Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (The Dusty Complains)


You loved The Force Awakens, right? Sure you did. Everyone did. It's made a gazillion dollars and shows no signs of stopping. It's washing that icky prequel Jar-Jar taste out of our collective mouths. It's giving us young feminine heroes sans slave bikinis to rally behind while still bowing the nostalgia strings of our cello hearts making J.J. Abrams look like the Yo-Yo Ma of space opera.

I understand. Really, I do. I took my eleven year old son to go help awaken the money force in IMAX 3D and it was nothing less than a spectacle. I loved the original trilogy like everyone else and The Force Awakens paid tribute in a way that fans dreamed about when they bought tickets for The Phantom Menace and had nightmares about when they left that movie.

It was entertaining as a standalone, also. The actors were solid. The story succeeded on the strength of a tested formula. The special effects were without equal.

But after the Star Wars intoxication had passed I had time to analyze a little deeper. I had time to pick apart things. Basically, I found things to bitch about. Bitching about them doesn't suddenly mean I don't like the movie. But I see no reason I should have to ignore these things either.

Kylo Ren is kind of a wuss. So is Finn, but I have a lot more problems with his character than just his uselessness in a fight. So let's stick with Ren for now. Here's a guy who's the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia. Both a couple of certified badasses. If that's not enough, he was identified as being strong with the force at a young age and received training from Luke Skywalker. Yet he's easily outwitted by some kids and eventually defeated by a child who has literally never held a lightsaber before. He couldn't even out-muscle her when they were leveraging for position. I understand she's a force prodigy, but he was able to toss her into a tree a few seconds earlier, then suddenly he's at her mercy. Even fucking Finn gets a wound on Kylo and he's got no force helping him out.

(Yes, I know Kylo is wounded from Chewie's blaster. It's no excuse. He's a wuss. Let's hope Supreme Leader Snoke fixes that.)

Tangentially, why do any of the Jedi or Sith fight with a lightsaber when they can sling people into walls or squeeze there brains telekinetically?

Now for the part that might be a bit controversial. Of course, there was already controversy when folks first found out there'd be black and female storm troopers. There's always idiots ready to spout nonsense at such announcements. I'm fine with black actors getting all the parts in Hollywood. Black Santa Claus? Bring it on. Idris Elba as James Bond? Might be the first Bond I watch in years. Remake of Passion of the Christ with a black Jesus? I say go for it. And don't leave the women out. You wanna make all female Ghostbusters? Sure, why not? Make an all female Magnificient Seven while you're at it.

But now that I've seen the movie. I don't think we should have had black and female Stormtroopers. Before I make my case, let me show you a couple of pictures.

Actual Fucking Nazis

Space Nazis (AKA Stormtroopers)

Does the First Order (and why the fuck can't they just be The Empire?) look like an inclusive group to you? If you're going to base an antagonist off the most historically racist government in the history of mankind, then it's a little self-defeating to have them be inclusive of other races and genders.

Besides, when did they stop being clones? (Don't answer that, angry nerds.) Which brings me to my next issue.

Finn is also a wuss. He wants to run away from everything. He wants to avoid conflict with the First Order at all costs. I understand that he was taken from home at a young age. The fact that he's a non-conformist despite his years of training and brainwashing is a pretty cool gimmick. But what about his attitude. Why is he trying to be sassy and funny? Why wouldn't he be stone cold serious all the time? He acts more like a guy who's been kidnapped last week, not as a child.

Let me offer a different version of Finn and Rey. Finn is indeed a pacifist. He doesn't want to kill, but he's underwent the brainwashing of the First Order. He's white, and the First Order has taught him to see other races as inferior. After making his escape to Jakku he meets Rey, a young black salvager who's in possession of BB-8. The girl proves her mettle time and time again, causing him to question everything he's been taught. He decides to join the resistance and use his superior Stormtrooper training and cold logic to help win the fight. Against the odds he and Rey become close, and Finn becomes a softer character over the course of the film.

That's my version. Maybe a little too deep for the kids buying Star Wars happy meals.

Another tangential question. If you are going to open up Stormtroopers to other races and genders, then why are there still only humans in the First Order? The resistance has all kinds of weird alien allies, including Ackbar and Nien Nunb. Why don't the bad guys ever have anyone like that? There are clearly some badass aliens in the Star Wars canon that would make for better soldiers than humans, so where are they?

Lastly, lets talk about Han Solo's death. Should it have been saved for the second or even third film? It's impossible to say without knowing what else is in store. It was a beautifully tragic moment but if the other two films lack anything comparable then it will be for naught. Plus, Han was really terrific in The Force Awakens. I'm not sure the new stars can carry scenes the way Harrison Ford does and I don't think Carrie Fisher is up to that challenge either these days. Even if she is, it doesn't look like she'll have that sort of role in this trilogy. That leaves only one hero who can save us. Help us Mark Hamill, you're our only hope.