is a little mixed. It was way better than the prequels, in large part because the characters were actually interesting and likeable. However it also felt a little like the new Star Trek movies, and Jurassic World, in that it was very AWARE that it was a franchise revival, and felt the need to keep acknowledging that in the script. They really didn't need to have a rehashed version of every single significant moment from the original trilogy to make sure it felt like Star Wars... but then again, Star Wars stuff has ALWAYS beeh highly repetitive.
My hope is that they were just loading all the "see? It's part of the same series" stuff into this film so they can start going a little more in their own direction with the next one.
I liked the new characters, and it was nice how they had ELEMENTS of the original characters, but in different combinations, so that one wasn't specifically "the new Han" or "the new Luke," etc. I actually kind of wished the original characters had stayed out of the way a little more/been less central to the plot.
The film did need to slow down a hair and actually take the time to establish the scope of its settings and events, though. For example, was Coruscant actually destroyed? Was that what I saw happening? Or was the city just damaged? or was that somewhere else? Because if Coruscant (which had been the capitol for literally thousands of years and through multiple governments, including the Old Republic and the Empire) really was destroyed, that should have been a BIG fucking deal to the characters--it'd be like if someone blew up Rome.
The power balance also felt a bit off. The Rebels won, and they've had 30 years to stabilize the government. It feels cheap to try and just hit a reset button to make them the underdogs again. I think it would work better to maybe have the First Order be the "rebel" group, adopting the guerrilla tactics. Make them behave more like a terrorist organization.
The "map to Skywalker" just struck me as really stupid and half-baked. Why does this thing exist? And why could nobody compare the fragment to any other maps to identify the corresponding parts, or at least go "oh look, it's an uncharted area that fits into this area that we know is uncharted!" I have a few theories as to where that's headed, but it struck me as a clumsy (and frankly kind of lazy) plot device.
There were two big things felt like obvious setups that I really hope are red herrings:
1. I really hope Rey is not Luke's daughter (or any part of the Skywalker family, for that matter). With Vader, Luke, and Kylo Ren, we've already got three generations of this one immediate family being THE ONE IMPORTANT THING THAT DETERMINES THE FATE OF THE GALAXY, and Star Wars has a tendency to try to make things tie into each other way too much. With thousands of planets, there's more than one family.
2. I really hope "Kylo Ren's redemption" isn't a trilogy-spanning arc. He should either definitively fall or definitively renounce the First Order in the next film, and be done with it. He's petulant and whiny, and watch him go through Hamlet-like oscillations through the whole series is not the most exciting prospect.
Kylo Ren himself could be a positive or a negative aspect of these movies at this point, depending on what they do with him. The character has potential. It's very clear that he WANTS to be Vader, that he sees himself as Vader, but that ultimately he's just an obsessed fanboy playing dress-up. His character is WRITTEN the way the audience INTERPRETED Anakin as being (i.e., the difference between Lucas' intent and his bad writing), and it's very clear that he commands neither the fear nor the respect that Vader did; he's just being used for his innate power, and able to be manipulated because of his obsession and his immaturity. And I think that idea holds potential--but again, only if it's not just used as a lame repeat of the Vader story. It's clear that he's not the main villain, and may even be as low as third-in-command. But one thing this film did lack that even the prequels had was interesting villains.
And on that note, I felt like the super-giant, super-CGI hologram of the leader of the First Order was leading to a fake-out, either that he doesn't really look like that, or that he's actually super-tiny or something. The CGI of Snoke doesn't quite mesh with the feel of the rest of the film, and I hope that's deliberate to show that it's a "fake" image. But, not sure yet where that's going.
So overall: I enjoyed it, but I had some issues. Though I'm a bit torn, because I'm not sure whether those issues are particular to this movie, or whether they're flaws that have always been there since the original, but I just don't notice/mind as much because I grew up with those.
But again, the tricky thing is that most of my complaints--a whiny main character, convenient plot holes/clumsy plot devices, cyclical/repetitive plot points--those are all things that have been there since the very beginning. Star Wars has ALWAYS used convenient coincidences and clunky devices to move the plot forward. Luke was an annoyingly whiny little bitch in Episode IV, and so was Anakin in Episode II. The writing has been hit-or-miss throughout the series, and even with Episode VI we'd already seen two Death Stars with last-minute desparate attacks (IV and VI), two "secretly related" reveals (V and VI), two "hidden Jedi Masters" (IV and V), and two cases where the main Rebel base was ALMOST wiped out until a last-minute effort allowed them to get away (IV and VI). And that gets exponentially worse if you start counting EU material.
And now, here is what I came up with for Episode VIII. I'm not saying this is what I *THINK* is going to happen; just that this is what came to mind for me, in part to try and subvert some seeded plotlines that seem too obvious/underwhelming and fix the problems with VII:
Fiddler's Episode VIII pitch wrote:
- Hurt and defeated, Kylo Ren flees the First Order and spends the first part of the movie in a crisis of conscience (let's not spend too much screen time on this). He is captured, restrained, and possibly tortured for information by Rey, Finn, and Chewie before he finally breaks and decides to help them. Let's make him the Zuko of this film.
- With the Senate destroyed and the threat of the First Order looming, and herself still upset by recent events, Leia starts turning the New Republic into something of a military dictatorship. And when she finds out what they did to Kylo, Leia has a falling out with the main characters. They are kicked out of the Resistance, and end up lone-wolfing it. They go to see Luke, with some minor misadventures along the way.
- The First Order, disrupted and damaged, needs to start resorting to guerrilla tactics. Rather than being an overwhelming force like the Empire, they end up being something more akin to a terrorist organization, trying to break down order in the galaxy so they can sieze control over divided factions.
- Luke takes in the heroes and agrees to start training Rey and Finn, and rehabilitating Kylo Ren. Chewie takes the Falcon and leaves. But, big ending surprise: Kylo Ren finds out that the Falcon is still on the planet, sealed up and buried underwater. Inside, he finds a dying, rage-filled monstrosity that was once Chewie, a failed experiment. Luke is actually Snoke, and Kylo tries to warn the others, but they don't believe him. Kylo disappears, and Luke tells the others that he had a breakdown and fled. Film ends with Luke in a secret dungeon corrupting Kylo through a mix of cybernetic surgery and The Force, and turning him into some sort of monster.
Insert B-plots and droid/alien scenes as necessary to round out, possibly in the form of a side mission with Poe and BB-8 to help set up the events of Episode IX.