Star Warts

Ok, I’m going to ruffle some feathers here.

I didn’t like the new Star Wars movie very much. Yes, it was better than the prequels, but that damns with faint praise. What is the problem with it? Well, in the first place, we replaced one “I know what’s best” director in George Lucas, with another in J.J. Abrams. Successful at the box office, yes, but not very satisfying. I’ll say this — he delivers an entertaining movie, but after it’s over and done with, you realize it’s like cotton candy: sugary and tastes good, but no value whatsoever.

Never mind that Abrams knows nothing about physics; he doesn’t even respect the physics of the fictional universes he’s working in. If violating canon makes for a more exciting action scene, Abrams takes the short cut to adrenaline, and the rules of your universe be damned. Launch from a landing bay directly into lightspeed? Sure. Come out of lightspeed at point-blank range in an atmosphere to avoid a planetary shield? No problem (aside from nearly going splat). And…. oh wait, that’s a big spoiler.

Head below the fold, but be warned, MASSIVELY spoiler-laden.

A planetary-sized (no, excuse me, an actual planet) Death Star that eats suns and shoots across the galaxy at hyper-light velocity? No thanks. Darth Emo? Dear God, no. Rhie goes from zero to Jedi in 20 minutes? Luke was riding the short bus to school. Speaking of Luke, he had about 30 seconds of screen time, and not one line.

Now, the big whopper of a spoiler. Darth Emo is Leia and Han’s son. Luke started a new Jedi order, but his nephew betrayed him, went over to the dark side and slaughtered all the other students. Luke blamed himself and went into seclusion; Leia and Han split. Han went back to smuggling — and there’s another complaint I have… it’s now canon that Han Solo is a big failure. Yep, not a hero, a zero.

So he goes back into smuggling, but by the time the movie starts, he’s managed to lose his shirt and welsh on debts no less than three times, and get the Millennium Falcon stolen to boot. Oh, and got most of his crew eaten by his rather dangerous cargo. J.J. throws all this stuff in because it’s funny, but doesn’t even stop to think about what it does to the character.

Speaking of characters, we have four new ones for the next gen: Rhie, the orphan desert girl; Fin, the ex-stormtrooper; BB-8, the rolling droid; and Poe, the hotshot pilot. And the only one I gave a damn about was Rhie. I never connected with any of the others. Oh, BB-8 did a good job filling the R2-D2 role, but Poe was two-dimensional, and Fin… Sigh.

I’m old enough to remember “My Lai Massacre” and somehow, that memory interferes with his character. He just doesn’t work, and one of the reasons is Abrams fails to explore his motives in refusing to slaughter the villagers. It’s wrong, and he doesn’t want to do it — I’m fine with that as a moral compass, but as the person being entertained, I want to see some inner conflict. What were Fin’s ideals. How did they conflict with this action? But no, he didn’t have any; he just broke conditioning with no explanation at all.

Does anybody in this universe know how to check the fucking orders when someone comes by to move a critical prisoner? At least they did in Episode IV. Oh, wait, that was a delivery. You need orders for a delivery, not for a pickup.

Aside from the Luke Skywalker cameo and Han Solo tragedy (by the way, he dies, which surprised me not at all — Ford’s getting too old), we are treated to a Han/Leia reunion, which the actors managed to sell better than the writer did. However, when C3P0 showed up, I wanted to drop-kick him into a Gungan swamp. He was positively Jar-Jar levels of annoying, and should stick to translating.

Other issues:
Darth Emo. That’s all I have to say about him, except….

So just how bad of a failure was Luke at teaching? His prize student killed all his other students, and then gets his ass kicked by a complete noob. New entry in the Evil Overlord’s list: “If my opponent is having a Force epiphany while we’re locked in combat, I will at least cough loudly enough to break her concentration. Screaming is preferred.”

If Luke rode the short bus, Darth Emo was the institutionalized retard. They make him look like a badass, holding a blaster bolt in midair, but then he fails to break Poe, fails to break Rhie, and loses his temper and smashes the scenery repeatedly. His attempt to mentally take key information out of Rhie’s head sparks her Jedi powers, and over the next half-hour, she goes from neophyte to kicking Emo’s ass in a lightsaber duel. Granted, he was injured already, but still…

If you use up a sun every time you fire your big gun, how do you get replacements — you mean that planet has a hyperdrive, so it can go find new ammo?

So….why not just stop by the capital of the Republic and eat their sun? Why bother shooting the planets (all 5 at once, so it has multi-shot capability)?

Wait, so there’s a Republic, a First Order, and a Resistance now? And the Republic was supporting the Resistance? Woohoo, can you say “causus belli?” The Republic got what was coming to it when they poked that bear with a stick, didn’t they?

And who is this “sorta-emperor” with the upgraded hologram? Where the hell did he come from?

Huh, the Sith were just one of a succession of minor bad guys?

Seriously, had Han never seen Chewie fire the bowcaster?

Ok, so the map to where Luke’s hiding is a small fraction of the galaxy, and it’s unknown. But at the end, R2-D2 projects the whole galaxy — except for a missing fragment, which is supplied by BB-8 from the map. So why didn’t someone go, “Hey, I bet that unknown area is the one section of the galaxy we don’t know about!”

The one obvious weakness of your huge base is not guarded or patrolled, so three guys can sneak up on it. In the snowy cold…Thermal is only for detonators. And oscillators that conveniently keep your batteries from overheating and exploding with the power of the star you just slurped up.

At least they armored the hell out of it this time — it took X-Wings blasting it, internal sabotage, and finally, an X-Wing getting inside to blow the crap out of it.

Why did an infantry captain have the password to lower the shield for the entire planet?

And most critically — why isn’t Darth Emo’s hair messed up by that helmet? How does he get it all back in the helm?

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5 Responses to Star Warts

  1. Mauser says:

    Just came back from it.
    The rebellion re-instated the Senate and the Republic, why would the Republic need to keep funneling money to the Rebellion? After all these years, the Rebellion now has no capital ships at all?

    The First Order seems to be a cult built out of the remnants of the empire, they’re against the Republic, so where is THEIR funding coming from?

    Still, it’s better than a film about negotiating with the Trade Federation. Star Wars has always been Science Fantasy, not Science Fiction.

    (The Solution to the R2D2 Map thing is that he’s been depressed and won’t boot up ever since Luke left, thus they can’t tell that the map is missing that chunk. But the whole provenance of the map, or even the need for the trail rather than just the X marking the spot is pretty questionable.)

  2. I’m beginning to think this is a bit of “Emperor’s new clothes” going on regarding this movie. Brickmuppet didn’t like it either, and his post began like yours did, fearing backlash.

    A lot of the reviews I’ve read also say, more or less, “it could have been a lot worse.” Which is damning with faint praise.

  3. MidniteTease says:

    That’s what I’m hearing from everyone. It’s better than the prequels, which isn’t saying much, but could have been so much better. As has been pointed out a lot the past few years, J.J. Abrams isn’t a “good” movie maker…he’s a “successful” movie maker. Much like George Lucas, come to think of it. I think generally, except for it being a, as the people call it now, “soft reboot” of the original films, TFA is what it needed to be and no more. Lucas famously bags on ESB for being “better than it needed to be”…he should be proud of the job Abrams did, rather than ragging on him for not using Lucas’ ideas.

  4. mikeski says:

    My inner grade-schooler thought that movie was totally the coolest movie this year. That said…

    I was calling him “Darth Clearasil” in our post-movie dinner conversation, so that seems to be the unanimous opinion on that character.

    I liked the end result of the destruction of SKB: blossoming back into the star that it had just eaten, instead of just vanishing in a cloud of CGI. Yay, conservation of mass!

    Of course, then I wonder how the guy who decided that should happen could let SKB exist in the first place. You can’t cut a big ol’ notch into the side of a planet like that. Planets are spherical due to their own gravity pulling them into that shape… which happens once you’re the size/mass of Ceres or so. There’s no material strong enough to be the shape and size of SKB.

    I also wonder about storage. SKB must have had a handwavey hyperspace pocket in its core? You can’t just add the mass of a star to an occupied planet without crushing the occupants… hide the sun inside the earth, and I’ll suddenly weigh something north of 32 thousand tons. And if it was all stored as energy instead of mass in some superdupercapacitor, it wouldn’t have turned back into a hydrogen/helium star when someone shorted power to ground.

    Re: the map, how can you have “uncharted” areas in the middle of your galaxy, and how can Beach Ball Eight’s map fragment (with the endpoint!) “not match anything you’ve seen”? Even if we didn’t map out Switzerland tree-by-tree when we explored the rest of Europe, we’d still know where the mountain peaks and rivers and such were. SKB notwithstanding, stars and nebulae don’t move around all that much.

  5. Ubu Roi says:

    Yeah, the refrigerator is strong with this one.

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