Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)
December 16, 2015 7:18 PM - Subscribe

A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
posted by EndsOfInvention (3136 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was too chicken to do this myself!

So much to discuss in time, but most importantly: this really *is* a star wars movie in a way the prequels never were. It's a ticket back into that universe. It looks, sounds and feels like star wars. And on top of that it's a great film, too. I don't know if it is truly a wonderful film, but watching it was truly a wonderful time.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:21 PM on December 16, 2015 [51 favorites]


Just some jumbled thoughts before I go to bed (it's 3am!).

- Really fun. And funny! Only minor annoying goofiness.
- I like that they didn't just have Young Luke, Young Han, Young Vader, Young Leia, etc; they made new characters with their own personalities and motivations. Kylo Ren is very much not just another Vader - he's full of anger, but still young, raw, and untrained. Rey is so fucking badass - her reactions to Finn trying to help her escape are awesome. Finn is similar to Han - not in it for the cause to begin with, but this time wanting to flee instead of collect his pay.
- Who is Snoke??
- The callbacks to the originals weren't too heavy-handed, and they had plenty of new material (planet, characters, spacecraft) to balance it out.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:24 PM on December 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


- I love love LOVE the way Rey flew the Falcon on Jakku. Smashing it off the ground, hand-break turning, and that manoeuvre where she turns the engines off. So cool.
- I feel like Captain Phasma wouldn't have lowered the shields on Starkiller Base like that, but if that means she survives for another film that's OK.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:29 PM on December 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


- OK final thought, the Republic was secretly funding the Resistance because, I presume, they couldn't sanction all-out war with the First Order. Are the Resistance the Mujahideen fighting the First Order Soviets with their CIA-funded X-wings? Except the USA just got wiped out.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:32 PM on December 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm in the minority on the internet unfortunately. I want the spoilers. I won't be able to see this thing for at least a few more days and dammit I just want to know things. I want to know the full story. I want to know where the hell Luke is. I want to know all of it. Now. But instead there will only be waiting and decoding people's carefully worded spoiler-free reactions.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:42 PM on December 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


- Who is Snoke??

Darth Jar Jar
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:22 PM on December 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


We have just returned from seeing it here in Melbourne. Our joint assessment: flawed, but a worthy successor to the equally flawed first trilogy (IV-V-VI).

Some points:

- BB8 - just frickin' annoying after a while. Such a bad design.

- That broadsword light-sabre.

- Stopping a blaster bolt in mid-air using the Force? Really?

Against that, what the others said. There was one oh-no moment when I thought their kick-ass female lead was going to become just another helpless-female-who-needs-rescue, but they turned that meme. In fact a lot of the best stuff in this movie riffs off the first trilogy by turning things on their head. Kudos for that.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 10:35 PM on December 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


So... I've probably left it too late to get tickets for this this weekend, right?
posted by Happy Dave at 11:06 PM on December 16, 2015


wabbitwax - there's a Wikipedia plot summary if you want spoilers.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:47 PM on December 16, 2015


Stopping a blaster bolt in mid-air using the Force? Really?

Haven't seen it yet, so I may be thinking of something else, but Darth Vader does this in Empire, when Han shoots at him during the ambush on Cloud City. So it's been established as something a Force sensitive can do.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:05 AM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed it. But what a terrible ending.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 12:09 AM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a counterpoint, I thought the held blaster bolt was *extremely fucking cool*

And enjoyed the ending.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:20 AM on December 17, 2015 [55 favorites]


Seconding that freezing the blaster bolt was badass. Vader deflected them with his hands, and Yoda manipulated force lightning, so it's basically those two tricks combined.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:24 AM on December 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


I saw it yesterday with my 11yo daughter, who I've nurtured on the descpecialized editions.

I'm very happy with how this turned out. I feel like I was back in the odd, grimy, run-down Star Wars universe. I don't know if the yet-another-wonder-weapon plot was the greatest ever, but I think it nicely sets the table for the next movie. The Republic is now practically decapitated and the Resistance will probably have their work cut out for them to stop the galaxy from falling under the First Order.

I think they showed admirable restraint in not over-using the old cast, but letting the new generation take centre stage. And such good actors! I only know John Boyega from before, but great work from all of them.
posted by Harald74 at 1:02 AM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Re: the ending: I thought it works nicely as a Star Wars inter-triology type ending. The Republic is in disarray, one protagonist is hospitalized and another is on a quest for Jedi training. I'll grant that it's not the greatest ending ever, but it should work.
posted by Harald74 at 1:17 AM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


And can I just add that I'm very happy that Episode VII passses the Bechdel test?
posted by Harald74 at 1:39 AM on December 17, 2015 [72 favorites]


Harrison Ford got his wish!
posted by h00py at 1:53 AM on December 17, 2015 [41 favorites]


My husband is looking at going to see this tomorrow. Any thoughts on whether the 3d is worth it?
posted by poxandplague at 2:00 AM on December 17, 2015


Just saw it tonight and loved it!

My husband and I argued over Rey's parentage. He thinks she's Kylo Ren's twin - because Han and Leia had twins in the EU - but I thought it was telegraphed that she's somehow Luke's kid. I mean, all EU stuff is null and void, right?
posted by web-goddess at 2:45 AM on December 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Kylo Ren's real name is Ben which they took from the EU, plus Jacen turns to the dark side in the EU, so they're definitely taking some inspiration.

But yeah - initially I thought she was Ben's twin, left on Jakku to save her from the same fate as her brother, but the fact that Han and Leia lament the loss of their son repeatedly but make no mention of a daughter puts paid to that I think. If you'd abandoned your daughter as well as losing your son to the dark side that would come up.
Luke's daughter seems more plausible - I could see him being so scared of his daughter falling to the dark side he tried to keep her from any possibility of learning to use the force. After all, growing up an orphan on a desert planet never did him any harm, right? If that's the case though, who's the mother?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:01 AM on December 17, 2015 [22 favorites]


My tentative judgement is that this is the third best star wars movie. Does a whole lot so so well, in particular the section from when we meet Rey until we meet Han is pretty much perfect.

But the plot is stupid stupids at points, Han taking them into the bar is just baffling and the macguffin is almost as terrible as the redmatter from Abrams Star Trek.

Also, Snoke (dumb name, it sounds like a cuddly toy puppet) is obviously the emperor right? Deformed, bruised, shredded, warped by the force as he fell?
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 3:49 AM on December 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Eeeeeee I loved it!

Really enjoyed the surprises - particularly that Rey is the up and coming Jedi rather than Finn, as the teasers had suggested. Some of those shots - the TIE fighters in front of the sun, the downed star destroyers on Jakku - were amazing and I want them all framed in my house. Threepio popping up between Han and Leia in their reunion cracked me up. The Falcon being called garbage. The nod to the EU but going its own direction. And I thought as a character Kylo Ren did a better job of acting like an angry teenager with too much power than Hayden Christianson's Anakin ever did.

A few annoyances... How/why did Artoo suddenly have the whole map? Seriously where DID bartender lady get that lightsaber? And why is there a Resistance as well as a Republic? I mean, I don't want the detailed politics of the prequels, but I would like to understand what that relationship was meant to be.

I'm guessing Rey is Luke's daughter, and her mother is of course Mara Jade, Luke's one true love.
posted by olinerd at 4:27 AM on December 17, 2015 [24 favorites]


Saw this in Holland yesterday and I was delighted. It is a wall to wall schlock fest but so was episode 4, which this is essentially a reimagining of.

I loved BB-8, great puppet.

I thought some of the call-backs were a bit heavy, but people less insanely familiar with the series maybe wouldn't find it so.

Finn Rey and Poe have such fantastic chemistry. I love that Finn is a talented fighter with a good heart but not brave or widely skilled. Rey is probably the beat female character in the series and the best new character since Yoda was introduced. Poe while not on screen a ton is tons of fun.

I've seen the movie twice and I still don't know what I think about Kylo. This theme of 60/40 dark/light is new territory. We only know Vader as whiny Anakin then baddass old Tyrant. Having a character who is that uncomfortable with himself is sort of hard to watch, but I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.

Also he must have been a late life baby for Han and Lea. Maybe that's less of a thing in star wars?
posted by French Fry at 4:51 AM on December 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I love that he's so unsure. It's the dark side and good side of the Force, always at battle. I also didn't mind the fact that there was no specific ending. There's Luke, eyes red-rimmed and confronted with his past (and his future).
posted by h00py at 4:59 AM on December 17, 2015


And why is there a Resistance as well as a Republic?

I got the impression that the Republic has its own fleet/military but can't risk open war with the First Order (maybe they are not strong enough or there's not political will), so they (not so) secretly fund the Resistance who operate independently and wage guerilla warfare (which Leia et al obviously have a lot of experience with).

her mother is of course Mara Jade, Luke's one true love.

If they take ONE character from the EU, she would be the coolest.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:17 AM on December 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


Poxandplague I would definitely recommend 2d. I saw it in 2d and Imax 3d and the bright colors , vivid still and motion blur in action of 2d just felt more "right"
posted by French Fry at 5:26 AM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think I have to look forward being a minority in this one. It was too committed in being fanservicey at the expense of the story which turned out flat. There's basically nothing new but riffing, even if you can defend it on the grounds of thematic resonance. And I say this enjoying so many parts of it! Everything mentioned so far - EVERYTHING. But meh, in the end. But I adored everyone! This is my curse with an Abrams movie, I guess.

I've never enjoyed myself so skeptically, basically.
posted by cendawanita at 6:17 AM on December 17, 2015 [33 favorites]


Also, what is the deal (or rather the non-deal) with Capt Phasma? That was quick. Is she the new Boba Fett?
posted by cendawanita at 6:18 AM on December 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also, Snoke (dumb name, it sounds like a cuddly toy puppet) is obviously the emperor right? Deformed, bruised, shredded, warped by the force as he fell?

I'm still going with Darth Plagueis. Snoke's theme of droning male voices is almost the same as Plagueis' from Revenge of the Sith.

You need another Sith lord, and Plagueis is the only other one named that's canon. Also, living forever is kinda his thing.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:20 AM on December 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've seen the movie twice and I still don't know what I think about Kylo. This theme of 60/40 dark/light is new territory. We only know Vader as whiny Anakin then baddass old Tyrant. Having a character who is that uncomfortable with himself is sort of hard to watch, but I don't know if that's a good or bad thing.

It's a good thing as it allows for a plausible redemption OR complete fall.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:21 AM on December 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I agree that it is a good thing from a story perspective, but adam driver is fucking going for it as an awkward horrible creepy rage filled man child.

I found him hard to watch. Which is awesome sometimes but maybe isn't working for me here. I don't know, maybe third times a charm for me and kylo.
posted by French Fry at 6:28 AM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I liked the raw emotion, the tantrums, the wavering - made him feel like a more more different villain to Vader (who in A New Hope has had 18-odd years to gain control of his emotions), with a much more uncertain future.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:36 AM on December 17, 2015 [20 favorites]


I just came out from the viewing floating on a tiny cloud of happiness. They didn't ruin it! I had little kids when Phantom Menace came out and was super psyched about watching them discover the Star Wars universe in their childhood afresh with 'their' trilogy, and the plunge from the joy of seeing the credits scroll with the opening music to walking out of that movie thinking wtf with my kids going "eh" - so this time round, with one last kid to introduce (but given it opens with the village slaughter scene we may wait a while to let her watch it), I saw it alone first.

Rey is so good. She's just so good and her face is so expressive and she moves and fights and thinks - she's the hero of the movie it turns out.

The scene with Kylo Ren/Ben was such a rape-analogue that watching it, I could almost hear the tapping of ten thousand keyboards starting the Rey/Kylo darkside pairing, but then when she just went "I won't give it to you" - such a nice throwback to Leia and Poe in captivity too.

I have a hundred questions. How does the brainwashing for stormtroopers work? They must have lost the cloning techniques if they have to snatch children and brainwash them or are these new crack troops in a different method? How did Finn break free of the control - because in that scene he does break free somehow, he goes from skilled smooth obedience to stumbling like a drunk guy sobering.

Who is Rey's mother and the voice of the person holding onto her in that flashback - that's one of the Darths or Captain Phasma? Why is the melted-gooey Emperor an enormous hologram? What the hell is with the Leni Riefenstahl scale of everything in the dark side? Did Han get Chewie in the divorce? Is that why Chewie cold shoulders Leia right after they land after Han's death? So Leia's force abilities are that she can sense people dying, more intensely the more she loves them? That's like the worst force ability ever.

I have more, but I have to a) go stalk archiveofourown and discover what the fandom pairing names will hilariously be for the inevitable Finn/Rey/Poe that will engulf everything and b) watch the film another five or six times in the cinema.

It was Star Wars. Proper Star Wars with stupid bits and weird bits and dodgy creatures and still enough new things - they are such small creatures in huge strange worlds and they hold each other's hands rather than run.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:05 AM on December 17, 2015 [32 favorites]


I really liked the physical props and sets in the film. Everything felt real and grounded in the same universe as the first three films. The props looked like the could have been built in the 70s. This really helped sell the continuity to me.

This was a film made by people who liked the way the original films looked and who wanted to continue the aesthetic. The ships, the guns, the clothes. It all looked right.

With the prequels the feeling was that they thought they could do it better by making it newer and more modern. A degree of technological collapse fits with the end of the republic but it just never felt like there was continuity. Lucas really felt that he could remake the original 3 with modern tools and make them better. This film said that the original 3 looked good and their age gave them a style and feel that was worth keeping and carrying forward. It really worked.

Also - strong female characters. As a dad who just watched all 6 with his 2 daughters this movie is in stark contrast to the prequels. The sausagefest jedi council was just plain irritating. Rey is a character I am happily throw money at. Well played Disney. Well played.

V, VII, IV, III, VI, II, I
posted by samworm at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


- Who is Snoke??

Darth Jar Jar


A New NOPE
posted by wabbittwax at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2015 [38 favorites]


Not reading anything here as I haven't seen this movie yet, but this is amusing me:

Star Wars newb live tweeting Star Wars marathon (From Ep I-VII).

Looks like she's through Ep IV now.
posted by nubs at 11:26 AM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Haven't seen it and am half-skimming this thread in fear of spoilers. So far, I don't see much to convince me this isn't the soulless corporate extruded movie product this review makes it out to be http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-pre-fab-star-wars-the-force-awakens

But, perhaps it's perfectly focus grouped committee designed movie product that will tap right into my inner 7-year-old's memories. The genius is, we all have to go see it just to find out..
posted by joeyh at 11:58 AM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think that article was necessarily saying it was a soulless corporate movie product just that Abrams is several steps away from the joyful, experimental Lucas when the first film was made. But what do you expect 7 films into a series? I've been thinking it's a gateway of familiarity for the rest of the new trilogy to divert from and as such needed to be very carefully judged as not veering too far from the original blueprint.

It did a lot of things really well - that made it feel like a more contemporary film - stuff like not failing the Bechdel test.

As someone who's not a mega fan or anything I enjoyed it because/despite of its corniness.
posted by pmcp at 12:23 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I could done without it totally aping the first film so much, and the score was only really memorable when if was referencing past glories - but apart from that, it was great.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:53 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


In a way, I think this film echoes the entire original trilogy - not just Star Wars. And while that felt a little fan-servicey, I liked the echoes and the new takes and the new world building and all the awesome new characters. And I can't wait to see what happens next.
posted by crossoverman at 1:06 PM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Idly wondering whether Daniel Craig was the voice of the stormtrooper Rey manipulated into letting her go.
posted by John Shaft at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I cried. Seat felt like it was shaking.
posted by popcassady at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am off to look at it in a couple of hours; in a ritualistic move, I have rewatched all six of the previous films this week. I was puzzled while listening to the commentary track on TESB who director Irvin Kershner's voice reminded me of. At about twenty minutes in it came to me, and I could not shake it: he sounds remarkably like Ray Romano.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:25 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can understand people who can criticize the film saying "It's just imitating the first film! It offers nothing but nostalgia!" because in that respect it cannot stand alone as a film. Fine. But Star Wars fans are nothing if not nostalgic. Honestly, why do we insist on Despecialized Editions taking away every piece of modernizing modification to watch and re-watch a thousand times a movie with mediocre writing, occasionally lame acting, and effects that while impressive for their time can still look a little cheesy now and again? Because we fell in love with the characters and the world and the simple but effective "good vs evil" narrative. The prequels didn't do this - there was no good vs evil, no suspense about the outcome, no chance for a last-minute turn to good, there was "how can we make Anakin's turn to the dark side take three movies and somehow shoehorn the birth of Luke and Leia in there?" The characters (some of them, anyway) were there, younger, but because you generally knew how they'd end up there wasn't much time spent on developing them or surprising us with what they can do. The "world" was there, but with too much focus on politics. I think The Force Awakens brought back what people loved just right. And honestly, the beginning of 2 out of 3 trilogies already began with "orphan with technical proclivities living on desert planet ends up leaving and discovering he/she can use the Force" and "beloved mentor type person meets his end" - so why stop now? I like the feeling of "knowing" what's going to happen -- roughly what the story arc will be -- yet not knowing what the twists and details and everything will be. It's exhilarating. And it was nice to feel exhilarated by a Star Wars movie again, rather than plodding through political intrigue and midichlorians.

That said, the criticism I've read that I do agree with is the lack of epic lightsaber or space battles. This one seemed to focus a lot on blaster fighting. Which is fine, but gunfights are hardly special in filmmaking.
posted by olinerd at 1:37 PM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Going tonight at 8 pm.

Can someone tell me what (if anything) they did to replace/evoke the 20th c Fox fanfare at the start? Just Disney logo and cold open to the crawl?

For reasons, the Fox Fanfare/Williams Theme combo makes me burst into tears every time I hear it (the was an unexpcted finding when they re-released the original in theaters and it has held true ever since) and I need to be ready if that's going to happen (so as not to freak out my kid).
posted by anastasiav at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can someone tell me what (if anything) they did to replace/evoke the 20th c Fox fanfare at the start?

Everyone gets a Kazoo at the door.
posted by popcassady at 1:40 PM on December 17, 2015 [36 favorites]


No Fox fanfare. Just the Lucasfilm logo, no Disney logo surprisingly.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:45 PM on December 17, 2015


No Fox fanfare. Just the Lucasfilm logo, no Disney logo surprisingly.

I think it was: title / certificate card, Lucasfilm, 'A long time ago in a galaxy far far away...', STAR WARS, crawl

Bad Robot at the end of the titles and lucasfilm again
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:42 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


So was that Daniel Craig, then?

(Edit: see that's already been asked up thread)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:43 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I got to see this at a special BAFTA screening tonight, with a cast and crew Q&A! JJ, Harrison Ford, Boyega, Ridley, Kathleen Kennedy, Kasdan, Neal Scanlan all in attendance. Definitely an experience. Some highlights:

- Boyega is the real deal. Super-funny, charismatic, able to make the entire crew crack up. Even made the notoriously grumpy Harrison Ford grin on a few occasions.

- Ridley was rather quieter; she realised she was more of the 'straight woman' to Boyega's fish-out-of-water. But she was very pleased by how so many girls could see themselves in her now.

- Ford, when asked what he thought of his character's arc through the movies, replied, "What's an arc?" and then muttered (good-naturedly) about the lack of children in the audience. He said that he wanted to be killed off in Empire because he felt that his journey as a skeptic and ironic audience-avatar was complete, and that he had served his purpose. I think in Force Awakens, he felt he served a purpose to the story that didn't require just talking about plot.

- Kasdan and JJ talked about how they wrote this movie fairly quickly, then continued writing it over two years. Kasdan seemed like a nice guy - he was originally going to write the Han Solo standalone movie but got brought in to take over from Michael Arndt. His favourite moment from the entire series of Star Wars movies was the bit in New Hope where Han Solo is bullshitting over the radio and ends up shooting the receiver; his most important goal was reproducing that feeling of "goofy fun" in Force Awakens, and he praised Boyega and Ridley for just being "goofy and fun" on set.

- JJ was at pains to praise Neal Scanlan's practical creature work. It was very important to him that the movie felt tactile; when he was 10, he knew a bit about how movies were made, but he just couldn't figure out how they did the effects in New Hope; so that's what he wanted to do in Force Awakens.

All in all, a great screening. BAFTA members are a notoriously hard-to-impress bunch and while they will always applaud after a movie out of respect, I have never heard applause during a movie - until the moment when Harrison Ford stepped into frame. Clearly there is joy yet in the stony hearts of British filmmakers!
posted by adrianhon at 2:53 PM on December 17, 2015 [97 favorites]


As for my own feelings, the movie was a lot of fun but it dragged badly during the bar bit. Despite the efforts of Neal Scanlan, I found the close-up CG of Snoke and the bar owner to be distractingly bad. Boyega was awesome, Ridley rather plain, but maybe that's the writing.

Surprised no-one's mentioned the bit where Han and Leia meet up for the first time on screen! I saw many people tear up (not embarrassed to say that I did, as well!). Star Wars has a lot of baggage to carry around, and a lot of the time it hinders rather than helps - but in this case, the weight of their relationship is what made that moment so meaningful.
posted by adrianhon at 2:59 PM on December 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


I seem to share the general in favor consensus here. Some misc. comments:

- All the new actors are wonderful, and the chemistry between Ridley/Boyega and Boyega/Isaac is outstanding. This was something I was worried about -- aside from the many failings of the prequels a big issue I had was that the Obi-Wan/Anakin/Padme power trio didn't have a fraction of Luke/Leia/Han's chemistry (and over the course of three films, Obi-Wan and Padme barely interacted and didn't seem to have any kind of special relationship). But you can absolutely believe in Poe and Finn and then Finn and Rey's instant synergy.

I did find it strange that Poe seemed set up to be the third leg and then disappeared for most of the movie, and never even interacted with Rey; it's possible this time the power trio will be a power duo and Poe will be more of a Lando/Chewie-tier player.

- I loved Maz Kanata, but I also feel ambivalent that the first major speaking role for a woman of color in the series is of course a CGI alien -- Boyega's presence notwithstanding, I'm pretty sick of the "major PoC character is an alien/behind a mask" trope -- maybe just because it's so prevalent in superhero stories, but one of the type examples is James Earl Jones' Vader, so.

- Of all the plot points or characters to draw as inspiration from the EU, "even more Death Star-y Death Star" and "Solo-Organa child gone dark" would not have been my picks. That being said I was braced to dislike Kylo Ren and found myself intrigued. While he and Anakin are very different people I think Abrams and Kasdan succeed with Ren at something Lucas tried to do with prequel Anakin and failed: that is, subvert the idea of Darth Vader as this badass villain whom you love to hate because the more evil he is the cooler he gets. Prequel Anakin lost his pathos in becoming pathetic, but Ren becomes much more interesting as soon as he takes off his mask.

- Given that Luke/Leia/Han were the epitome of found family joined through surviving adversity together, I'm sad that a family tragedy pushed them apart, but I'll reserve final judgment on that until we hear Luke's side of the story.

- Rey's flute-y leitmotif is charming.

- My inner 6-year-old: X-Wing! X-Wings X-Wings X-Wings. Black X-Wing.
posted by bettafish at 4:07 PM on December 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


Two questions: Are there any nods to Rebels or Clone Wars?

Secondly, everything I've seen says that Finn gets his name from Poe. Wouldn't he have had a real name before he was a trooper?
posted by drezdn at 4:19 PM on December 17, 2015


I can't answer the first because I haven't seen either. To the second, apparently these new troopers aren't clones but are taken from their families extremely young and given serial numbers instead of names.

Question of my own: were we supposed to know who that "old friend" who gave Poe the map was, or was that more of a "making the world of the story feel more expansive and complex" kind of thing?
posted by bettafish at 4:21 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


So browsing through the cast list, I did a bit of a double-take when I noticed that someone named Morgan Dameron played a character called "Commodore Meta".

(Google if you want to know the story. It's indeed rather meta :-)

Secondly, everything I've seen says that Finn gets his name from Poe. Wouldn't he have had a real name before he was a trooper?

Yeah, but all he remembers is his code number, FN-2187.
posted by effbot at 4:24 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bb8 voice consultant was ben Schwartz aka Jean ralphio from parks and rec.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:39 PM on December 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


That said, the criticism I've read that I do agree with is the lack of epic lightsaber or space battles. This one seemed to focus a lot on blaster fighting. Which is fine, but gunfights are hardly special in filmmaking.

You gotta start small so you've got somewhere to go. We've got another two movies for the wars of star.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:02 PM on December 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I was very pleasantly surprised. Thankfully they didn't give JJ full control of the script, so there was a female protagonist, the right tone for most of the film and on top great score etc. Nice that star wars has a fourth film at last and new characters.

I thought Han Solo was played up a bit too much and some of his scenes made the film sag temporarily, but the Solo - Leia relationship was worth revisiting and the bridge scene was worthwhile (good work on the lighting). There was plenty of riffing on the original films, but it stood up well on its own and had more soul in it that the unfortunate attempts of the past decade. The Nuremburg rally scene (or space Hitler, as an Austrian gentleman nearby put it) could have been avoided.

In conclusion *lightsaber sound* and go see it.
posted by ersatz at 5:17 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


were we supposed to know who that "old friend" who gave Poe the map was

The character seems to be invented for the movie, afaict. The only connection I can find to earlier movies is that it's a minor character played by a major Ingmar Bergman collaborator, similar to Anakin's mother in Phantom Menace...

(so several orders of magnitude better actor than you have to be to fit in a Star Wars film :-)
posted by effbot at 5:35 PM on December 17, 2015


Thankfully they didn't give JJ full control of the script, so there was a female protagonist

Felicity of Felicity, Sydney of Alias and Olivia of Fringe would like to have a word.
posted by crossoverman at 5:57 PM on December 17, 2015 [59 favorites]


Well. That was a let down.

It wasn't a bad film and it does a good job of setting up the new characters. But it's also horribly plot driven, with little attention bad to the characters.

Killing off Han was ok, but it was troubling how no one really seemed to mourn him. Oh sure, they were sad for five minutes, then boom, off to find Luke.

The movie felt very meat and potatoes, with little magic. It paid its dues to the first trilogy, while neatly avoiding the god awful prequels. But the Force felt...ho hum? In the first trilogy it was deep secret, mystical power that had to be earned with a price. Here, it was just something people can suddenly start using, because...just because.

Yes, I'm old.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 PM on December 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


But it's also horribly plot driven, with little attention bad to the characters.

Do you think? I mean, it does move at a sort of break-neck pace, but I think there's a lot of attention paid to the characters and they all seem as clear and well drawn as you'd expect in a Space Opera.

Killing off Han was ok, but it was troubling how no one really seemed to mourn him.

I think that might be my only actual complaint, that there wasn't something more in memory of Han.

Here, it was just something people can suddenly start using, because...just because.

Well, Rey must have a high midichlorian count, right?
posted by crossoverman at 8:08 PM on December 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


The first third: Oh, man, this is amazing! This is going to be amazing! Fantastic messy TIE Fighter escape! Sunken Star Destroyer! Cool pilot guy! Stormtrooper defying his destiny! Scavenging! Neat ration-muffins! Cool elephant! Smuggler gangs! Entering a new world! Adventure! Why am I not making a game right now?

The second third: Huh. That's a lot of exposition. The old characters' dialogue is kind of sappy. The Death Star again?! Why is the lightsaber in an unsecured bar basement in a Zelda treasure box? Why did that Storm Trooper decide to duel with a bizarre energy staff instead of just shooting Finn at point blank?

The last third: OK. They shot the special part of the Super Duper Death Star and it blew up. In the meantime, lightsaber duel. I know that Star Wars is always the same story, but this is just a little too tightly tracked to the original. Sudden crack in the earth was bullshit.

Some things I really liked:

– "We'll just use the Force!" "Uh, the Force doesn't work like that."

- I thought at the first that the Supreme Leader was a gigantic alien. I was so excited! Then, I realized he was just using the big projection size that the Emperor used. It would have been so cool if he was fifty feet tall.

– Kylo Ren kinda sucks. He is not a Darth Vader. He is a not a very good Knight of Ren or Dark Jedi or Sith or what have you yet. I love that! He is trying so hard, though. He has lightsaber tantrums. He has a ridiculous lightsaber. When he takes off the mask, it is shocking how vulnerable-looking he is that I laughed. However, the problem is, his arc doesn't have anywhere to go other than the one we already saw for Darth Vader. It looks like he'll do a bunch of evil, then redeem himself. That's incredibly boring at this point.

- That Force mind intrusion struggle between Ren and Rey was so well-acted, and it was such a neat way for her to realize what she had.

- "My troops will storm this command center!"
posted by ignignokt at 8:13 PM on December 17, 2015 [22 favorites]


To be clear: It was fun! Just not epic.
posted by ignignokt at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I agree that Rey and Finn are great characters and it was awesome to see Rey come into her own. But nothing surprised me, not even Han's death. Well, I was suprised by how rote everything was. Stop building Death Stars ok?! And why did Snoke look like something from Lord of the Rings.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 PM on December 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


And why did Snoke look like something from Lord of the Rings.

I'm glad Andy Serkis keeps getting work, but did he have to look like Gollum?
posted by crossoverman at 8:29 PM on December 17, 2015 [24 favorites]


Thanks for the sincere answers above. I did not cry (then).

My only major issue is - how did Kylo Ren get off the planet? (Assuming he did which he must of.)

Also, why did Captain Phasma do the thing, even at gunpoint? My gut feeling is she would have fought instead of doing the thing.

Best part was watching my kid vibrate in his seat through the whole movie. He was able to pick up most of the meta-references, but was blown away at the revelation of KR's parentage, and then again when Han dies. Blown. Away. Walking out of the film, he was just glowing with glee. I'm super duper happy that he could have this experience.
posted by anastasiav at 8:38 PM on December 17, 2015 [51 favorites]


It leaned pretty hard into the running of the series' beats again, for better or worse. It was refreshing to see it commit to the "you are dropped in the middle of a situation that has not been explained fully" approach. These are the good guys, those are the bad guys... we are sure you will catch up. The lived-in aesthetic was nice after the CGI sterility of the prequels.

Still, it had a weirdly off-kilter rhythm. Poe disappears for an hour or so and then reappears without comment in an X-wing. This is like Han running off in pursuit of the storm troopers post-garbage compactor scene and then just reappearing to save Luke's ass in the trench run. Phasma is the Boba Fett here: striking costume, hidden face, three or four lines of dialogue and then forgotten.

I liked the weird meta-level of the characters being essentially Star Wars fans and asking about details of the events thirty years before. Then again, with the IV-V-VI world having seemingly forgotten about Jedi only a couple of decades after their very public overthrow, it seems the galaxy far far away does not have much in the way of history classes.

And while I am glad the clutter of the EU has been swept away, I am looking forward to learning how a lightsaber that fell down a vent in Cloud City decades ago wound up in a psychoactive box in a tavernkeeper's basement.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:12 PM on December 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


I didn't think I'd write about it as soon as I got home, but I did. There’s still plenty of weird plot holes in the movie to complain about — and, of course, call no trilogy happy until it is concluded — and the man simply doesn’t get Star Trek at a basic and fundamental level — but J.J. Abrams achieves something in a sequence of shots near the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that I hope I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. My daughter is three and a half right now, and she’s still piecing together the world. We’ve raised her, somewhat accidentally, without much concept of gender; it’s only recently that she’s even come to really understand that some people are boys and other people are girls. And it’s broken my heart a bit, as this process has come into focus for her, to see her recognize that nearly all the protagonists in nearly all the stories she loves are boys. She sometimes announces, as we play, that she gets to be the boy — by which she means that she gets to be the hero, the star. I’m the boy, daddy; you’re the dragon. I’m the boy, daddy; you’re the witch.

And as I watched this one particular, truly perfect scene, at the climax of The Force Awakens, I really felt like I could see the whole thing through her eyes, and imagined the moment she watches it a few months or years from now and how it might undo a bit of the toxic lessons she’s already started to learn about boys and girls. I cried. I’m crying now, just writing about it. And however else The Force Awakens is received and whatever its reputation winds up being, however badly 8 and 9 screw it all up (or don’t), Abrams has given little girls like mine a tremendous and very special gift. That bit lives forever, as far as I’m concerned.
posted by gerryblog at 9:17 PM on December 17, 2015 [136 favorites]


Just saw this, so happy.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:22 PM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


On the subject of Rey's mother: did no one else think Luke was standing next to a grave? I thought he was -- so strongly in fact that I thought for a second it might be Luke's grave, and the robed figure someone else -- but that seems like the way they've chosen to square the Mara Jade problem. Rey's mom will be described as a tremendous woman who was totally awesome and who everybody totally loved, but they don't need to actually cast her and the die-hard EU fans don't need to flip their shit over the fact that it isn't Mara Jade.
posted by gerryblog at 9:23 PM on December 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I saw The Force Awakens tonight and I enjoyed it. However I thought they should have called this retread Episode 7: Episode 4. I hope in future episodes the First Order takes advantage of lessons learned and invests in anti-spacecraft and anti-personnel defenses for their superweapons.
posted by Rob Rockets at 9:28 PM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


gerryblog, when the X-wings came out, my 7 year old daughter said, "THERE'S A GIRL PILOT!!!!"
posted by artychoke at 9:51 PM on December 17, 2015 [89 favorites]


I definitely thought it was a grave, too.
posted by olinerd at 9:58 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Very great! Maybe even my favorite one?

I am curious: Is Snoke really that big IRL? Or is he regular size? Does he even look like that, or is it just a facade?

Also: I liked that even though Finn wasn't a Jedi, he got some lightsaber time. I recall that when I was a kid, you could either be Han (extremely cool but only has a dumb gun) or Luke (extremely dumb but has the cool lasersword). I imagine there's gonna be a lot of playground rules-lawyering about who gets to have the lightsaber
posted by Greg Nog at 10:16 PM on December 17, 2015 [28 favorites]


My prediction is Snoke is tiny.
posted by gerryblog at 10:18 PM on December 17, 2015 [57 favorites]


do you think he will sit in a teacup and shout about how mad he is and everyone else will try not to giggle
posted by Greg Nog at 10:24 PM on December 17, 2015 [79 favorites]


Ok, I did love that this felt grimy and tangible in a way the prequels never did. And it moved along at a good clip. But I was disappointed in the "retread" aspect; too much felt completely predictable.

And I got hung up on one annoying nitpick: why on earth wouldn't they at least spraypaint BB8 and/or stick an accessory on him to make him a little less easily identifiable? I mean, if he's apparently the only orange-and-white droid like that in the sector... there's an easy solution to part of that, no? But I guess that would be bad for marketing.

Part that did genuinely crack me up: Chewie's skeptical shrug when Rey's all, "you're a war hero!" to Han. Heee. And the unintentional humor of the end in the Dramatic Stare Down between Luke and Rey (Luke remains as whiny and self-absorbed as ever, even without speaking).
posted by TwoStride at 10:40 PM on December 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


"get me out of this teacup this instant"

"Did you guys hear something? Where's Supreme Leader Skone?"

"I HEARD THAT"
posted by whitecedar at 10:42 PM on December 17, 2015 [20 favorites]


My husband and I argued over Rey's parentage. He thinks she's Kylo Ren's twin - because Han and Leia had twins in the EU - but I thought it was telegraphed that she's somehow Luke's kid. I mean, all EU stuff is null and void, right?

Seemed pretty clear she's Luke's kid. Kylo mentioned she had dreams of an ocean planet with islands.

Enjoyed it overall. Big plot moments were a bit really New Hopey, but oh well. Loved loved loved Rey and Finn and Poe.

Also, the first time Kylo took off his helmet he looked so much like a goofy mopey teenager it made me think of Spaceballs and took me out of it for a bit, but I got over it eventually.
posted by kmz at 10:47 PM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I have no idea who her parents are, but I kinda hope she's not Luke's kid, just one of the younglings he saved when BenRen fucked up his School For Gifted Mutants.

In re the Should I See This In 3D question: nah, it doesn't add much, and veers between bothersome and unnoticeable a lot. I think I woulda preferred 2D.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:49 PM on December 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


It seemed so obvious to me she was Luke's kid that I was (pleasantly!) surprised the last line of the movie wasn't "Luke, I am your daughter."
posted by sonmi at 10:55 PM on December 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


I loved it, I am totally OK with it following many of the beats of A New Hope. After the trash of the prequels it was wonderful to watch a new Star Wars movie that felt Star Wars.

I loved the dynamic between Finn and Rey. There were many good lines throughout the movie. Finn's adoration of Rey was pretty cute: "This is what we all look like." "You got a boyfriend? A cute boyfriend?"

It had way more female and POC characters than any of the other movies, I thought that was great. And from the voices you could tell more stormtroopers than just Captain Phasma were women. I'm grinning thinking about little girls watching this movie and finding all the parts they can play--it wasn't that way for me when I was a kid. Pretty much Princess Leia Bikini or GTFO.
posted by schroedinger at 11:00 PM on December 17, 2015 [42 favorites]


So why did R2 suddenly wake up with the other half of the map (well, 90%)? Did Luke set a timer? Did he wake him up with the Force? Is Luke aware of what happened through Force-telepathy with Leia? Is he reacting to the millions of voices in the Republic crying out and being silenced? To Han? I have so many questions and only 17 more months to wait for answers.
posted by whitecedar at 11:00 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also I dunno, I don't think it's certain Rey is Luke's kid. I would kind of prefer that, actually. Her being his kid is so on-the-nose. I prefer her being a Youngling that escaped Ren's massacre (though I don't know how that works from an age perspective--Ren looks young himself).

I assumed R2D2 woke up in response to Rey tapping into her powers. He's always seemed to have some Force connection himself, if that makes any sense. That bit was the part of the movie I liked the least. Very contrived.
posted by schroedinger at 11:02 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, she's definitely force connected to Luke somehow, though there are definitely multiple ways for that to happen rather than just direct parentage.
posted by kmz at 11:15 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought the opening sequence was so striking. First of all, it's had a very contemporary J.J. Abrams style edit, with a shakey camera and a lot of fast cuts. Then, we see *blood* for the first time in a Star Wars movie. It seemed to be trying to immediately distinguish itself as new Star Wars for the present.

The effects were improved as well. There was a menacing reality to the jagged edged lightsabers which seemed to actually illuminate the actors and sets in a way that they didn't in the old movies. I was impressed.
posted by chrchr at 11:26 PM on December 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


lol so the first stormtrooper who can actually hit his targets immediately defects
posted by Jacqueline at 11:28 PM on December 17, 2015 [147 favorites]


I liked Finn from the off, the sweaty, suddenly in difficult situation thing worked well and quick team up with Poe was a good introduction. I was less keen on Rey, too bog standard push English girl.

Shame about Solo but once he went out on that bridge I didn't fancy his chances and Ford did a good job of making the character look like he didn't fancy it either but being torn by his promise to Leia.

Did the stormtroopers look a little chunkier in this? Particularly in the Nuremberg scene. Perhaps the influence of the Lego games etc!?

Overall I enjoyed it, they made a decent effort with a difficult property. I can't see me rushing back but will probably benefit from a second viewing at some point. A four star rather than a five though, in terms of excitement leaving I would say I preferred the first star trek reboot.
posted by biffa at 11:32 PM on December 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I went in with low expectations. JJ Abrams' Star Trek films went from eh to gah pretty quickly and while his TV series range from good to excellent (Alias, Felicity, and his time on LOST in particular), his movies don't really stand out to me. The only hope for me was that he was sharing a screenplay credit with Kasdan.

Turns out that this is the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back. Yes, it's basically a retelling of A New Hope. Yes, it follows the hero's journey path close enough that when Han and Chewie split up to plant those bombs I muttered, "Shit," out loud because it's coming, and you know it's coming and, well, it worked. And that was when I realized that I was totally on board with this film.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:37 PM on December 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


Snoke (dumb name, it sounds like a cuddly toy puppet)

I think after 40 years, you've either made your peace with the goofy names the series uses (particularly for bad guys), or well... You should've given up?

Why is the lightsaber in an unsecured bar basement in a Zelda treasure box?

I loved this, and loved that they didn't bother expositing about it. That thing's been missing as far as anyone knows since Luke's hand got chopped off way back when. It's part of what made that last shot so wonderful for me. Not only is Luke meeting a person who seems to be telegraphed pretty heavily to be his daughter (I'm not sure one way or the other I care if she actually is, but they sure did play his theme all the time when she was doing force stuff!)....... But he's seeing this remnant of his father that no one's known the whereabouts of in a long time. It neatly echoes the fact that Ren somehow got his hands on Vader's melted helmet.

Anyway.

Was it perfect? No. But it was at least "good enough," if not a fair bit better than that (I want to see it again and let it settle in before quite deciding). It felt even stranger to leave the theater with a giant smile on my face and feeling very happy/content overall than it did to enter the place feeling mostly-contained excitement instead of grim resignation. It threads what feels like a pretty mind-boggling series of needles.

The battle to destroy the Mega Death Star felt... Rushed isn't quite the right word, but somehow weirdly small in scale? That thing is planet-size, but a few dozen TIE fighters and X-Wings were it. I can think of good reasons for this both in-movie and outside of it. There was also part of me that felt like the win felt ... a bit rushed (perhaps even too easy despite the great cost in terms of lives of both characters and randos?). There was some clunky dialogue, but that's Star Wars. The bar scene dragged a bit, sure, but didn't drag the movie down for too long before things got moving again (cue flashback to musical number in the special edition RotJ). But this really did feel paced within an inch of its life, right? 130 minutes felt like it flew by and could've had a couple extra moments to breathe without starting to feel long.

I looooooved Finn, Rey and Poe (particularly Boyega though, and I'm so happy for him as a person). If there's a clean, clear victory for this movie, it's how good a job it did establishing them. There's echoes of the original 3, but no one's a direct analogue for anyone else. On a scale of 1 to Wall-E, BB-8 is .... an 8, I guess. I thought they did a good job with the droids and didn't mind the "R2D2 will wake up when Luke decides it's time" thing. Cheesy, but it made for a nice "OH MAN" moment when it inevitably happened. There's a part of me I'm slightly confused by that really hopes BB-8's presence results in a comedic side plot where C3PO ends up jealous of BB-8 because R2 likes BB more or something.

The theater got really dusty when Han and Leia said hi for the first time in who knows how many years. And when they said bye. Han's death felt pretty natural to me. You knew he was in trouble the moment he split up from Chewie. It's an important step for Kylo's progression from this movie's sniveling, hurt, half-trained boy into something much scarier. Luke was never able to off his father and his dad was a child-murderer who blew up a planet. I loved how intimidating Ren was with the mask on but clearly a wounded, still human person at times... At least until then.

I don't have words for how much I'm looking forward to Rian Johnson going to town on one of these movies now, and I was already kind of excited for that.
posted by sparkletone at 12:12 AM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


When they had the X-Wing pilots, and some of them were women, I teared up. When they had Empire fascist flunkies and some of them were women, I teared up. But man, when Rey picked up the lightsaber and outdueled Adam Sackler, I was legit crying. Sorry they spent too much time considering who their audience is and cast women and people of color and we no longer have a lily white galaxy with about three zillion men and 4 women. THIS WAS AWESOME and 7-year-old me is vindicated. No more Leia bikinis for us.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:23 AM on December 18, 2015 [149 favorites]


Even though I liked Finn more than Rey, her popping up the lightsaber was cooler.
posted by biffa at 12:58 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just came back from seeing and loved it, little me and old me were both thrilled with the whole crew and especially Rey, and then came realization that my grade school age niece who loves Star Wars was getting to see the movie tonight too in another state, and that she will grow up with these fine characters in her life, and the force will go on.

Weirdly though, one of my favorite scenes was early in the movie when Rey trades parts for some powdered food packet things and then the next scene is her in her makeshift home (in the foot of an AT- AT, no less) and she's stirring the powdery stuff into water until it grows into some kind of spongey bread. My favorite details in the original trilogy were always scenes that involved food or cooking spaces and this new Star Wars did not disappoint on that level. Little me still thinks Aunt Beru's kitchen on the farm in A New Hope was the coolest kitchen ever (old me still agrees), and it never fails to inspire me when you see Luke eating out of what looks like a fishing tackle box after he crash lands on Dagobah in Empire.

One day I'll be cool enough to carry my lunch to work in a tackle box, one day.
posted by pandalicious at 1:08 AM on December 18, 2015 [53 favorites]


Even though I liked Finn more than Rey, her popping up the lightsaber was cooler.

I loved the way they did that. Finn hitting the button to power it up was a big applause moment in the theater I was in and it makes sense, by that point you know he can fight and you like him a lot and you want to see that awful Ren get got. But in the back of your head... You know he can't win that fight right? A force adept with some training against some clone kid with none? And Finn acquits himself well! But in the end he gets smoked.

You could feel everyone sit forward when Ren's force pull didn't work, and when she got it and turned it back on, people went nuts. Some dust or an eyelash or something got in my eye. It was a really great moment, giving you the expected thing, flipping it and then showing you how Rey's the bigger badass.
posted by sparkletone at 1:09 AM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


I really loved Finn's duel with Ren. Ren's a talented teenager but not deeply experienced. Finn's only knowledge of fighting with a blade would come from whatever hand-to-hand training he got, plus any vintage visual entertainments allowed to the stormtroopers.

It's such a messy fight. Ren's thinking it will be easy and doesn't go quite as hard as he will later against Rey. Finn makes mistakes, sometimes seems to leave himself wide open, but Ren doesn't or can't take advantage right away. Perhaps because of his relative inexperience.

And there's a rough (very rough) parallel with LOTR's Samwise. Rey is obviously a chosen one, of sorts. Finn's just this ordinary guy. And yet he's the one to bear the legendary object for a time, and fights as hard as he can, and holds his own against something much stronger.
posted by honestcoyote at 1:12 AM on December 18, 2015 [51 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks Finn and Rey are half-siblings, likely Luke's kids? Both showed some form of being Force adepts (especially Rey, natch). But I kept seeing their relationship as strongly fraternal.
posted by grubi at 2:09 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Poe disappears for an hour or so and then reappears without comment in an X-wing.

They turn that old boring "black dude dies first" trope on its head and everyone's just complaining that the white guy wasn't around more?
posted by effbot at 2:27 AM on December 18, 2015 [49 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks Finn and Rey are half-siblings, likely Luke's kids? Both showed some form of being Force adepts (especially Rey, natch). But I kept seeing their relationship as strongly fraternal.

I never read anything involving Finn as showing force adeptness. Rey's was really, really, really, really blatant. I'm willing to believe that Finn was more than just "FN267whatever" because his programming failed so spectacularly the first time he met any kind of terrible circumstance...

But I think the only way one can read Finn and Rey as fraternal is if you assume they're redoing the old "sure, they seem romantic-ish at first, but actually they're related" from the original trilogy.
posted by sparkletone at 2:31 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was profoundly moved and didn't expect to be. I thought it would be good, but was resigned to nothing more than good. For the first twenty minutes I was worried -- exposition problems and odd timing, almost as if the film was as nervous as I was -- and then I settled into it. So beautifully shot! Arresting imagery! Good comic writing for the first time in the series, as opposed to weak comic writing redeemed by charismatic acting! Charismatic acting, anyway, that took everything about six levels higher!

I wasn't sure about Ren's backstory at first, because it's very Expanded Universe, but I reached a point where I was happy with anyplace the story wanted to go. It works because I sure as hell believe Han Solo wasn't a great father, and because Ren is so awful at being a villain. He should be a scary dude, he's powerful and unhinged, but he spends most of the film not being frightening at all because he can't even accept and inhabit his own way of being scary. His nature, his physicality, his personality are all totally unlike Vader's, and he's trying and failing to force his face into Vader's mask.

It's a film that's determined not to simply imitate its source material, but to find its own voice, so it makes sense that its villain's great sin is lacking the courage to speak for himself. It's that whole idea that the dark side of the Force is refusing to accept yourself, which is so important in Empire but was abandoned in the prequels.

I concur about the fight being messy and that being good. It takes us right back to Obi-Wan and Vader's fight, down to the fact that it's strictly personal, with only two people's souls at stake.

I did enjoy Dohmnall Gleeson, who gives better Imperial Motherfucker than I expected, and having seen Frank I expected a lot. And I've never seen a better performance from Harrison Ford -- humor, pathos, shame and glee. Han has changed so much and not changed at all. He slips into the role of Elderly Adventure Fuckup more easily than he ever slipped into the role of Cocky Bastard/Reluctant Hero, and his death is fantastically powerful.

I found it transcendent, seriously. I've been around the block with so much extruded SFF product, and I know everyone doesn't agree but I think this is the real thing -- I finally understand what it was like to see Star Wars in the theater in 1977. I haven't even mentioned Ridley and Boyega, but they were incredible too, funny as hell, instantly indelible characters. Rey in particular is obviously a hell of a thing for a lady fan like me, especially since the film masterfully evades all the Kung Fu Princess bullshit tropes and just gives us a young Jedi finding her way. By the end of the film she's Han, Luke, and Leia, and it doesn't feel forced at all. She's both worldly and naive, both powerful and in desperate need of mentoring.

The setup of the film beautifully sidesteps the prequels without decanonizing them (Luke isn't involving himself with any of that elaborate and hideous Jedi infrastructure, but trying to get back to the order's roots), and the thirty-year time jump allows for the same kind of tactics A New Hope did so well: allusion to events that make the world feel big. In the same way that all we really need to learn about Anakin Skywalker was that Obi-Wan tried and failed to to train him, all we really need to know about Kylo Ren was that neither Han, Leia, nor Luke could give him what Snoke can, and it's been incredibly damaging to all three of them. And how incredible, really, to see them so hurt and yet still trying.

(Sorry if I'm repeating anyone, I'm writing this in the middle of the night having only read bits of the thread. Almost too soon to have a conversation.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 2:34 AM on December 18, 2015 [77 favorites]


From now on, all lightsaber duels must take place in snow showers. Possibly foggy rain would be acceptable.

Ren is the best character in Star Wars. I was the first (and maybe only...) person who clapped when she jedi mind tricked that storm trooper.

As soon as Han stepped onto the bridge you knew he wasn't coming back.

We stuck around to see Lyn-Manual Miranda's name in the credits.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 3:51 AM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


As soon as Han stepped onto the bridge you knew he wasn't coming back.

I honestly thought for a moment during that scene that they might redeem Ren, and holy shit, they're going to do it in episode 1 of the trilogy! Whoah! They could have a rehabilitated Sith struggling with guilt and temptation for the next 2 films! But yeah as the scene progressed I realised, oh shit, nope.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:18 AM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


Late night brain revelation:

Luke's comes from the Latin for "light". His sister Leia (a princess) has a name that likely is from the Hebrew name Leah, with its origin (possibly) being Akkadian for "ruler".

The name Finn comes from a Celtic root meaning "light". The name Rey comes from a Latin root meaning "ruler".

What. The. What?
posted by grubi at 4:19 AM on December 18, 2015 [65 favorites]


AAAAAGH WEIRD COICIDENCE

Poe:
Meaning English: nickname from Old Norse pá ‘peacock’ (see Peacock)... from Middle English pe, pa, po ‘peacock’, with the later disambiguating addition of cok ‘male bird’, hence a nickname for a vain, strutting person or for a dandy.
http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=poe
http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=peacock

Dameron
French: nickname for a foppish or effeminate young man, Old French dameron, a derivative of Latin dominus ‘lord’, ‘master’ plus two diminutive endings suggestive of weakness or childishness.
http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=dameron
posted by grubi at 4:29 AM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


I loved that it was funny! One of the worst things about the prequels was how the attempts at humor did nothing but remind you of how little soul there was in those movies.

What really got to me, though, was how taken with it my unimpressed-by-a-lot 15 year old daughter was. She'd lean over and fistbump me whenever a female character did something cool. She cheered with everyone else when old friends reappeared. I'm still not sure she's recovered from what happened to Han.

I realized last night: This was the first time she's been able to see a Star Wars movie in a theater, and it's such a different experience there.

In other observations: That last scene was so JJ Abrams, he could have signed it across the horizon line.
posted by gnomeloaf at 4:33 AM on December 18, 2015 [18 favorites]


I loved that it was funny.

Yes! A few of my favorites were "Oh, you're cold?", Chewy preening at the medic who was gently praising (while patronizing) him, and BB-8 "pointing" at the component Rey was indicating.

And Han was very funny through much of it. Like the Han of old.
posted by grubi at 4:48 AM on December 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


My favorite parts were Rey coming into her own. They really did pick the best actress for the part, she's claimed the role as her own and done so wonderfully. I look forward to seeing more of her in the later films.

Trivia note: That was Daniel Craig playing the stormtrooper that Rey used mind control on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:58 AM on December 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


Oh, and, before I forget: Finn is a dark dude who emerges from white clothing towards the light, while Kylo Ren (so tempted to type Kyle Oren) is a white dude who retreats into dark clothing away from the light. Maybe this was intentional? Perhaps Finn and Ren are meant to be mirror images?

I thought it brilliant (no pun intended) that they had him say he feels the "pull of the light side", a terrific reversal of the traditional SW "tempted by the dark side".

And, because I'm obsessing, Kylo's real name of Ben Solo? Dude. Ben in Hebrew means "son" (Ben Solo, the Only Son?), or from Latin, it can mean "good"... the changing of his name is another symbolic turning from the Good? Perhaps it's all coincidence, and I'm just sleep-deprived.
posted by grubi at 4:59 AM on December 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


This prediction by nubs is pretty fucking close to the movie!
posted by grubi at 5:05 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


The first hour was great but, damn, that last 45 minutes with the retelling of the death star attack - but so much more lazily written and boringly filmed than the original - sunk the movie for me. So disappointing for Abrams et al to not bother creating at least *some* kind of interesting new climax. I understand why they played it safe, but the lazy stupidity of the plot at that point hurt the film in a major way. (I dont buy the "it's rhythmic mythological iterations! " junk; you can strongly reinforce a series' themes without blatantly copying tired sequences note for note.)

But the good stuff was great. Loved bb8 more than I expected to; he was always doing something interesting in the background, like the way he gingerly navigates the stairs following Rey to the hidden lightsaber. So cute. Rey is a fantastic character; every step of Finn's evolution was believable, and Boy Darth had some great moments, even if his introduction to us felt needlessly choppy and half-formed.

Carrie Fisher had almost nothing to do, sadly. No heroic moments for her at all.
posted by mediareport at 5:09 AM on December 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


I was thrilled with this movie. THRILLED.

I am waiting impatiently for the Finn/Poe fanfic. Someone write me one where BB8 tries to get them together.
posted by a hat out of hell at 5:13 AM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


The Empire keeps losing because they lack OSHA standards. How can you be invested in an employer who cares so little for the health and welfare of their workers? Who builds a skinny, ridiculously long walkway across a giant abyss? And then doesn't even add railings?
posted by kokaku at 5:14 AM on December 18, 2015 [80 favorites]


As soon as Han stepped onto the bridge you knew he wasn't coming back.

Yeah, I suddenly remembered the rumour that Ford wanted a quick out from the trilogy and thought his chances of surviving were limited. I was surprised by how much I didn't want him to get killed there. I guess that's why there was a lot more Ford than the other big old names. Hopefully we will get a good amount more Leia in the next one, as well as Luke.

That was Daniel Craig playing the stormtrooper that Rey used mind control on.

Ta, I hadn't even managed to spot Simon Pegg as the mean trader on Jakku despite knowing he was in it.
posted by biffa at 5:16 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Continuing the thought about the weird, choppy way we learn Kylo Ren's story, I think the moment when he kills Han isn't nearly as powerful as it should have been because we learn almost nothing about their relationship (one brief conversation between Leia and Han) before that moment. I'm OK with filling in the gaps, but to lose such an iconic character at the hand of a clearly important but barely sketched villain, with only the briefest glimpse of backstory, felt, well, a little cheap.
posted by mediareport at 5:20 AM on December 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


FN-2187.

Finn 2 (to) 187 (murder)?

Who's he going to murder?
posted by grubi at 5:26 AM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I had a lot of thoughts about this movie but mostly I think the one that hasn't been mentioned in this thread was how much I love the scene where Finn leaves Maz's bar and for about 2-3 minutes Rey is hallucinating all over the place and the audience has no idea what's going on. That was surreal and pretty amazing. I'm not sure if I'd even say it was pure Star Wars, but it definitely elevated this above typical JJ Abrams holiday blockbuster.
posted by capricorn at 5:31 AM on December 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


Was anyone else 100% sure that Poe was going to turn out to be a First Order sleeper agent at the very end? He disappears for half the movie after Kylo Ren says to search for him at the crash site and then shows up like nothing happened, that was DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS.
posted by sonmi at 5:39 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just realized Luke's voiceover from the first trailer wasn't in the film. Actually, he doesn't have any spoken lines in the movie, probably so they could get away with only paying him the SAG minimum. Classic Disney!
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:45 AM on December 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


I said: Am I the only one who thinks Finn and Rey are half-siblings, likely Luke's kids? Both showed some form of being Force adepts (especially Rey, natch). But I kept seeing their relationship as strongly fraternal.

Then I said: Luke's [name] comes from the Latin for "light". His sister Leia (a princess) has a name that likely is from the Hebrew name Leah, with its origin (possibly) being Akkadian for "ruler". The name Finn comes from a Celtic root meaning "light". The name Rey comes from a Latin root meaning "ruler".

Just now it hit me: "Skywalker" is a great name for a PILOT. Even if Finn doesn't turn out to be Luke's kid (though I still think it's possible), we know of three preternaturally good pilots in the saga so far: Anakin, Luke, and Rey.

(Rey of Light? I think too much.)
posted by grubi at 5:46 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who thinks Finn and Rey are half-siblings, likely Luke's kids? Both showed some form of being Force adepts

I'm willing to believe that Finn was more than just "FN267whatever" because his programming failed so spectacularly

I really really really hope they don't provide any explanation along these lines; there are many great things about Finn, but my favorite is that the idea that he's just a normal dude who doesn't want to kill innocent people. The movie seems to support this interpretation so far, I think -- Captain Phasma's debriefing highlights that he's never had any non-compliant behavior before he fails to follow orders. I hope they just keep going with that: he's simply... not a bad dude, and no amount of imperial cultism can make him one. He's just a regular guy who feels in his heart that killing is wrong, and that's that.

It's a good sidecar to Kylo Ren's arc, I think, where the kid has basically become a Sith who just.. has doubts about the whole thing. The Jedi story of Episodes 1-2-3-4-5-6 is that every Jedi must constantly struggle against the desire to turn dark, because it's a natural impulse that tempts all of them. I love the idea that Episodes 7-8-9 will be about the fundamental untenability of building an everlasting evil empire because light is an equally strong temptation.

I feel like it's a much more hopeful message than the first six movies had: you can work hard and get all monk-level at becoming virtuous, but ultimately, the whim to do good is just as omnipresent as the whim to do evil, and nothing can stamp it out.

I hope that the ultimate end of the 7-8-9 trilogy is the "balance" they kept suggesting was prophesied in Episode 1, and the new Force Adepts become a unification of Sith and Jedi, though this may be expecting too much of the movies. But! Given that the first trilogy ended with the Dark Side rising and the second ended with the Light Side triumphant, it may be possible that a balance is finally achieved.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:53 AM on December 18, 2015 [54 favorites]


(also wild fan speculation on who/what Rey is: clone of Shmi)
posted by Greg Nog at 6:04 AM on December 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


I agree wholeheartedly. It's the eternal struggle between light and dark. Tugged towards the other, regardless of which side you find yourself on. Finn was indoctrinated from a young age towards the dark side but his essential pull is towards the light. Ben aka Kylo Ren was surrounded by influences on the light side and yet he is seduced by the dark. Rey was abandoned and is finding her own path. I'm sure she'll have to make a decision about which side she'll be drawn towards. I can't wait to see this movie again but I'm so looking forward to the next installment (not least because apparently Mads Mikkelsen is going to be in it).

I can see why all the callbacks to the original trilogy seem contrived to some but as far as I'm concerned, if we keep repeating history why shouldn't they?
posted by h00py at 6:06 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Regarding those who feel that Leia had too little screen time in the movie: Might it be that she will be a key character in the next movie, as the Republic has lost its top leadership and Leia is very high up in the Resistance? She might be desperately needed to provide leadership, with her credibility and experience as royalty, a diplomat and a guerilla leader.
posted by Harald74 at 6:07 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks Finn and Rey are half-siblings, likely Luke's kids?

And here I was thinking that one of the reasons for the different races for those characters was to telegraph "Nope, no possibility that these scenes will be creepy incest in hindsight! Go ahead and ship them!"
posted by Jacqueline at 6:10 AM on December 18, 2015 [22 favorites]


I honestly thought for a moment during that scene that they might redeem Ren, and holy shit, they're going to do it in episode 1 of the trilogy! Whoah!

Oh, man, I would have had so much respect for these guys if they just did that and got on with something new.

Something I was hoping for here was a move away from the idealization of inherited nobility. That the most powerful and interesting among us are that way because they come from a superior royal line, like the Skywalkers. Walking out of the theater, I figured that Rey was just strong with the Force.

After reading this thread, now I think maybe she is meant to be related to the Skywalkers, and that's kind of a bummer.

Some other longshot hopes I have:

– Maybe from the examples of Luke's and Rey's success and the failure of early Force trainees like Anakin and Ben Solo, they'll change their ideas about Jedi pedagogy. Maybe you get better Jedi if you let people just grow up with normal experiences from a less exalted perspective, then teach them about the Force instead of making children swim into this really intense psychometaphysical experience at the age of 5. The traditional Padawans kind of remind me of that one kid in Searching for Bobby Fisher that didn't go to school and just trained in chess all day.

– The Force is neat, sure, but maybe some things make a bigger difference than telekinesis and lightning. It'd be awesome if Rey comes into a situation in which she's like, hey, this major problem is better solved without the Force!

– I loved those big monsters! Also, the elephant. And sunken Star Destroyers and strange vistas. I hope they bump up the exploring weird worlds and monsters and mysteries and turn down the Force/lightsaber this and that. That's the stuff that made me start imagining. More "discovering this weird little swamp guy Yoda" and less "Yoda, yet again, talking about the Force, yet again, with some important Jedi" kind of stuff.
posted by ignignokt at 6:16 AM on December 18, 2015 [26 favorites]


The first act is pretty much perfect.

But yeah, too bad Carrie Fisher didn't have more to do.

They should have given Phasma at least one meaty scene as well. So much more potential for her. How did she happen to be near the shield control on the planet? Her disabling it for them was lame.

I loved the lightsaber fight at the end but I feel like Kylo Ren could have VERY easily disabled Finn with the Force. Maybe less so with Rey since she was starting to "awaken" to it. But Finn should have been a pushover. But it was awesome when Rey overpowered him.

Kylo Ren's voice was awesome.

Overall, it made me appreciate the narrative of A New Hope more. When you try to do a little too much, holes will start to pop up.

Also: What was George Lucas talking about when he said he "It's supposed to be about family!!1one" ?? That seemed to be the core theme.
posted by starman at 6:22 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


George Lucas was saying, "I'm bitter that this movie is going to be better received than 4 of the 6 Star Wars movies I made."
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:28 AM on December 18, 2015 [20 favorites]


It would probably drive a significant portion of the fanbase crazy, but I'd kind of like Rey to not be a Skywalker. If they need her to be related to someone we know, making her Ezra Bridger's daughter would be interesting (and age-wise, would probably mean he survived into and past the ANH).
posted by drezdn at 6:28 AM on December 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


I loved this movie for all of the reasons everyone has already mentioned. They had a very tricky needle to thread here, and I think they did about as good of a job as they possibly could have. As to criticisms about similarities to Episode IV, well, damned if they did, damned if they didn't. I think it's like when a well-established musician releases a new album. If it's in their comfortable old style people say "But it sounds just like all their old stuff! Where's the innovation, the creative spark?" But when they try something completely new people say "This experimental crap sucks! I miss their classic old sound!"

Random thoughts/impressions:
  • I kind of actively hope Rey isn't Luke's daughter, because I don't think it matters how or why the force is strong with her. (Her dreams about the island planet might have been visions, not memories.)
  • I want Han's winter coat. (And I loved when Chewie hands it to him in a "put this on, you'll catch your death!" gesture as they're heading back outside.)
  • I am heartbroken for Chewbacca. But I'm not sure how well an extended Han grieving scene would have worked as part of the denouement. It might have worked if Han had died before the last big action sequence, but then there would have been a tired, predictable rally the troops/"Let's do this for Han" motivational speech before the last battle. (Although I agree it would have been nice if Leia had had something more to do.)
  • Maybe I'm too literal, but I assumed R2D2 woke up because he heard the unusual/unexpected sound of Chewie grieving, since that was the exact sequence of events in that scene; Chewie making sad wookiee noises, R2D2 reactivating.
  • Kylo Ren is an interesting villain and more convincingly conflicted than teen Anakin ever was. "I'm gonna wear this mask and cloak because it makes me look and sound like a badass like Darth Vader" is such a goofy teenager thing to do that it's almost endearing. (Except for the whole dark side/killed Han Solo part.) I agree that he's a hard character to watch.
  • I'm curious as to how far along Kylo Ren is in his training, because while he's clearly got skills he also got his ass handed to him by a newbie, which again brings up the "Darth Vader dress-up" thing; like he's not quite worthy of the bad-ass outfit yet even though he's clearly really trying.
  • Or has the training not been very good because there hasn't really been anyone to counter the dark side of the force for a while? Does Snoke have a long-term plan or is he also sort of making it up as he goes along?
  • At this point I'm mostly just amused by the Empire/First Order's apparent unshakeable obsession with giant planetoid weapons. Like whoever's in charge just can't quite let the idea go, and has the hubris to think that no, that last guy was an idiot, this time they're really gonna get it right!
  • YESSSS to lightsaber duels that look like people actually fighting, not the whiz-bang hyper gymnastic choreography of the prequels. (Which was super-impressive and cool looking, but didn't really look like fighting.)

posted by usonian at 6:31 AM on December 18, 2015 [48 favorites]


There's a lot to like and I definitely enjoyed it overall. The Starkiller business seemed like a vestigial overhang from a previous draft or a late "we need big action" addition. Perfunctory.

New leads are both good quality, in their acting and their characters.

Surprised that the film was almost about something other than entirely warranted "Woo, Star Wars!". Characters refusing the call left and right, except poor Han whose final scene could have done with a bit more emotional set-up.

The film itself should have skipped the spinning ariel shot and ended on Luke or Rey's face. Great wordless acting there by both of them: "Help us, Son of Skywalker, you're our only hope!"
posted by comealongpole at 6:32 AM on December 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Honestly, the more I think about this the more this movie is disappointing on so many levels. There's some nice setup for the future, but this one felt like it was either treading water and moving chess pieces around to get them into position for the next movie.

And the number of plot holes is just ridiculous. It feels lazy, as if the writers said "Eh, it's Star Wars, we really don't have to worry about having all this make sense. Just tug on emotions and nostalgia, it's all good!"

*gets off own lawn, goes inside to watch Fury Road again*

Empire is still the best one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


When Coruscant blew up it felt like they were symbolically destroying the prequels. (Was Jar Jar on the planet?)
posted by starman at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2015 [18 favorites]


That one general looked like a combination of Ron and Malfoy. It does kind of make sense in that if you combine the ambition and lack of empathy of Malfoy with the fear and inferiority complex of Ron, you end up with some kind of intense fascist.

Also, Snoke ~= Snape?
posted by ignignokt at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


So disappointing for Abrams et al to not bother creating at least *some* kind of interesting new climax.

This was the first thing that struck me once the third act hove into view. As I mentioned upthread, I watched the six previous films this week and chronologically this is the third time in four movies that the final reel was a bunch of snub fighters attacking a gargantuan planet-killing device. And frankly, as far as intelligible depictions of the action went, it came in third of three.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:53 AM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


I kind of actively hope Rey isn't Luke's daughter, because I don't think it matters how or why the force is strong with her.

Yeah, it sort of goes against some fundamental themes of Star Wars but I would kill for a Rey that's unrelated to any of the other characters and just happened to be in the right place at the right time because destiny. I like the idea that an every(wo)man character can go from extreme poverty to galaxy-changing heroism because of her own grit and competence, rather than because blood will out or somesuch.

usonian, I also shared your interpretation of R2-D2's revival. He felt so alone in his grief for Luke that only Chewbacca's sense of loss was enough to get him to kick his own ass into waking back up.
posted by capricorn at 6:55 AM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh! Maybe the best thing about Chewie in this movie was Maz referring to him as her boyfriend. Was there another lady who was also a little flirty at Chewie, too? I love the idea that Chewie is this big adorable sweetheart who leaves a string of crushes wherever he goes
posted by Greg Nog at 6:55 AM on December 18, 2015 [107 favorites]


Everyone has already commented on all the things I wanted to say about the movie (BB-8 going down the stairs!) , but one thing I really want to praise was the decision to have a 7pm first showing instead of midnight. The theatre I went to was full of families and it really added to the experience to hear these kids gasp, cry out, and clap with excitement in the middle of the film. It really brought me back to the first time I watched the original trilogy and how much joy it brought me. I'm just beaming today and even the cynical comments above (that I somewhat agree with) can't tamper that feeling.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 6:58 AM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


7pm showings for major films on a Thursday have been occurring for a while, at least the past year. Which is great, because the midnight showing are kinda annoying because MIDNIGHT.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 AM on December 18, 2015


Re: FN2187

From Ep IV:

HAN
We've got to find out which cell
this princess of yours is in. Here
it is... cell twenty-one-eight-seven.
You go get her. I'll hold them here.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:07 AM on December 18, 2015 [113 favorites]


Apparently the planets blown up didn't include Coruscant but was something new called the Hosnian System (which I remember being mentioned by Hux). Maybe the New Republic had a different Senate location? *no idea*
posted by kmz at 7:12 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here it is... cell twenty-one-eight-seven.

I knew the number'd mean something, I didn't realize it'd be that cool. 50 points to JJ Abrams' house.
posted by DigDoug at 7:15 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, 2187 is a big deal in GeoregeLucasLand; it's the title of a 1964 experimental film by Arthur Lipsett that remixed found footage and dialogue to create something new, and which blew young Lucas away as a film student. Slate ran a piece about it last week.
posted by mediareport at 7:16 AM on December 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


I bet making Finn's number 2187 was part of Lucas's contract with Disney.
posted by mediareport at 7:18 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Went with my husband last night. I like Star Wars, sure, but I'm not a hardcore fan and only know the movies. They're fun, but not on my top 10 (or 20, or 50) list for me. So as an 'outsider' my thoughts were:

GOOD:

- Rey and Finn were awesome. I immediately cared about them. There's nothing worse than when you're halfway through a film and suddenly realize you don't care about the protagonists' struggles one bit.
- Lots of funny moments, which was nice. Also, pretty much every scene Chewie was in. They used him well.
- Han and Leia's scenes together were lovely. You felt the weight of their history.
- I liked the BB droid. Cute, but not Elmo-cute levels of annoying.
- Lots of lovely shots, lovely scenery. Lots of careful details that added depth to the world-building.

BAD:
- didn't you guys find all the fan service slightly annoying? I almost felt like they added a couple seconds extra to any scene an old character showed up before they spoke, to allow the audience time to cheer and whoop.
- The Millennium Falcon just HAPPENED to be right there? Han and Chewie just HAPPENED to stumble over them? That was quite annoying. Deus ex machina bleh-ness.
- Why did they go to the planet with the wee old lady bar owner? Did they ever say? It just seemed like the thing to do because there might be Resistance there? Oh hey of COURSE she has the light saber. Sure.
- I wish Rey had to fight more to use her powers. It's like she realized she had them and was suddenly pulling advanced moves, like ordering people around.
- EXTRA BIG DEATH STAR OMG nevermind, no big deal, ok guys, it's over, we smushed it.
posted by Windigo at 7:24 AM on December 18, 2015 [17 favorites]


The Millennium Falcon just HAPPENED to be right there? Han and Chewie just HAPPENED to stumble over them?

When they're headed into Maz's place, Han says something like, "if it was this easy for us to find you, it's going to be that easy for the First Order"; I assume they had a sort of Star Google Alert set up for whenever the Millenium Falcon enters space, so they could immediately go after it.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:28 AM on December 18, 2015 [21 favorites]


Right, but that was just so hand-wavey. The fact that the Falcon was just chillin' right there, magically waiting for them to escape from the planet at the right moment was actually my least favorite part of the whole film.
posted by Windigo at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Few things:
I loved, loved, loved the scenes with Kylo Ren destroying random furniture with his lightsaber (and the understated comedy of the Storm Troopers' reaction) because of how believable it was. Any tradition of evil space wizards that are by definition hate-fueled rage-junkies ... my reaction was an immediate "why are we only encountering this behavior now in the fourth movie in the series?"

The scale of the final battle felt all wrong - a dozen X-Wings vs a planet that should have at the least thousands of TIE fighters? And for no adequately explained reason doesn't? Particularly in light of what happened to the last couple planetary-scale weapons? Then some asshole says "that's half our fleet destroyed" after six X-Wings are shot down, and my only thought is "Fleet? Buddy I'm not even sure you had a squadron."

Rey is almost a little too badass in all respects (tech, piloting, force, guns, lightsabers). Would've been nice for Finn to get one or two of those.

Oh, and Poe explained where he went - he was thrown miles away from the crashed fighter and eventually made his way back to the Republic Resistance. Since Finn was also thrown miles away, this is perfectly reasonable.

Overall: best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back, and at least on par with A New Hope.
posted by Ryvar at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


Why did they go to the planet with the wee old lady bar owner? Did they ever say?

They want to get Finn, Rey and the droid off the Falcon and onto a ship that draws attention if it flies anywhere even remotely inhabited. There's also an undertone of Han not wanting to be the one who hands them off to Leia because he doesn't want to deal with seeing her in person. In Finn's case, he (at the time) wants to bail entirely, which is why he tries to leave with the freighter dudes who are headed for the outer rim.
posted by sparkletone at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Well, yes, I got all that, I was just wondering if I had missed something that suggested more subtle reasons other than the stated reasons of handing the new generation crew off so they weren't Han's problem. Anything that suggested that Han wanted them to meet Maz because he knew she had the saber, that he knew who Rey is, etc. Anything to explain the impossible coincidence of it all.
posted by Windigo at 7:39 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Right, but that was just so hand-wavey.

I can definitely understand your feeling, but also I'm pretty sure I tolerate a LOT of ~coincidence~ in this sort of movie as the Falcon thing didn't throw me. If you remove the Falcon from the equation but leave the general shape of events intact, you have a far crazier chain of luck and coincidence getting Rey from leaning against the foot of an ATAT to tripping balls when she finds Luke's lightsaber to standing on a promontory holding the thing out to him. To me, it's That Kind of story and it has to work pretty hard to lose me for that sort of reason.

(Side note: As to your "didn't the fanservice rankle?" the only time I felt it at all was when they really bluntly made a Han-shoots-first joke. But they didn't stop and wink at the camera for that, so I was willing to let it slide.)
posted by sparkletone at 7:39 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anything to explain the impossible coincidence of it all

A farm boy who's not really a pilot blows up the greatest weapon the galaxy had (to that date) seen in a one and a ???????? shot. Impossible coincidences and luck are how this story rolls.
posted by sparkletone at 7:40 AM on December 18, 2015 [23 favorites]


I'm willing to credit a lot of coincidence to "Luke is using the Force to influence events from his hermitage".
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:41 AM on December 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


The other thing I noticed whilst watching and enjoying the film was some sort of repetition/Rule Of Twos that seemed to be going on. Not as in setup/payoff (with one glorious exception) but simply doing the same thing twice. Let me try your Bowcaster, Chewie!"... "Let me try it a second time!". Meh!

The largely-undifferentiated escapes from the inescapable torture chair would have worked better with a throwaway character brutally interrogated first, followed by Finn breaking Poe out whilst escorting him to be (re-?)interrogated. That would have made the impact of Rey uniquely escaping by sheer (capital-F) Force of will all the more effective IMHO. That was a great scene, regardless.

I had another example, but I forget. Double-establishing Darth Gormless's lightsaber freakouts, maybe? The glorious exception which worked that I mentioned above was (paraphrasing) "Why are you holding my hand?" / "No seriously, cut that shit out!". Parfait!

When Rey hit that key moment where she communed with The Force I really, really, really wanted to see her win by letting go, like Obi-Wan did in Episode IV. Not to die, not to fall backwards in a Jesus Christ pose, but to win by denying/recognising the meaninglessness of laser-sword fighting.

I happily give Lightsaber-arsekickery pass, because she (like Finn and the half-trained Kylo Ren) is still raw.

Watching these new characters cook is going to be so much fun.
posted by comealongpole at 7:43 AM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


Oh yeah, BB-8 gives great thumbs-up!
posted by comealongpole at 7:44 AM on December 18, 2015 [25 favorites]


Side note: As to your "didn't the fanservice rankle?" the only time I felt it at all was when they really bluntly made a Han-shoots-first joke.

Huh, I didn't even notice that.

Also, did we see what happened to Maz? Did she survive?
posted by kmz at 7:46 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thoughts, some of which have already been brought up in the thread:

- Rey is probably Luke's daughter.
- Han and Chewie got an automated notification when the Falcon powered up and left Jakku.
- I loved Kylo Ren as an angry, angsty, uncontrolled villain. Even his lightsaber makes sense now. And did you notice how Ben Burtt made Ren's lightsaber sputter instead of producing a steady hum, to match its rough blade?
- BB-8 was endearing, again thanks largely to Burtt, but the mere fact that it actually exists instead of being pure CG was a big, big help. The flaming thumbs-up was just adorable.
- I liked the reggae-ish number playing in Maz's bar (it's no "Mad About Me," but what is?) but it's not on the official soundtrack album.
- Stormtroopers are patrolling down the hall. Kylo Ren throws a tantrum and starts slashing up the place. Stormtroopers say "nope" and go back the way they came.
- We only see Snoke as a fifty-foot hologram. When we meet him for real, I bet he's Yoda-sized.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:46 AM on December 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


Way too many things to talk about here and most of them are still processing. Overall it felt like Star Wars and was SO much fun despite any of the problems it had.

I get the feeling we're going to have a Finn-Poe-Rey love triangle the same way we had Luke-Leia-Han. And I think Finn-Poe might be the endgame.

I'm not sure why they created a planet exactly like Tatooine and didn't call it Tatooine.

Is there any chance Rey is the offspring of Obi Wan? She could be a grandchild, and the desert planet fits here the same way it fits with her being Luke's.

Will we get any force apparitions of Obi Wan, Anakin, or Yoda?

My biggest pet peeve is probably how quickly Rey learned her powers. Did she even know that Jedis could control the minds of people and make them do things? I wish we'd had some sort of montage in there where she was running through the streets of Philadelphia learning how to use the force.

Why does the Starkiller thing have to suck up a star and shoot it across the galaxy? It would be much more awesome if they had a device that warped into a star and consumed it from the inside out, leaving the solar system without a sun and letting it die a torturous death. Or make it go supernova and obliterate everything in the system.

When Rey opened the box and touched the lightsaber she had visions/memories. Ren is speaking with Darth Vader's helmet. Can the force actually... embed itself within objects? I can't recall if Jedi have any sort of sacred or holy artifacts. This might go toward explaining why they are so particular about their lightsabers. (And follow a certain mythos of particular swords being mythical or magical, e.g. Excalibur.) (And in a thread for one of the previous movies I wondered if their force powers could actually be channeled through their artificial arms/hands, so maybe there is some sort of 'force conductor.' Or maybe this is crazy ramblings.)

Right, but that was just so hand-wavey. The fact that the Falcon was just chillin' right there, magically waiting for them to escape from the planet at the right moment was actually my least favorite part of the whole film.

Eh. This is part fan-service and part destiny/coincidence. The entire movie series if a sequence of insane coincidences on a galactic scale handwaved away as destiny. So I guess I'm saying... deal with it :)
posted by 2ht at 7:48 AM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Right, but that was just so hand-wavey.

I guess I don't understand what's hand-wavey about a vehicle's owners being able to track it remotely after it gets stolen? Isn't that how lojack works?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:49 AM on December 18, 2015 [22 favorites]


"I'm bitter that this movie is going to be better received than 4 of the 6 Star Wars movies I made."

Right now it's 95% fresh among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, one percentage point above New Hope and Empire Strikes Back :-)

"Why are you holding my hand?" / "No seriously, cut that shit out!".

Followed by this scene, after he'd been knocked out.
posted by effbot at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


The largely-undifferentiated escapes from the inescapable torture chair

I didn't find them to be undifferentiated at all. The first time around we have a trained pilot for the resistance, a badass, someone who doesn't seem to have broken yet despite the fact that he's bleeding and there's a torture droid floating around right there when Ren comes to talk to him. Ren does some force nonsense and walks out ten seconds later with the info he wanted without breaking a sweat despite Poe seeming to possess considerable willpower.

Rey ends up in the chair. She seems like such a non-entity that they don't bother with a torture droid. This is of a piece with Ren saying they don't need BB-8 if they have her. He's arrogant and she's just some scavenger. But oh, wait, oops, she's the first force adept anyone's seen since Ren went on a rampage and killed Luke's other students and his mind stuff really doesn't work on her.

The former sets up the latter so that we can have a better sense of how amazing Rey's resistance to interrogation and subsequent escape is.
posted by sparkletone at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2015 [23 favorites]


- We only see Snoke as a fifty-foot hologram. When we meet him for real, I bet he's Yoda-sized.

That was my thought too, Yoda sized or even smaller. But... I sort of hope he is actually the same species as Yoda. THAT would be a great twist.
posted by 2ht at 7:52 AM on December 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


Also, did we see what happened to Maz? Did she survive?

We don't see her die on screen but also if she survived, I'd think she would've been there to greet the resistance when they landed. Her bar's toast but she might plausibly not be.
posted by sparkletone at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2015


Did she even know that Jedis could control the minds of people and make them do things?

In both the OT and the prequels, we're shown that some laypeople are well aware of the Jedi mind trick (Watto, Jabba). I didn't think it was too much of a stretch to believe that Rey had heard some of those same stories, originally thought them myths, and then decided to give it a try after finding out that all of this other previously fantastic stuff was actually real.
posted by Kosh at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


I guess I don't understand what's hand-wavey about a vehicle's owners being able to track it remotely after it gets stolen? Isn't that how lojack works?

Hey, it's just how it felt to me, at the time, watching the movie. It just peeved me that's how they showed up, in tandem with the coincidence of how the Falcon was found. Like I said, I'm the voice of 'I am not a serious fan' here.

And I think Finn-Poe might be the endgame.

Oh, interesting. What gave you that vibe?
posted by Windigo at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2015


Did she even know that Jedis could control the minds of people and make them do things?
That's pretty much what Kylo was trying to do to her during the interrogation.
posted by usonian at 7:56 AM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I liked the reggae-ish number playing in Maz's bar

Written by this guy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 AM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


And oh I want more Captain Phasma. She's the most chilling character right now. She's a fanatic, a true believer.
posted by Windigo at 7:58 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


And I think Finn-Poe might be the endgame.

Wow, ok, I definitely got a bit of that too - something in the way they greeted each other, held eye contact, just *something* there - definitely more than just the bromance that's often the base for these ships...
posted by ominous_paws at 7:58 AM on December 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


And oh I want more Captain Phasma. She's the most chilling character right now. She's a fanatic, a true believer.

Yes. This is a minor complaint I forgot to touch on. What we get is a fantastic teaser, and they clearly do away with her in a way that means she survives. Trash compactors are not a reliable way to completely get rid of people in this setting! She totally got off the planet before it blew up.

I hope she becomes a grey "helps but might betray the resistance at any moment and even does sometimes" sort of character.
posted by sparkletone at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, Snoke ~= Snape?
posted by ignignokt

Snoke ~= Stimpy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


I liked the reggae-ish number playing in Maz's bar

Written by this guy.


And not on the soundtrack! There's new LMM music but I can't listen to it repeatedly, WTFFFFFFFFFF.
posted by kmz at 8:06 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I feel like Kylo Ren could have VERY easily disabled Finn with the Force.

Which is why I think Finn is a likely Force adept. Fighting with a lightsaber would require those special Jedi reflexes we've heard so much about (in TPM, Qui-Gon mention Anakin being able to see things just before they happen). Maybe he's not particularly skilled with the saber (clearly he's not; he did get outskilled in short order), but based purely on reflexes, I think he's one to watch.

It hit me this morning on the way to work: what the title means. I'm almost certain loads of people already figured this out or heard this notion (I hadn't), but I think it indicates not that the Force has awoken in general, but within some character (or characters)! I think that, since Finn and Rey are the two characters whose story arc is taking the massive turn (the first step of the Hero's Journey, so to speak), it's possible — and likely — that the Force is awakened in both of them.
posted by grubi at 8:06 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Here it is... cell twenty-one-eight-seven.

I'm kind of relieved that's what it is. I don't need all my weirdo Abrams-based conspiracy theories to be true.

I will mention right now that I woke up at 11AM yesterday, saw the movie at 7PM, it's now 11:09, I'm going to the 10:30 PM showing tonight, and I still haven't gotten a wink of sleep yet. The Force has awaken... me! So keep that in mind while reading my kookiness.
posted by grubi at 8:09 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


It didn't really feel like George Lucas's Star Wars at all: There was only one scene where our characters were conversing while seated at a table, and they were talking very animatedly.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2015 [21 favorites]


That a true believer like Phasma would lower the shields instead of dying to protect the cause was yet another of the moments in the SooperDeathStar plot that was "embarrassingly perfunctory," as one review put it.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 AM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


And here I was thinking that one of the reasons for the different races for those characters was to telegraph "Nope, no possibility that these scenes will be creepy incest in hindsight! Go ahead and ship them!"

Hey, shippers gonna ship.
posted by grubi at 8:12 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Fighting with a lightsaber would require those special Jedi reflexes we've heard so much about

The only real counter I can give to this is that when I took fencing classes, at some point the teacher was like, "if you're an extremely skilled fencer, it's possible to beat another extremely skilled fencer. If you're extremely skilled and fighting a fencer who's not very good, it's very easy to beat them. But if you have a lot of skill and practice, and the other person has absolutely no idea what they're doing, it's possible to lose to the novice just because they do stuff that makes zero sense and would be likely to get them touched, and that's kind of hard to predict and guard against."

So basically I'm willing to give the movie that, where Finn's just swinging away and Ren's thrown only because he's like "what the fuck is this dude even doing here"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:12 AM on December 18, 2015 [91 favorites]


And here I was thinking that one of the reasons for the different races for those characters was to telegraph "Nope, no possibility that these scenes will be creepy incest in hindsight! Go ahead and ship them!"

The existence of Supernatural fanfiction proves that shippers will ignore incest if it would get in the way of a story. Hell, sometimes incest is the character motivation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


The existence of Supernatural fanfiction proves that shippers will ignore incest if it would get in the way of a story.

*very quietly closes BBR2.docx, drags it to the trash, drags self to the trash, empties trash*

(Slightly more seriously, we'll see but I feel like Finn/Poe is going to be INCREDIBLY POPULAR when it comes to that sort of thing.)
posted by sparkletone at 8:17 AM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


That a true believer like Phasma would lower the shields instead of dying to protect the cause was yet another of the moments in the SooperDeathStar plot that was "embarrassingly perfunctory," as one review put it.

On the other hand, maybe Phasma figured that if she sacrificed herself the Resistance would just find someone else to lower the shields, whereas by doing it herself she might be able to find a way to stop them later.

But if you have a lot of skill nd practice, and the other person has absolutely no idea what they're doing, it's possible to lose to the novice just because they do stuff that makes zero sense and would be likely to get them touched, and that's kind of hard to predict and guard against.

From The Deeper Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd:
ABOYNE (vb.) To beat an expert at a game of skill by playing so appallingly that none of his clever tactics or strategies are of any use to him.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:17 AM on December 18, 2015 [28 favorites]


Maybe you get better Jedi if you let people just grow up with normal experiences from a less exalted perspective, then teach them about the Force instead of making children swim into this really intense psychometaphysical experience at the age of 5.

Trained from toddlerhood: you get guys like Dooku.
Trained from little kidhood: you get guys like Anakin.
Trained from the age of 20: LUKE MUFUKKIN SKYWALKER

I think your theory holds up.
posted by grubi at 8:18 AM on December 18, 2015 [34 favorites]


About the Ren lightsaber fight and whether it's a stretch or not: I think you also have to take into account the facts that in the previous scene, he had both (a) murdered his own father, which probably stirred up no small amount of conflict, given what we've already seen of the character struggling and (b) taken a bowcaster bolt right to the gut as a result of that very same action--the film makes a point of showing very obviously that he's bleeding onto the snow before the duel commences. So, he's obviously not fighting at top form, and I think his unevenness is also consistent with the theme of him "playing" at being Darth Vader while lacking the discipline and control that Vader displayed.

I'm willing to handwave away the rest as a "Force sensitivity helping out" sort of thing, honestly. It's not the only ridiculous thing... people picking up guns and being accurate with them despite having no firearms training is also pretty unrealistic, but it happens all the time in movies like this. And while it's not a lightsaber, Rey is shown to be highly competent with a melee weapon during the skirmish on Jakku.
posted by Kosh at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2015 [17 favorites]


Yep, them having Ren beat the snot out of those guys with the staff had me just *itching* for her to get the saber for the whole damn film...
posted by ominous_paws at 8:24 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


But yeah, too bad Carrie Fisher didn't have more to do.

I have a (surprise! ;-) theory about this. I think this film is for Han Solo, each of the next ones are for Leia and Luke. Meaning: each of the three will have their individual stories be part of the main focus. And the stories of Finn, Poe, and Rey (Finndamerey?) will be stopping through each of the stories of the Classic Three (Skyolorgana?). I'm thinking it's a clever way to wrap up the saga for one generation and hand it off to another, one person at a time.

For VIII, I'm sliiiiightly leaning Luke just based on the last scene, but logically, storywise, I think Luke's should be IX, just to wrap it all up. Seems like he'll easily be in VIII, but will have about as much screen time as Leia had in this one.

I think this is how we're saying goodbye to our heroes.
posted by grubi at 8:25 AM on December 18, 2015 [58 favorites]


On the other hand, maybe Phasma figured that if she sacrificed herself the Resistance would just find someone else to lower the shields, whereas by doing it herself she might be able to find a way to stop them later.

This is what I assumed was happening, which is why I was somewhat surprised she didn't show back up at any point after. That surprise is why I think there's no she's just a bit part in this one movie and won't show up again in subsequent ones. Thinking about it more just now, it'd be really, really cool if she was OUT FOR REVENGE next movie and got converted to the aforementioned grey area good person-ish sort of character.
posted by sparkletone at 8:27 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


(Her dreams about the island planet might have been visions, not memories.)

Or mind-control programming engineered by the DHARMA Initiative.
posted by grubi at 8:28 AM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


Tattoine is way more connected to the rest of the universe than Jakku.
posted by drezdn at 8:29 AM on December 18, 2015


(Side note: As to your "didn't the fanservice rankle?" the only time I felt it at all was when they really bluntly made a Han-shoots-first joke. But they didn't stop and wink at the camera for that, so I was willing to let it slide.)

When Rey mentions the Falcon making the Kessel Run in fourteen parsecs, about a quarter of the audience (including me) in last night's show, said "Twelve!" in full voice at the same time Han does. A movie audience of fans corrected a fellow (albeit on-screen) fan. I may be remembering that wrong — I know I said it! — but it was a smidge of fanservice that makes me happy.
posted by grubi at 8:33 AM on December 18, 2015 [23 favorites]


"Let me try your Bowcaster, Chewie!"...

Which reminds me: in something like fifty gotdang years together as a team, this is the first time Han ever tried out the bowcaster? Ever? Come on.
posted by grubi at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2015 [32 favorites]


If fandom is a religion, and waht you're a fan of is your denomination, this film reminded me why I fell in love with my version of going to church.
posted by grubi at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Trained from toddlerhood: you get guys like Dooku.
Trained from little kidhood: you get guys like Anakin.
Trained from the age of 20: LUKE MUFUKKIN SKYWALKER


But there is the danger that if the good guys don't try to train them to good when they are kids then the bad guys will have got then to the dark side before they get to 20.
posted by biffa at 8:38 AM on December 18, 2015


My biggest pet peeve is probably how quickly Rey learned her powers. Did she even know that Jedis could control the minds of people and make them do things?

I'm thinking it fits in with stuff Yoda and Obi-Wan taught Luke in the OT: using the Force is meant to be somewhat instinctual. Maybe she "felt" Ren's invasion of her mind and mentally resisted, saw that he was frustrated the stronger she tried, and pieced it together. It was impressive enough for her to shut him out, but I literally squealed (for a split second) when I realized she was not just shutting him out, she was pushing back!

And when she tried the Jedi Mind Trick™ the first couple of times, she was thinking in terms of convincing the subject, of ordering them around. When she concentrated and relaxed (as soon as I saw her face soften, I got a thrill, 'cause I just knew what was up!), she took care of it like a pro. She figured out you don't force the Force; you focus and let it flow.
posted by grubi at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2015 [35 favorites]


The mention of Han with the Bowcaster reminded me of one thing I did miss in the film: a proper shootout with lasers flying everywhere, I didn't like that ask the blasters seemed to blow people backwards and it felt like a lot of the fighting was from a single person's perspective with one shot at a time. Basically I want an episode IV cellblock type thing.
posted by biffa at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2015


Why does the Starkiller thing have to suck up a star and shoot it across the galaxy?

At the very least, it lives up to its name that way.
posted by grubi at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ren is speaking with Darth Vader's helmet.

Doc Brown conferred with photographs of famous inventors. To each his or her (deeply mad) own.
posted by grubi at 8:45 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


She figured out you don't force the Force; you focus and let it flow.

She does the same thing in the fight with Ren so this sets that up also.
posted by biffa at 8:46 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


And I think Finn-Poe might be the endgame.

Wow, ok, I definitely got a bit of that too - something in the way they greeted each other, held eye contact, just *something* there - definitely more than just the bromance that's often the base for these ships...


Space is so cold, and Poe Dameron's eyes are so warm...

I did get a kick out of how easily Finn makes friends. Sure, he's got a bit of PTSD; sure he's running from the Big Bad Evil; and, sure, he's uncertain of what the hell happens next... but he's just so goddamn genuine, I'm loving it. "What's the plan?" "I don't know! We'll figure it out!" Force bless him, he's awesome.
posted by grubi at 8:49 AM on December 18, 2015 [34 favorites]


I loved the Finn/Poe scenes; there seemed to be, like, huge genuine goodwill between them and I hope there are many spinoff movies where they are bros and just hang out and enjoy each others' company
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


And having one of your heroes in a space opera be a janitor? Space Quest FTW.
posted by grubi at 9:00 AM on December 18, 2015 [54 favorites]


I loved the Finn/Poe scenes; there seemed to be, like, huge genuine goodwill between them and I hope there are many spinoff movies where they are bros and just hang out and enjoy each others' company

Bosom Buddies that shiz.
posted by grubi at 9:03 AM on December 18, 2015


And having one of your heroes in a space opera be a janitor?

I did, really REALLY want this to be the reason he knew how to shut down the shields, though. Because housekeeping? They know ALL the secrets of EVERYTHING - where everything is, how you hide your password under your keyboard, how to turn off the deflector shields.
posted by anastasiav at 9:03 AM on December 18, 2015 [51 favorites]


Slightly more seriously, we'll see but I feel like Finn/Poe is going to be INCREDIBLY POPULAR when it comes to that sort of thing.

Sadly, if Captain America: Winter Solider has taught me anything, it's that sexy as hell men of colour will always be ignored for angsty pasty guys.

Don't be that way, fandom. Please? Please? Because I can't cope with them and their jacket of love.
posted by Katemonkey at 9:04 AM on December 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


They know ALL the secrets of EVERYTHING - where everything is, how you hide your password under your keyboard, how to turn off the deflector shields.

Like he's still buddies with the superintendent of the building! Maybe a 70s-style super, like Bookman or Schneider.
posted by grubi at 9:05 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Like he's still buddies with the superintendent of the building! Maybe a 70s-style super, like Bookman or Schneider.

Well, no.
posted by anastasiav at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2015


Because I can't cope with them and their jacket of love.
"Keep it," Poe said, his dark chocolate bedroom eyes softening. "It looks good on you."

Finn licked his lips, then Poe's.
posted by grubi at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2015 [28 favorites]


Which reminds me: in something like fifty gotdang years together as a team, this is the first time Han ever tried out the bowcaster? Ever? Come on.

Exactly. It's like examples like this that made no goddamn sense in the movie. While the "magic" of Finn and Rey and appearances by the old cast was great, it wasn't enough to pull me and make me not care about the numerous large and small plot holes.

But as a guy in his 40s, the movie really wasn't for me per se and that's ok. I'm beyond pleased that a young female will be the "major" jedi and that's a great black male character. That sort of thing will deeply impact a lot of kids and give them positive role models to emulate. For that reason alone, the movie should be lauded.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on December 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Like he's still buddies with the superintendent of the building! Maybe a 70s-style super, like Bookman or Schneider.

Well, no.


Clearly, I'm slowly going insane. Here's me now, apparently (2:39 if the link fails to hit the right moment).
posted by grubi at 9:13 AM on December 18, 2015


Like he's still buddies with the superintendent of the building! Maybe a 70s-style super, like Bookman or Schneider.


Now I'm picturing Scruffy the Janitor somewhere in the bowels of Starkiller Base, flipping through "Space Juggs" muttering "Scruffy's gonna die the way he lived."
posted by entropicamericana at 9:19 AM on December 18, 2015 [31 favorites]


Now I'm picturing Scruffy the Janitor somewhere in the bowels of Starkiller Base, flipping through "Space Juggs" muttering "Scruffy's gonna die the way he lived."

Collapsing to the floor when he dies, with a sad loud jingle of his giant ring of space-keys.
posted by grubi at 9:21 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Went at 2 AM last night and saw it in IMAX 3D and had a blast. It's a 10/10 as far as I'm concerned. My only complaint is the assholes from an asshole site who spoiled one plot point for me. I can't wait for more.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:24 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Note to self: avoid asshole site.
posted by grubi at 9:26 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Couple of things that came to me while I was watching it...

'There's been a hell of a lot of Han Solo in this.... oh, that's why'

The 'Refusal of the call' was a bit on the nose... as it happened to two characters at almost the same time
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:26 AM on December 18, 2015


Not about the movie proper, more about the fans:

A couple friends and I did an 8 pm showing in Brooklyn last night, and spotted a couple of SuperFans while we were there: one guy had on a Chewbacca union suit, and another guy must have just come from work because he had on a business suit - which he topped off with a Stormtrooper helmet.

The guy in my party apparently saw him in the mens' room later, which inspired the following observation: "There are three things which should never be seen together - a business suit, a Stormtrooper helmet, and urine."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really wasn't sure what to expect with regards to opening night crowds. The 7:30 show I went to out in the boonies (at an independent theater running the film on 2 screens) wasn't sold out or even all that crowded. We got there about 30 minutes early and were the only people in the lobby. My friend and I were the only two people in our entire row.
posted by usonian at 9:46 AM on December 18, 2015


I'm weary at the moment, my thoughts more garbled and jumbled than I would prefer, and I'll probably rest and wait to see the movie again in a day or two before really trying to put my thoughts down on it. But I'm weary because I got home at 10 pm last night and was so completely buzzed about my experience, I couldn't find sleep for another two and a half hours (I usually pass out between 10 and 11 on a daily work week basis).

The Force Awakens was the Star Wars movie I had been waiting for since the end of Return of the Jedi and had pursued hungrily the next step in the story through an expanded universe now declared defunct. It was the movie that I kept hoping to see every time I sat down in the theater for the Prequel Trilogy films. It's also a movie that I'm relieved that George Lucas did not try and make himself.

The trailers had long begun to sink their hooks into me as Abrams shared scenes which drew upon awe and fantasy, something attempted in the Prequels, but undermined often by the surrounding elements. But sitting in the theater last night, when the lights finally went off, and the last trailer banished to be forgotten for another time, I began to feel something. Hope? Excitement? It was some earnest desire to have a need met that I had carried with me as a fan of the franchise for decades. Then Williams' fanfare filled the theaters and the yellow text floated in the space before me (3D showing), and as I read, "Luke Skywalker has vanished..." it began to feel like a home coming. Here was the story that I truly cared about finally being resumed after an inexplicable, but perhaps necessary, wait. My eyes watered and not for the last time as I watched the story unfold.

Much like the first movie, we began in the middle of things, not at the start as in Phantom Menace. The struggle is present and ongoing. Poe's character immediately begin to warm on me, as well BB-8, who had existed in so many merchandising ways for me until that moment. Prior to the film, BB-8 had been a caricature of a Star Wars droid, and while at times, the almost whimsical nature in which we learned about the droid's abilities were aimed to surprise and delight, I found myself endeared to a droid that had the mindfulness to thank Rey for saving it.

Rey is the winner in my mind of all the new characters, if only because she multiple times displays incredible bravery, be it against villains or against the struggle of doing the right thing over securing the equivalent of a food fortune in a world where every day she fights to simply put food on her plate. She's a scavenger, the equivalent of a vulture and demeaned as something to be trod upon several times through the film. In truth, she's a survivor and that refusal to give in is what pushes forward through every encounter in the film.

There's a certain subtle level of commentary in John Boyega's selection to play Finn, choosing an individual of African ancestry to play a character stolen as a child to be raised a soldier in a military with nefarious and ruthless goals. His own innate goodness also argues that we are who we are because of who we are and not what others try to make us be. In considering his background, should he have ever cared at all for Poe or Rey? Was he always simply flawed from the beginning, but those cracks in the 'instructions' simply widened and crumbled in the face of the brutal tactics of the First Order. As others also pointed out, he's similar to Rey in starting out at the bottom of perceived social order.

The second I heard the word garbage, I knew it was the Falcon. There's no faster hunk of junk in the galaxy and there's a certain layer of irony that Rey obviously idolized the ship, but never knew the YT-1200 sitting outside the town, one which rarely flew, was that ship. Soaring along with her in every step of the film, be it through the innards of a derelict Super Star Destroyer or crashing through trees was one continual jot of pleasure. But no less than seeing Han and Chewie again, one more time.

This was a Han who had weathered a life that had fallen apart, and when that life had shattered, and everything he had come to love in the course of a great adventure had slipped away, he returned to being that guy sitting at a table in a cantina, waiting for a job. And like ever, his loyal friend, Chewbacca. It's much more, unsurprisingly given Kasdan's role in the script writing, the Chewie and Han of Empire Strikes Back. A wookie who seems to care far more about Han than he does, himself, and can be as temperamental as he is brave at times. By this point, Han is a tragic figure, as much as Obi-Wan Kenobi was, living as a hermit in the sands of Tatooine. His desert is space, his hermitage his ships. He goes on to play that role of the wise and veteran individual well and in a way only Solo could do so. The only key difference, the one thing he was entrusted to keep safe, his son, he failed to do.

Kylo Ren aka Ben, had to win me over at first. He was too vocal and active to dwell in the mystery of identity behind his mask, and by removing it, he became a character identifiable with and thus, one to like or not. It makes sense that an adherent to the Dark Side might struggle with the lure of the Light, and it's a reversal among many, of the temptation faced by other Force users of the Skywalker family. I found my appreciation for him based in his insecurities. His fear that he cannot be whom he idolizes, Vader. But the myth of Vader seems to truly be a tool of Snoke, a user or at least mentor in the ways of the Dark Side, but not someone who holds the Sith Lord in such reverence that he doesn't allow a relic like Vader's helmet (skull, too?) to leave his possession. It's given to Ren as a fetish, something for his apprentice to latch on to and feel the pressure of striving to become on a daily basis. I loved that at the outset of the battle over Starkiller base, Poe states something to the ilk regarding the sun, "While there's still light, we have hope..." And it's when the last of the light vanishes, when the shadows sweep over that Ben Solo appears to finally disappear. Luke's final test in becoming a Jedi, he confronts his father, but instead of destroying him, saves him. Here, Ben confronts his father, but rather than be saved by Han, he destroys him. It's Oepidal in nature, and Ben only truly becomes Kylo Ren after he has vanquished that barrier holding him back. Not to mention the heart wrenching moment of Leia knowing her beloved Han had not only been killed, but had most likely failed in saving their son.

I remain mixed on Snope, if in part because this new trilogy was a perfect opportunity to push away from the more ridiculous or over the top names that Lucas almost heavily doubled down on in the Prequels. The enemies of the Original Trilogy had names which seemed laced with a certain level of ominous threat: Vader, Tarkin, and Palpatine. Ah well. He had as much substance, perhaps, as the Emperor in Empire, and despite his name, may result in something just as frightening.

The film is laced repeatedly with callbacks, and while some might want to dismiss them as fan service, I see it more as emblematic of a promise being made to those who loved the original films. Here the filmmaker and those involved are telling us, "We understand the originals, we understand what you loved...and we're going to try and bring it back." It runs between themes and coincidences, and it ties together the Original Trilogy to this new one in a more finessed manner than the Prequels connected to the Originals. The latter did so laboriously, often times attempting cleverness, but more often than not resulting in crude abrupt lines drawn and circled around these instances. and then going so far as to dismiss the Originals by purposefully contradicting the story and facts established in them. Here, we have the reverse, both in the continuity between Jedi and The Force Awakens, but simply in the aforementioned connections. It's love, not expectations, that draws these two trilogies together.

I've written so much, but I've still much more to write. I left the film shaken with the feeling of utter satisfaction. I wanted to return to the battle amongst the stars that had occurred a long time ago, far, far away, and for the first time in decades, I finally felt as if I had. It was everything I had hoped for and more.
posted by Atreides at 9:47 AM on December 18, 2015 [35 favorites]


Because I can't see the movie for another week or more, I'm reading the novelization. You get to read what BB-8 is thinking at various points.
posted by drezdn at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


What does BB-8 think of the other two droids.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:51 AM on December 18, 2015


Oh, and I don't think anyone answered your question, drezdn. I didn't spot anyone from Rebels or Clone Wars. Snap might be the only major EU character and he's on the level of Wedge. He might be the new Wedge.
posted by Atreides at 9:52 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Poe disappears for an hour or so and then reappears without comment in an X-wing.

They turn that old boring "black dude dies first" trope on its head and everyone's just complaining that the white guy wasn't around more?


You are quoting me here. I am searching in vain for where I complained "the white guy" wasn't in it enough. I was more wondering why the first of the three leads we meet disappears without explanation to for the entire second act of the movie. I know John Boyega only from Attack the Block before this; if Moses were missing for an hour of that movie, I would be equally puzzled.

In any event, the Guatemalan-born Oscar Isaac (born Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada) might be surprised to learn he is the designated white guy.

Incidentally, the pre-show in the cinema I saw it in ran several promotional videos for the movie we were about to see. There were clips of interviews with some of the cast and crew. It was sadly unsurprising that Harrison Ford (Actor) and J.J. Abrams (Director) were thus identified in a lower-third graphics overlay but Boyega and Lupita Nyong'o just had an overlay reading Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]



What does BB-8 think of the other two droids.


I haven't got that far. Still on Jakku at this point. BB-8 is a bit of a misanthrope.
posted by drezdn at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Friend on twitter had a power cut (and a subsequent near riot) at his showing... still only seen three quarters of it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:02 AM on December 18, 2015


Oh, also, I like that the Supreme Leader is an alien. Snoke is probable not going to be as cool and brilliant as Grand Admiral Thrawn, but it's nice to see someone different in the evil guys' executive seat.
posted by ignignokt at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2015


I saw it last night at midnight to a full, if quiet, house. No applause except for mine, though lots of laughter and a lot of enthusiastic people leaving.

Ohio State's finals ended yesterday (I was grading in line, heh), and so there were a number of drunk students. The guy sitting next to me told me he didn't really like Star Wars (his dream, apparently, is to be on Survivor), but he and his roommates had been drinking since their last final at 4 and his roommates are nerds. I was getting apprehensive (he was very chatty and made fun of me for having eaten a turkey sandwich and kept trying to give me his popcorn and fell into the row in front of us when he got up before the movie started), but then about 10 minutes in he fell asleep and snored more or less like Darth Vader breathing for the rest of the movie. It was very ... atmospheric.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


Apropos of nothing before:
I liked that there was just one wipe cut, just as there was only one line of the Imperial Death March motif. Short homages to signatures of the Lucas films that didn't get in the way.
posted by General Malaise at 10:05 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Right at the beginning of our showing, someone made one of those typical pre-movie noises -- a loud cough, or some rustling, something like that -- and another audience member shushed him so loudly the entire theater could hear him. Everyone giggled, and it was this weird -- to me, because I was too young for the original trilogy and the prequels never felt like this -- moment of audience synergy, because whoever that guy was he was being ridiculous, but we were all there, you know?

Re: Finn/Poe shipping, part of me is like, "Much jacket very ship," another part is all, "Ugh, this is going to be the juggernaut dudeslash pairing that takes over fic fandom to the near-exclusion of anyone else, isn't it, blech," and a third part is delighted that finally the juggernaut dudeslash pairing that takes over fic fandom is not The Two White Dudes. I feel very confused.

Katemonkey, do you have any Captain America/Falcon recs, per chance?
posted by bettafish at 10:05 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I like that the Supreme Leader is an alien.

My kid does thinks Snope can't breathe the same atmosphere as the humans, which is why the hologram. I prefer the teacup theory.
posted by anastasiav at 10:06 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Teacup theory?
posted by drezdn at 10:07 AM on December 18, 2015


We're all going to be so disappointed when VIII happens and Snoke is not handbag accessory-sized.
posted by bettafish at 10:07 AM on December 18, 2015 [22 favorites]




We're all going to be so disappointed when VIII happens and Snoke is not handbag accessory-sized.


It turns out Snoke is Bill Brasky.
posted by drezdn at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]




Oh! I also wanted to say that just before Han got skewered, I loved that Ren's face was lit with half red, half blue light, and then he solidly chose the dark side and went red. Not very subtle, but pretty cool!
posted by ChuraChura at 10:39 AM on December 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


Oh! I also wanted to say that just before Han got skewered, I loved that Ren's face was lit with half red, half blue light, and then he solidly chose the dark side and went red. Not very subtle, but pretty cool!

And in their duel, when Rey and Ren had their sabers locked, both of their faces alternated between blue and red illumination. I remember thinking just how heavy-handed it was.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:42 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


as I read, "Luke Skywalker has vanished..." it began to feel like a home coming.

Amen! I had my skeptic hat on, not ready to hate or love the film, just take it for what it was. And when I read that one simple sentence, they had me in the palm of their hands.

never knew the YT-1200 sitting outside the town,

AHEM. It's a YT-1300, if you'd please.

I left the film shaken with the feeling of utter satisfaction.

I was stunned and I rarely get stunned.

I wanted to return to the battle amongst the stars that had occurred a long time ago, far, far away, and for the first time in decades, I finally felt as if I had. It was everything I had hoped for and more.

Amen! (Or the SWU equivalent)
posted by grubi at 10:47 AM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


Oh! I also wanted to say that just before Han got skewered, I loved that Ren's face was lit with half red, half blue light, and then he solidly chose the dark side and went red. Not very subtle, but pretty cool!

And in their duel, when Rey and Ren had their sabers locked, both of their faces alternated between blue and red illumination. I remember thinking just how heavy-handed it was.


I also noticed this, but I think "heavy-handed" in a space opera is just about the right way to do it.
posted by grubi at 10:50 AM on December 18, 2015 [28 favorites]


I did a little reading last night after getting home, and it's got the original actors for Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb, (at least one of the two who played him). And, as a seedy gambler, Warwick Davis!

This movie is a homecoming. Coulda used more Mothma.
posted by grubi at 10:54 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I remember thinking just how heavy-handed it was.

It's even better if you remember the sabers in the prequels not really casting light much, which once noticed cannot be unseen.
posted by sparkletone at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Coulda used more Mothma.

In my head she's somewhere high up in the new Republic quietly ensuring the resistance gets as much support as possible until it's time to go wild and purge all the New Order fascists.
posted by sparkletone at 11:02 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


A headcanon I love, but which would mean she dies when the Hosnian System was destroyed. RIP Mothma.
posted by bettafish at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sooo glad to be able to talk about this movie with you nerds, and pleased to see some metafilter-quality grousing though I watched the movie with a big stupid grin on my face that still hasn't faded. Some thoughts:

-Stealing the plot beats from ANH was SO SO SMART you guys, because it felt familiar but refreshing in the way that it subverted your expectations about the roles the characters would play. So I've wanted episodes VII-IX since I was thirteen and first saw ANH in part because I wanted to see Luke take on the Obi-Wan role. But Luke wasn't Obi-Wan! He's Yoda. Han Solo is Obi-Wan. MIND BLOWN BRILLIANT. Other interesting subversions: Poe is Leia, the princess who sets the droid on the quest. Yeah, the new bigger biggest death star thing was dumb but I liked that they called it the Starkiller and hung a lampshade on it, that's how you gotta do it, okay? Okay.

-In fact, this is so smart of an idea that I spent last night sick with a cold putting together in my head a "what if the Phantom Menace had been approached this way?" headcanon where young Obi-Wan is Luke who has been in Jedi training forever and yearns for something more a la Luke, and young Anakin is a hotheaded hilarious pilot a la Han Solo and we actually start in the middle of a WAR (probably that clone war, why hold it off?) which is oh so much more interesting than the meandering trade negotiations we got instead.

-The handwaving at Maz's place was silly but this is a series about magical space wizards so I'm cool with it.

-I actually thought that the weak link writing and acting wise were Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford trying to rush through what was essentially a divorce's worth of feelings in the middle of a fast-paced action film. Plus, the young actors were so so good and subtle and they were just...not there. I love them, though. Carrie Fisher is a magnificent queen. So I'll forgive them.

-What kind of dad was Han Solo? I got into an argument on the way home with my friend about it. She thinks Han would have been a great dad and Ben Solo is just wangsting. I can actually imagine that he was a fun if emotionally absent sort who probably wasn't on board with jedi training. And when did he do his disappearing act? Was it when Ben started his training, or after he turned? The dialog seemed unclear.

-I don't want Rey to be Luke's daughter but I guess she probably is. My hope is that she's actually the virgin birth chosen one or some shit like that. I think Luke should be chaste--it's more interesting and less plot convenient. Maybe she was brought to Luke for training on that planet as a girl but dropped off elsewhere because oh no my jedi academy failed? IDK. It's heavily implied she's his daughter but I think they could do different things with it.

-Look Kylo Ren is going to launch a thousand tweenage fanfics. Adam Driver is lovely and dark and magnificent, his acting was perfect, he's so pained and angsty and there's this built in hope that somehow he can be turned to the light. This isn't the healthiest trope but the twelve year old girl in me was totally "yep, I ship him, and me, as an awesome Jedi girl."

-WE GOT A PLOT SIGNIFICANT JEDI GIRL. In retrospect, parts of Rey's character were a touch flat but her character and backstory were really great and I love that she's a Han Solo fangirl. She's us! And she gets to use a lightsaber and the force and do you know how happy I am about it? So she can be a touch pants. Because I will put myself in those pants and pretend to be her.

-The saber battles were right out of an old samurai film, which is how it should be, no leaping through lava or anything like that. Heavy breathing, snow, trees, getting bloody. Perfect.

-Is Finn going to be Lando's son? I am guessing yes. I have no idea how I feel about that.

-There are more bullet points but my brain is pretty much this right now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2015 [49 favorites]


Why would Finn be Lando's son?

My theory on Rey is that if she's a Skywalker kid, that Luke left her with a foster family because for [reasons tba] he thought she would have a safer and more stable upbringing not realizing her foster parents would get taken out of the picture. He himself came out far better raised lovingly if a bit stifled by Owen and Beru than if he'd been Darth Vader's kid, or even Obi-Wan Kenobi's ward/student, so it wouldn't be surprising if he thought that way.

If Kylo Ren and Rey are roughly the same ages as their characters, ten years apart, that works even better because Ben's fall to the Dark Side could easily have been the instigating factor there.
posted by bettafish at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


130 minutes felt like it flew by and could've had a couple extra moments to breathe without starting to feel long.

Yeah, I would buy an extended edition.

At this point I'm mostly just amused by the Empire/First Order's apparent unshakeable obsession with giant planetoid weapons. Like whoever's in charge just can't quite let the idea go, and has the hubris to think that no, that last guy was an idiot, this time they're really gonna get it right!

I was okay with it, because the resistance pretty much reacted the same way the audience did. *Shrug*, whatever, we just fly in and blow it up somehow. Probably another subtle EU nod. Han on if the Empire had been around to fight the Vong invasion:

"That's not what the Empire would have done, Commander. What the Empire would have done was build a super-colossal Yuuzhan Vong-killing battle machine. They would have called it the Nova Colossus or the Galaxy Destructor or the Nostril of Palpatine or something equally grandiose. They would have spent billions of credits, employed thousands of contractors and subcontractors, and equipped it with the latest in death-dealing technology. And you know what would have happened? It wouldn't have worked. They'd forget to bolt down a metal plate over an access hatch leading to the main reactors, or some other mistake, and a hotshot enemy pilot would drop a bomb down there and blow the whole thing up. Now that's what the Empire would have done."
―Han Solo, to Vana Dorja


didn't you guys find all the fan service slightly annoying?

I showed up to watch this movie at 2 AM, I better get service! Seriously though, no. It gave the fans what they want in a great way, that's what franchises should do. People keep coming back for a reason. If they are back after the prequels, I think it means they know there is still some magic there they want to experience again.

They gave us a lot of Han because this was the end of Han's part of the story. I wouldn't be surprised if the next entry in the trilogy does the same for Luke.

As to your "didn't the fanservice rankle?" the only time I felt it at all was when they really bluntly made a Han-shoots-first joke.

When was that? The line about always talking his way out? If so, I thought that could have applied to a lot of Han situations.

- We only see Snoke as a fifty-foot hologram. When we meet him for real, I bet he's Yoda-sized.

Heh, he just better not actually be giant. The contrast with his need to project himself huge and Yoda's size-matters-not would be pretty cool.

I wish we'd had some sort of montage in there where she was running through the streets of Philadelphia learning how to use the force.

Gonna Fly (The Falcon) Now

If fandom is a religion, and waht you're a fan of is your denomination, this film reminded me why I fell in love with my version of going to church.


Yeah, I think it was that good. Star Wars is one of the biggest things I'm truly a dedicated fan of and this was just an amazing, perfect, experience of why that fandom is a worthwhile thing to have carried with me since I was a kid. It reminds me of attending this football game with my Dad as far as a perfect fan experience. Just a few hours spent in a different, crazy, exciting world and sharing that experience with friends or family. The sharing is what makes it so special. This thread is great, thanks for posting everybody.

Random thoughts:

Rey: She is being set up to be Luke's heir, regardless of her parentage. I don't care which direction they decide to take that if they have a good story for it in mind. I think she will eventually overtake Luke as far as my favorite character in Star Wars, she is definitely my favorite from this movie. (Though I love everybody)

Poe/Finn Ship: I'd be on board with it. I loved their chemistry. "You need a pilot."

I'm glad the fat X-Wing pilot lived this time. Son of Porkins will not make the same mistakes his father did.

Also loved the wonder muffin effect.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:22 AM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


I think what was interesting about Rey's character is that she continually grows more open and excited about the things she really cares about. We began with her living on her own in a pretty solitary life. If she has friends on Jakku, we never see them, and it seems most of her time is spent simply getting salvage to pay for her next meal. When she meets BB-8, she's kind of taciturn with the droid and just as ready to boot it BB-8 back on its own the next morning. When she meets Finn, again, she's a bit withdrawn, but when she's done flying the Falcon, truly excited about something she loves to do, she cannot help but overflow with excitement with Finn. The same happens when she bypasses the compression unit in the cockpit, she can't help but be excited and techy with Solo. She's obviously a lady who loves how tech works, be it fixing the bent antenna of a droid to using her skills to save Finn from a mouth with tentacles (Yeah, I guess Razors or what not are pretty much what a sarlaac looks like out of the sand!).

As time grows on and she leaves her reserved bubble, she becomes more vocal and expressive. That goes hand in hand with her decision to leave behind Jakku or rather, the belief that someday someone will return there to find her. Again, a reversal of A New Hope, she's Luke Skywalker who doesn't want to leave Tatooine, and incidentally, because she lacks a family and yearns for one that might appear someday. Rey lives everyday, waiting for a memory to return, and everyday, lives in the memory of the major conflict on Jakku, dwelling in a fallen AT-AT and surviving off other ruined weapons of the past. In a way, Rey has to overcome a world defined by the past to start living in the present.
posted by Atreides at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2015 [32 favorites]


Why would Finn be Lando's son?

Because they're being just as sneaky about his parentage as they are about Rey's, he's got a Lando-like sense of humor, and they're both black guys and there aren't a hell of a lot of black characters in the original trilogy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:32 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: an asshole site that spoiled one plot point for me.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why would Finn be Lando's son?

Well, they're both black, so what other reason could there be?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm calling it: Snope is actually bigger in real life, like planet+ sized and is the main weapon in the third film of the series.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2015 [26 favorites]


there aren't a hell of a lot of black characters in the original trilogy.

Maybe he's the son of Bespin Guard*.

*One of the only two Star Wars figures I had as a kid.
posted by drezdn at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


While I don't think we can necessarily, absolutely rule Finn out as not being Lando, Jr., I think that's much more of an idea George Lucas would consider than our current crop of the franchise's handlers. Abrams has stated he wanted a Star Wars that better represents our world today, hence the diversity of the cast. We know that Finn was taken when he was just a child to be raised/turned into a storm trooper. This would presuppose that Lando, a general at the end of Jedi would have a family living in an area exposed enough to be victim of a raid by nascent First Order troops to kidnap children for their martial purposes.

Counterargument: Supreme Commander Snopes took the time to pluck poor Ben Solo and corrupt him to the Dark Side. Granted, kids with Force powers were probably a limited selection.
posted by Atreides at 12:02 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Man I've got a lot to say and a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time today/this weekend/the foreseeable future so I'll be brief.

Rey and Finn and Poe are fantastic new leads, and Rilo Kiley is as good a villain as they deserve. Seriously, at some point during Rey's lightsaber duel, probably around being impressed with how much the choreography expressed that she had no training but was holding on just by instinct and channeling the force, I realzed what I was watching, and the thought overcame me:

"This is so important."

Rey is this generation's badass, and Daisy Ridley just killed at it from start to finish. I loved the movie for a lot of other reasons that I'll hopefully get to go into later, but that was the big one.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:03 PM on December 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


By the way: did it dawn on anyone that both C-3P0 and R2-D2 are easily over 70+ years old? That's some loving maintenance going on. They're the oldest characters in the show, minus Chewbacca and maybe Admiral Ackbar.
posted by Atreides at 12:06 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Because they're being just as sneaky about his parentage as they are about Rey's, he's got a Lando-like sense of humor, and they're both black guys and there aren't a hell of a lot of black characters in the original trilogy.

Based on the casting choices made not just for the main characters but tons of people in the background, I think The Force Awakens is trying to subvert the original trilogy's "one black guy and two white ladies in the entire universe" problem, not lean into it.
posted by bettafish at 12:06 PM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm curious if they are going to go the Zuko route with Ren/Ben and actually redeem him before the end of the story. It's one thing for Vader to have a deathbed conversion, but quite another to tackle the question of how to handle redemption of a living mass murderer.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe he's the son of Bespin Guard*.

Or that janitor from the Key and Peele sketch!

Anyway, there's that line where Maz looks into Finn's eyes and says something about seeing the same eyes in different faces. This is a franchise about dynasties, really, full of plot twists about parentage, and so far this particular episode doesn't seem much different from the previous ones. Maz's line could have just been, I don't know, metaphor, but this series tends to be pretty literal.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:09 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


For people that have kept up with the comics: could Sana be Finn's mom? From what little I know, she seems like she wouldn't mind her kid becoming a stormtrooper.
posted by drezdn at 12:09 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been too excited to post constructive and well formed thoughts. So, I'll just say:

YES!! Star Wars is back!

From a purely academic/intellectual standpoint I suppose I get some of the criticisms on plot holes, etc. But, I have to wonder if these folks have seen the original trilogy?

The climactic end ship battle was underdeveloped, which is too bad but I think more may have hurt the movie pacing. And JJ had to linger a bit too long on that closing shot. But I hardly care.

Of the whole movie, what sticks with me right now is that the interrogation scene with Rey and Kylo Ren was brilliant. The kid has a sense of style, with that deco inspired helmet and the luxurious hair, and then ... We've seen the trope before, actors trying to emote people reaching into each other's minds. Here, for me, it really worked. Rey didn't just put up a wall against Kylo Ren, she reversed on him, reached into *his* mind, and knew what *he* was thinking. And all he could do was go back and complain to 'daddy' that she was too tough for him. And I believed every bit of silence in that exchange.

Daisy Ridley played the epiphany of Rey's internal power brilliantly through the movie. If Han weren't already my favorite, then I'd be forced to admit that the scenes with Chewie were my favorite, but clearly Finn is now my tops. I think I like Rey the best. And Poe is my favorite, because he's the one I most want to be, but ... Well, this is a conundrum. I'll need to watch it again soon to "help decide".

This is a Star Wars for 2015, and I love it.
posted by meinvt at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


I really liked some of the subtle stuff they did to imply Finn was force sensitive. Pretty sure he isn't, though I see some people still have the impression he is. I could be wrong.

Anyway, for example, the scene when they are in the tent and he once again grabs Rey's hand to pull her out with him right before the TIE Fighter strikes. With the pre-suggested idea that he is a potential jedi, you see it as possibly using the force to predict and evade an attack. But really the scene was very clear and direct about what happened: He's very familiar with what TIE Fighters sound like and he heard them coming.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:21 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Crap. Just thought of this: the reason they're called the First Order and not the New Order (or something along those lines) is because they see themselves as restoring some old way of doing things. They're reactionary and fundamentalist. Not the Fresh New Order or the Order 3.0... the FIRST Order.

Also, I was used to seeing the Galactic War from the OT as being an analogue for WWII. Given waht I've seen, that war was WWI... the impetus and excuse for a defeated belligerent to rise up again and become even crueler and more destructive. THIS NEW SHIT is WWII.
posted by grubi at 12:23 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


He's very familiar with what TIE Fighters sound like and he heard them coming.

The book spells it out explicitly, though BB-8 heard the fighter too.
posted by drezdn at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really liked some of the subtle stuff they did to imply Finn was force sensitive. Pretty sure he isn't, though I see some people still have the impression he is. I could be wrong.

Yeah, I liked all of this. Finn is good with weapons because he's been trained to use them and can apply that knowledge to new situations. Rey is good with machines because she's spent her whole life taking them apart. They might be "chosen" and fulfilling destinies or whatever but they are also working hard and stumbling through problem solving. Juicy stuff!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:25 PM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


Anyway, there's that line where Maz looks into Finn's eyes and says something about seeing the same eyes in different faces.

Maybe this was a misinterpretation, but I actually read that line as a reference to what she had said earlier to Han about always running from the fight, which sort of mirrors what Finn is trying to do at that moment, and mirrors the earlier point in Han's character arc from IV when he leaves the Yavin base (only to come back in the famous climactic moment).

the comics

Can anyone who's kept up with the ancillary material like the comics and books comment on whether any of it is worth checking out? I appreciated that this movie wasn't overstuffed with exposition, but there are some pretty huge worldbuilding questions it would be nice to get some answers to... like, what's the real nature of the relationship between the Republic and the Resistance, and why does their support need to be clandestine? Are those dozen X-wings really the entirety of the Resistance "fleet"? (Seems implausible.) How did the First Order rise?

Perhaps we'll get the answers to some of these things in VIII and IX or the other spinoff movies, but the OT is pretty light on that sort of exposition and they seem to have drawn from that style as inspiration for this film, so I'd expect the same in other films.
posted by Kosh at 12:28 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've read Aftermath, and am working on Lost Stars. Aftermath doesn't answer your questions, but does sort of set things in a direction where you can guess why some of them happened.
posted by drezdn at 12:31 PM on December 18, 2015


Maybe this was a misinterpretation, but I actually read that line as a reference to what she had said earlier to Han about always running from the fight, which sort of mirrors what Finn is trying to do at that moment, and mirrors the earlier point in Han's character arc from IV when he leaves the Yavin base (only to come back in the famous climactic moment).

I think that's possible and even possibly intentional but it could be read different/multiple ways. I guess we'll see with future movies!

I did think the refusal of the call with both Finn and Rey (at nearly the same moment) was kind of hurriedly done. I would have liked to see at least one of them leave the narrative for a little while, which would have given us better tension. But meh!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:32 PM on December 18, 2015


There is even less reason to think that Sana is Finn's mother than Lando, and I already see zero resemblance between Finn and Lando in either looks or personality. (Yes, Finn and Lando are both funny, but Finn funny because he's a genuinely sweet dork and Lando is funny because he's the sleazy suave player Han wishes he was.) And Maz Kanata's comment about resemblance seemed to refer to his then-state of mind (on preview, what Kosh said), not a physical resemblance or even a similar overall disposition to someone she'd met previously.

I really don't see any credence to any "Finn is related to one of the two other black characters" theories, and I think it'd be ... speaking generously, really sketchy if Abrams went there, at least not without a lot more set-up.

But for the record, here is what we know about the origins of the new young characters:
- Rey: Abandoned/left behind/whatever on Jakku, has been waiting for family to come back ever since. (Heavily implied Skywalker family connection, physically resemblances members of the Skywalker family and is dressed/styled to emphasize that resemblance.)
- Finn: Taken from family extremely young and raised/indoctrinated as a First Order stormtrooper with a serial number rather than a name.
- Poe Dameron: 2nd generation Rebel, probably born between ESB and RotJ. Mother was an A-wing pilot, Dad was a commando, they mustered out a few months after the Battle of Endor. (This is from the Marvel comics, and is officially canon though probably subject to retcon in later movies if Abrams so decides.)

We actually know more about Finn's upbringing and how it shaped him at this point than we did Han Solo's in ANH.
posted by bettafish at 12:35 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I liked the water rooster-tailing when they flew "nap of the earth" over the lakes/seas, and I think that the Falcon's sliding halt in the snow was great.

I really enjoyed the movie. And I don't want to think too hard about it or I will start to get upset about waiting for the next one.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:38 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


-Stealing the plot beats from ANH was SO SO SMART you guys, because it felt familiar but refreshing in the way that it subverted your expectations about the roles the characters would play. So I've wanted episodes VII-IX since I was thirteen and first saw ANH in part because I wanted to see Luke take on the Obi-Wan role. But Luke wasn't Obi-Wan! He's Yoda. Han Solo is Obi-Wan. MIND BLOWN BRILLIANT. Other interesting subversions: Poe is Leia, the princess who sets the droid on the quest. Yeah, the new bigger biggest death star thing was dumb but I liked that they called it the Starkiller and hung a lampshade on it, that's how you gotta do it, okay? Okay.

YES. For a big chunk of it, I was thinking Poe is the new Han, Finn is the new Luke, Rey is the new Leia... obvious, right? Then after a while, watching them for another big chunk of the movie I began to shift: Poe is still Han, but Finn is like Leia and Rey is Luke. But... she's also Han (hence that strong connection; they got each other). And, well, so is Finn (how adorable was it that Han kept calling him "Big Deal"?).

Then I thought: Oh, shit, they're all a bit of each of the Big Three.

Then I thought: Hell. Yes.

She thinks Han would have been a great dad and Ben Solo is just wangsting.

Never heard this word before, but I'm stealing it. And it's true. I'm leaning towards this is all because Han was an hour late to pick Ben up from space-soccer practice that one time. Because entitled douchehoses don't need really big reasons to act like entitled douchehoses. Or wangstings.

Look Kylo Ren is going to launch a thousand tweenage fanfics. Adam Driver is lovely and dark and magnificent, his acting was perfect, he's so pained and angsty and there's this built in hope that somehow he can be turned to the light.

Darth Emo.

-Is Finn going to be Lando's son? I am guessing yes. I have no idea how I feel about that.

I hope not. There's plot convenience (like you mention) but then there's lazy writing. "Black dude... black dude!" Eh. Like there's only a handful of black people in the galaxy.
posted by grubi at 12:39 PM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm glad the fat X-Wing pilot lived this time. Son of Porkins will not make the same mistakes his father did.

Naw, he's on Atkins.
posted by grubi at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


A headcanon I love, but which would mean she dies when the Hosnian System was destroyed. RIP Mothma.

SHE WAS ON VACATION.
posted by sparkletone at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm calling it: Snope is actually bigger in real life, like planet+ sized and is the main weapon in the third film of the series.

And he's always debunking urban legends and email chain letters!
posted by grubi at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2015 [26 favorites]


There is a character from Rebels that Finn could be related to, it would also open up the possibility for force sensitivity.
posted by drezdn at 12:42 PM on December 18, 2015


Rey is this generation's badass, and Daisy Ridley just killed at it from start to finish.

If this movie came out, as is, when I was (a straight, cis male) ten years old (that's 1984, kids), I would have pointed to the screen and said "I wanna be Rey when I grow up."

Her badassery is transcendent.
posted by grubi at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


Never heard this word before, but I'm stealing it. And it's true. I'm leaning towards this is all because Han was an hour late to pick Ben up from space-soccer practice that one time. Because entitled douchehoses don't need really big reasons to act like entitled douchehoses. Or wangstings.

See, but this is the thing: while we'd all like Han Solo to be our dad, would we really want Han Solo to be our dad, especially if he refused to take the biggest thing in our lives--jedi shit--seriously? Part of this might be that my major objection to the EU was the defanging of Han Solo as a character in service of making him a Great Dad and Husband. I think he'd be kind of obnoxious if he was a real dad, the kind of person who promises a lot but rarely comes through.

I think if nothing else, I can believe that the son of Han and Leia would be a total and complete rage bucket. There's a lot of Anakin in him but it might have more than a little to do with the fact that mom and dad were at each other's throats all the time.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:45 PM on December 18, 2015 [39 favorites]


Based on the casting choices made not just for the main characters but tons of people in the background, I think The Force Awakens is trying to subvert the original trilogy's "one black guy and two white ladies in the entire universe" problem, not lean into it.

Which is part of why I think he's Luke's other kid!
posted by grubi at 12:45 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kosh, I'm really loving what I've read of Marvel's ongoing comics that start after A New Hope -- Star Wars especially gets that 1977 space fantasy vibe right down, and Darth Vader is a strangely effective mix of intra-Imperial political maneuvering, heists... in... SPACE!, and Vader having feelings. The first two arcs of each run independently but parallel, and the third is a single story told jointly between the two titles.
posted by bettafish at 12:46 PM on December 18, 2015


Rey didn't just put up a wall against Kylo Ren, she reversed on him, reached into *his* mind, and knew what *he* was thinking.

Yup. It takes massive mental fortitude to shut someone out, but she upped the ante by pushing back.

And then she went all in by REACHING INTO HIS. I mean... just... yes.
posted by grubi at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


How early in the production did they get Harrison Ford on board? I find myself wondering whether there were earlier drafts of the story/script that had Poe Dameron fulfilling the 'likeable scoundrel' role for the middle third or so of the movie, instead of Han Solo. The Finn/Poe chemistry was great but it's surprising to realize how few scenes they actually share.
posted by usonian at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


More and more I'm liking the (crazy) idea that Rey is Obi-Wan's granddaughter.

If Max Von Sydow's character also happens to be Obi-Wan's brother... all sorts of over the top parallels to ANH.
posted by 2ht at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2015 [16 favorites]


I really liked some of the subtle stuff they did to imply Finn was force sensitive.

I knew I wasn't alone!
posted by grubi at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


When was that? The line about always talking his way out? If so, I thought that could have applied to a lot of Han situations.

Yep. Like I said, they didn't stop and look at the camera, but come on. There is a situation where he very pointedly did not talk his way out, and that is why that line got a pretty big laugh in the audience I was in.
posted by sparkletone at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2015


How did the First Order rise?

Well, if you rub it vigorously...
posted by grubi at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Regarding the new Expanded Universe, I've read Aftermath, Lost Stars, Tarkin, New Dawn, Marvel's Shattered Empire, and while I own most of the regular Star Wars line, I haven't had a chance to read them yet. What I feel pretty comfortable saying is that for the most part, they have proven almost entirely useless in understanding the situation as it exists in The Force Awakens. There are little nuggets, like who Poe's parents were, for example, and a nod to a special "Force" tree that grew in the original Jedi Temple which Luke had sought to rescue from the Empire for planting at the new Jedi Temple (with another sapling growing up where Poe did).

Aftermath generally offered info about where the New Republic senate was going to setup shop (instead of Coruscant). It sets up the presence of an Admiral, at least a rip off of Thrawn, who's kind of a puppet master type fellow, and that's in the final few pages. May that be Snope's origin? It sets up the start of a cult for Vader...but that's it, and there's no mention of Knights of Ren.

But, for the most part, there has been nothing substantial and nothing that really fills in the questions in this movie. The fellow in the beginning, who gets cut down by Kylo Ren? NO FREAKING CLUE, despite the fact it's referenced he did something in the past of some significance or failed to do something.

If anything, the EU, tagged as "The Journey to the Force Awakens!" is really intended as a slow methodical release of information that will gradually fill in the info of the last thirty years. Perhaps the biggest help is we have an idea of the circumstances of the Battle of Jakku, which is just history rusting in the sands of the movie. It's been kind of frustrating, so right now, I'd only really recommend getting into the EU if you simply have an expressed interest in the adventures of our favorite characters. Ortherwise, better off just watching Wookipedia for updates.
posted by Atreides at 12:50 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Finn: Taken from family extremely young and raised/indoctrinated as a First Order stormtrooper with a serial number rather than a name.

Could be Boba Jr.?
posted by grubi at 12:50 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really liked some of the subtle stuff they did to imply Finn was force sensitive.

Count me in as a dissenter. I don't think Finn revealed any Force sensitivity.
posted by Atreides at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Now that I said what I said about the comics, comixology has Darth Vader #1 free for download today only, and all the first issues of the new Marvel line are for sale for a while. (Confusingly they also have a bunch of omnibus collections for the old EU/Legends continuity on discount, none of which I have read so I can't provide recs).
posted by bettafish at 12:53 PM on December 18, 2015


Count me in as a dissenter. I don't think Finn revealed any Force sensitivity.

I find your lack of... you know... you know.
posted by grubi at 12:54 PM on December 18, 2015 [21 favorites]


Could be Boba Jr.?

Ugggh I hope not.

(The Boba fanservice was probably my least favorite part of the prequels, but I've never really understood the Boba Thing.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, what I said was:

I really liked some of the subtle stuff they did to imply Finn was force sensitive. Pretty sure he isn't, though I see some people still have the impression he is. I could be wrong.


What I liked was how the implications he would be the one just made the dawning realization it was actually Rey so much more awesome while at the same time not hurting Finn's character at all. They set all this up in the trailer and followed through in the movie. Great example of how to use a trailer for something other than just showing a bunch of explosions/action or giving away the plot.

Even the Boba fans didn't like the Boba stuff in the prequels. My Boba obsessed friend insists on holding on to the EU canon instead.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:58 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's a short(?) defense I wrote about Boba Fett a couple months ago. I think it provides a good understanding of why some people (including myself) consider Fett a pretty interesting character. What Lucas did with him subsequently after Jedi is another matter all together.

What I liked was how the implications he would be the one just made the dawning realization it was actually Rey so much more awesome while at the same time not hurting Finn's character at all.

Well, that's exactly what Abrams and company wanted us to think going into the movie. Who do we see wielding a lightsaber? Finn! I definitely was open to the idea and wondering if it would be the case as I waited to watch the film.

Speaking of trailers/ads, I was surprised by a few of things that didn't show up in the movie. Perhaps the biggest fake out, Luke's altered line from the trailer about the Force being strong in his family.
posted by Atreides at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


See, but this is the thing: while we'd all like Han Solo to be our dad, would we really want Han Solo to be our dad, especially if he refused to take the biggest thing in our lives--jedi shit--seriously?

Oh gawd, future movies are going to delve into this and Han will be revealed as a whoring, stubborn asshole who didn't pay much attention to his kid, right?

Jesus, quit trying to define backgrounds, leave mystery.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll bet he bought those for you. I bet those were a Life Day gift. Right? You know what I got for Life Day? Oh, it was a banner fucking year at the old Solo family. I got a carton of death sticks. The old man grabbed me and said, "Hey, smoke up, Benny." All right? So go home and cry to your Daddy. Don't cry here, okay?
posted by Drinky Die at 1:07 PM on December 18, 2015 [59 favorites]


I'll bet he bought those for you. I bet those were a Life Day gift. Right? You know what I got for Life Day? Oh, it was a banner fucking year at the old Solo family. I got a carton of death sticks. The old man grabbed me and said, "Hey, smoke up, Benny." All right? So go home and cry to your Daddy. Don't cry here, okay?

Don't
don't
don't
don-on't you
forget about Shmi

(you Skywalk on by... when you call my name)
posted by grubi at 1:20 PM on December 18, 2015 [38 favorites]


There's plot convenience (like you mention) but then there's lazy writing. "Black dude... black dude!" Eh. Like there's only a handful of black people in the galaxy.

Abrams claims the leads were written "without any race in mind", which would rule out some of the lazier "obviously a Calrissian/Skywalker" variants. Add to that that Oscar Isaac mentioned somewhere how he just loved that the movie was about a bunch of people who would just have been extras in the first trilogy, so if there's some royal ancestry in there, it not clear if the actors know about it.

Rey was written as a woman, but beaten into shape by Lucasfilm's story team under Kiri Hart. Phasma was written without a specific gender, but they started looking for male actors, but later changed their minds (and if you check the story team link, Kennedy makes it clear they have big plans for Phasma in the next movie, so it's pretty safe to assume she made it out of the thrash compactor...).

More and more I'm liking the (crazy) idea that Rey is Obi-Wan's granddaughter.

There were early casting rumors that they were looking for a non-Caucasian actress to play a descendant of Obi-Wan, which was connected to both Nyong'o (who did Kanata's motion capture together with Arti Shah, both non-Caucasian, but color was obviously not a casting requirement for that bit) and Maisie Richardson-Sellers (who I think was Leia's contact at Kanata's bar). Boyega was competing with a couple of white guys (which people interpreted as the character obviously being a Skywalker), so could be that they shuffled things around when they went with him.
posted by effbot at 1:43 PM on December 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mind. Blown.

People who didn't like this are forgetting how mediocre the acting in Episode IV or VI is, for example, when you look at them in the cold hard light of day, without those rose tinted glasses. It's too early for me to decide how high this ranks (as good as Empire, or not quite? Or even - perish the thought - better?), but do I know I came out of this movie feeling thrilled, so unlike the leaden sense of disappointment after Episode I or the anger after II or III.

This - this had heart. I cared about those people.

From way up: I think this film is for Han Solo, each of the next ones are for Leia and Luke.

If by "for" you mean "for their deaths", I'm going to have to agree. Episode VIII will be Rey training with Luke until Luke dies to protect her from a rampaging Kylo Ren; Episode IX has a fat target on Leia.

But it turns out this was the movie many of us were looking for.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:46 PM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


I want Leia to liiiiiive.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:51 PM on December 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


Phasma was written without a specific gender, but they started looking for male actors, but later changed their minds

I read this a bit ago and was super happy that it was a tangible example of online opinions actually have an effect, and also that good lord thankfully we have one franchise that Cumberbatch isn't in (for now, at least). Like, nothing against him personally, but does he really need to be in every single thing ever?
posted by kmz at 1:52 PM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


If Finn isn't related to anyone we already know about, I think it's because he's the audience avatar.
posted by drezdn at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Arguably, Leia's death in VIII could be the final card in getting Luke to leave his self-imposed exile to play a role in the confrontation with Snope in the third movie. I can't see them not using Leia in some scenes in VIII simply because she's a major leader of the Resistance and we have one character who's a major player of the Resistance and another who's pretty much signed up.

I think when it comes to ancestry, Rey's is the one really at play. We know that Luke knows that dropping your kid off on a sandy backwater is pretty good defense against Dark Side users finding them. Rey is objectively very strong in the Force and we were definitely lead to believe that she had some connection to the Skywalker family from the first trailer. We know for a fact she's not a Solo, so that leaves Luke as the father.

She is arguably very strong in the Force, a Skywalker trait, and her apparent connection to Anakin's cum Luke's lightsaber either argues for a lineage connection or the Force is simply acting through the lightsaber to bring her and Luke together. A lot of the ridiculous connections in the Star Wars franchise can be hand waved away as the Force moving people around.

Kylo Ren is actually a problem, if you think about it. He's too young. How old is he supposed to be? Adam Driver is 32. One would think that for him to be powerful enough to help or even lead an assault on the Jedi Temple under Luke, he'd have to be in his teens or 20s. That implies that Luke and the nascent new Jedi Order have only been gone a decade and stretching it to a half. That makes his absence and mythic place kind of awkward. It at least ties up with a young Rey being deposited on Jakku.

Or, alternatively, she's not related to anyone.
posted by Atreides at 1:59 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ha, I was just saying to a friend that Rey is the audience avatar (a funny, likable, smart, massive fan of han solo and luke skywalker). I thought Finn was much better rounded as a character. Rey is a bit Mary Sue. She even gets to inherit both Luke Skywalker's lightsaber and Han's Millennium Falcon. But she's so cool that I don't care.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


She is arguably very strong in the Force, a Skywalker trait, and her apparent connection to Anakin's cum Luke's lightsaber either argues for a lineage connection or the Force is simply acting through the lightsaber to bring her and Luke together. A lot of the ridiculous connections in the Star Wars franchise can be hand waved away as the Force moving people around.

Kylo Ren is actually a problem, if you think about it. He's too young. How old is he supposed to be? Adam Driver is 32. One would think that for him to be powerful enough to help or even lead an assault on the Jedi Temple under Luke, he'd have to be in his teens or 20s. That implies that Luke and the nascent new Jedi Order have only been gone a decade and stretching it to a half. That makes his absence and mythic place kind of awkward. It at least ties up with a young Rey being deposited on Jakku.

Or, alternatively, she's not related to anyone.


This is even more of a problem if you suppose that Leia and Han were likely to know that Luke had a daughter while he was training their son. It's possible they did, and they figure out that Rey is this, but if so we're never privy to that conversation, or they just send Rey to look for her dad without telling her they're doing that, which would be strange.

Unless he had a daughter who was born after the order fell and he went into exile, but I'm thinking that Kylo Ren would have had to have gone into training really young, then. Which isn't impossible given what we know about previous generations' Jedi training but it seems weird that he would turn as, like, a tween.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:06 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Rey as Obi Wan's daughter, then? A long lost cousin? The starship abandoning her on a sandy planet is just too much of a call-out, though.

And Daisy Ridley is going to be a megastar.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:13 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it? He could have got angry, lost control, killed some fellow apprentices and fled. Luke chases, but Snoke find him first, explains that he isn't broken, only misunderstood, encouraged him to go play evil King Arthur and form his knighthood. Luke shows his usual emotional depth and runs off to be a hermit.
posted by meinvt at 2:14 PM on December 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Which isn't impossible given what we know about previous generations' Jedi training but it seems weird that he would turn as, like, a tween

This was probably Lucas' original idea.
posted by Atreides at 2:14 PM on December 18, 2015


Rey as Obi Wan's daughter, then? A long lost cousin? The starship abandoning her on a sandy planet is just too much of a call-out, though.

She would have had to have been his granddaughter.

Is it? He could have got angry, lost control, killed some fellow apprentices and fled. Luke chases, but Snoke find him first, explains that he isn't broken, only misunderstood, encouraged him to go play evil King Arthur and form his knighthood. Luke shows his usual emotional depth and runs off to be a hermit.

I want to think that for someone to fall out of living memory, a generation is required, about 20 years. This was kind of true in the Original Trilogy, which spanned approximately 30 years between the events of RTOS and ANH. Which is why the farther back we can push Luke's flight the better it is to sustain the Jedi myth.

Though, pointedly, Luke's reason for leaving was to find the original Jedi Temple. That seemed to presuppose that he felt something could be gained by doing so, not necessarily as a purpose to excuse himself from the troubles of the galaxy.
posted by Atreides at 2:18 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Though, pointedly, Luke's reason for leaving was to find the original Jedi Temple.

Jeeze, Luke, all you have to do is take a shuttle from Tython Departures on Carrick Station.
posted by kmz at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


If they take ONE character from the EU, [Mara Jade] would be the coolest.

Incorrect. Hugo Weaving as Grand Admiral Thrawn is the correct answer.
posted by Hatashran at 2:25 PM on December 18, 2015 [24 favorites]


Hmm. Just cobbling together a possible headcanon timeline.

-30 years ago, 2nd death star destroyed, Ben Solo-Organa born soon after
-Ben's first few years of life relatively rosy but Ben seems both force gifted and increasingly volatile. Let's say he goes into Jedi training at . . . 5?
-At 10, Ben falls to the dark side, taken under the wing of emperor snoke and becomes Kylo Ren, forms the knights of Ren, Han Solo leaves, Luke goes to find the Jedi Temple
-18-20 years ago, Rey is born (the novelization puts her at 20)

Rey seems to have memories of Luke's temple planet, as well as memories of masked figures that look sort of like Ren whom I'm assuming are the knights of Ren so . . . I think this works?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:25 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Rey seems to have memories of Luke's temple planet, as well as memories of masked figures that look sort of like Ren whom I'm assuming are the knights of Ren so . . . I think this works?

I interpreted those as a Force vision, the past, the future, etc..

That's a timeline that works, but man, it still places a young Ben on running off to join the Snopes.
posted by Atreides at 2:29 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I took the morning off work today to see it at a 9am showing, ostensibly to check it out in advance for the kids but actually to see it and enjoy it in a largely kid and cheers / applause free setting. Loved it and had to resist the urge to go back in for the next screening.

I was engaged by the story, and I love the new characters. I was tickled pink when Rey, after twice refusing to be led by the hand, offers her hand to Finn to lead him out of trouble. Understated but there for you to spot and lays out who these people are without slapping you in the face. Everything the prequel trilogy was missing.

The only thing that pulled me out of the moment in the entire film was my real world familiarity with some of the landscape (which it turns out there's a video about). That's no complaint at all.

I do have a minor complaint, and it's a pretty silly one really. The opening bars of the Star Wars theme are actually from the 20th Century Fox music. From the possibly hundreds of times I have seen one or other of the OT (and even PT) movies that has been drummed and fanfared into my subconscious. Something about that felt wrong at the time and I couldn't place it. It's only from reading through this thread that I realised.

None of the new young fans, for whom this will definitely be *their* Star Wars, will notice. I'm so looking forward to going back with my nephews and nieces this weekend. I just hope they don't get spoilered like I was with Empire when that first hit the screens.
posted by vbfg at 2:29 PM on December 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Finally allowed myself to watch the Comic-Con Panel... bit emotional during Mark Hamill (yeah, we've all got a Star Wars story)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2015


New Yorker review: Without [Ford] and Alec Guinness, after all, the first “Star Wars” would have been largely unwatchable; viewed again earlier this week, it came across as startlingly inept—barely written, often badly acted, and always poorly paced, with some sequences tumbling past in an embarrassed rush and others lingering like unwanted guests. Granted, the result made hundreds of millions of dollars, and acquired the patina of legend, but, still, “Star Wars” was emotionally as null as the interstellar void through which its vessels leaped.
[...]
To sum up: “Star Wars”
was broke, and it did need fixing. And here is the answer.

Yeah, this movie really is *that* good.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am curious: Is Snoke really that big IRL? Or is he regular size?

He's actual size, but he seems much bigger to meeee...
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:34 PM on December 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


In the movie, do they show how Poe gets off Jakku?
posted by drezdn at 2:38 PM on December 18, 2015


Nope. He's presumed dead and then reappears in his X-wing at Maz's place.
posted by Atreides at 2:43 PM on December 18, 2015


No, but it was probably with those eyes of his and a bit of Romulan ale.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:44 PM on December 18, 2015 [22 favorites]


Oh, and I need to check out the score again. I thought it was effective but nothing blew me away. As with many people Duel of the Fates is the highpoint of the prequels for me, and one of them for the whole thing. But of course they weren't trying to evoke the kind of well trained, highly effective threat of Maul. They were seeding doubts about the level of ability and character of Ren.

It's a measure of how well they did with it that I'm thinking of things like "it was really good but I can still walk" to say about it.
posted by vbfg at 2:45 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, but it was probably with those eyes of his and a bit of Romulan ale.

I love the way he said "apparatus".
posted by grubi at 2:45 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


So far, the book contains at least one scene explaining what happens to him after the TIE crashes.
posted by drezdn at 2:49 PM on December 18, 2015


Saw it at 9:30 this morning, took half day off of work! I've only read about 200 of the comments, but I wanted to chime in. I mostly loved it. I thought it was both good and bad that it followed the beat of IV, because it's familiar and enjoyable and I can't not like it, but it was predictable. As soon as Han said goodbye to Leia I suspected, and as soon as he split from Chewy in the most casual, let's-meet-back-after-we-plant-some-bombs way, I knew. But even when I saw it coming I was still like nooooooo. But the same young plucky heroes and the same giant weapon and imposing Nazi-like conquerors, all felt really familiar in the best way.

I like how most of the complaints I've read are from people who never got into the series, or cranky-pants who recognized that they're cranky-pants and just wanted something way fresh.

I feel like this movie was more of a redemption of the series rather than wanting to be the next step. The next one, I expect, will be vastly different from the pacing and plot of V. This was just a statement of "Hey, that thing you loved that got ruined? Here's how you loved it in the first place, and look forward to how it'll get better."

The seeds are there for much better characterization. I can't wait to see how Ren develops, and I can't wait to see what Luke has to show Rey. And I'd even be ok if we never find out about Finn's and Poe's heritage. They are great as is, and they're fun and nervous and proud and witty and naive and I wanna see more of them already.

Leia might not have more significant roles to play, but that's fine. I'm sure she'll be there when Ren's plot hit is climax, and I'll look forward to that if what I've seen so far is any indication of the quality of that plot.

Aaahh this was just so much fun. I might actually see it in theaters again!
posted by numaner at 3:09 PM on December 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


I like to think that Rey is actually descended from Palpatine.

Because, see, we have a Skywalker child who has gone to the Dark Side, and so we have a Palpatine child who has gone to the Light Side.

She kinda looks like Leia and Padme (which was why I was absolutely convinced she was a Solo until I saw this), which could be Nabooan genetics. Not obviously Palpatine's daughter, but maybe a granddaughter or a great-granddaughter, even, and the Empire knew they had to quietly sneak her away before the Republic found out about her.

Maybe she can help bring Ben back into the Light. Maybe she'll need to stop him. I am so excited by all the possibilities that I don't even have words.

(Except for focusing on Poe and Finn's jacket of love. Oh my god, I had hoped from the trailer, but eeeeeeeeeee...)
posted by Katemonkey at 3:09 PM on December 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


Oh yeah, I looked up Darth Plagueius and fell into a rabbit hole concerning what happened to Maul after APM.

I can actually see Maul being Snoke, just because all the stuff I've read indicates how messed up he might be physically, with a half robot body and his face getting bashed in every battle with Sidious.

But since the EU aren't canon, I can only hope.
posted by numaner at 3:13 PM on December 18, 2015


>I like to think that Rey is actually descended from Palpatine.

...


I fucking love it.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:14 PM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


Well, where was Poe?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:17 PM on December 18, 2015


Loved it and had to resist the urge to go back in for the next screening.
Yes! It's so strange to have that "how can I get my parents to take me to see that again" feeling as a grown up. I'm racking my brain and can't think of a single movie I've seen in the theater that's given me the "Man, I want to watch that again right now" rush since Return of the Jedi when I was a kid.

I did drag myself back to see The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones a second time each in the theater, but those rewatches were more like, "I have to be sure that this really was as disappointing as it seemed the first time around."
posted by usonian at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Kylo Ren looks like Josh Groban, especially in the bridge scene. I wanted Han to drag Ren off with him when he fell.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:24 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've heard some talk that Williams didn't live up to his reputation on this one. All I have to say to that is Rey's Theme.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:25 PM on December 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Poe/Finn shipping is fun, but fantasy is about all we get when it comes to any queer relationships in the Star Wars movies. It's 2015, and we still have yet to see a single lgtb character anywhere in this huge universe. I loved the way at least one anonymous stormtrooper who reported to Kylo Ren in passing had a woman's voice; it shows how easy it was for Abrams to work in a naturally diverse cast when he put his mind to it.

But the same still doesn't hold for even a single openly queer member of any species anywhere in Star Wars. How long will we have to wait? 2017? 2025?

Fuck that shit.
posted by mediareport at 3:32 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Kylo Ren looks and acts like Nick Sobotka with force powers.
posted by MarchHare at 3:35 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Ehh, I got more Ziggy.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:36 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Not only does the Empire/First Order keep building massive planet destroying boondoggles, they keep sticking frickin' Turbo Lasers on them!
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:45 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


That one general looked like a combination of Ron and Malfoy.

He played Bill Weasley in the Potter movies, I'm told.

I'm still processing but I enjoyed it. Cried not when Han died (I had been spoiled but saw it coming anyway) but when Leia felt it, and again when she hugged Rey. But I feel like I love it in a cooler, Jedi kind of way. Not in hot blood, just the satisfaction of seeing Star Wars done right for a new generation. Sort of like the feeling I get from Clone Wars and Rebels. I don't feel the urge to nitpick to death even though I could, so that's a good sign. And not a lot of zomg I hated how they treated the female characters, other than Not Enough Leia, so there's that over other blockbuster series (I'm looking at you, Marvel). I hope the sequel can live up to it.
posted by immlass at 4:02 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can't wait to see more waves of Mefites show up to react as the weekend moves on.

It was awesome guys, wasn't it AWESOME?
posted by Drinky Die at 4:04 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh, also, my first thought on finding out that Han was buying it (no surprise, since he had the Obi-Wan role): No wonder Ford has been so cheerful on this press tour. It's his last time!
posted by immlass at 4:08 PM on December 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


I was blown away by the acting in this movie! I loved Attack the Block so I knew John Boyega was going to bring it, but I did not expect to love Adam Driver in this as much as I did. He really brought all the subtle skills necessary to make Kylo Ren a fully realized character.

My only complaint was that my 3D glasses kept fogging up because of all the tears coming out of my eyeballs.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:17 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


BMD has a nice overview of the political situation in the galaxy, pulling together everything we know about the First Order, the Republic, and the Resistance from canonical tie-in media: What The Hell Is The Story With The Resistance And The First Order In THE FORCE AWAKENS?
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:25 PM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Some thoughts:

- If Rey turns out to be Luke's daughter, I will throw a Kylo Ren-sized tantrum. Enough with the parents and children, one's plenty.

- I hope Finn is not Force-sensitive. I'll be ok with it if he is, but it would be way better if he were not.

- Rey and Kylo Ren are going to do it.

- I was so taken by the new characters that I am honestly annoyed that Han Solo is the star for much of the action. This is an area where I think fanservice let the film down a little bit: yeah, it's great for fans to get closure on his whole story and Leia and everything, but once he does, he doesn't have anything to do but die. I think it would have been much more interesting to kill him before they get to Leia, so that that death has some weight and actually takes something away from someone. As it stands, his death was so clearly telegraphed by the staging, and most of us know that Harrison Ford is over it already, that it didn't feel like much to me, more just escorting him out of the building. We don't have enough history between him and Ren for that to have felt more than perfunctory. I wanted more time with the new people. To be clear, I'm not complaining that he died, just frustrated that he had so much screen time for an ostensibly supporting role.

- On that note, I very much hope that Leia and Luke remain backgrounded figures, elder narrative statesmen with some guidance but not jumping into the middle of the action. I've been watching their story for 30 years. I like their story, but I got closure on it. More new people, less old people.

- Some of the visuals were super great. Black X-Wing leading the charge, red v. blue in the twilight of a dying star, the swooping shot which introduces the hermitage planet. One review I read described Abrams as "an undeniably gifted visual storyteller" and on the strength of this I'd agree.

- Honestly, the way the Force works, if you go 48 hours without a massively convenient coincidence it probably means you've strayed from the path.

- Kylo Ren is not scary, but he could be, and that's really interesting to me. Having the main antagonist be going on a parallel journey of self-discovery to the protagonists creates a lot of opportunities. That's a story we haven't seen too much of before.

- Finn's great, Poe's a nice variation on the rogue archetype (what if you gave Wedge Antilles a personality?), but Rey is the baddest ass to ever ass a bad. Easily the coolest hero Star Wars has had in my estimation, magnetic inside the first five minutes, and such a joy to watch. She gets scared without getting overwhelmed, she gets angry without getting shrill, she gets to run through a lot of emotional beats with believably mixed results, she's a real person and I buy it. I was saying above that Han's death was highly telegraphed and felt ho hum to me. Conversely, Rey's taking up of the lightsaber is also highly telegraphed and a euphoric shot anyway. Unlike the death, it feels more like an earned moment. I am genuinely happy and pleased for Daisy Ridley, she deserves all the acclaim she's going to get. It's not just a redemptive performance for the series after a disappointing Anakin, it's a great performance on its own. I am so amped up to see what happens with her next, for both values of "her".

- An exchange I had with a friend:
Friend: You think [Rey]'s going to learn to use a double saber? She already uses a staff.
Me: I would be all the way down for that. "Master Luke, I have brought you your lightsaber...because it's just not enough saber for me, did I mention that I'm incredible?"

- I wish this movie wasn't so aware that it is the first in a new series. A more defined story for this episode would have been nice. The death planet retread is pretty yawn-worthy. Fellowship of the Ring is still the model for me of a first-in-trilogy movie that still tells a story in and of itself. Much of this movie is just moving the pieces into place, which is fine but not very satisfying. It is very possible that after taking in the whole trilogy, I'll feel more affection for this episode on its own. Right now it's a B. On the other hand, I already have plans to go see it again and measure my initial reactions, so I doubt they care what grade I give it, they're getting my money.
posted by Errant at 4:35 PM on December 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


I was hoping as Rey was hiking on Craggy Island that she'd come across Father Ted.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:59 PM on December 18, 2015 [24 favorites]


Rey is the baddest ass to ever ass a bad. Easily the coolest hero Star Wars has had in my estimation, magnetic inside the first five minutes, and such a joy to watch.

I've been a Luke guy for thirty some years, and I find myself rethinking that in the past 48 hours. What a character, what a performance.

You can't underestimate just how well the casting/acting was across the board.

I haven't cried in a movie theater in a long time. Way to go J.J.
posted by Sphinx at 5:16 PM on December 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


So me and my husband were talking. When the Troopers report to Kylo that BB-8 escaped Jakku with a "girl," was it just us or did he really have a strong response to that? Like he may already have had an idea who the "girl" was? It stood out to both of us separately.
posted by Windigo at 5:28 PM on December 18, 2015 [23 favorites]


Yeah, he turned from rage smashing equipment to choking the officer at that point IIRC. Not sure what that means.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:48 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


That New Yorker review was the New Yorker-iest New Yorker review possible, short of hauling Pauline Kael out of carbon freeze.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:57 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Jedi story of Episodes 1-2-3-4-5-6 is that every Jedi must constantly struggle against the desire to turn dark, because it's a natural impulse that tempts all of them. I love the idea that Episodes 7-8-9 will be about the fundamental untenability of building an everlasting evil empire because light is an equally strong temptation.

The Jedi of 1-2-3 are a huge faction compared with the Sith. The Jedi of 4-5-6 are basically balanced. 7-8-9 seems to be setting up the Knights of Ren as a Darkside version of the Jedi Order. Perhaps the lesson Luke learns from this will be to only ever have one apprentice at a time, as the Sith did.
posted by pwnguin at 6:07 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is the Knights of Ren thing something that they mention in the movie, or is it background from other media? Because if it's in the movie, I missed it.
posted by Errant at 6:09 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Iw thinking about this, and the prophecy.. If we assume like is the one to bring balance to the force, perhaps it's less balance in light vs dark practitioners, but balance within the practitioners themselves

Help the baddies to come towards the light, help the goodies to not fear their own emotions.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:11 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just want to point out that right now, you can lie in bed (well I can, it's a Saturday morning still) and hit refresh every hour and watch The Force Awakens fandom add new stories and read them in real time. When I woke up it was 129, and now it's 151. Poe/Finn are doing very nicely.

This reminds me in a bittersweet fandom memory of a friend messaging me to say "Hey, you have to check out this Obi Wan/Qui-Gon thing, there's like a hundred stories already!"
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:14 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm wondering if anyone else felt this:

During the fight scene between Rey and Ren, there's a distinct cinematographic flip when she gains the upper hand. The framing changes to show her as dominant, and she does this hyper-aggressive shoulder stance as she's walking forward.

Almost... too aggressive. As in, the framing becomes so Rey dominant that it actually looked like she was exploring the dark side. It wasn't just "the tables have turned" but it was like, "holy shit, this person has an insane amount of power, and doesn't know the full consequences."

Which I found to be incredible. Exactly what you'd expect when someone suddenly realizes how much violence they are capable of. They might take it just a little too far.

----

Secondarily, my favorite call-back to Episode I was when Rey's trying to get them in the "much faster" pod racer, which is promptly blown up. So then she get's them in the "trash", aka the goddamn Millennium Falcon. Fuck yes!!!!
posted by special agent conrad uno at 6:28 PM on December 18, 2015 [40 favorites]


Holy missed the edit window and have regrets, batman. "Assume LUKE is the one"
posted by coriolisdave at 6:28 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]



But the same still doesn't hold for even a single openly queer member of any species anywhere in Star Wars. How long will we have to wait? 2017? 2025?


The book, Aftermath, features several gay characters, which is one of the reasons some fanboys got so up in arms over it. It was majorly pushed as the premiere next EU installment by Disney. A gay character in a movie probably isn't as far away as you might think.

Errant, they're mentioned once by Snope and shown in Rey's vision, but otherwise that's the only references made anywhere to them.
posted by Atreides at 6:37 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm reading the novelization. You get to read what BB-8 is thinking at various points.

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was manufactured, and what my lousy programmers were like, and how my masters were occupied and all before they bought me, and all that kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it. .."
posted by Ian A.T. at 6:38 PM on December 18, 2015 [44 favorites]


Saw it this afternoon and really enjoyed it. My hopes were pretty low so anything better than the prequels would have been enough for me but Abrams and co. did a great job. The overall plot is kind of a dumb retread but the new characters are great and I'll admit that I got pretty teary when Han went even though I knew it was going to happen. Can't wait for the next one.
posted by octothorpe at 7:15 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if anyone else felt this:

Yep, my thoughts as the roles were reversing was "she is certainly learning how to tap into her hate". Some of those strikes were real hacks, not the kind of flowing moves associated with the prequel Jedi.
posted by Errant at 7:18 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just saw this.

- Finn: I'm going to go with Force adept, siding on the good, which is what tripped him up fighting - watching his squad mate die, blood on his visor. Ren even pauses, looks over at this soldier standing there, as if he senses something (he also senses when Han Solo is on his planet/space base) - and immediately knows which soldier is the one that needed reconditioning before his serial number was brought up. He might not be able to be a full on Jedi, but he managed to wield a light saber (kind of like how Han was rumored, and in the EU had, Force powers - For Han it meant he eventually got around to doing the right thing, with Finn, it might be because the Right Thing was so directly obvious to him it led him easier?).

- Rey: I really hope she isn't a direct descendent of Anakin. Maybe one of the few remaining Jedi in training that survived the slaughter, dropped off by Luke's direction somewhere on a planet (again, showing the easy corruption of privilege - people who are elevated to Knighthood as a child can be corrupted, those who learn to live by their own means appreciate life more). Also a total badass, child hood prodigy, a little bit of the Skywalker traits are in her - so she might just be that. Obviously not Ren's sister - I can't see Leia hiding that from her, and I'd assume if she was a Skywalker, there would have been some bigger moments with Leia. Unless in VIII they are going to do "on her death bed, Leia tells Rey that Luke was her father" or something.

- Ren: Man do they have the angry teenager / Jedi that Anakin was supposed to be in Prequels down. I think he might be insufferable for those of us who have already gone through puberty to have to watch him (was it just me thinking that his face even looked like it was breaking out a bit? Maybe thats the corrupting powers of the dark side first sign: horrible acne). I didn't even pay attention to who the actor was before watching this, so I was taken back by the pimply faced youth under the "I'm a big bad Vader fan boy" mask. I like how his mask was beat up - he's cargo culting / fanboying everything himself - tons of power, no focus (a mix of Solo and Skywalker?). I'm imagining theres going to be a force mind meld thing in future series where he may see it wasn't Luke who killed Anakin, but Anakin who killed Palpatine and died in the process.

- Han: loved all of him, was upset when he was killed, but knew it was coming the moment he stepped out onto the bridge. Ford obviously wanted done with the series, the option could have been Ren going "sure, I won't be a bad guy, lets go" and then Solo has to sacrifice himself to blow up the death planet? But really, whats the legal process for re-integrating a Sith? "sure you slaughtered entire villages, including all your classmates, but now that you say your sorry, that's cool"

- BB-8: He makes a fucking purring sound. I don't care, he is awesome.

- Clones: there is threat to use them, I don't know if they are expensive / untrusted, or if there is some power struggles going on with Dude Who Gave the Speech who runs the "steal children and turn them into soldiers" division and the dudes who run the clone vats.

I want to see this again, this time for all the references. I've not felt this excited after leaving a movie in a really, really, long time. My coworker and I were both excitedly talking about it as we drove to the airport.

I wonder if the toxins killing stormtroopers thing will come back later.

I am also super pumped the most badass Jedi in the series in a woman.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:44 PM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


I had assumed Han Solo dies in the movie because Harrison Ford seemed to be doing a victory lap on the press tour and seemed to be enjoying the hype but I was still crying in the theater when it happened. Actually, I was crying from the moment the music started at the very beginning. Some of it was happy, crying while grinning and some of it was sad, snotty crying but there was still a lot of crying.
posted by Burn.Don't.Freeze at 8:55 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Rey is so Luke's daughter, y'all. Sorry for everyone aboard the Rey/Kylo Snape ship but space incest is even less likely than space gay. I actually think we will see a gay couple but they'll probably be some background Resistance characters in an established relationship. Finn and Poe will only have a bromance because Disney is not that cool.

That said, I think the popular fandom ships will be (in order of popularity): Kylo Snape/General Ron Malfoy, Kylo Snape/Rey, Kylo Snape/Poe, Finn/Poe, Finn/Rey, and Rey/Poe.
posted by bgal81 at 9:05 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The book, Aftermath, features several gay characters, which is one of the reasons some fanboys got so up in arms over it. It was majorly pushed as the premiere next EU installment by Disney.

That a recent book in the new Disney universe included an openly queer character as a matter of course is really fine news. Thanks, Atreides. I nosed around and found this interview with the author of Aftermath, which also mentions that last April's Lords of the Sith had a lesbian Imperial officer, apparently as a supporting character:

In the new novel Star Wars: Aftermath, author Chuck Wendig takes another step forward for diversity, introducing a major gay character to the mix: the Imperial turncoat Sinjir Rath Velus.

He’s not the first gay character to turn up in the new canon. That distinction belongs to last April’s Lords of the Sith novel by Paul S. Kemp, which introduced fans to Moff Delian Mors, a lesbian Imperial officer who feels adrift after her wife is killed in an accident. But Sinjir Rath Velus holds the distinction of being the first major hero in a Star Wars story to come from an LGBT background.


About time. Guess we'll see if any kind of queer character (a relatively interesting one would be nice) shows up in the next movie. One damn well should.
posted by mediareport at 9:05 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Re: Kylo Ren, I loved loved loved his mask, and the fact that it was called out twice as an affectation. That kind of "branding," especially borrowed branding pretending to honor the invented myths of a bygone age, is so much a part of the fascism he's made himself the dragon for. But my friend, who's now seen it twice, pointed out to me tonight that Kylo's hilt-saber also wavers a lot more than Luke's does. I need to check this for myself, but if so, it suggests 1.) that he made it himself, which of course he would hve, and 2.) a parallel to how wobbly with the Force Kylo himself is.

Guys, I think this installment might have been really good.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:27 PM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


Oh, and watching Han walk out on the bridge gave me the same feeling as seeing Frank Sobotka go out to meet The Greek.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:30 PM on December 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


Yeah, the more I think about it the more I liked this. So much so that I decided at the last minute to see it again tonight. Still just as good, love Rey and Finn and Poe even more, maybe.

(One thing I did note make sure to note, it does seem like Luke is standing next to a gravestone or something.)
posted by kmz at 9:46 PM on December 18, 2015


I should add that, as much as I hope that Rey is not Luke's daughter, because we all know that would cheapen her character, I hope that Kylo's arc is not a redemptive one, or at least not in the Vader vein of things.I do, however, hope that Finn's arc becomes one of fomenting rebellion within the stormtroopers, because that would be new, and awesome to watch.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:28 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


I will seriously freak out in the worst way if Rey ends up being Luke's daughter. Like, ugh. UGH. Find a new fucking story, jesus christ. Abrams is a very genre-savvy dude, though, I do not think he would do this. I also think it would be super weird if Maz, who definitely knows shit, basically says to her, "I know that you're waiting for your parents, and you know as well as I do that they're not coming back. Now, put that behind you and go find Luke who is your father, surprise lol."

I share mediareport's skepticism about Disney's moral courage or lack thereof, but I would absolutely love it if dashing rogue Poe Dameron was gay. I don't think they've really solidified anyone's sexuality, other than a few smoldering looks and a hug that maybe lasts too long, so while I agree it will definitely not happen, it could still happen.

A thought, based on how deliberate the callbacks and retreads were: when Luke goes to find the last Jedi Master in the galaxy after his big fight in the snow, he finds the lightiest-of-light-side Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah, a planet shrouded by the dark side. When Rey goes to find the last Jedi Master in the galaxy after her big fight in the snow, she goes to a pristine, beautiful, isolated planet seemingly made for the light...so what kind of Jedi is she going to find there?
posted by Errant at 10:34 PM on December 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


So you guys, what if Rey starts to train with Luke but Luke actually just doesn't have that much to teach her? Or, at least, not enough? I mean, Luke is awesome, but he's not Yoda. Yoda was Pai Mei. In terms of what we saw Luke do in the OT, is he even The Bride in that context? And Rey looks to potentially have far more power than anyone has seen in some time. I'm sure Luke will give it his all, but wait... there is another...

Maybe this is Leia's calling. After all, the galaxy has had force-sensitive warriors in the past. A great many of them. Maybe what Rey needs to learn is how to lead. How to Rule.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:29 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Is the Knights of Ren thing something that they mention in the movie, or is it background from other media? Because if it's in the movie, I missed it.

It's mentioned in passing, when Supreme Leader expresses disappointment in Kylo Ren, and mentions grabbing one droid shouldn't be any trouble for a member of the Knights of Ren. There's also a brief cut of of Kylo and circle of similarly outfitted people during Rey's visions. But I think the trailers and marketing might have raised concsiousness of it.
posted by pwnguin at 11:31 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's also a brief cut of of Kylo and circle of similarly outfitted people during Rey's visions.

There's also a shot of her meeting Kylo in the snowy wood. Can we (hope hope hope) extrapolate from this clearly prophetic vision that the vision of the Island didn't come from her memory?
posted by Navelgazer at 11:36 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, where was Poe?
*Book Spoilers*
According to the book, when the TIE fighter got shot down, Poe came through just enough to slow the descent, so he landed it ok. His jacket was stuck in the webbing and that's why he left it behind.

He starts walking and eventually runs into a non-human scavenger. The non-human scavenger talks to him and then they get attacked by other scavengers. Poe saves them by doing some fancy driving with the scavenger's speeder.

The scavenger mentions Rey's town as a place to go, but says they're not going there because he doesn't get along with the guy who runs it. Instead, he offers to take Poe to a friend of his who can get Poe off Jakku.
posted by drezdn at 1:25 AM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


One thing that really stuck out to me was the fact that only one member of the First Order whose face is shown is not a white male human, and he immediately deserts to the side with a fair number of women, PoC, and alien races.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:04 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, did anyone else feel like maybe the scriptwriting got a little too cute at times with the fourth wall? The name "starkiller base" seems like an obvious shout-out to "skywalker ranch," especially given Lucas's original name for Luke, and I couldn't help but notice "star one down!" shortly after the death of the character played by the top-billed actor.

Not necessarily complaining, admittedly. Kinda ambivalent in a way.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:10 AM on December 19, 2015


Oh I was so on board in the first half or so! Almost everything was amazing and I loved it.

I thought it sort of progressively got worse as it went along, somehow. It seems roughly like things start going downhill at Maz's, and it never really gets good again. By the end it's like they were filming a rough draft, entirely out of decent dialogue or any kind of cinematic cleverness. It starts off an A movie and ends up a C.

For example, the spaceship stuff where Rey steals the Falcon is fantastic (and the TIE getaway before that was superb as well!) ... but then final battle is sooo cruddy. There's no dramatic framing, it's like they figure out a plan in 2 minutes, hop in their (not many) ships and go, then they're there and doin stuff. It fails to capture any sense of a battle or raid. Ships fly around and it's just chaos cinema really. Fly around, sort of shoot generally at a big thing.. somewhere.. And like, I think the boring ass facility where Adam Driver and Harrison Ford have their catwalk showdown is the same place that Poe Blando flies his X-Wing inside, shooting up shit? And he knows it's the way in because of exposition? It's horribly shown. By that point, visually, the movie is kinda garbage. The fact that the Death Star 3.0 can apparently shoot through hyperspace feels like the ultimate copout, the ultimate surrender to can't be arsed to put things in places in relation to each other.

On a smaller scale of criticism, I was really just surprised at Maz and Big Bad Sith's character designs. They were so bad, so boring and cheap looking, that I felt embarrassed. Despite the design, they were also bad characters.

I'm very much in love with Rey and Finn. Not so much Poe, who is just a smiling blank. Actually, everyone's a little.. soft, too likable; there's not really any sparks.
posted by nom de poop at 2:24 AM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


wait a friend tells me I'm very wrong about the First Order, and that many women and PoC were in the bridge crew so whoops
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:27 AM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Thank you for this thread. So many of my thoughts put into words, so I have less to type! :D

One thought I had while watching the movie that I haven't seen mentioned here or elsewhere: what if the Star Wars galaxy is something akin to the Firefly galaxy in size. I'm not a huge Firefly fan (only watched the series once and enjoyed it), but I was under the impression that the Firefly "galaxy" is kinda a bunch of plants around a single star. Really close together. And I was thinking that you can hand-wave away the "how'd they get there so fast" and "how'd the star-killer laser travel to a new system so fast" stuff with the galaxy being kinda small with the stars being close together or having tons of planets around them. Or even something like a Sins of a Solar Empire universe (for those that have played it).

Yes, yes, it's not physics. But Star Wars is fantasy with a veneer of science so it could work. Well, at least in my head it's that way.

On the movie: yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I'm on board. Rey, Finn, and Poe...lead on. I will follow!
posted by snwod at 3:53 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just saw a great John Boyega quote (which has probably been quoted already elsewhere but I like it) giving his reaction to the fact that there were people who couldn't handle a person of color in the STAR WARS canon:

"People make stupid comments, but that’s not going to stop me. I’m in Star Wars, so they can just sit down and eat that for a second."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:16 AM on December 19, 2015 [40 favorites]


Coulda used more Mothma.

In my head she's somewhere high up in the new Republic quietly ensuring the resistance gets as much support as possible until it's time to go wild and purge all the New Order fascists.


Yeah, Mothma's always struck me as more of an old-school Joy Division fan
posted by Greg Nog at 6:02 AM on December 19, 2015 [26 favorites]


I keep calling it the New Order too, at least in part because I'm currently spending a lot of time in the game worlds of the Old Republic and so as to contrast etc.

I kind of really want for the Mon Calamari in the Resistance to be a different guy than Ackbar. "What, do we all look the same to you? Racism is a trap, my friend."
posted by Errant at 6:12 AM on December 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


-Ben's first few years of life relatively rosy but Ben seems both force gifted and increasingly volatile. Let's say he goes into Jedi training at . . . 5?

I love the idea that you could pin down what counts as "increasingly volatile" from a four year old. "Hmm... he's given to outbursts and rage, showing none of the restraint or good judgement most four-year-olds are known for. Perhaps he's a Sith?"
posted by Greg Nog at 6:27 AM on December 19, 2015 [32 favorites]


All the box office records will be broken.

This part was interesting:

And in a sign indicating the movie will have an especially long run at multiplexes, opening day audiences have given “The Force Awakens” an A CinemaScore — including an A+ grade among women and A+ scores with audiences under 18 and under 25.

In another article published Friday about Thursday preview audiences, Variety said, "The gender split was 70% male, 30% female; 51% of the audience was over 25."
posted by mediareport at 6:29 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


When my son was 4 he showed all the signs of being a Sith Lord. Or at least a cranky dark wizard.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:37 AM on December 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


Poor Chewie: his friend and boss dies, and he still can't get his own ship. Always a hairy bridesmaid, &c.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:51 AM on December 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


I got pulled out of the story each time there was an obvious callback, when it felt like there was a split second pause where they expected the audience to laugh or cheer or whatever. And where I was watching, almost NONE of these elicited an audible reaction.

(To be fair I was at a tech company client event at 9:00 am on Friday -- I took a vacation day -- and the theater was scarcely half full.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:54 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that's bad. We saw it at 3:30 on Friday, when (as I like to call them) the dirty people are at work, and the theater was maybe 1/4 full. But there was the usual hum of people babbling and then really thunderous trailers so I've no idea and people babbling again and then LUCASFILM LTD came on the screen and the place went fucking *silent*.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:10 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The LUCASFILM LTD sign and the opening fanfare is more likely to get applause at the night showings.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on December 19, 2015


I missed the 20th/21st Century Fox fanfare though. Thank goodness they didn't just swap in the Disney fanfare instead.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:50 AM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love the idea that you could pin down what counts as "increasingly volatile" from a four year old. "Hmm... he's given to outbursts and rage, showing none of the restraint or good judgement most four-year-olds are known for. Perhaps he's a Sith?"

"He was so normal except for the ewok bodies we kept finding skinned in the backyard."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:54 AM on December 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Then, we see *blood* for the first time in a Star Wars movie.

...other than the Cantina scene, when Ben cuts off an arm?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:09 AM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


The LUCASFILM LTD sign and the opening fanfare is more likely to get applause at the night showings.

I saw it on Thursday night in the UK, where I think we are generally less given to audible appreciation but there was a definite buzz for the 'A long time ago...' and Star Wars logo at the beginning and for the parsecs callback. Probably a couple of others but I can't remember which.
posted by biffa at 8:14 AM on December 19, 2015


Did anyone get any interesting trailers? Literally none at the 7:30pm showing on Thursday were new. However, there were remarkably few of them and other commercials, the movies started only 10 minutes after the assigned time, which is like a damn miracle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on December 19, 2015


At UA Court St. in Brooklyn there were so many trailers the crowd started angrily booing them.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:35 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the only one anybody remembered or liked was Zoopolis. (And maybe Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:35 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


We also had a huge amount of trailers (which I loved!) and though I'd seen the new Jungle Book trailer, I quite liked it on the big screen. We also got the Warcraft trailer, which was full of orcs and made me think maybe I should lift heavier
posted by Greg Nog at 8:54 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thanks to /r/starwarsleaks and Making Star Wars, I was about as spoiled on this as I could be. Here's my take as an old guy who grew up loving the OT and hates the prequels:

It was good, very enjoyable, but did not get as choked up as I expected. It is very much a product of its time with all of the good and bad that entails.
  • Certain elements felt very much Corporate Targeting and Marketing 101.
  • I liked Rey, but she's a bit of a Mary Sue, isn't she? She's good in a physical brawl, good at climbing, can speak Astromech, good with technology, an amazing pilot, can handle a blaster, uses the Force well without any training, and excellent with a lightsaber. Am I missing anything? Is there anything she was shown as trying and not being particularly good at? Compare against Luke, who took two movies and training by Obi-Wan and Yoda to get even close to where she is already at. I already like her, she doesn't have to be perfect at everything from the start!
  • I liked Finn. Probably more than Rey because he had an arc and wasn’t good at everything. He couldn't pilot a TIE. He struggled with choices: refusing to slaughter innocents, wanting to run and hide, but he ended up doing the right thing. His paternalism towards Rey didn't make any sense as a character, since the First Order seemed to be pretty equal opportunity. It was there so they could show Rey didn't need it. And it's fine that she doesn't need it, just don't fucking shoehorn it so it looks like pandering.
  • Poe was great, from the start. Confident, brave, dashing. Loved his first line with Kylo Ren.
  • Kylo was very well done, scary and unhinged but sort of pitiable, too.
  • Chewie got some great "lines" and moments. This felt like the Chewie I know and love. ROTS’ shoehorned-in rando in a Chewbacca did not.
  • BB-8... Completely adorable. I want one.
  • Luke. Weathered, craggy, weary, a little broken down, but still standing. Hamill said a lot in those moments with just his eyes.
  • The Falcon. Oh, how I've missed you, you beautiful hunk of junk!
  • Han. As someone who also has another 30 years of life under my belt since I last saw him, this is the portrayal I am most impressed by. This is our old pirate, but the bluster and bravado of the young man we met in the Mos Eisley cantina is gone. He has regrets, but he also knows exactly who he is, what he is, what he can do, and he's comfortable with it and himself. I loved watching him get to know Rey (again?) and love her.
Thoughts/nitpicks on the film:
  • It seemed like it moved a little too quickly. There were moments where it would have benefited from letting certain moments breathe. That’s one of the ways this film was very much a product of its time.
  • I also felt like it was just a little more “XTREME” in a way that I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. (I realize this is very subjective.
  • A little too fanservicey for my liking, but I don’t think any of it was illogical and overly forced like the prequels were.
  • Visually, it’s breathtaking. Top three of the saga and I could be persuaded to place it in the top two.
  • Felt like Rey and Finn were treading dangerously close to the Dark Side there at the end.
  • The lightsaber battles felt like battles again and not dance routines.
  • I enjoyed the humor and it all worked for me, but I wonder how it will hold up in repeat viewings. It probably had the most humor out of any Star Wars movie, I think.
  • Some moments felt like they were padded for audience reaction. I could almost see characters rocking back on the heels like an actor in a 70s sitcom waiting for the studio applause to die down. Loved the production design.
  • I agree, there is no way this was the first time Han fired a bowcaster. He should have stuck with his blaster.
  • I liked how this film trusted the audience more than the prequels, but maybe not as much as ESB. Not everything was explained, and it didn't need to be. We didn't need to know exactly how Poe got off Jakku, how Maz ended up with the sabre, etc.
I’m very concerned about why this film didn’t make me *feel* as much as the OT does or even Star Trek 2009. I don’t think it’s a case of being spoiled, but maybe it is, I don’t know. I’ll be seeing it again, anyway.

tl;dr: Basically, better than any of the prequels and overall, probably a more solid film than ROTJ, although ROTJ hits heights that this one still couldn’t touch.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:04 AM on December 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


It seemed like it moved a little too quickly.

My husband and I have been discussing this, and I think there are a lot of comments out there to this effect. I feel like we're seeing a much longer script cut down, which of course leaves me wondering if we'll get a LOTR style "directors cut" longer version on DVD.
posted by anastasiav at 9:26 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]



I'm calling it: Snope is actually bigger in real life, like planet+ sized and is the main weapon in the third film of the series.


When he first appeared on the screen, the kid behind me in the theater gasped audibly and said, "Dad! Voldemort!" The whole audience laughed.
posted by thivaia at 9:33 AM on December 19, 2015 [38 favorites]


> His paternalism towards Rey didn't make any sense as a character, since the First Order seemed to be pretty equal opportunity. It was there so they could show Rey didn't need it.

I don't think the First Order encourages social interactions at all among their Storm Troopers, also Finn see's Rey as a civilian to be protected - he had already witnessed a slaughter and didn't want to see someone who he just met die. He obviously has no problem killing when needed (light saber through the chest, etc), but he's also grown up witnessing the horrible efficiency of the First Order's killing machines, doesn't want himself or anyone around him to suffer that, hence "we have to run".
posted by mrzarquon at 9:34 AM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Abrams is a very genre-savvy dude, though, I do not think he would do this.

Rian Johnson will write and direct the next one, and will also write the third episode (at least the treatment). But sure, they'll build on "certain key relationships, certain key questions, conflicts" set up by Abrams/Kasdan, but I doubt they're at a point where nothing can be changed if they come up with a better idea.

"He was so normal except for the ewok bodies we kept finding skinned in the backyard."

That's extra creepy for those of us who's only read the spoilers.
posted by effbot at 9:41 AM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe this is Leia's calling. After all, the galaxy has had force-sensitive warriors in the past. A great many of them. Maybe what Rey needs to learn is how to lead. How to Rule.

GOOSEBUMPS. Third wave feminist goosebumps.

Oh god please let the real story not be "how to be a wizard" but "how to be a princess."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:50 AM on December 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


So Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) is probably Kanan from Rebels, right?

After screwing up with Ben Solo, Luke was all "back to basics" with new Jedi training so he placed Little Rey on a desert planet with a Wise Old Man she could contact when the time was right, but instead he ends up getting killed before they meet.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:51 AM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I went to a corporate showing, which was weird, but, like, there was no line waiting. But also no trailers, which was kind of amazing and helped with big punch effect of that good first third of the movie.
posted by ignignokt at 10:01 AM on December 19, 2015


A couple other thoughts:

-Dohmnall Gleason's character ("Hax"? ..."Hux") and Kylo Ren are both so young. I think we're meant to read this as the product of brutal ambition, but honestly everyone in the First Order except Snoke seems to be super young. Shallow talent pool, was my impression. Not doing as well as they imply they are.

-So is it canon, or agreed-upon, that the Resistance is a covertly funded organization? That's fascinating if so -- I love the idea of Leia ultimately taking the path of the guerrilla fighter rather than the politician and diplomat, though perhaps before they lost Ben she was living more aboveground. Certainly Leia's true talent is for war, albeit sometimes under diplomatic cover.

-I thought Han and Leia's exclusive use of "our son" to refer to Kylo Ren was clumsy on first watch (intended solely to allow for the reveal of "Ben"), but I'm coming around to it in memory. The subject obviously gives both of them total searing pain to think about (and Han and Leia, then as now, are not great at expressing their innermost feelings). It makes sense that the name would become an awkward taboo between them, even as they're agreeing that Han needs to risk death to bring the kid back.

-Han and Leia named their son after a man he barely knew and she never met, and yet I like it -- I mean, "Ben" is an obvious way to go from "Han," and they would never have met if it weren't for Kenobi. And it seems like a nice thing to do for Luke, if everyone figured Luke wouldn't have children (and I'm still holding out hope that he didn't).

- Star Wars' villains reflect their directors' dark sides: Darth Vader is an unsubtle but incredibly stylish tyrant, ultimately undone by his reliance on machinery, while Kylo Ren is overwhelmed by the anxiety of influence. And the chump parade of the prequels (Maul, Dooku, Grevious) is intriguing but, in essence, all flash.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:08 AM on December 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm about 2 hours post-viewing and can't stop grinning. I'll have more thoughts, I'm sure, but for now I'm just super happy.

I feel like a lot of the major criticism is coming from people who give the original trilogy an awful lot of slack in comparison. Not a perfect movie, but no more flawed than Ep IV or V, IMHO. Definitely better than VI. The prequels don't even deserve to be a part of the same discussion.

Our long galactic nightmare is over!
posted by tocts at 10:15 AM on December 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Oh, and I'm hoping for Leia/Rey mentoring too! They obviously had an immediate bond.

Actually, that's one of the things I loved about the film, that Han and Leia both warm up to Rey right away, both because they have natural reasons to like her and because they need to feel like parents again. I get the impression that their mutual bond with Rey is one of the reasons they could communicate even that well in the brief scenes they share.

I also love that in this movie, Leia finally gets a hug (two, even). I mean, I've never objected that much to Leia comforting Luke after the destruction of Alderaan; that's her nature, she's outward-looking and empathetic and has seen a lot of people die, but she's a human being too and I'm glad she got to share the burden of mourning with both Han and Rey.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:20 AM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Shallow talent pool, was my impression. Not doing as well as they imply they are.

Young men are easily manipulated . . .
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:22 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


According to the book, when the TIE fighter got shot down, Poe came through just enough to slow the descent, so he landed it ok. His jacket was stuck in the webbing and that's why he left it behind.

As I recall it, in the movie Poe says he woke up at night and Finn and the ship were gone. So the jacket is kinda weird. But weirder is equipping a space fighter with emergency parachutes.
posted by pwnguin at 10:24 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man. First Order as MRA / white supremacist stand-ins?

(Did we see any non-human First Order?)
posted by tocts at 10:25 AM on December 19, 2015


Shallow talent pool, was my impression.

They need to stop putting their best-and-brightest aboard their flagship doomsday devices.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:27 AM on December 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


Young men are easily manipulated . . .

Oh, boy, that too. And Snoke is a terrific manipulator, from what we see.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:31 AM on December 19, 2015


"Who you rushing, brah? Sigma Tau? That's cool. I'm goin First Order!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh man. First Order as MRA / white supremacist stand-ins?

They're Space Nazis folks, don't overthink it.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:38 AM on December 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


Han. As someone who also has another 30 years of life under my belt since I last saw him, this is the portrayal I am most impressed by. This is our old pirate, but the bluster and bravado of the young man we met in the Mos Eisley cantina is gone. He has regrets, but he also knows exactly who he is, what he is, what he can do, and he's comfortable with it and himself. I loved watching him get to know Rey (again?) and love her.

After sleeping on it, I felt like Han's fill-in arc was actually one of the weaker points for me. Don't get me wrong, I love Han to bits, but he had some character growth in the OT, and seeing him turn around and run away even after his son falls to the Dark Side seems like a regression to me. I could see him being out there secretly working for the Republic/Resistance, but just having him go back to smuggling make him a bit too much of a manchild for me. I understand why they chose it--they wanted to return all three characters to their canonical elements--but most people do grow up some between 30 and 60. Saying he didn't is disappointing. (And yes, same for Luke somewhat, but at least he was supposedly looking for the Jedi temple in Ireland. Also, becoming a hermit is apparently a Jedi tradition.)
posted by immlass at 10:40 AM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


I liked this article listicle, esp. the MORAL RELATIVISM graphic and the disdain for midichlorians.

I thought the movie very well made, good pacing, scoring, imagery, costuming. Definitely a throwback to Star Wars (sorry, can't use the new naming scheme) down to the dusty land speeder. There were a few surprises; didn't think that would happen to Han Solo, but I'd've enjoyed more creativity. Still, the whole package was deeply satisfying for a Star Wars fan.

The 1st battle scene really reminded me of the 1st battle scene in Firefly - scrappy rebels being caught by the imperial baddies. The Octo monsters reminded me of sand worms from Dune. Am I just being way too deja-vu-y? I liked it, but it was a little weird to be consistently reminded of previous Star Wars films and other unrelated franchises. Wouldn't have been surprised if somebody had commented Cunning hat or used a Vulcan salute.
posted by theora55 at 10:44 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know. People backslide. People lose theirselves in their work. I can believe that losing Ben the way they did would drive Han to do both of those things. People who act like they don't care sometimes care the most, and Han was like that nearly from the beginning. Plus, I never thought the mantle of general would rest easily on Han's shoulders. He strikes me more like the guy who refuses to let them promote him above staff sergeant. I mean, what kind of general personally leads a high-risk assault on a shield generator?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh man. First Order as MRA / white supremacist stand-ins?

Of the seven actors credited as "First Order Officer" over at IMDB, two are women and at least one has mixed heritage (nigerian/norwegian). The only common pattern appears to be that they're all from England.
posted by effbot at 10:57 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was going to see it tomorrow, but when I went to buy tickets on Friday they were playing it in so many theaters that I got them for that night, which was great because I was hearing so much good stuff and because I was increasingly starting to get wary about being spoiled by something big. There were members of one of those stormtrooper legions at the theater (501, Vader's Fist) plus a Vader, mugging and there to take photos with happy people waiting in the mercifully not too long line. There was also a guy who may have just been a visitor dressed as Han, plus one tiny Princess Leia with her family.

I suppose I'm a middling fan, loving the originals, reading the Timothy Zahn books, watching bits of Clone Wars, and remembering a few bits of the prequels wistfully as the only good things in them (the lightsaber duel with Maul and the weird crazy chemistry Qui-Gon had with Shmi, Padme's grit and great outfits, plus yay Ewan McGregor doing as much as he could with so little, and...that's about it). I definitely got goosebumps at the theme, and was pretty immersed in the whole experience, but no tears even at moments I loved, like Han and Leia hugging after however long it had been. On the other hand, while I definitely have nitpicks and there are plot holes that bug me a lot, for the most part I was completely immersed in what was happening as it happened and waited until later to think about the stuff that didn't work. And I want to go back and see it again really soon!
posted by PussKillian at 11:02 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can believe that losing Ben the way they did would drive Han to do both of those things.

That's the problem with picking up the reins of a franchise people have been in love with for 30+ years: a lot of people have different ideas about the characters. My question isn't "can we see it?" so much as "what are they saying with this?" I really dislike the idea that none of these people have grown up much in 30 years, but are in fact stuck in the same old ruts they were in at 20-30. As a person who is also middle-aged and has some life experience under my belt, this is not what I wanted from or for the heroes of my youth. To borrow a concept from another film series Harrison Ford was in, where's the mileage?
posted by immlass at 11:05 AM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, I also have a lot of Han and Leia feelings and I don't know if they make any sense. I think I'm having some of the feelings that I had after I watched Korra and realized that so many of the characters I loved from Airbender apparently grew up to be really terrible parents despite having learned so many important emotional lessons on their various journeys. Having their son turn murderer and Sith could definitely cause Leia and Han to fracture in some way (clearly still loving each other but with a lot of pain there too) but don't know how I feel about how long the two of them have been apart. Has it been as long as Luke's been missing...and how long is that? A decade, twenty years? Because if Leia and Han had ten years together and then he bailed, I am going to struggle with that, but if it's only been five years or so I can see it a little better in a weird way. And I can't see them completely severed, but maybe Han goes off on these trips while Leia is involved in important General business and it gives them some space to not have to sit with each other and think about their evil kid. I like Han back in the smuggling business but depending on how he wound up back in the life it does mean he's not grown at all. And I can't with that because despite all the charming rogue stuff in the original movies, he was always, in the end, a dependable guy.
posted by PussKillian at 11:16 AM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


We Need to Talk About Kylo
posted by Navelgazer at 11:37 AM on December 19, 2015 [61 favorites]


I may be the only one but I am okay with Rey being Luke's kid.
posted by bgal81 at 11:47 AM on December 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


> A thought, based on how deliberate the callbacks and retreads were: when Luke goes to find the last Jedi Master in the galaxy after his big fight in the snow, he finds the lightiest-of-light-side Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah, a planet shrouded by the dark side. When Rey goes to find the last Jedi Master in the galaxy after her big fight in the snow, she goes to a pristine, beautiful, isolated planet seemingly made for the light...so what kind of Jedi is she going to find there?

Where did you get that Dagobah was shrouded in the darkside? I always saw it as a place abundant in life - creepy life, but life. One assumes that as a Jedi wanting to hide from others, who are force sensitive, why not go to a place that is so teeming with life that it is impossible to detect a Force user there?

I'm also assuming that wherever Luke is, it is also teeming with Life, probably below the surface of the water.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The cave Yoda lives near is awash in Dark Side and he uses it to mask his presence from the Emperor.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I forgot about the cave, I always assumed it was the larger planet's general life force. Obviously I need to re-watch the series.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:07 PM on December 19, 2015


Now that I'm at a real keyboard, a personal story about spoilers:

I made it all the way into the theater knowing basically nothing about the movie. The only exposure I'd had (through quite a lot of careful work on my own part) was the first two trailers, and then of all things I knew C3P0's arm was red because I was doing some christmas shopping at Kohl's and there it was on an ornament in a bunch of ornaments I was looking at (my literal reaction: for christ's sake, I have to look out for spoilers in the housewares section of Kohls?!).

Point being, I was really happy to be in the theater knowing that I was going in basically cold. I didn't even know the names of any characters, or any speculation about their roles.

And then the last thing prior to the movie start was an ad by Google that contained a shot from the film of Finn wielding a lightsaber in a snowy forest.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, GOOGLE?!

I got over it when the music started, but goddammit people, whose great idea was that?
posted by tocts at 12:22 PM on December 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


Did that ruin the movie for you?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:31 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Saw it super late last night and just caught up on this thread. I enjoyed it and laughed at the laugh lines and all but it was a real letdown to me that they really just built a bigger, badder Death Star and the rebels just blew it up again. I made a joke in some previous SW thread that next time they'll just have, like, 4 Death Stars and MAN the Empire should hire me because it would make so much more sense to have just a shitton of Death Stars than have one single point of failure for your ruling-the-galaxy strategy every single damn time! Isn't there anyone with any sense in the First Order saying, look, I love the idea of blowing up a planet just as much as any of you but this is a strategy that has fucked us over multiple times now and these Death Stars are expensive? Like, sheesh, if you want to blow up a bunch of planets I'm on board but if we've got to build a Death Star style doomsday device, let's just make extra Death Stars. There aren't that many rebels and they don't have that many ships and if we just had a big old swarm of Death Stars and just made sure we figured out a better way to protect that thermal exhaust port I think we'd be all set. They couldn't blow them ALL up and then at the end of the battle we wouldn't be back at square one.

Also I loved Rey but she is a bit of a Mary Sue, literally zero weaknesses in evidence in this film, and I think there's just no chance she's not a Skywalker. Force sensitivity is one thing, there are characters not in that family who have it, but both Anakin and Luke had that same annoying thing where they'd get behind the controls of a ship they'd never driven before and immediately just floor it and drive it like a badass. I think that ability to channel Force sensitivity into insane stunt flying is unique in their family. I'd like to believe they are faking me out and it'll turn out that was a red herring but I don't feel like SW typically works that way. I guess we'll see.

My single favorite moment was when Threepio popped up between Han and Leia and said, "It is I, C-3PO! You probably don't recognize me because my arm is red!" I don't know why that made me laugh so hard - it's just such droidy thinking, I guess? I also loved that they committed to the joke of BB-8 picking his way down the stairs. I was expecting him to get fed up and do an R2-esque hover-thing but they went for the full Simpsons rake gag with it. We've taken a stroller down a long flight of stairs using just the same technique and it is tedious.

I agree Rey/Kylo (Reylo!) and Poe/Finn (...Pinn? Foe?) are going to be the biggest ships and I love both ships, hooray. I mayyyy be already writing some R/K in my head. I loved that Kylo Ren just fucking destroyed rooms when he was upset. I feel like you hear a lot of rhetoric on the Dark Side about unleashing your anger and letting the hate flow through you but I don't always see their big dudes follow through on that.

Finally, I just have to say, I hated baby Anakin and had mixed feelings about teen Anakin, but a little something died in me watching a SW movie with no embodied Anakin Skywalker at all. I didn't realize the extent to which Star Wars is Darth Vader to me. I missed him a lot.
posted by town of cats at 12:34 PM on December 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Did that ruin the movie for you?

No, but I do think it diminished it slightly. There were parts that I found myself second guessing the plot simply based on knowledge that an un-spoiled viewer wouldn't have, which is not ideal.
posted by tocts at 12:36 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Finished the book... Two quick observations: The book seems to heavily imply that Finn isn't Force sensitive. Apparently, whoever Rey is, the Snoke and Rey already know.
posted by drezdn at 12:39 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was hoping for 0-0-0 rather than the Torture Chair, but hey, two more movies to go!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:46 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow, evil Threepio!
posted by Gnatcho at 12:50 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like many here, I am an almost lifelong Star Wars fan, I was bouncing all week in anticipation and I felt like I was 14 years old all over again waiting to see Empire Strikes Back.

Thoughts in no particular order:
* The theme loses something without the 20th Century Fox flourish.
* There were a few too many callbacks. A little goes a loooooooooong way.
* The bar scene was too reminiscent of the Cantina.
* BB-8 was just the right blend of appealing to kids without being too annoying for adults.
* I was disappointed that Phasma didn't take off her helmet, but hopefully she'll doff it in the next one. I love love love Gwendoline Christie as Brienne, and here's to her having a larger part in the next two films.
* There were a number of lines from the trailers that were not in the movie, at least to my recollection. "Let it in," "Who are you?" as two off the top of my head.
* I think that somebody needs to make a dubbing of the scenes from "Inside Llewyn Davis" between Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver, much comic potential there.
* Speaking of whom, Adam Driver is a fantastic bad guy. He has so much presence and inner emotional life even with the mask on.
* There are going to be so many Reys at Halloween next year.
* Han was dead as soon as he stepped out from the shadows.
* The ending was great!

We were at a late-evening screening last night at the Lincoln Square theater on Broadway. I was just reading a friend's FB post that John Boyega had stopped by briefly prior to the movie he was attending at a theater downtown, and yeah I was kinda jealous. Guess who showed up at ours? Boyega said that it was "now our movie" and he hoped we all enjoyed it. People were already flipping out, and this was total icing on the cake!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:51 PM on December 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


I might have missed it in the book, but did Snap and Nien Numb survive the attack on Starkiller base?
posted by drezdn at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2015


Here is John Boyega popping up all over NYC last night. As computech said, it was so awesome to see him, he was so pumped up.
posted by mlis at 12:59 PM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Did that ruin the movie for you?

I came out of the movie wishing I hadn't watched the trailers, because there's a few places where the movie felt like it was going for an applause or gasp moment based on not knowing stuff I already knew. For example, I know Han and Chewie find their way aboard the Millennium Falcon, so I was always certain it would be them who tractored the ship in, whereas if I hadn't seen the trailers I don't think they would have occurred to me as likely candidates. I've seen Poe flying an X-Wing, so I know he didn't die on Jakku, which, yeah, not until you see the body etc., but there's something to the uncertainty vs. certainty of it. I know Han and Leia are going to be ok, because I've seen them hugging, where I might have been more invested in their reconciliation as a moment if I wasn't already sure it was coming. I don't think any of that ruined the movie for me per se, but they were "oh shit" moments I didn't have because of advance knowledge that I think I personally would have had without that knowledge, and in the end I didn't have too many of those. The movie doesn't owe me any of those, but it would have given me more than it did if I didn't already know what I did.
posted by Errant at 1:01 PM on December 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


It was bananas to see Boyega introduce the movie at Union Square. I think the audience was too in shock to freak out. If I had seen Luke introduce one of the original films??? Crazy.
posted by armacy at 1:03 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think it'd be kind of hackneyed for Ren to be Luke's daughter. I'm hoping she's someone one of the Kenobis.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:07 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Captain Phasma: "Welp, sure, I'm an intimidating warrior whose only lines indicate harsh penalties for failure and lack of loyalty, but there's an awkward kid shakily holding a handgun, an old man, and an injured old Wookie, so whatcanyoudo... sure, I'll betray the First Order and disarm the shields."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:09 PM on December 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


As of this morning, my guess on the Organa-Solo family is that they weren't bad parents, particularly. It's just that Ben/Kylo takes strongly after the Skywalker side -- turbulent, passionate, perpetually frustrated. And Han and Leia are people who didn't even say "I love you" until they thought one of them was about to die. They're passionate too, of course -- their relationship is built on arguing -- but they've got a lot of walls, a lot of defenses. Han has his blustery thing. Leia's always ready to move on to the next fight, to respond to injustice with action instead of emotion. I can actually see a certain kind of kid finding them pretty repressive parents, and searching for mentors who'd let him express what he feels is his real self. (Too, I imagine his family were afraid of him going Vader's way, and he picked up on that anxiety, which would make anyone a little nuts.)

I appreciated that Han and Leia's relationship didn't really survive losing the kid, the way sometimes marriages don't survive the deaths of children. If they'd made it through, I would've believed that too -- obviously their bond is profound; even in the film they're separated but still deeply in love, and they know it. But this was by far the best way to tell me the story, even though I also respect the fans who had more complicated feelings. Lord knows I'm usually a Complicated Feelings woman myself.
posted by thesmallmachine at 1:10 PM on December 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


At UA Court St. in Brooklyn there were so many trailers the crowd started angrily booing them.

I really wanted to boo the Gods of Egypt trailer both times I saw it, but didn't want to risk getting kicked out or something. Good lord everything about that just looks goddamn awful.
posted by kmz at 1:12 PM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


There were so many trailers, and the 3D looked so bad in all of them. Nobody booed but the natives were definitely restless.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:16 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did anyone else stay for the credits? Judah Friedlander was in the bar scene.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:20 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


One cameo I spotted on my own (and verified in the credits): Billie Lourd (aka Chanel #3 from Scream Queens) is the comm tech with the resistance who asks Leia, "General, are you seeing this?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:23 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best part of having seen this is that I can go back onto the broader internet without feeling it inevitable that an errant tweet or stupid headline will spoil this thing for me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:25 PM on December 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


I spotted her name in the credits on IMDB, but there wasn't a character name next to hers until this week. (She's also Carrie Fisher's daughter.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:27 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Best part of having seen this is that I can go back onto the broader internet without feeling it inevitable that an errant tweet or stupid headline will spoil this thing for me.

This is actually why I bought a last-minute ticket for Thursday night, and I'm very glad I did, because not 24 hours later assholes were posting comprehensive spoilers with screencaps of Han's death into unrelated public comment threads on Facebook.
posted by Errant at 1:30 PM on December 19, 2015


Regarding Rey being a Mary Sue:
I genuinely wish that everyone would delete the word "Mary Sue" from their vocabulary. In its original, fanfic usage, it described a character who was, yes, usually female, but whose greatest crime was not perfection: it was twisting the story. A Mary Sue in that sense literally walks into someone else's world and makes everything about her. Flash forward to the modern day and it's a rare female protagonist who doesn't get accused of being a Mary Sue, and hence worthless. Here's the thing: she can't distort the story if the story already belongs to her. The protagonist, regardless of gender, is awesome and interesting and has a milkshake that brings all the boys, girls, or genderfluid space pirates to the yard, because that's why they're the star of the story. So calling female protagonists "Mary Sue" is sexist, belittling, and reduces them in a way that is very rarely applied to their male counterparts—even when those male counterparts are just as guilty of being a little too perfect to be real. -- Seanan McGuire
posted by bettafish at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2015 [101 favorites]


One more thing. I was out buying snacks while my SO was on line. Walking back, I passed a dad and his 7-year-old son.

Dad: Ok, now you can't tell anybody about the ending. Ok?
Son: It was the best ending, the best!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:36 PM on December 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


Ken Burns: The Galactic Civil War (Washington Post video, ~4m)
posted by Errant at 1:41 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not even my easily-impressed six year-old thought the 3D was worthwhile. It wasn't bad or distracting, but it added not one iota to anything.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:41 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw the movie cold, as in not having read any of the news stories or watched any of the trailers. So I was genuinely surprised when Han Solo showed up when he did!

One aspect of Finn's characterization bothered me - it is my understanding that he broke away from the First Order after his first experience with death in battle, especially the death of another stormtrooper (the one whose blood marked Finn's helmet). But then just a short while later he is indiscriminately killing First Order stormtroopers and officers in his escape with Poe, and for the rest of the movie doesn't seem very bothered about all the killing he is doing.

Plasma just shutting down the shields also bothered me, too, as sitting at that console seemed a prime opportunity for her to alert the rest of First Order about the presence of intruders.

So there were a number of things that kept me from being completely drawn into the movie and enjoying the ride. I did love the scenes on Jakku showing the remnants of a great battle long ago against the stark desert landscape, such as an Imperial Star Destroyer partially buried in the sand. Shots such as those made me think there was a far better movie hiding in there somewhere.
posted by needled at 1:45 PM on December 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


I have a theory about the black X-Wing: It's Luke's.

He gave it to Ben Solo who, then being the sulky teenager who paints everything black, had it resprayed.

Also, has there been any mention upthread of the X-Wing pilot doll Rey has in her AT-AT? Surely that must be significant. Looks just like daddy?
posted by popcassady at 2:10 PM on December 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Looks just like daddy?

Wedge?
posted by drezdn at 2:11 PM on December 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Needled, that was an issue for me, too. You'd think Finn had some friends among the troopers or he might not have been affected so much (beyond the villagers) when his comrade died in his arms.
posted by Atreides at 2:14 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The book did show some internal conflict on Finn's part about it.
posted by drezdn at 2:17 PM on December 19, 2015


Eh. I get what Seanan is saying, but Rey does exactly this twisting. She enters the narrative, becomes the spiritual, if not literal, daughter of both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I'd also disagree with this: "whose greatest crime was not perfection." In fandom, yes, perfection is a traditional trait of a Mary Sue. Hypercompetency. The new Starfleet ensign who is beautiful and great at everything she tries. I mean, the story that the term comes from features a character named Mary Sue who is exactly this. Rey flies the Millennium Falcon as well as Han Solo and wields a lightsaber as well as Luke. She's the kind of character that the term Mary Sue was coined for.

(So is James T Kirk in the new Star Trek movies. Totes Gary Stu.)

Rey is also likable, interesting, and cool. A character can be good and worthwhile and still have Sue traits.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:17 PM on December 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


I thought the scene with Han and Kylo Ren on the bridge was fantastic. One of the best moments in any of the movies. But I didn't realize until afterward that I had a very different read on the scene than a lot of other people.

We previously saw Leia pleading with Han to bring their son home. Han didn't say anything in response, because he was skeptical: he didn't think that Kylo Ren could be saved. Han strongly thought that his son was lost forever, and that if it came down to a confrontation, Kylo Ren would have to be considered an enemy and he'd have to die.

When that confrontation came about, both Han and Kylo Ren were torn. Kylo Ren was torn between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, and Han was torn between seeing his son as redeemable and seeing him as irredeemable. Then Kylo Ren handed the lightsaber to Han. What was going on here? Other people I've spoken with thought that Ren was offering to surrender by giving over his weapon... but then his internal struggle broke, he gave in to the Dark Side, and he killed his dad. That's not how I read it. I read Kylo Ren as asking Han to kill him with the lightsaber and end his torment. And Han waffled. Should he believe in Leia's optimism, or should he give in to his own temptation to see his son as the progeny of Vader?

Han is the one who broke. He decided, in a flash, that he'd accede to his son's wishes and kill him. And Kylo Ren sensed that. That's why he thanked his father as he killed him. He felt his father give in to the Dark Side (in a mundane, non-Jedi sort of way), and it settled his convictions.

Han shot first.

And yes, I think this callback is intentional. Actually, I think it's intentionally ambiguous whether this interpretation is correct, so it's intentionally ambiguous whether Han shot first. Which is even better.
posted by painquale at 2:22 PM on December 19, 2015 [77 favorites]


How many times did Luke get saved by someone in a situation that would have resulted in serious violence or death in ANH? Sand people. Cantina brawl. Garbage masher. Trench run. ESB? Freezing on hoth. Danging from Cloud City. ROTJ? Palpatine.

How many times did Rey get saved by someone in a similar circumstance in TFA? Um...

(I still like her, don't get me wrong. I just hope she eventually faces some challenge and peril.)
posted by entropicamericana at 2:29 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's already been said, but one of the things I really appreciated is the light saber fights weren't the overchoreographed swooshy, swirly, "look how NICE I'm fighting" swing-at-the-other-guy's-saber borefests of the prequels. They were brutal affairs with actual emotional and dramatic stakes, and actually looked like the participants were trying to kill each other.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:30 PM on December 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


How many times did Rey get saved by someone in a similar circumstance in TFA?

In the Cantina, she gets saved by Chewie.
posted by drezdn at 2:39 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mary Sue is a sexist term.

She's good at flying because she's a mechanical nerd for fun and to survive. She was "good" at using the lightsaber because Kylo had already been wounded by Chewie and Finn first by the time it was her turn to fight him. And lbr, she is most likely Han's niece and Luke's daughter which is why Han and Leia were happy to see her and why Max kept pushing her to take the lightsaber.

Rey was probably being trained in the Force with her older cousin when shit went down and she got mind-wiped and dumped on Jakku.
posted by bgal81 at 2:54 PM on December 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


My objection to Han going back to smuggling isn't an objection to him being separated from Leia--it's an objection to the idea that his instinct on leaving is to go back to the selfish life he had before he involved himself with the Rebellion. As someone who's much closer to Han's present-day 60+ than his 30ish OT-era self, that seems like a real rollback in personality. Life wisdom is hard-won. I wish they'd let Han keep more of his.

And on the subject of Rey being a Mary Sue, so what? Luke is one too. And Batman. And Superman. But they get passes because they're dudes.
posted by immlass at 3:00 PM on December 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


Ugh, Max is Maz. Also Rey doesn't even win her big duel against her cousin as the planet starts breaking.

You could just as easily argue that the movie went out if its way to prevent her from being heroic.* Finn has more heroic monents.

* I think that argument is almost as silly as the Mary Sue one but it is possible to make it.
posted by bgal81 at 3:03 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


My sense of Han's TFA-era life smuggling is that he's been hauling gear, smuggling, and running errands for the Resistance, and occasionally making money and new enemies for himself along the way. I don't see Han flying the equivalent of a container ship for kicks.

And no, Luke is not a Marty Stu, I just illustrated how. Anakin got criticized for his Marty Stu traits, too.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:09 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mary Sue is a sexist term.

It might be, but it's also a useful one when we're talking about building complex characters who struggle and overcome difficulties. Or as they say in Steven Universe: "How can a guy have no faults? To be human is to be flawed! A real hero must struggle!"

We watch Luke train and fail with his lightsaber and with various other force abilities. He's a pretty flat everyman otherwise, a classic wish-fulfillment character in that sense, but I wouldn't call him a Gary Stu. Batman is an insane ragebucket, so he's not a Gary Stu either, either in the hypercompetency sense or the self-insert sense. Superman, okay, maybe. And I really like Supe.

Like I said, I adore Rey! I think she'll inspire loads of girls! The more I reflect on it, though, the more I would have liked to see her bumble just a touch more, and maybe have a few more human flaws. And maaaybe having her inherit the Falcon was a little over the top? Some struggle would have made her triumph feel even more earned. But that's okay. She's still wicked cool.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:14 PM on December 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


(Did we see any non-human First Order?)

Well, there's their Supreme Leader, for one.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:15 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


She was apparently dumped on a planet and has been living alone since she was a child, surviving by being a scavenger. I think she has struggled .
posted by bgal81 at 3:18 PM on December 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


I don't see Han flying the equivalent of a container ship for kicks.

I don't either, which is why I don't like the scenario they start him in where he's flying dangerous animals for crooks, swindling money out of the two groups he promised the monsters to at the same time. This is back where he was in the Mos Eisley cantina. A guy at 60 who has not matured from where he is at 30 emotionally. Which also doesn't jibe with him grabbing the Obi-Wan role and taking on mentoring Finn and Rey.

And people who say Luke isn't a Mary Sue are just wrong. He grows into his power but he is totally the child of destiny who is watched over (by Ben) and people love his sorry ass for no reason even when he's a whiny little jerk. And the Princess fancies him until there's retroactive plot that makes him her brother. That's pretty much a Mary Sue (get over having a problem with calling dudes Mary Sues--that's sexist too) by definition, even if he needs help before he comes into the fullness of his power. It's just that he's an OKAY kind of Mary Sue.
posted by immlass at 3:21 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I disagree with you, but okay.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:24 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, this is why it doesn't work to disregard giant neon signs pointing to her being Luke's kid. All the Skywalkers are just a little different starting with Anakin "Virgin Birth" Skywalker.
posted by bgal81 at 3:24 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am a cynical middle-aged lady who hates almost all movies and finds them annoying, and this made me tear up. Mostly for Rey, who is Real True Force Badass who is a Girl. My god, I would have given so much to have a heroine like that when I was 8 or 9. A girl has the Luke role. Holy shit. I just never thought I would get that; I had already assumed she would be the secondary character to Finn's new Jedi.

I don't like the idea that she's Luke's daughter for two reasons:

1. Leaving your kid to live a life of desperation in a hostile environment all on her own is the shittiest possible thing to do.
2. I don't want everything to be about the Skywalkers. There were lots of other Jedis before. I would like Rey to be from a totally unrelated line but still a Jedi. And that means there are others out there.
posted by emjaybee at 3:48 PM on December 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


Remember the trailer where Luke was talking about how all the people in his family are powerful with the force? The trailer pretty much says she's part of the family.

As to Rey being a kick ass pilot, mechanic and force user, so what? Besides, she's clearly been struggling on that planet, yet doing a good job of surviving as she waits for her family to return. She finally left to join a group of people who are fighting evil.

There are helluva lot worse characters/models for females.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:49 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


In genre fiction, every other protagonist is a wish fulfillment character. If you take the term "Mary Sue" outside of the confines of fanfiction tropes, all it means is "someone else's pet wish fulfillment character whom I don't like." Using it never leads to interesting discussion, just pointless nerdpicking, oneupmanship and defensiveness.

Even if the term was used with complete gender neutrality, I would still say it needs to be retired because it's an irritating, fighty and judgmental way of saying you think a character isn't well-rounded while putting a veneer of taxonomic authority on your subjective interpretation. Since the actual state of affairs is that female protagonists are immediately saddled with the term while people bend over backwards making excuses for male protagonists who are just as if not more id-baity, well.
posted by bettafish at 3:53 PM on December 19, 2015 [32 favorites]


I mean, she's totally 100% the type of wish fulfillment I would have wanted as a teenage girl. As an adult woman and a professional writer of genre fiction, I like my characters to be a little more nuanced and also to struggle a little more over the course of the narrative (tragic backstory is another matter completely and doesn't really play into what I'm getting at). I thought that Finn's triumphs felt more earned in light of the events of the movie. Rey's one moment of major weakness--passing out into Kylo Ren's arms--was also a little ?? for me because it didn't make sense in context, especially in the context of what came later, and mostly seemed to serve to move the plot forward.

But as I said on twitter right after I saw the movie, I don't really have any substantive complaints, and I can get behind a superpowered wish fulfillment girl jedi because the twelve year old girl in me has been waiting my whole life to see that. It's not the best writing. But it's fine for what it is, and perhaps completely justifiable given the climate of culture surrounding it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:04 PM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Rey's one moment of major weakness--passing out into Kylo Ren's arms

Perhaps a reference to her grandmother's habit of dropping dead when she is a bit sad?
posted by biffa at 4:07 PM on December 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


She's lost the will to . . . stand upright.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:08 PM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Rey's one moment of major weakness--passing out into Kylo Ren's arms--was also a little ?? for me because it didn't make sense in context, especially in the context of what came later, and mostly seemed to serve to move the plot forward.

Huh? He Force-whammied her. She hadn't yet figured out she could resist him, or draw on the Force herself. I didn't find that unbelievable. It also took her a few tries to manipulate the stormtrooper's mind, something she had figured out she could do because she'd just defeated Kylo Ren. But she still stumbled at it.

Her other moment of weakness was refusing the light sabre and running off into the forest. But just like Finn her attempts to escape her destiny keep failing.

Kylo Ren is still alive, she'll undoubtedly face him again. She'll have to face the Supreme Leader dude (my interpretation of his hologram is that he's actually tiny, but projecting huge, because I would find that hilarious). She has to do whatever passes for training with Luke. She has plenty of opportunities in the next two movies to fuck up.

Kylo, meanwhile, resembles nothing so much as a pretty, pouty Severus Snape, so I have a hard time taking him seriously. Speaking of whiny. He is the Most Punchable of the cast for sure.
posted by emjaybee at 4:17 PM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


I too kinda want Wizard of Oz reveal of a tiny Supreme Leader.
posted by nom de poop at 4:22 PM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Saw it in Thursday and had a bunch of sniffles during the film, Mainly from the pure fucking greatness of it, but especiay from Rey and how they used her, it nourished me and the whole film felt like a plaster for my SW-soul, an apology and a hug. It also allows me to release my pent up rage about the prequels, I can now just sorta disregard them; sure, they are vid EU content, but Machete just got put to bed, the SW viewing order is now just SW, ESB, Rotj and FA/7. There's a great feeling of relief with that.

I saw it in the big, traditional, premiere 2D screen in Dublin, where I saw ESB and RotJ (SW I saw from behind the couch). There was plenty of clapping and laughing during the show, it was fan audience, so I didn't notice the pauses for reaction that someone mentioned above, in fact it saved me missing what they were saying. When the blue text came up at the start and the scroll began there was a smattering of nervous giggle and squeeing. One of my absolute favorite moments of audience participation though was hearing specifically the women in the audience laugh with me at the moment where Rey is trying to get Finn to hand her the right tool. Lived experience, right there. I also loved how at the end, when they are at the Skelligs, the whole audience broke into a sea of murmeing and whispered chatting as everyone went "oh look, there we go, they look well don't they?" and so on :) was a bit gas to see Luke so local, and probably took away some of the pathos, but also made it a viewing experience different to others.

Where am I at? Oh god, when Kylo Ren pulled off the helmet and I though, but he's only a boy, and feared we were in for an Anakin retread, but no; he's perfect, horrible little emo git with his cosplay helmet and his tantrums, and yet beneath the superficial, fedora-dudebro whiney persona he's actually really fucking bad, and dangerous and you have to take him seriously no matter how ridiculous he is. He's basically a school shooter. Also, the lovechild of Severus Snape and Jon Snow.

My superpower is that I have full suspension of disbelief for almost all films, so even when in retrospect he was so wearing a red shirt, I was gobsmacked when Han was killed. Like, I couldn't close my mouth for like, a minute and a half. So you can imagine how my experience was.

Loved Kylo's jaggedy untuned saber, no control, no finesse. Loved the colours and the grit, the first moment or two felt so very right, I was sold. When the Starkiller exploded, it looked like there was an Ed fect added that made it look like the cinema screen rippled, which I loved!

Rey, baby, c'mere to me! I loved that Han loved her, and approved her, and unequivocally handed her the reigns, I love that I am hearing men here say they accept her, and I hope they do right by her. I can't even fathom what it would have been like to see this film as a kid. I have no comparison at all, I had to want to be Han, and luckily we were only two friends so I got to be as well. I can't get my head around what it would have been like to have someone like Rey, Linda Carters WW is probably the closest, and there's a bit of a gap between the two all the same.
I'm almost afraid of the next ones.
I want to round up every girl-child I know and bring them to this. How old would they have to be you think? I am thinking seven?
posted by Iteki at 4:25 PM on December 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


Kylo, meanwhile, resembles nothing so much as a pretty, pouty Severus Snape, so I have a hard time taking him seriously. Speaking of whiny. He is the Most Punchable of the cast for sure.

I'll just leave this here . . .
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:27 PM on December 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


He felt his father give in to the Dark Side (in a mundane, non-Jedi sort of way), and it settled his convictions.

How do you square this with Han's final act to be reaching out and caressing his son's face? I'm not saying that you're wrong (although I don't read it that way), it's an interesting interpretation and one I hadn't thought of before, so that's very cool. Do you think it's regret or love winning out or something else?

Myself, I read it as a more self-sacrificing act on Han's part. I feel like he kind of knows he's going to die here, but dying in the service of trying to reach his son is a sacrifice he's willing to make. In that sense, it is a decent full-circle on the brash rogue out to save only his own skin.

As for the Mary Sue stuff: I don't even agree that we don't see Rey struggle. Her not failing (yet) doesn't mean she didn't have to overcome something. I like the way that listicle linked above talks about it:
We love these stories because they are about people who find something within themselves that even they didn’t know was there. That discovery gives them the power to defeat the most overwhelming enemies and situations—and because it comes from inside, this power can never be taken away. We all need, in big ways and small, to believe that if we dig deep enough we can find the confidence, the abilities, the self-possession to defeat whatever dark powers life arrays against us. We root for the hero because we root for ourselves.
As I said earlier, I think we see Rey be afraid, be angry, refuse the call, struggle between wishing for the past and moving towards the future. Just because we don't see her fall down in a big way, well, that's what Act II is for, isn't it? None of the heroes really fail in the first Star Wars movie either. We love to talk about Han Solo's transformation from scoundrel to hero, but he never actually abandons anyone or commits to selfishness, does he? He talks a lot of shit and then invariably does the right thing anyway, and we all think it's a lovely redemptive arc. Which I agree that it is, I buy that he overcomes his selfish instincts, but we don't need to see him give in to those instincts to believe that he has them and transcends them. I mean, if you think about it, he gets a massive payday none of the other feckless pilots get because they're true believers, plus he gets a medal and a promotion to general for doing all the same stuff anyway. That's some good-ass swindling right there, talk about your mind tricks. Just because you always seem to win in the end doesn't mean it wasn't hard to win each time, and we're only a third of the way through her story at most, in a movie that ends the way a prologue ends, not a first chapter. I don't agree that she would be a better character if she stubbed her toe through most of the movie and then miraculously did something right in the end. When that happens in Star Wars, we call that person Jar Jar.

Unrelatedly, I just read someone else point out another callback / inversion: "This time, we have a stormtrooper dressing up as a rebel." That's awesome, I didn't even notice that.
posted by Errant at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2015 [28 favorites]


Kylo Ren cares deeply about Ethics in Gaming Journalism
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:41 PM on December 19, 2015 [39 favorites]


I don't like the idea that she's Luke's daughter for two reasons:

1. Leaving your kid to live a life of desperation in a hostile environment all on her own is the shittiest possible thing to do.


Paradoxically, that's one of the reasons I feel most sure she is Luke's daughter. I don't think anyone else in the franchise could authorize dumping her there, but Luke could say "the Force said I should" and the audience is basically obligated to accept it.
posted by gerryblog at 4:44 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean, she's totally 100% the type of wish fulfillment I would have wanted as a teenage girl. As an adult woman and a professional writer of genre fiction, I like my characters to be a little more nuanced and also to struggle a little more over the course of the narrative

No offense, but you're looking in the wrong place for that kind of character narrative if you're expecting it in Star Wars. Rey is just like Luke in that once she's recognized, she's clearly a golden child who can do amazing things, and the OT wasn't exactly subtle about it either. Rey does screw things up: she has trouble with the Falcon initially (though she's clearly a better mechanic than Han, who was always having problems with his ship), she accidentally sets the monsters free, she gets captured, she takes several tries to make the legendary mind trick work, and she's mostly hiding on Starkiller Base until the guys show up to rescue her. But mostly she does good stuff because that's the hero's job and SHE'S THE HERO. And a lot of people are really uncomfortable with that, including women. It is okay for women to be heroes and win and not have to struggle 150% more for it and I'm going to plant my feminist flag on that point.

The sexism isn't wanting a better arc for Rey; it's expecting TFA to give us a better arc for Rey than the original movie did for Luke.
posted by immlass at 4:51 PM on December 19, 2015 [61 favorites]


Guys, Rey is totally Luke's daughter. When she connects with the Force for the first time, the soundtrack plays Luke's leitmotif.
posted by KathrynT at 4:55 PM on December 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm not uncomfortable with it because she's a woman and I'm a woman and I'm sexism internalized. I'm just a fandom-entrenched genre writer who is used to using the shorthand I used to use while writing Star Wars fanfic back when I learned how to write (in communities inhabited soley by other women, and I kind of dislike the policing of women's/girls' discourse in this way, frankly, even when it comes from people like Seanan McGuire) while talking about writing tropes. And yes, looking for super nuanced characters in Star Wars is probably misguided. Nitpickers gonna nitpick.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:58 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, a thing I want to say about Kylo Ren as the Darth Vader analog: if we were having this discussion about Darth Vader after Ep IV, we'd all believe that Darth Vader literally killed Luke's father and was always evil, because that's what Obi-Wan says. Now we know Obi-Wan was flat-out lying, but we didn't then and had no reason to dispute it. All of that is to say, it's entirely possible that the real story on Kylo Ren is what Han and Leia say it is, that he was Luke's student and he destroyed the new Jedi Academy, but there's some precedent for not taking even explicit statements at face value.

We'd also be like, "That's how Vader goes down? His wingman crashes into him and he spins out? Some tough guy."

Guys, Rey is totally Luke's daughter. When she connects with the Force for the first time, the soundtrack plays Luke's leitmotif.

This is true, but it's arguable that that's the "Luke as hero" leitmotif and not the "Luke as Skywalker" leitmotif. In video games, everyone gets the same level-up music.
posted by Errant at 5:04 PM on December 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


So Ren's character wore the face mask and respirator to be more like Darth Vader?
And that's the only reason?
posted by angrycat at 5:04 PM on December 19, 2015


Pls correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the first film in canon that explicitly talks about the light side of the Force? I thought before there was always The Force and the Dark Side.

The shot of the elderly scavenger was a nice touch. Rey doesn't want to end up like her, but doesn't see a way out. It was an explicit lamp shading of youth-obsessed Hollywood.

I think my favorite part was when Rey walks up to Leia, who knows, and she can't say anything, because how do you tell a general three times your age that her paramour, the father of her son, is dead by her own son's hand? So Leia hugs her first and teaches Rey, the hardened scavenger, how to grieve.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


He felt his father give in to the Dark Side (in a mundane, non-Jedi sort of way), and it settled his convictions.

Huh? I didn't get that at ALL. I also don't think that Han was giving Ren "Permission to kill him" or anything either, though - I saw it as Han simply misunderstanding what Ren meant when he said he was struggling with something. Han knew Ren was being pulled between he dark and light sides of the Force - but Han misunderstood which side Ren wanted to win, was what happened. Han thought Ren was trying to fight his way back OUT of the Dark Side. So the Dark Side winning out was a surprise to him.

And the touching Ren's face right before falling off the bridge? Maybe "I forgive you", maybe "I know the good is still in you and is just trapped," maybe just a gut-level "goodbye" to his son.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:21 PM on December 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


> And maaaybe having her inherit the Falcon was a little over the top? Some struggle would have made her triumph feel even more earned. But that's okay. She's still wicked cool.

The more I think about this, the more I feel they just cut the mastering the powers story arch that usually comes with the "you thought you were just an outcast in a normal world, but here is your ticket to the magic world where you fit in" story lines. It was instead interspersed throughout the movie instead of giving us a montage. I wouldn't br surprised if Rey's Force powers don't exactly wane, but are used more reservedly in the series as she grows to control them - she is extremely powerful, but also we had the adrenaline fueled use of it going on, not the cautious "be careful, it can also be corrupting."

The more I think about Kylo Ren the more I think his rage is his middling to OK level of force power, but his angst comes from not being the best (here he is, the lineage of the Skywalkers, etc), that frustration being the lever Snoke uses to turn into rage. I agree there are so many analogues to the anger / rage that comes as a response to the failures of privilege (see: gamergaters, MRAs, Trump). Snoke obviously wanted Rey brought to him so he could corrupt her, I'm assuming he saw her as another potential option in case Kylo didn't turn out.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:49 PM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


So Ren's character wore the face mask and respirator to be more like Darth Vader?
And that's the only reason?


Well, he liked the Big D's fashion sense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:51 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Only a master of haute couture, Darth."
posted by Errant at 5:53 PM on December 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


On my interpretation, Han touched his son's face because he still loved him. As simple as that. That doesn't conflict with Han deciding to kill him. He was pulling the plug on his son because he felt like his son was too far gone. The decision to kill him was done from love, but combined with pessimism about the hope of his son being saved. It's the pragmatist pessimism of an adveturer-rogue that was set up through the whole movie as distinguishing Han from Leia.

I agree that there's a consistent reading where Han goes out onto the bridge entirely committed to bringing his son home, as Leia wanted. But this reading is consistent too. It's tantalizingly ambiguous in a way that's pretty novel for a Star Wars movie. What I like about the Han Shot First reading is that it makes Han's story in this movie a real tragedy. He could never have the optimism of Leia, even when he needed it most. Which explains why he went back to smuggling. This movie is a brief final attempt, after 30 years of having rejected the life of a hero, for Han to be swayed back to being a hero instead of a rogue who shoots first and asks questions later. But he could never be that kind of hero. And that disturbing lack of faith In his son killed him and lost his son to the Dark Side.
posted by painquale at 5:55 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait, you think Han was gonna KILL him?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think it's neat that people can tease out Shakespearean-level motivations for the Han/Ten scene and if that works for you, cool.

I think this being a popcorn movie made to sell merch to kids aged 8-80, it went: Han wants to save son from evil; son tricks him and kills him; Dad is sad, dies.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:08 PM on December 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


I really like the symmetry if Rey is a Kenobi. In the first trilogy, the wise old jedi Kenobi takes untrained desert kid Skywalker under his wing, molds the hero we need. Wouldn't it be cool if old, wizened Skywalker now did the same with a young, untrained desert kid who was a Kenobi?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:13 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also... a note you won't hear anywhere else, from six year-old DOT, Jr: "Needs more Ewoks."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:15 PM on December 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


This hit all my happy buttons! I was 5, 8, and 11 when the first trilogy came out. The Star Wars universe was seared into my little-kid bones. I remember back then, you couldn't even re-watch the movies on home video (and we didn't have a vcr for many years), you had to wait for them to come back into the theater. I pored over all the photos in the big LP record versions of the soundtrack for hours and hours as I listened to them over and over again. I had the ROTJ trading cards.

Anyway, this movie was for me! And I am *so* happy I was adamant about remaining spoiler-free, it really made the thing a lot better.

I went with my 16-year-old daughter, to the Alamo Drafthouse. In the pre-show, they had all sorts of great cheesy Star Wars music videos made by various people throughout the decades (for example, various types of terribad-yet-awesome dancing C-3POs and Vaders), but the big thing that just hit me deep in my nostalgia bone was three Kenner action figure commercials. Wow, that brought back memories! The dialogue (and especially the delivery) of the kids in those commercials just resonated so deep in my brain.

We sat in the first row (only tickets I could get, I was late in ordering them), so everything was so big it was kind of hard to scan my eyeballs back and forth real quick, and I missed some detail in the really detail-heavy scenes (like the bar - the creatures I saw were great, but I look forward to a second viewing from a better vantage point to catch more details).

During various points, my daughter got very excited and pounded my arm and looked at me with such a look of sheer *GLEE* on her face like "MOM! OMG!", it was so great!

Anyway, I love this thread - I have favorited all sorts of things that I thought were interesting even if they disagree with other comments I have favorited.

Seeing it again tomorrow, taking the bf this time. :)

YAY!!!!
posted by megafauna at 6:22 PM on December 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


Wait, you think Han was gonna KILL him?

Yeah. Ren was asking Han to kill him. He mentioned something about ending his torment then held out the lightsaber. It was kind of a test, and Han wavered but then failed.
posted by painquale at 6:22 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


And was it just me or was Leia's face kind of... strange? Like... I suspected a lot of plastic surgery / botox or something? Just wasn't as animated as I expected, seemed... dampened in a way?

Maybe it's just me and I'm way off. Please don't hate me for mentioning this.
posted by megafauna at 6:28 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


It was like she'd aged decades since the last one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:35 PM on December 19, 2015 [50 favorites]


I trust you mean well, but poor Carrie Fisher has taken enough shit already in this world. Let's just be happy to see her and talk more story nerdery.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:39 PM on December 19, 2015 [20 favorites]


I dunno, it just didn't look wrinkled *enough* to me. Wrinkled is fine and totally expected, I got no problem with that at all. I guess I expected wrinkled-and-moving-normally, is all.

I love Carrie Fisher, I just had this weird impression that Hollywood wouldn't let her look as wrinkled as she probably would normally be.

Anyway it was just my weird impression, I'll shut up about this now. Sorry if I annoyed anyone.
posted by megafauna at 6:40 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can believe that losing Ben the way they did would drive Han to do both of those things.

If you're a parent, the absolute worst thing that you can possibly imagine is that your child grows up to be a bad person or someone who does some horrible act. Having your kid end up as a Darth Vader wannabe would crush you as a parent. I'm not sure how you'd even go on.
posted by octothorpe at 6:42 PM on December 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


When does the presale for Rogue One start? I'm ready.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:48 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Carrie Fisher is only 59, she's not 197.
posted by Coaticass at 6:49 PM on December 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


And was it just me or was Leia's face kind of... strange? Like... I suspected a lot of plastic surgery / botox or something? Just wasn't as animated as I expected, seemed... dampened in a way?

It did seem odd, especially when compared to her face in recent interviews. Fisher mentioned having to lose weight for the role, maybe she was simply heavier then? Which is fine, Fisher is great and Leia is a great character and I wouldn't have minded seeing more of her doing General things in the film. Maybe shoot some stormtroopers too.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking Rey being awesome and cosplay being ever more popular, Ace Bandage comes out of this a clear winner.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:56 PM on December 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


Another thing that bothers me about the "Rey is a Skywalker" thing is that the only reason we even know that the Force is strong in the Skywalker family is because Anakin breaks all the Jedi rules to have a family, and that that's what starts him down the path to the dark side. This is also why I don't necessarily buy "she's a Kenobi" or anything else. I can just about stretch to "Rey is Obi-Wan Kenobi's father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate" level of relationship, but anything closer requires not only either Luke or Obi-Wan to make the same fatal mistake that Anakin made, but to make it off-screen. Obi-Wan definitely didn't, unless we want to throw out his whole prequel characterization (which some might prefer), and it really seems unlikely that Luke would. Return of the Jedi ends with him being more isolated and apart from his friends, on his own solitary path, not reconnected to the group. I know, I know, Mara Jade, blah blah, but Mara Jade only works (if it works, which is questionable) because you see their relationship begin and develop. She can't just show up after a screen wipe. I'll take "Rey is a Kenobi" over "Rey is a Skywalker", but they both seem pretty counter to the story as we know it. Spending three movies to say "here's what Anakin did and how it screwed everything up" can't be followed with Luke doing the same thing during intermission. Well, I guess it can, but that would be horrible.

Also... a note you won't hear anywhere else, from six year-old DOT, Jr: "Needs more Ewoks."

My personal hierarchy of the importance of Star Wars opinions ascends in inverse relation to age. It's way more important that a 6-year-old like this movie than that I like it. I've already been introduced to mythic storytelling and know my way around the genre. That I ultimately like it is a bonus, but I'm much more thrilled that so many people are reporting that their kids are coming out of the theater all fired up. I mean, I've cooled significantly on Ewoks now, but you better believe I wanted to be Wicket so bad when I was 6.
posted by Errant at 7:00 PM on December 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


1. Leaving your kid to live a life of desperation in a hostile environment all on her own is the shittiest possible thing to do.

What if he didn't.

The theory I've seen floating around is Rey is the daughter of Luke and related to Ben Kenobi. Related because in her flashblack/flashforward scene there is a voice screaming "Rey" that sounds like Alec Guinness. It's apparently Ewan McGregor. It's not unreasonable to think of a descendant of Obi-Wan and Luke and Anakin would be naturally gifted in the force.

Unlike Kylo who has a muggle dad and a muggle grandmother to contend with - he was weaker in the Force and maybe seeing his little cousin kick his ass was the final straw. He works with the Knights of Ren and they plan an attack on the padawan school that Luke has and - much like his grandfather - they kill the kids. But he's unable to kill Rey so he mindwipes her, does a shitty job because he's not that good at it, and he has her dumped in the middle of nowhere or gets someone else to do that. The hand that is holding Rey in her flashback as she is being dragged away is not human.

A lot of fans think Luke is standing by a grave in the final scene and think it's his wife's - but what if it's Rey's and she was presumed dead? Luke becomes a hermit, Han and Leia split up, and Kylo joins the Dark Side.
posted by bgal81 at 7:07 PM on December 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Not gonna lie, if Abrams reintroduces Ewoks at some point purely to troll the crotchety dudebro fanbase, I am 180% in favor.

Just stick an Ewok in an X-Wing as a background character or something.
posted by bettafish at 7:10 PM on December 19, 2015 [74 favorites]


Okay I really need to know how many of you are favoriting that comment because you generically approve and how many are favoriting because EU reference.
posted by bettafish at 7:18 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just stick an Ewok in an X-Wing as a background character or something.

So Warwick Davis (who played Wicket) is in the movie, most likely in Kanata's place judging from credits order. Are we sure there weren't any Ewoks there?

(otherwise I'm all for the "three ewoks in a trenchcoat" theory)
posted by effbot at 7:22 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another thing that bothers me about the "Rey is a Skywalker" thing is that the only reason we even know that the Force is strong in the Skywalker family is because Anakin breaks all the Jedi rules to have a family, and that that's what starts him down the path to the dark side.

Those are the rules of the old Jedi order, and arguably the thing that set up their downfall. If the Jedi hadn't been such tight-asses about allowing their members to have familial and romantic attachments, the struggle to keep those feelings a secret wouldn't have fueled Anakin's turn. And it was only through Luke's love for his father that he was able to turn him back to the light. So yeah, the New Jedi Order probably has a different attitude towards that sort of thing.

Obi-Wan definitely didn't, unless we want to throw out his whole prequel characterization

One of the better things about the Clone Wars cartoon (which is still considered Prequel-era canon) was the ongoing plotline regarding the fall of Mandalore, in which it's basically said outright that Obi-Wan had a secret youthful dalliance with Duchess Satine of Mandalore (who looks just like Cate Blanchett!) and that they continue to carry a torch for each other years later. Which calls into question just how rare it is for things like that to happen within the order.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:26 PM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Can we all agree that Ep VIII needs a Lando cameo?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:27 PM on December 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


I want Leia to liiiiiive.

"As for Leia, every morning for as long as she lived, Leia got up before dawn and watched the sun come up."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:42 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


If the Jedi hadn't been such tight-asses about allowing their members to have familial and romantic attachments, the struggle to keep those feelings a secret wouldn't have fueled Anakin's turn.

It's not really the secrecy that turns Anakin, but his fear of death and of losing the people he loves, which would not be alleviated by losing the secrecy. If the New Jedi Order does have a different view of things, and if that's what happened, it does not appear to have gone too well for them. It actually appears to have gone exactly as bad as it went the last time: temple in ruins, one old master surviving the carnage by going into hiding, a child hidden away on a remote planet who has to come back and redeem their dad's failures. If we're really going to play "That's So Skywalker", I guess that's what we're doing, but it doesn't make sense, and it would be incredibly frustrating for that whole hubristic tragedy to happen in flashback, never mind completely offstage.

One of the better things about the Clone Wars cartoon (which is still considered Prequel-era canon) was the ongoing plotline regarding the fall of Mandalore, in which it's basically said outright that Obi-Wan had a secret youthful dalliance with Duchess Satine of Mandalore (who looks just like Cate Blanchett!) and that they continue to carry a torch for each other years later.

Ok, well, I haven't seen the series so that's fair enough, but while the experience of watching it might be different, based on this description I'm not sure I'm going to think of it as "one of the better things". I just finished watching II and III, and movie-prequel Obi-Wan is pretty much the opposite of this. I mean, he threatens Anakin with expulsion from the Order because Anakin wants to stop chasing Dooku for five seconds and pick up Padme, and that's right at the beginning of the Clone Wars. It doesn't add up, but I can table this point until after I watch the series.
posted by Errant at 8:08 PM on December 19, 2015


I enjoyed it. I'm not a hardcore Star Wars fan so maybe some of the call-backs went over my head, and i have zero exposure to the previous EU or whatever. It felt to me like JJ "gets" Star Wars far more than he "got" Star Trek. I thought the new characters were well done and it seemed obvious to me that Rey was set up to be Luke's daughter. I mean, maybe they'll change it but in this movie they certainly telegraphed it in a number of ways. If you telegraph something and then go "aha we fooled you!", that's not clever film making, it's just shitty.

Things I didn't really understand: the map. So, Luke went missing but hid 90% of a map to his location in R2D2, but then programmed it to not reveal that map until some undefined point in the future? What triggered R2 waking up? Why did R2 only have 90% of the map? Where was the other 10% before the start of the movie and why did R2 not have it? This was a macguffin that didn't really make sense to me.

It also didn't make sense to me why Luke would just bail on the entire galaxy because his protege turned against him. But whatever, maybe that will be addressed in the next one.

Things I didn't like: the final battle sequence and the fact that some x-wings can take down a planet by shooting it in a particular spot. a) we've seen versions of this plot device too many times already b) why was Finn's info about this weakness correct, if he worked in sanitation? c) it didn't make any sense that Capt Phasma would turn off the shields in that situation.

Finally, re the Mary Sue debate... Metafilter: Using it never leads to interesting discussion, just pointless nerdpicking, oneupmanship and defensiveness.
posted by modernnomad at 8:09 PM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


First off, just to clarify a few things.

BB-8 is bouncing and rolling across rough sandy terrain and all sorts of hard, jagged surfaces, using his frickin' body, which has bright shiny glass insets and fragile pop-out drawers, as a bearing. All the cute buzzing, bleeping and noises in the world won't make that plausible.

The crosspieces on that light-sabre are much more likely to lop off bits of the wielder than his opponent. (That said, I liked the coarser buzz and lack of smoothness in Ren's weapon. Building your own light saber is one of the last steps in becoming a master Jedi (or presumably, Sith). His weapon drives home the message that Ren is powerful and precocious but semi-trained and unfinished.)

And yeah, really, stopping a blaster bolt in mid-air. Anticipation and detection using the Force are skills we know that Jedi learn early: telekinesis comes later, with training. Vader, at the peak of his powers, was seen to absorb blaster bolts with his hand. Sith can generate lightning, and Yoda was seen to be able to absorb and dampen that lightning. Light sabres deflect blaster bolts and presumably a skilled Jedi could do so by mind power. Stopping a bolt in mid-air and holding it there whle walking around talking and doing other things, is a magnitude of difficulty harder than any of this. We simply see no evidence elsewhere that Ren is that powerful or skilled. In fact we see considerable evidence otherwise. He lacks control and the one time he meets someone with any Force connection, she kicks his ass. It's there because Abrams thought it was a cool SFX - and yep, the audience went oooohh aaahh - but it was a dumb idea.

Rey is kick-ass. There is one bad moment when Ren stuns her and carries her aboard his ship, but the movie quickly subverts and inverts the captured princess meme by having her turn the tables on her captor.

Inversion is a key aspect of VII. Luke turns from the Dark Side by refusing to kill his father. Ren turns from the Light Side by killing his own father. However I suspect that Ren will find that it does not help him become the implacable evil that he apparently wishes to be, and that his struggle to suppress the light in him will continue to be a strong influence on events in VIII and IX.

As for her parents abandoning Rey (whoever they are - and her father was almost certainly Luke, and her mother is almost certainly dead, perhaps killed by Ren, which gives us a much greater motivation for Luke to go hermit than simple annoyance over having his little Jedi nursery wrecked), she almost certainly wasn't alone. The mysterious old man on Jakku (Lor San Tekka?) is likely to have been her secret childhood guardian, as Obi-wan was Luke's. How he got the map is that Luke simply gave it to him, to pass on the the Rebellion when the time was ripe.

Predictions for VIII: This one will be for Leia. Without Han and with her son more than ever lost to the Dark Side, she internalises her grief and becomes implacable, skirting the edge of the Dark Side herself in inflicting vengeance on those who have stolen what little joy she had left in life. Untrained, she could even take to using the Force. It could be her undoing. Luke and Rey will be mostly peripheral, exploring each other, training, bringing out the backstory, etc, except that Rey will likely head off half-cocked to help Leia and will fall into a trap designed to bring her to the Dark Side. Inverting Luke, she may even go over to the Dark at the end of the episode, maybe while saving Leia from the same fate, leaving us on a cliffhanger for two years. Ren in the meantime may come over to the light, or even if he doesn't, he will continue to be wracked by doubt.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 8:13 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I keep thinking about the ultimate endgame for Kylo Ren. It can't be another deathbed conversion. Been there; done that. We could have "convert to the light, live with the guilt," which would be interesting, though awkward. We could have "turns totally dark until Luke/Leia/Rey have no choice but to kill him," which is something I would like to see explored. They got Anakin back, barely. What if Ben is just too far gone? They already lost Han in the attempt to redeem him. How many more do you risk? I'd love a Luke/Leia argument about this.

"He's too far gone, Leia. We have to accept that."
"You never gave up on our father!"
"That's how I know this is different. I can feel the dark side in him. There is no light left."

At some point "How much effort do we put into trying to keep errant Skywalkers on the light side?" needs to be a real question.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:30 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


All I can say is, the movie did a better job in reviving a long-dead franchise than Jurassic World, it even wasn't quite as annoying with its nostalgic callbacks (though it was still somewhat annoying).
posted by Apocryphon at 8:31 PM on December 19, 2015


Things I didn't really understand: the map. So, Luke went missing but hid 90% of a map to his location in R2D2, but then programmed it to not reveal that map until some undefined point in the future? What triggered R2 waking up? Why did R2 only have 90% of the map? Where was the other 10% before the start of the movie and why did R2 not have it? This was a macguffin that didn't really make sense to me.
The 10% of the map was held by the old guy on Jakku at the very beginning. My theory is that he was tasked with watching over Rey, as Kenobi watched over Luke in IV. He held the piece of the map and was instructed to use it to find Luke if the situation with Rey turned south, e.g. the force awakens within her and she turns to the dark side. If that were to happen, old dude calls Leia, they join their maps, and find Luke.

OK, so the Resistance isn't doing so hot, and Leia decides it's time to call Luke out of hiding anyway. She sends Poe to pick up the small map piece, and Poe gets it in the first scene.

Now why did R2 wake up? I'm guessing it's because he detected the presence of Rey while in low power mode. That, or Luke activated him remotely... somehow.

Splitting up the maps helped reduce the chance that someone could just stumble onto it and find Luke without one of the above conditions being met.
posted by whitecedar at 8:36 PM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Ok, well, I haven't seen the series so that's fair enough, but while the experience of watching it might be different, based on this description I'm not sure I'm going to think of it as "one of the better things". I just finished watching II and III, and movie-prequel Obi-Wan is pretty much the opposite of this.

Which is why I hate Episodes 1-3 Obi-Wan and love Clone Wars Obi-Wan -- the cartoon version is plausibly the same character, but executed so much better it's ridiculous. (The same is even more true for Clone Wars Anakin versus Hayden Christensen-Anakin) Even though the series is ostensibly based on the movies, somewhere in the middle of my catch-up watch of the series a few months ago, I realized that it was probably the ideal form of the storyline, and the prequel films should be understood as inferior live-action adaptations. It's the best argument (other than The Force Awakens) for putting Star Wars in the hands of fans, instead of chaining it to the vision of a single auteur.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:43 PM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Things I didn't really understand: the map.

My issue with BB8's part of the map was that it seemed to show a pretty good number of star systems, and yet they couldn't place it in the galaxy until they fit it into R2-D2's map. That would be like a map showing someone at the bright spot near the center of this image, but not being to figure out they were in Naples because you didn't have a map showing where this odd boot-shaped region fit in with the rest of the earth's surface.

The crosspieces on that light-sabre are much more likely to lop off bits of the wielder than his opponent.

To be fair, I had the same complaint about Darth Maul's double-bladed light saber in TPM.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:45 PM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just want to say two things about the piloting on display:

- I liked seeing the Falcon bumped around and still kicking. It showed that Rey didn't have it 100% perfect at first, when she first pilots it, and when they bash through trees and skid in the snow on the Starkiller planet thing (right next to the cliff!), and it's still it one piece and works, that was great.

- I saw some great maneuvering by Poe that I liked, especially when he was within that great cavern of the Starkiller-apparatus - he wheels around, hitting important-looking machinery part after part. Anyway, it looked like he was really deft.
posted by megafauna at 8:51 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh and how early on, the Falcon's lower gun gets stuck in the pointing-straight-down position, and Finn can't really aim it, then an enemy fighter ends up in the crosshairs when Rey does a maneuver, and they get to asplode it!
posted by megafauna at 8:56 PM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Anyone else wish that instead of the desert planet being Jakku it was the Endor moon post Death Star 2 destruction? I always had a soft spot for that fan theory.
posted by m@f at 9:01 PM on December 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


The crosspieces on that light-sabre are much more likely to lop off bits of the wielder than his opponent.

Maybe not.
posted by snwod at 9:02 PM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


hey, what if Han comes back as a Force ghost, and even he's not sure how it happened, and he just spends his time being an obnoxious backseat Falcon driver and beating Chewie at space chess because what's Chewie gonna do, tear his arms out of their sockets?

File under: bad ideas that I just had to mention
posted by knuckle tattoos at 9:18 PM on December 19, 2015 [72 favorites]


Of the seven actors credited as "First Order Officer" over at IMDB, two are women and at least one has mixed heritage (nigerian/norwegian).

To be clear, I wasn't going quite so literal with the MRA / white supremacist analogy (though it may still be a stretch). I was thinking in terms of species as analogous to races. A thing not really really deeply introspected upon in the original trilogy is that in a galaxy full of untold species, the two sides end up being a multi-species force for good fighting a rebellion against a 100% Humans Only force for evil. Literally the only time the Empire deals with non-humans is hiring 3rd party contractors.

So to does it seem to be with The First Order. Maybe that's just because:

They're Space Nazis folks, don't overthink it.

But maybe there's something else going on there.

Also, regarding non-humans:

Well, there's their Supreme Leader, for one.

Are we really so sure? Could he just be a really badly damaged human? It's hard to say what his real scale is, his giant holo-projector could be totally for show or maybe not.

Speaking of the Supreme Leader, I have to say one of the few odd little bits of being pulled out of the movie for me was his lip movements. I hadn't followed that Andy Serkis was involved, but literally the moment I saw that lower lip motion I was like "wait, is that Andy Serkis doing motion capture?". Seems like a totally weird thing to pick up on, but there it is.
posted by tocts at 9:34 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe not.

Not convinced. The guy looks very awkward and constrained by his need to avoid touching himself with the crossbars. It makes his moves predictable. A skilled opponent could use superior mobility and lower predictability to considerable advantage. Also, even in that link there is the telling admission: at 01:30 - the expert swordfighter, von Puch "barely nicked himself with one move".

I never did like the omission of any sort of guard on light sabres, to prevent the very issue of the blades sliding down and cutting off hands or fingers. Even the katana, the nearest approach I have seen, has some protection - the tsuba or guard - against that. I don't see the projecting metal crosspieces of Ren's weapon as a liability because we do see - in the fight at the cantina when someone comes at Finn with a sort of battleaxe-gun - that metal can be protected from light sabres, but I do see those mini-light sabre blades as a danger to the user.
posted by Autumn Leaf at 10:03 PM on December 19, 2015


Which is why I hate Episodes 1-3 Obi-Wan and love Clone Wars Obi-Wan -- the cartoon version is plausibly the same character, but executed so much better it's ridiculous.

Be that as it may, it is perhaps understandably frustrating to be presented with a later version of a character you already know which is radically different than what you've come to know and basically be told "actually, you don't know anything about this person, forget all that other stuff, it sucks anyway" when actually you like that stuff. I really hate the idea of the Jedi being this parroted ideal that no one really believes in and is so easily discarded any time someone gets a little horny, which is what this seems like to me. They're space monks. I like that they're space monks. I like Obi-Wan in the prequels, he is easily my favorite part of those movies and prequel Obi-Wan is one of my favorite characters in the whole series. Not in a "well, he's the relatively best thing of a bunch of crap" way, I legitimately like him and will rewatch the prequels for his scenes. It's cool if you don't like that version of him, I'm sure lots of people don't and I'm sure that point of view is much more representative of the fanbase at large, but this is one of the many reasons why a "Rey is a Skywalker or Kenobi" storyline will probably make lots of people very happy and will probably turn my affection for this movie to an equivalently fierce contempt. The story with Anakin is only interesting if it's unusual; if every protagonist Jedi is getting a bit on the side, why even bother with the hypocrisy of the Order?

But, again, I haven't watched them, so maybe it only sounds like something I'll hate, I'll actually think they're incredible. Anyway, I'm at a disadvantage in discussing them, so I'm going to stop now.
posted by Errant at 10:04 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The crosspieces on that light-sabre are much more likely to lop off bits of the wielder than his opponent.

Of course they are. They're a terrible idea. Everybody said so when Ren's lightsaber first appeared in the trailer. It may look cool, but it's ridiculously impractical.

But now we know who Kylo Ren is: an angry man-boy who idolizes Darth Vader but can't even stop himself from hacking up a room whenever he gets mad. Of course his lightsaber is stupid. He wanted the most bad-ass lightsaber he could imagine, but he didn't stop to think about the practicalities of the design.

It won't surprise me if he duels Rey again in Episode VIII and loses a hand to his own crossguard.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:18 PM on December 19, 2015 [30 favorites]


Apropos of nothing before:
I liked that there was just one wipe cut


There were way more wipes than just one.

Also, for everyone thinking Finn has the Force (not me, he's Han Solo in that dept), I can't believe we're nearly 500 comments in and no one has posited a theory he's Mace Windu's nephew or something.

Chewie ruled this movie. Always like him, but truly one of my absolute favorites now. But is this the first time we've seen his fingers? Old EU had wookiees being good with gadgets because of their nimble fingers but those just looked like leather gloves.

Also, JJ Abrams said on Conan that he worked the phrase "Jub jub" in somewhere, did anyone catch where?
posted by dogwalker at 10:51 PM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think I'd be able to tolerate Hayden Christensen if it meant we got Force-ghost Anakin smacking the shit out of his idiot grandson. Kid, what part of your family history made him look like the one to emulate?

(I also enjoy imagining Kylo frustratedly searching the forests of Endor with a metal detector, looking for Grandpa's helmet. With a stormtrooper standing by like a caddy to hand him a new one every time he pitches a hissy fit and destroys the metal detector.)

Honestly, I really hope that neither Rey nor Finn are descendants of anyone we already know. And I'm 100% on board the 'Finn is Force sensitive' train-- he hit EVERYTHING he shot at. Also, I have high hopes for large-scale trooper rebellion in a future film-- here's hoping Finn gets to give them some sort of rallying speech.

God, I am so relieved this movie didn't suck.
posted by nonasuch at 11:12 PM on December 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


This movie wasn't perfect but damn does it make me angry about the prequels we could have gotten.
posted by dogwalker at 11:15 PM on December 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


The prequels are generally frustrating because they have good ideas and a good cast trapped by Lucas' crazy ego.
posted by bgal81 at 11:19 PM on December 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


And I'm 100% on board the 'Finn is Force sensitive' train-- he hit EVERYTHING he shot at.

Hmm, this alone suggests that he's a descendant of Padme and/or Leia.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:37 PM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nah, only Imperial stormtroopers are so precise.
posted by biffa at 11:43 PM on December 19, 2015 [24 favorites]


This is back where he was in the Mos Eisley cantina. A guy at 60 who has not matured from where he is at 30 emotionally.

Do y'all think a highly unstable Dark Jedi / Sith Lord / Whatever had a normal childhood and a strong fatherly role model? Of course not. He came from a broken home.

It's not like the New Republic has a lot of money lying around, especially for anyone claiming to be the sole surviving princess of a now destroyed planet and her husband with multiple debt-related bounties on his head. And after seeing their investment into Ben at Jedi Finishing School not pay off, bootlegging might be the only thing Han has left. Sometimes age doesn't leave you wiser, just more bitter about your lot in life.
posted by pwnguin at 11:56 PM on December 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


-Han and Leia named their son after a man he barely knew and she never met, and yet I like it -- I mean, "Ben" is an obvious way to go from "Han," and they would never have met if it weren't for Kenobi. And it seems like a nice thing to do for Luke, if everyone figured Luke wouldn't have children (and I'm still holding out hope that he didn't).

Actually, Luke naming his son that makes so much more sense I guess we have to consider some Ben is actually Luke's son theories.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:03 AM on December 20, 2015


The prequels are generally frustrating because they have good ideas and a good cast trapped by Lucas' crazy ego.

I just finished a machete order viewing prior to seeing TFA again on Monday, and I'm very surprised by how much of the prequels I like, or would like if it were accompanied by different lines and different staging. The scheme to take control of the Republic is actually pretty impressive in a pulpy way; I'm sure there's tons of plot holes if I sat and thought about it, but the idea of setting up the Jedi and Dooku to be the fall guys on both sides of a manufactured war is neat, as is using the pretext of that war to inure the Jedi against thinking too much about all the blasters at their backs. The arrogance of the Jedi, the frustration of feeling like you're being held back from your full potential, the promise of greater power, the deep friendship between Obi-Wan and Anakin undone by jealousy and paranoia, there's a lot there that could have been good. But then there's also General Grievous and Jar Jar and the actual romantic dialogue and all the other dialogue and weird gladiator battles and sociopath baby Boba Fett and the whole stupid idea of some prophecy and ugh. Like, Padme's line in III, "So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause" is actually a pretty good line, and Portman delivers it pretty well. But it's in a movie with "The Sith are evil!" "From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!" and other such garbage, so it just feels like more of the same hamfistedness. Anakin's rage and insecurity is too explosive, so it seems like he's constantly having a bipolar meltdown instead of slowly turning rotten. This is rank heresy, but especially in Ep III Hayden Christensen is very believable in places when he's allowed to sit with an idea for a few seconds, and he and Ewan McGregor have a really nice camaraderie in Act I, but then the script makes him do a whipsaw emotional 180 and say something utterly bizarre. "It is a great honor to be given a seat on the Council, I'm humbled and I'll make you all proud." "You're welcome to the seat, but you're not ready to be given the title of Master yet." "WHAT HOW DARE YOU I'M GOING TO MURDER ALL YOUR CHILDREN"
posted by Errant at 12:10 AM on December 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


Yeah. Ren was asking Han to kill him. He mentioned something about ending his torment then held out the lightsaber. It was kind of a test, and Han wavered but then failed

No. He said he was being torn apart, in pain, and wanted the strength to do something about it. And he asked his father to help him find the strength to do what he had to do. He then offered the lightsaber to Han, who attempted to take it. At that moment, the light of the sun faded out completely, signifying both the Starkiller was fully charged and that there was no more light in Kylo Ren. (His face was lit completely in red by that point.)

It wasn't a "please kill me", but more "here is my promise". Maybe he intended at first to surrender it to his father as a gesture of turning toward the light, but when the light LITERALLY goes out, it changed the dynamic. Then Han pulled on the saber, and Kylo Ren resisted, not letting go. And we know what happened next.

Not sure where you got the "kill me, daddy" from. Watch it again.
posted by grubi at 12:37 AM on December 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yeah, what grubi said. He said he was being torn apart by his struggle. Han thought "oh, his struggle is that he is trying to fight his way AWAY from the Dark Side," so when Ren held out the saber Han thought "he's trying to let go of it, I will help him give it up by taking it."

But what Ren meant was "my struggle is that I am trying to fight my way TO the Dark Side," and he was holding up the saber to kill Han but was hesitating because "this is my FATHER". And then he sucked it up and did it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:07 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I disagree, I really think you're supposed to think that Kylo Ren wants Solo to kill him - to relieve him from all the pain and angst he's feeling from the light side of the Force. And then the light goes out and Ren loses the battle within and kills his father.
posted by crossoverman at 1:20 AM on December 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I loved it.
Giant plot holes and all.

I just wanted to believe, and I did.
But, I also don't hate the prequels.
posted by Mezentian at 2:09 AM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a solid modern actioner with some Star Wars touches.

I liked the main trio, I liked the reminders of the previous films. One of the most fun moments was when Rey accidentally unleashes the monsters Han is smuggling on the rival smuggler groups, and her wizardry with using the door to get Finn free. They worked really well together. I really liked how quickly Rey got good at doing Force stuff. I like the new setup with the First Order, it makes the new situation very open for adventure. I really enjoyed the lightsaber duel, and had been waiting for Rey to grab Anakin's/Luke's lightsaber with Force telekinesis from the moment it was in the box. I enjoyed how the Resistance is competent enough that, when they're faced with Finn, their first thought is "let's get all the useful military knowledge out of you, Mr. Defector." Rey is a solid "this person is the big damn hero" character and it's great that this can be a woman. I loved how the world looked like a continuation of the "lived-in" world from the original trilogy as opposed to the shiny-CGI world of the prequels; that was a huge weakness of the prequel trilogy. And they did a good job with keeping all the First Order stuff looking sort-of-Imperial.

My biggest pet peeve is that I'm sick of planet smashing superweapons. It was a thing in the original Star Wars that worked. I hated Abrams using one in his Star Trek reboot, and I hate him using it in his Star Wars movie by making a superweapon even bigger than the Death Star. Invent another SF threat, guys, seriously. Blowing up a planet makes your SF universe less interesting. Use a freaking MacGuffin, the Kaiburr crystal is still just sitting there in the old Lucas Star Wars lore waiting for somebody to use it.

Somehow, despite being solid in his lightsaber fights and killing Han Solo, I don't feel Kylo Ren is quite at the level a Star Wars villain needs to be. He still feels too much like a wannabe Vader, which of course is literally what he wants to be, and Snoke (bad name) is certainly not the Emperor. The First Order does have potential, though. I'm not sure what kind of read we're supposed to have on Poe; I don't quite feel him as a character. We're told too much about him and not shown anything other than what we were told (good pilot, devoted to the Resistance). Star Wars heroes need a drive other than "has Neutral Good written on his character sheet." I also didn't care for Jakku, I guess there are plenty of desert planets but this one just doesn't offer much.

I liked it; it's much better than the prequels and not as good as the original trilogy, but that's really the best one could hope for. It's a relief that Revenge of the Sith is no longer what Star Wars is going out on.
posted by graymouser at 3:21 AM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder... sure, the Starkiller base has genuine utility in blowing up the New Republic planets, but perhaps it was also a lure to bring Han Solo to Kylo Ren? Perhaps this is part of Snoke's training of Ren, getting him to kill his dad. Yes, it's a ridiculous long-shot of a plan, but hey, it's Star Wars, it's the Force, they have previous in terms of Palpatine's dad-killing plans.

Hence Snoke and Phasma not being particularly fussed about the base being blown up. What's the loss of a Starkiller (which apparently is easy enough for the remnants of an Imperial army to build in a couple of decades) against the gain of a dyed-in-the-wool Sith apprentice?

My other theory is that they didn't actually build the Starkiller, Snoke just helped them find or reactivate it.
posted by adrianhon at 3:54 AM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what kind of read we're supposed to have on Poe; I don't quite feel him as a character. We're told too much about him and not shown anything other than what we were told (good pilot, devoted to the Resistance).

I never saw him as part of a "main trio" in this film, he's tiny on the poster (smaller scale than BB-8), and he's quite a bit older than the others, so my take was that he's there to get things going -- using an experienced actor to bring the leads to each other, and the action to the leads, and then he's "killed off" for most of the film as far the main plot is concerned. Doesn't mean they cannot expand the scope later in the trilogy, of course.
posted by effbot at 4:43 AM on December 20, 2015


using an experienced actor to bring the leads to each other, and the action to the leads

Ah, right: Star Wars Actor Reveals Which Character Was Supposed to Die in The Force Awakens: “He opens the whole movie!” said Abrams. “Sounds great!” thought Isaac. “And then,” Abrams went on. “He dies.” “Oh,” thought Isaac. “I’d done that before,” he told me later. “Set up the plot for the main guy and then die spectacularly.”

No wonder he looked so pleased with himself when he showed up later :)
posted by effbot at 4:52 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not sure where you got the "kill me, daddy" from. Watch it again.

I'm sure I will, but I really don't think it'll decide the matter. When watching the first time, I was simultaneously aware of both interpretations and I was unsure whether Kylo Ren gave the lightsaber to Han as in order to surrender or to have Han kill him. I was waiting for someone to do something that would settle what Kylo Ren's intentions were. And nothing settled it. Watch it again with this other reading in mind! There are two viable readings here, which is really cool.
posted by painquale at 5:07 AM on December 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


No wonder he looked so pleased with himself when he showed up later :)

Man, he looks like he is pleased because the is Poe Fucking Dameron.
posted by Mezentian at 5:16 AM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm still digesting the film and all these comments, but I do want to mention something that struck me during the viewing. Maybe it's nothing.

At the end, Rey follows Chewie down the Falcon's gangplank. Chewie approaches Leia (and you can feel his shoulders sagging), but Leia walks right past him and engages Rey in a full embrace. But at this point in the film, Leia has not yet met Rey. Leia knows a young woman had been instrumental in getting BB-8 to her, and was being held by the First Order, but she ostensibly doesn't know anything else about Rey. So why such a warm welcome? It seems to me that Leia might know far more about Rey's background than we do at this point.

Maybe I'm just being overly formal in expecting a full shake-of-hands, how-do-you-do introduction between those two. But the sense I got from Leia was "Thank the light someone in my family came back."
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 5:31 AM on December 20, 2015 [18 favorites]


either that or JJ felt like a Rey/Leia hug would be less awkward than a Leia/Chewie hug. But I would have gone for the Leia/Chewie hug as a call back to V, when Solo is cryogenically frozen.
I would like that kind of call back. And all the dead Empire machinery everywhere? Loved that, because it made sense in the fall of the Empire it would be all 'and here's a random AT-AT that can be made into a cozy cave.'

The bar scene was well-acted and I don't know 'made' but for the fact that Skywalker's light saber is just hiding out in a box, but for me it was made worse because I was like 'and here we are with a reference to episode IV'

I'm crotchety and have no kids, but I would have enjoyed the Leia/Chewie hug as a more real in the moment call back rather than "OH YEAH A TRASH COMPACTOR." I mean it's like the whole reason that Finn is a sanitation guy is to set up that call back. I mean, aside from the fact that he never killed anybody before in Space Hitler's army, that sanitation stuff was a li'l weird.

I have resented Abrams in the past for the call-back stuff he seems so neat. I mean the second Star Trek movie was the most egregious example, but remember Cloverfield? That movie was like REMEMBER 9/11 OKAY HERE'S A GIANT MONSTER NOW LET'S THINK ABOUT 9/11 AGAIN'. When you compare Cloverfield to Spielberg's War of the Worlds (Spielberg's '9/11 movie,' )that's sort of what I'm talking about.

BUT I laughed at Chewie, I was like Rey you are the best, loved the women piloting the X-Wings, loved Finn, wasn't bothered about the implausibility of BB-8. I have a big soft spot for Adam Driver, and I loved him as Ben/Ren.

I'm just saying, if somebody slices open an animal and crawls inside to stay warm next film because of a few random plot things that seem to only be there for the sake of cutting an animal open to stay warm, I will be like fuck
posted by angrycat at 5:49 AM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


So Ren's character wore the face mask and respirator to be more like Darth Vader?
And that's the only reason?
There's none presented in the film that I can recall. He takes it off readily enough when Rey gives him shit for hiding behind a mask. And Han yells at him, "Take the mask off. You don't need it!"
Not sure where you got the "kill me, daddy" from. Watch it again.
I absolutely thought that Kylo was asking Han to kill him. I don't remember the dialog exactly but it was basically "I'm being torn apart ... but I don't have the strength to do what I know I have to do to end this pain. Will you help me?" to which Han says something like "Whatever you need," and Kylo holds out the lightsaber. I mean, being in pain and giving a loved one your weapon is a classic set up for the mercy kill trope.

I liked the fact that the moment was ambiguous, because at the same time I think he was also saying that he didn't have the strength to murder his own father, which Snoke seems to have been prepping him for (IIRC there was one scene between Snoke and General Hux where Snoke says something about Kylo Ren facing his father being a test none one has yet faced.)

Han seems slow on the uptake and/or hesitant. The handoff seemed excruciatingly slow to me; my read wasn't that Han didn't have time to take the lightsaber, but that he was frozen by his only two options; murder his own son or be murdered by him. Then the light goes out (a bit heavy handed, but as someone pointed out upthread, this is a space opera) and Kylo finds his nerve, and maybe a bit of anger that his father has let him down again, and kills him.
posted by usonian at 5:54 AM on December 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Starkiller Base reminded me of a Poké Ball when it was first shown.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:59 AM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


he was frozen by his only two options;

He didn't freeze. He very plainly took hold of the lightsaber and tugged, expecting Kylo to let go of it. The look on Han's face was "Why won't you let go?" then "Oh. I see." At that moment, he realized his son was going to kill him.
posted by grubi at 6:01 AM on December 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm very surprised by how much of the prequels I like, or would like if it were accompanied by different lines and different staging.

I watched all six in I-VI order last week and found much the same thing. I attribute this partly to having the commentary tracks on -- this gives you the dual benefits of (a) missing out on the leaden dialogue and (b) hearing Lucas and others explain what they were aiming for, which is often not precisely what the finished product achieves. At some point in the commentary for TPM, Lucas mentions that he was aspiring to the visual storytelling of silent films: watched as silent films, they are actually quite a bit better, I think.

Of course, even considered purely visually, you still get the occasional jarring moment such as Dooku confronting Obi-Wan and Anakin for the final time, which begins with an 83-year-old man leaping off a balcony and performing a mid-air somersault before landing.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:08 AM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here we go: Red Letter Media Half in the Bag Episode 100: Star Wars: The Force Awakens... potentially offensive humour, obviously (but not up to the Plinkett standard)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:56 AM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


He didn't freeze. He very plainly took hold of the lightsaber and tugged, expecting Kylo to let go of it. The look on Han's face was "Why won't you let go?" then "Oh. I see." At that moment, he realized his son was going to kill him.

My impression was that he hesitated and then tugged, but even if there wasn't a hesitation, that's still consistent with the Han Shot First reading. Han tugs, Kylo Ren realizes, "Oh, I see what my father thinks I have become. Then that's what I'll be." So he lets the Dark Side take over and kills Han.
posted by painquale at 7:09 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's annoying that Leia "I killed Jabba" Organa was all "bring our son" and seemingly not a bit concerned that said son had killed a bunch of people. That whole "there's still some good in him" crap was ridiculously motherly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:28 AM on December 20, 2015


I assumed "still some light in him" was just echoing what Luke said about Vader.
posted by emjaybee at 7:35 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I saw this last night and thought it was great fun. Nothing much to add beyond what was above. I do think it's funny that Abrams or his cinematographer don't seem to really "get" the Star Wars universe visually (there's a surprising amount of shakycam, shakyCG(gross!), lighting that seems out of place, etc) which isn't a big deal really, but given the slavish devotion to the old films' story beats and the devotion to practical FX it is sort of weird. It still looks MILES better than the prequels, though!

What's slightly more depressing is that soft CG still looks utterly awful after decades of work. The two close-up CG characters (Grand Master Snoopy and Glasses Lady) were both just dire. Maybe they should stop trying to do that.

Anyway, I know I've given Abrams a lot of crap many many times (Into Darkness was brutally terrible) but this was great fun, had a great sense of humor, and a few moments of genuine cleverness. Too much cutesy parallel stuff but whatever. And the new cast is great!

Lastly, what the hell Max Von Sydow cameo? Is he going to show up next in Captain America: Civil War, wave to a confused Bucky then get hit by a bus? That seemed like really excessive casting.
posted by selfnoise at 7:36 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think it's gonna turn out that literally everyone had a cameo in the Star Wars movie (I'm second Stormtrooper from the left)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:37 AM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was on one of the planets that got blown up!
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 7:54 AM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was one of the planets that got blown up.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:55 AM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was one of the snowflakes!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:05 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was like, didn't Max Von Sydow die twenty years ago?
posted by angrycat at 8:13 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


...a voice screaming "Rey" that sounds like Alec Guinness. It's apparently Ewan McGregor.

Apparently, it really is Alec Guinness - they clipped a recording of him saying "afraid" for the "rey" part. The rest of the line is Ewan McGregor, and Frank Oz voicing Yoda is in that sequence as well.

The movie is quite obsessive about fanservice and connecting with the past series, and it mostly works. There are comedic touches, often very corny, but mostly staying far away from JarJar levels. It also continues the tradition of introducing dozens and dozens of new sentient species, who apparently have only one or two surviving members and mostly congregate in bars as a support network.

There are also a lot of mysteries left to be explored, setting up the remaining films in the same way mentioning "Clone Wars" and Vader causing the death of Luke's father did in the original. Some questions got answered (Ren's parentage and motivation), and overall it seems to be a worthy continuation of the series.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:19 AM on December 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


dozens and dozens of new sentient species, who apparently have only one or two surviving members and mostly congregate in bars as a support network

This explains so much!
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:22 AM on December 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was like, didn't Max Von Sydow die twenty years ago?

Dick Smith aged him about 40 years in his big breakthrough role some 40 years ago, so his age is constant.

It also continues the tradition of introducing dozens and dozens of new sentient species, who apparently have only one or two surviving members and mostly congregate in bars as a support network.

Like in every good bar?
posted by effbot at 8:23 AM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, but there is no galaxy in which The Exorcist is Max Von Sydow's breakthrough role.
posted by graymouser at 8:28 AM on December 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


Rey is Palpatine's grandkid - Snoke/Plagueis planned for his student's betrayal and rescued/resurrected Palpatine's daughter.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:29 AM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wonder if part of the narrative reason that Rey progressed so quickly is that the main narrative arc has to do with primarily not the hero's journey but something having to do with children and their parents. Thus the movie sort of skips over the try/fail aspect of the hero's journey.
posted by angrycat at 8:37 AM on December 20, 2015


Red Letter Media reviews TFA.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:37 AM on December 20, 2015


Rey's an opportunistic scavenger. It's her superpower. Here are some parts, how can I put them together, let me grab the ones that look promising -- she's always looking around to see where she can scramble to next, what she can use. So when she sees Ren doing his thing (trying to get into her head) she's like wait, what's this, lemme try, ok great, what else can I do with this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2015 [35 favorites]


I read Han's final scene as, yes, Ben asking his father to kill him, but I definitely don't think Ben got angry and killed Han because he sensed that Han might actually do it. Quite the opposite: Han understood what Ben wanted and never in a million years would have done it, because he still loves his son. Ben saw this as weakness, as Han's failure, and it enraged him enough to stop wavering and kill his father.
posted by nonasuch at 9:07 AM on December 20, 2015 [32 favorites]


I was like, didn't Max Von Sydow die twenty years ago?

I think you're probably thinking of this guy, its an understandable mistake.
posted by biffa at 10:37 AM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I intend to go back and see this movie at least two to three more times, but after my first viewing, it was my understanding that Kylo/Ben was preparing to hand over his lightsaber in a gesture of "I'm done...here's my weapon, please help me and take me home." The problem arising that he changes his mind and refuses to hand it over, something Han realizes too late.
posted by Atreides at 10:59 AM on December 20, 2015 [16 favorites]


WOW. Fun fact: this weekend, The Force Awakens made more money worldwide than either Aladdin or Home Alone did in their entire runs. Really. It will probably pull ahead of the entire cumulative, worldwide gross for Empire Strikes Back by Monday or so.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


It will probably pull ahead of the entire cumulative, worldwide gross for Empire Strikes Back by Monday or so.

The second weekend drop off is going to be steep! Especially with Xmas getting in the way.
posted by crossoverman at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2015


Poe disappears for an hour or so and then reappears without comment in an X-wing.

The Force Awakens is a remake of A New Hope, except that in this version they didn’t leave Wedge on the cutting room floor.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:49 AM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


WOW. Fun fact: this weekend, The Force Awakens made more money worldwide than either Aladdin or Home Alone did in their entire runs. Really. It will probably pull ahead of the entire cumulative, worldwide gross for Empire Strikes Back by Monday or so.

I'm would not be surprised if it made three billion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:20 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


As much as I liked this movie I am keeping my fingers crossed for VIII, because all the things that are wrong with this movie are JJ Abrams things.

Being a virtual retelling of ANH? Compare Into Darkness with the first Star Trek. Nobody has grown or learned anything and it's basically the same story with a different kind of big bad.

JJ Abrams also doesn't have any sense of the scale of the Universe, and we get the same thing we had in Into Darkness of characters watching bare-eyed from the surface of one world the destruction of others in an entirely different star system. Say what you want about the Lucas SW flicks not being science documentaries, even the parsec howler in ANH wasn't this bad.

The purported tech of the Death Star Plus is also more Trek than Wars, sucking all the energy from the Sun sounds a lot like Generations and the world-destruction FX look more like the later Trek movies than like the super-Star-Wars blaster effect of the Death Stars.

My biggest worries are that VIII will either be yet another retelling of IV VII, or possibly a nearly exact retelling of ESB, rather than a new movie.

That said, if Lucas was great at world building but got lousy at making likeable characters, Abrams has the opposite problem and world-building howlers aside both the new and old characters are likeable, believable, and have interesting arcs.
posted by Bringer Tom at 12:52 PM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


As much as I loved VII, I'm so glad Abrams is handing the reins over to Rian Johnson!
posted by whitecedar at 1:05 PM on December 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Saw it yesterday. Overall I liked it a lot. Some bulleted thoughts follow.

* BB-8 was just fine, but reducing Artoo to little more than a walk-on was egregious. I missed him the whole time.

* I managed to avoid spoilers and Han dying was a real gut-punch. I certainly didn't read the suggestion that he was supposed to mercy-kill Ben into the scene, it seemed like he was just surrendering his weapon as a symbolic act of renouncing his darkness, but it was a fake-out: despite obvious internal conflict, he knew from the start he had to kill his father. Driver as Ben/Ren was great though. Perfect casting.

* The final starfighter battle was dire. After the glorious chaos of RotJ's assault on the second Death Star, seeing a handful of X-wings and TIEs going at it was really underwhelming. And yeah, the Starkiller Base was dumb. Maybe not Suncrusher dumb (rot in purgatory, EU) but close. My impression during the movie was that it destroyed Coruscant, which is apparently not the case, but either way it was baffling that they could see the laser blasts from the cantina planet.

* Rey's quick self-instruction into intermediate Jedihood was kind of an eyebrow-raiser too, but I'm sure we'll see her deal with setbacks and limitations in the next episode so her apparent unqualified awesomeness didn't bother me much. I assume she's Luke's daughter or similarly related, and that's okay with me too. I thought the use of Luke was perfect, loved that he doesn't bother putting skin on his robot hand anymore.

* Finn was lots of fun but his character occasionally was written/played like a Star Wars fan who is aware of the fact that he's in a Star Wars movie, and the Abrams touch felt a bit heavy in those moments.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:19 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think limiting R2 and Luke's participation was very smart. They still have some nostalgia arrows in their quiver for the next one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:22 PM on December 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


Forgot one:

* I really dug Snoke being giant-sized, felt very unsettling in an Old Testament kinda way, if that makes any sense. Really hoping they don't pull an Oz-behind-the-curtain switcheroo, that's nothing new. The Plagueis theory would mean the hologram is 100% artifice and that Palpatine wasn't smart enough to ensure his master was really most sincerely dead, so I'm not rooting for that possibility.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:29 PM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Box Office Mojo shows Thu-Sat numbers putting film at over half a billion worldwide.
posted by grubi at 1:33 PM on December 20, 2015


Oh, I guess for folks who didn't read more about Snoke and wish him to be in a teapot, it appears he's 7 foot plus:

Andy Serkis, the master of CGI characters from Gollum to King Kong, plays the still-unseen Supreme Leader Snoke who has scenes with Kylo Ren. "All I can say is that I'm involved in it," he has said. But Neal Scanlan, chief of creature and droid effects, told PEOPLE, "This character is much better executed as a CGI character. That's just a practical reality when he's 7-foot-something tall; he's very, very thin."
posted by mrzarquon at 1:38 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know, I mostly enjoyed it. B+ if I'm being generous? Was entertained enough to see Episode VIII in the theater when it comes.

But, I have these criticisms. Don't read if you don't want criticism. I'd understand if you don't want criticism.
---------------------------------
BB-8 is the Muppet Baby of droids. BB-8 is the kid they introduce to family sitcoms after the initial kid actors grow up. BB-8 is Scrappy-Do.

If they knew the First Order had spies everywhere looking for BB-8, and they were ditching the Falcon to become more hidden, why do they go marching into a bar filled with unseemly types with the damn droid they are trying to keep under wraps. LOL WTF SOLO?

Big weapon gets fired up, destroys all the planets in The Republic in about 2 seconds, Resistance is sad for about as long but then they're all like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Said in Chandler Bing voice: Could Oscar Isaac's fighter pilot character BE any more one-dimensional?

What was Luke eating on that island all those years? Seabird eggs? MREs?

If the Empire was crushed, and The First Order is shadowy and up-and-coming, and The Republic is more or less in charge of the galaxy, why is it called "The Resistance"? Doesn't that make The First Order the resistance? They conveniently made the empire really not actually destroyed at all, post-Emperor...

Semi-tiresome re-spin of Episode IV/V/VI stuff:
Main sympathetic character stuck on desert planet barely getting by: check
Good guy resistance housed on bucolic forest planet: check
Destruction of planet(s) by bad guys: check
Sassy droids that emote: check
Watering hole with wild menagerie of weird creatures we see for 2 seconds each: check
Band of aliens playing some disco mix of clarinet/oboe/steel drum music: check
Vaguely ethnic alien speak: check
Millenium Falcon bucket of bolts humor: check
Droids getting thrown around willy nilly: check
Stuff attaching to outside window of Falcon: check
"Fantastic fighter pilots!": check
The Dark Side as clear analogy to Nazi Germany: triple check
Destruction of large spherical death machine as penultimate scene: check yeah

Also, Admiral Akbar hasn't aged a bit! What's your secret, fish-eyed flap-mouted alien dude? Do you work out?

There's probably a few more nits. It was a movie not without nits. For some stretches of it I was transported away from reality, which given the circumstances (I saw the movie solo as a break while spending several days with my father, who was just diagnosed with cancer) was an achievement and heartily appreciated. One thing I will definitely say that this was a far better effort than those sad Star Trek movies Abrams is associated with.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:10 PM on December 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


Let's be honest here: the Republic/Resistance/First Order situation makes even less sense than the Trade Federation stuff in the prequels, and will require at least as much extratextual backfilling to make sense of.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:18 PM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was disappointed that Phasma didn't take off her helmet, but hopefully she'll doff it in the next one. I love love love Gwendoline Christie as Brienne, and here's to her having a larger part in the next two films.

I just searched the page for Gwendoline Christie. Was going to say all of these things almost verbatim. Gwendoline Christie is the shit.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:20 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Big weapon gets fired up, destroys all the planets in The Republic in about 2 seconds, Resistance is sad for about as long but then they're all like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I was really confused by the extent of the destruction in the film. According to Wookiepedia, the weapon destroyed all the planets in a single system (Hosnian) including what was the current capital of the Republic. (But I'm not sure where they arrived at that) However, assuming that the Republic is at least a fraction of the size of the empire, it's composed of a multitude of systems. So presumably the Republic survived this in some fashion.

(did anyone else see Martha Jones appear for about 1 second before getting vaped along with the whole planet? Or maybe the doctor saved her. This movie had a lot of weird stunt casting)

That said, it's extremely unclear why the Republic is using a proxy force to fight the First Order. The movie didn't seem interesting in explaining it, which is fine, except that it's a detail that makes the plot more complicated. So why?
posted by selfnoise at 2:24 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think, for all of the ways that this movie does rehash plot beats from IV, that it's doing it very purposefully for reasons other than just giving people more of the originals. The little seeds of difference here -- Kylo Ren's immaturity, the mere fact of Finn being a storm trooper with doubts, and what seem to me to be very different initial emotional circumstances for Rey as compared to her analog Luke -- point to this episode being used to set up strong similarities with the originals that will put the upcoming differences into greater relief while still grounding them in the universe. Incidentally, that plays nicely into the theme of legacy that's all over this movie, and whether one takes theirs up or spurns it.

Really my only major critical point is that for all of the celebration of the original's aesthetic, it didn't quite nail the pulp-fantasy-in-space vibe of the originals as well as I hoped it would. It's hard to qualify how and why not in terms of actual technical details, but I felt that way nonetheless.
posted by invitapriore at 2:34 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I mean it's like the whole reason that Finn is a sanitation guy is to set up that call back. I mean, aside from the fact that he never killed anybody before in Space Hitler's army, that sanitation stuff was a li'l weird.

There is a theory going around that this is a callback to the Death Star conversation between Dante and Randall in Clerks: "You think the average stormtrooper knows how to install a toilet main?"
posted by Errant at 2:40 PM on December 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


Yeah, the scale of space thing, watching the destruction from Maz's, was definitely Star Trek reboot "red matter made a supernova that touched off a huge chain of supernovas because apparently all these stars are 50 miles apart" stuff, but it's also right in line with "let's just waltz on over to Bespin at sublight speeds", so...

I was struck when thinking about it afterwards how much more civilized Tatooine was than Jakku. If Rey wants some power converters she's gonna need to pry them out of a hulking Star Destroyer wreck, there's no getting your uncle's permission to take the car to Tosche Station.

Also, was it just me or was the hand that held flashback Rey the hand of the main trading post alien played by Simon Pegg?

Also also, I have to wonder if the emotional fallout and fracturing of the OT heroes' relationships has to do with how Leia and Han never got to see the redeemed Vader that Luke did. Ben showing dark side tendencies should freak Han and Leia out bad, their only point of reference is Vader at his worst, but Luke would say no, trust me, I can get through to him... and then he fails at being their last hope. That's a bad enough situation to split them all up.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:45 PM on December 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


selfnoise, you are apparently not the only person to see Freema Agyeman in that scene but she says it's not her.
posted by bettafish at 2:59 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, was it just me or was the hand that held flashback Rey the hand of the main trading post alien played by Simon Pegg?

I just saw it for a second time and LOOKED to see who was with baby Rey--and it was DEFINITELY that guy.
posted by leesh at 3:08 PM on December 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wow, I was also sure it was Martha Jones (or her actress)!
posted by Iteki at 3:13 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


We really need a prequel that shows how Renlo betrayed Luke and killed all those Jedi.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:15 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm calling it Jakkuine.
posted by grubi at 3:16 PM on December 20, 2015


selfnoise, you are apparently not the only person to see Freema Agyeman in that scene but she says it's not her.

IMDB has her listed as well. I had actually assumed it was a similar looking actress until I saw it there. Misinformation everywhere!
posted by selfnoise at 3:19 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Star Wars Dude!"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:34 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I saw "Star Wars" at a drive-in in the summer of...'77? I fell in love with Indiana Jones in a theater a few years later. The charming, resourceful, skilled son-of-a-bitch figure shaped my heart in some small way, and seeing Han and Leia all of these years later--seeing them after they had lost a child to the dark side, after they pursued the incompatible skills they were each best at, after, perhaps, she had grown tired of wild-goose goodbyes--I cried from my heart when he died. It felt like an adult nod to the price of a rogue soul, especially to those who love its bearer.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:58 PM on December 20, 2015 [26 favorites]




Not that the obsession with US box office is that relevant in today's global movie market, but ...the film now holds the following domestic records:

Largest Thursday Previews: $57 million*
Largest Friday, Opening Day, Single Day: $120.5 million (estimated)
Domestic Opening Weekend: $238 million (estimate)
Highest Per Theater Average (Wide Opening): $57,571 (estimate)
Top Opening Weekend for PG-13 Rated Film: $238 million (estimate)
Top Holiday Opening Weekend**: $238 million (estimate)
Biggest Weekend Overall (Top 12 Gross): $294.5 million
Biggest December Weekend (Top 12 Gross): $294.5 million
December Single Day: $120.5 million (estimated)
Widest December Opening: 4,134 theaters
December Opening Weekend: $238 million (estimate)
Fastest to $100 Million: 1 Day
Domestic IMAX Opening Record: $30.1 million

(see link for previous record holders)

Also still highest rated Star Wars movie at Rotten Tomatoes :-)
posted by effbot at 6:28 PM on December 20, 2015


I'm replying to stuff wayyyyy up thread and days earlier.

Also he must have been a late life baby for Han and Lea. Maybe that's less of a thing in star wars?

As a 42 year old parent of a 4 year old, I'm feeling this just fine.

As someone who's not a mega fan or anything I enjoyed it because/despite of its corniness.

As a semi-mega-fan, the corniness is fine.

(also wild fan speculation on who/what Rey is: clone of Shmi)

NO. grumpycat.jpg



I loved the lightsaber fight at the end but I feel like Kylo Ren could have VERY easily disabled Finn with the Force


I got the distinct sense that Kylo was toying with Finn.

Any tradition of evil space wizards that are by definition hate-fueled rage-junkies ... my reaction was an immediate "why are we only encountering this behavior now in the fourthmovie in the series?"

Darth Vader force-choked a half dozen officers in Empire. The main theme of the dark side is rage induced outbursts.



I like Han back in the smuggling business but depending on how he wound up back in the life it does mean he's not grown at all.


I'm not sure how that means he hasn't grown. I see it as he is returning to the business he knows best. "Bury yourself in your work" as it were.

I have too many feels to say a lot more. Still absorbing and thinking about all of it.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:20 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was supposed to see it next week when I went to see family after Christmas, but realized I was going to get spoiled if I did, and had already kinda been.

Anyway, immediate impression: I put it on par with Jedi. Flawed, but good.

With respect to Rey's lineage, in that sequence, I thought I saw Ren taking Rey's family away. But stuff was cut together really quickly, so I doubt it.

I was so amused that we're just running around a desert outpost and HEY THERE'S THE MILLENNIUM FALCON. The first flying sequence with it was so well done, it alone topped anything in the prequels.

Nthing the excellent acting in the scene where Ren tries to Force rape Rey.

Biggest flaw in the movie for me: Soooo, this Ren guy was supposedly strong enough to destroy all the New Jedi Luke was training, Luke couldn't stop him, but someone who's just realizing she's Force sensitive pretty much handles him easy peasy???

Also, I'm not sure I get why Star Wars movies have to have such familiar beats when the best movie of the franchise (by far) didn't follow the pattern. I feels like that should tell you something.

But on the plus side, watching Rey try to understand the Force harkened back so much to what Yoda tries to tell Luke during his training in Empire. She seems to intuitively understand what Yoda could never quite make Luke understand: you don't use the Force; you let the Force use you.

A very satisfactory experience overall.
posted by dry white toast at 7:40 PM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Just stick an Ewok in an X-Wing as a background character or something.

I would cry laughing if they put one Ewok flying an X-Wing made of logs in the background of one battle scene.
posted by neuromodulator at 7:45 PM on December 20, 2015 [19 favorites]


Just got back from my second viewing.

It was pretty clear to me that Kylo Ren did not destroy the Jedi Academy by himself. In the force flashback scene, we see Luke's robot hand on top of R2-D2 (presumably grieving for the death of his students), and then it shows Kylo Ren in the same darkened area. Behind Kylo are a bunch of hooded shadowy figures, which I interpreted as other members of the Knights of Ren.
posted by arcolz at 7:51 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Biggest flaw in the movie for me: Soooo, this Ren guy was supposedly strong enough to destroy all the New Jedi Luke was training, Luke couldn't stop him, but someone who's just realizing she's Force sensitive pretty much handles him easy peasy???

He had just killed his father, and so was emotionally compromised (and he wasn't too sane to start with), also he had been shot in the side with a blaster (which usually kills an armoured storm trooper) and he was bleeding heavily. So he wasn't playing his A game. Plus, maybe he's just not that good. And Rey is clearly a prodigy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:56 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't think Rey is Luke's daughter. I think she's Anakin's daughter. Not literally, more like a spiritual (ha) successor. She's a lot like Phantom Menace Anakin: Very independent, mechanical genius, great pilot, great innate force abilities, and mysterious origins (Anakin's origins more magically mysterious and hers are realistic in that she was left behind)

And this works story-wise as a rivalry between Rey and Kylo Ren. Who is literally descended from Jedi lineage AND royalty by birth, everything Rey is NOT. And it's gonna piss him off to find that this unknown is more like Anakin/Vader than he ever will be or can be.

This is just me spitballing an alternate theory and thinking about it like the Goku/Vegeta rivalry in DBZ. I don't know why I made the connection, but feel free to add or subtract from it.

And I liked the movie, but it seemed to pick up more once Han entered the story.
posted by FJT at 7:57 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I got the distinct sense that Kylo was toying with Finn.

I have to admit that I find this interpretation very strange, considering that Kylo at this point is shaken, injured and conflicted. He simply doesn't have the presence of mind or the detachment necessary to engage in this sort of sociopathic play. In fact...

Biggest flaw in the movie for me: Soooo, this Ren guy was supposedly strong enough to destroy all the New Jedi Luke was training, Luke couldn't stop him, but someone who's just realizing she's Force sensitive pretty much handles him easy peasy???

...in fact, I think the same circumstances explain this, too. He's obviously an incredibly talented Force user, but we're told over and over that that talent does not extend to anything like control over his emotions. Darth Vader doesn't have outbursts, really, as far as I can tell -- he focuses his anger into calculated acts of malice and intimidation. Kylo, though, doesn't have it together enough not to falter in the face of physical and emotional setbacks, and so a Force noob and a Muggle both have a much better chance at prevailing against him than you'd expect given his on-paper abilities.

I guess I feel like the movie would have had to have done some truly insane and belief-beggaring nonsense to kill my sense of in-universe plausibility at any point, because we're talking about Star Wars. It's fucking ridiculous. Ships make sounds in space, they fly like they're on goddamn rails in the absence of atmosphere, physical obstacles still apparently matter in hyperspace but you can somehow do calculations to avoid them even though you'd have no way to actually detect their positions and trajectories remotely, oh and then there's the matter of, you know, THE FORCE. Nothing here was egregious by those standards.
posted by invitapriore at 8:01 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked how in the final light saber battle Kylo was punching himself where he was wounded in the side. I like to think he was causing himself pain/anger in order to let the dark side of the force influence him. Maybe he was fighting the light side even during this scene. If that was the intention of the filmmakers it is more subtle than anything I remember in the other films.

A very enjoyable film despite the plot holes.
posted by Justin Case at 8:01 PM on December 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


More thoughts...

At first I was incredulous that Maz Kanata would just drop the shield because they have a blaster pointed at her. But on further reflection, she is so clearly middle management that I totally buy her being "yeah, whatever, I'm not really invested enough in the First Order."

Also Luke, Leia and Han all vanishing in their own ways felt right. As did Leia and Han still loving each other but finding it too painful to stay together after what happened with Kylo.

I dug Kylo struggling with being the call of the Light, rather than the Dark Side, as both Luke and Anakin did. It turned the franchise trope on its head nicely.
posted by dry white toast at 8:05 PM on December 20, 2015


Biggest flaw in the movie for me: Soooo, this Ren guy was supposedly strong enough to destroy all the New Jedi Luke was training, Luke couldn't stop him, but someone who's just realizing she's Force sensitive pretty much handles him easy peasy???

It was pretty clear to me that Kylo Ren did not destroy the Jedi Academy by himself.

This is kind of what I meant when I said I'm not completely inclined to take the "Kylo Ren betrayed Luke and destroyed the Academy" story at face value, just because some other people said or heavily implied after the fact that that's what happened. This may be the actual unvarnished truth, I'm not saying it definitely isn't, but we should be pretty used to a certain amount of misdirection and blatant falsehood in the first episode of a Star Wars trilogy by now.

Having said that, it seems to me that the person who wins a lightsaber/Force duel is usually the person who's the most in tune with whatever's going with the Force at that moment, and that "strength in the Force" is being attuned to the current state of it, not necessarily having the coolest tricks. No one ever talks about being medium in the Force or the 14th seed coefficient, unlikely to get past the Korriban quarterfinals and just happy to be in the tournament. This is one of the many reasons why the Force is such excellent plot armor.
posted by Errant at 8:06 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


And this works story-wise as a rivalry between Rey and Kylo Ren. Who is literally descended from Jedi lineage AND royalty by birth, everything Rey is NOT. And it's gonna piss him off to find that this unknown is more like Anakin/Vader than he ever will be or can be.

This is exactly how I read the struggle for Anakin's lightsaber (and why I'll be annoyed if it turns out she's just also Force royalty too). Kylo Ren believes that he is Anakin's true heir and feels entitled to it, beats the crap out of some jerk pretender because don't make me laugh, and then here comes this rando who pulls the sword out of the stone snow right under his nose and all of a sudden the Force is thrilling through her. I think it's a part of why he gets thrown way off balance, and why he starts trying to convince Rey to let him train her, because he needs to get a handle on what the hell just happened and how could it have happened when he's the chosen one, etc.

This is also how I read all his incredulous reactions to every mention of "some girl" who keeps thwarting all his plans. He's the new Dark Lord, he's bled and murdered for it, and what do you mean some random girl stopped you from doing my bidding? Did Palpatine ever have days like this?
posted by Errant at 8:18 PM on December 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


I like to think he was causing himself pain/anger in order to let the dark side of the force influence him.

Yes, yes. Like he's someone that has to manufacture it, because he's probably led a fairly good life as the child of the biggest heroes in the galaxy. Part of me thought he even wanted to get his hand cut off during the forest duel, because he could finally feel real pain and be more like his grandfather and uncle.
posted by FJT at 8:22 PM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Just saw it a second time today. I think Kylo Ren has a suspicion about who Rey is. Perhaps he and his nights were supposed to kill her years ago but she got away. Maybe he did know about her until after his rampage. Perhaps she got away because he hesitated in his commitment to the dark side. I could see him having lied to Snoke about it. Snoke will have figured it out, but they both keep playing the game. In any case, neither could be certain until now. That's why it is time for Kylo to finish his training.
posted by meinvt at 8:26 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Did Palpatine ever have days like this?

Oh man I love that you wrote this because it makes me think of Emperor Palpatine getting off his galactophone on a late night in the office after some bad news and taking the edge off with some strong drink, and I think that image clarifies for me what it was (outside of more ambience-related issues like lighting and camera movement) that made this movie feel like not quite the same series, which is that the characters here are much less simple embodiments of an archetype. I think I know why -- it worked in the first series for a lot of reasons, but you can't really convincingly explore the back stories and formative experiences of archetypes as if they were complex humans, which is maybe a part of why the prequels were so fucking stilted and boring. It seems like the opposite approach is being taken here, and in the balance that's probably a good and necessary thing, but it does subvert the attempts at matching the tonal feel of the originals.
posted by invitapriore at 8:36 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Then again, it does have the positive side effect of relieving us from all of the awful dialog about the power of the dark side that plagued the originals to a much greater extent than I ever hear people talking about. On that note, I take the fact that I'm in here nitpicking about Star Wars even though I'd describe myself as just slightly on the positive side of neutral about the original trilogy as an indicator that there's something to this episode beyond just rehashing former glories.
posted by invitapriore at 8:41 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think Kylo Ren has a suspicion about who Rey is.

There is at least a couple of times talk of "a girl" and "the girl" has him suspicious - so I think he knows who she is. But maybe nobody else does? Maybe he took her from the Academy and left her on Jakku?
posted by crossoverman at 9:06 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well there's always the chance of there being some kind of prophecy about a girl, that's giving Ren the jeebies.

When there are wars and sub-wars going on, a kid being deserted because their parents were kidnapped/slaughtered is not an unusual event, so you could have a completely mundane reason for Rey to be on Jakku; it doesn't have to be some 13th-level-Sith-chess thing.

But then, it might be.

I very, very much like the idea of Ren being really pissed that his awesome Skywalker blood is actually Not So Hot and some little punkass nobody from nowhere is more talented than he is. It would be a different direction for these movies to take from the Sacred Skywalker Lineage/Prophecy setup, but then again, that shit didn't turn out too well so maybe the Force is shrugging and going to go for a different approach.

God, it's fun to be in the first episode of an arc and just speculate all over the damn place. I don't care if I'm completely wrong, so long as whatever they do with the rest isn't boring and predictable.
posted by emjaybee at 9:14 PM on December 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


how does a bastard, orphan daughter of a whore and a corellian, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the western rim, impoverished, in squalor...

you see it, right?
posted by casarkos at 9:19 PM on December 20, 2015 [33 favorites]


Then again, it does have the positive side effect of relieving us from all of the awful dialog about the power of the dark side that plagued the originals to a much greater extent than I ever hear people talking about.

To me, the biggest service TFA provides existing Star Wars fans isn't having Han, Chewie, and Leia doing their thing again; it's leaving all the stuff about the struggle between Dark and Light unsaid - trusting that the fans remember all that shit and don't need to be force fed. So when you see Rey try to process this new power, and Kylo look like a scared little punk, you know what's behind all of it.

Well, that and seeing the MF doing it's thing again. God that felt good!!
posted by dry white toast at 9:23 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


When Han says to Leia about going back to what he was good at I really wanted her to call him out on being kinda shit at it. Because he was scrambling when he agrees to ferry Ben and Luke and he's in hot water here too.
posted by phearlez at 10:12 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just saw it. I enjoyed it, which is pretty amazing because I have a grudge against JJ Abrams after that Star Trek mess and enduring the prequels kicked almost all of the Star Wars fandom out of me. Abrams does a lot better with a franchise he doesn't hate, and he does a lot better with this franchise than Lucas did with the prequels.

(SPOILERS AHEAD!!)

I went into this really wanting to see the original cast and expecting to resent these kids hogging the spotlight, but I thought the new characters were OK. Fisher and Ford both seemed like they were kind of going through the motions, so the power of their scenes together mostly came from just seeing those two and remembering their chemistry and seeing how much older they were now. Adam Driver was pretty good, and the big hologram guy was scary. (Although if we meet him later and he's not a giant that will seem like a letdown.)

The death of Han Solo was spoiled for me by an idiot Yahoo headline writer. The headline was something like Fans react to major character death in Force Awakens. And I saw another headline about some gory Chewbacca scene that was cut, so I put those headlines together and figured Chewie was gonna die. I saw both headlines while I was very much trying to avoid spoilers, but I guess I should thank the author of the Chewbacca article because that threw me off enough that I didn't see Han's death coming right away. But the moment Han started down that bridge, there was zero suspense for me. And I wasn't very moved when he did die, which kind of surprised me. I mean, the death of Han Solo! 7-year-old me would have cried for weeks.

I'm a little annoyed with Harrison Ford, to be honest. His performance seemed pretty phoned-in and I'm assuming he only agreed to participate after he was promised he could finally kill off Han Solo. (And Han is very, VERY dead, with a lightsaber through his belly and falling down into the abyss on a planet that then explodes. You don't get much deader than that.) So, OK, Harrison, you never got the franchise and resented the fans, and now you've made sure the character is dead, dead, so dead. Now you can go back to... I don't know, playing presidents in movies that don't earn back their budgets? Have fun with that, dude.

When I think about it, this story is kind of the worst case scenario for events after Jedi. The Empire is NOT defeated after all. Han and Leia don't work out, and their kid becomes the new Darth Vader. Luke's Jedi camp ends in disaster and he goes into seclusion. Artoo is so heartbroken he goes into some sort of droid-coma, apparently for years. I don't even want to ask where Lando went! I'm sure nothing good happened to him either.

But all that being said, this is the first Star Wars movie since 1983 that felt anything like a Star Wars movie. I went in prepared to hate it, and I didn't. You've won this round, Abrams.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:16 PM on December 20, 2015 [13 favorites]


Anakin breaks all the Jedi rules to have a family

I have to wonder, since Force-sensitivity seems to be an inheritable trait, (obviously there is no in universe explanation for this, but pppfft, I don't see that addressing that would be interesting), if the restriction on love wasn't just for emotional reasons, but to stop an over-proliferation of Force-sensitives. It seems like they pop up a reasonable amount anyway, and just dealing with that is trouble enough.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:26 PM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thinking about the movie some more, the final shot sums up a lot of what's leaving me cold about it, as my memories of the first act fade.

Batons are being passed in this movie. Eventually it's a literal baton—though, whoah!! it's not what you expect. See, it's going the other direction. Think about it. Similarly, in case it's too subtle that BB-8 is the new Artoo, because he's a cute little robot doing all the same shit, the movie will have BB-8 complete R2's job in way that is literally a missing piece of a puzzle and treasure map, at the same time. Did the map really mean anything, did it make sense at all? No, it's all a setup for R2 tapping out to BB-8. And hey, if you like Star Wars, you must like father-son talks on catwalks, but you'll never guess who's the Sith and who's the one trying to mend bridges THIS time.

It reminds me of how STID knew it had to have a "Khaaaaan", but thought just flipping around who screamed and who died would be some kind of cleverness. Instead, it just sells out the drama. The first half of the movie is better than I ever hoped a SW reboot could be, but the second half of the movie feels more and more like exactly what I feared from an Abrams SW movie.
posted by nom de poop at 10:33 PM on December 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm a little annoyed with Harrison Ford, to be honest. His performance seemed pretty phoned-in and I'm assuming he only agreed to participate after he was promised he could finally kill off Han Solo. (And Han is very, VERY dead, with a lightsaber through his belly and falling down into the abyss on a planet that then explodes. You don't get much deader than that.) So, OK, Harrison, you never got the franchise and resented the fans, and now you've made sure the character is dead, dead, so dead. Now you can go back to... I don't know, playing presidents in movies that don't earn back their budgets? Have fun with that, dude.

This is exactly how I feel about it (and, I think, probably why you weren't moved by Han's death; it's certainly why I wasn't). I wouldn't have minded Han being center stage for so much of the film if he seemed more invested, or conversely I would have been fine with his aloofness as a background character like Leia, but for him to be front and center and clearly not give a shit, it's like having "Get a life!"-era Shatner headlining a new Star Trek while rolling his eyes at the camera every few minutes. We get it, you think we're all pretty stupid, so just fuck off then and let us have our fun.

I have to wonder, since Force-sensitivity seems to be an inheritable trait, (obviously there is no in universe explanation for this, but pppfft, I don't see that addressing that would be interesting), if the restriction on love wasn't just for emotional reasons, but to stop an over-proliferation of Force-sensitives. It seems like they pop up a reasonable amount anyway, and just dealing with that is trouble enough.

It seems like this would probably go in the other direction to me, like, we need to breed the Jedi Order into business. If the big worry for Jedi is getting to Force-sensitive kids while they're young, the easiest way to do that is to make them yourself. The worst thing about midichlorians for me is that it does imply that Force sensitivity is heritable, as opposed to the more mythic / mystic idea of Luke as karmic counterweight to his father. If Force sensitivity is heritable, then it's got to be an adaptive survival trait, right? So over tens of thousands of years of the Republic (not to mention however long it took to get to the Republic), there should be more Force sensitivity in the population, not less, the same way that on average we're taller than we were a few hundred years ago.
posted by Errant at 10:54 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just saw it. Aaaaaah fucking Star Wars you guys!!!!

Ugh with the plot rehash and I spent the evening watching the good bits of the prequels on YouTube - someone above mentioned and I agree the prequel story has good bones but failed on execution. But Ep VII made me appreciate that Lucas at least wrote a brand new story, with new conflicts not another (!) Death Star.

Dont get me wrong I'm still grinning like a fool.

And wow did Mark Hamill have that same old earnest longing in his face.

And the hair! Luke and Kylo Ren hair so wonderfully 70s and yet timeless at the same time.

They blew up Coruscant?!

I know JJ has no respect for cannon but do me a solid and give me Mara Jade I'll take even a cameo OH Please it's Christmas
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:55 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just saw it a second time today. I think Kylo Ren has a suspicion about who Rey is. Perhaps he and his nights were supposed to kill her years ago but she got away.

After my second viewing, i agree with the sentiment. Rey is definitely somebody. Kylo Ren first meets her in the forest and says something like, "So you're the girl I've heard so much about" when on screen he's only been told about her once. Also, Maz asks Han, "So who's the girl?" in a very pointed way and then Han gives a look before the scene cuts. Leia's reaction to first seeing her is also way too strong for her to just be some nobody.
posted by dogwalker at 10:56 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also Finn is my favorite character by far, want them to explore more of his story.

No bacta tank for him?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:57 PM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ha ha, fuck Max Landis.
posted by Artw at 11:07 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


lso, Maz asks Han, "So who's the girl?" in a very pointed way and then Han gives a look before the scene cuts.

Oh that settles it, Rey is Han's out-of-wedlock daughter with Lysa Tully.
posted by nom de poop at 11:48 PM on December 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


Didn't expect to tear up multiple times. Good or bad, I don't know yet, but it certainly had a powerful effect on me.

Also, what lame-ass resistance goes on a bombing run with all X-wings and no Y-wings?
posted by charred husk at 11:56 PM on December 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


So I actually did a little fist-pump of glee when Han died, because they were telegraphing it hard but I really didn't believe that the series had it in itself to actually kill him. I knew a little about the draft plans to kill Han in RoTJ, and how that was scuttled, in part, to protect toy sales. He's too well established now for that to be much of a consideration, but I was still delighted that they actually went through with it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:10 AM on December 21, 2015


Also, what lame-ass resistance goes on a bombing run with all X-wings and no Y-wings?

Yo punk ass Y-Wings didn't make it nowhere near that exhaust port on Death Star 1. Big Darth V blew the fuck out of those slow-ass shit boxes like 2 seconds into that trench.

X-WINGS 4 LYFE.

Don't even get me started on those POS targeting computers.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:12 AM on December 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


Why no B-Wings then?
posted by drezdn at 1:17 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Of course there were no Y-Wings. They're hell of obsolete. The B-Wing was developed to replace the Y-Wings, which were Clone Wars era technology ffs.

I really wanted to see some B-Wings in action.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:17 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember some years ago, Lucas saying he wasn't going to do episodes 7-9 because he'd realized there was no story there. Everybody lived happily ever after, after ROTJ.

I enjoyed this movie while I was watching it, but in hindsight I find myself kind of wishing that these sequels weren't happening. Growing up you always wondered what happened to the characters after ROTJ, and here we got the answer and it's basically that everything was utterly miserable for everybody. As I said above, we find out the empire was not defeated, Han and Leia didn't last, et al. The space Nazis are still tromping around oppressing everybody and our heroes have grown old and estranged from each other. Artoo is literally paralyzed with grief, FFS.

If you're trying to start a whole new series of movies I guess it's almost inevitable that things went south after ROTJ. You need conflict for drama. But the original trilogy is some really classic Hollywood stuff, and that big joyous ending in ROTJ really tied things up. Of course the empire was defeated, Han and Leia were gonna settle down and Luke was going to begin a new life as a full Jedi, probably starting a Jedi academy or something. Orson Wells once said that a happy ending means you're ending the story before it's finished. In real life, everything falls apart. The Force Awakens shows us that ROTJ's ending was just one happy day that didn't really change much, and then things fell apart for those characters the same way they fall apart for us.

Normally I like my genre stuff a lot darker than other fans do (Buffy season six FTW!) but Star Wars is its own thing and I'm not sure I wanted to know that those characters have spent the last 30 years being about as miserable as I have. This movie proved that Lucas was wrong and there was a story after the original trilogy. But it's a story where my childhood heroes can only look back at their big Hollywood ending and sigh, thinking about how much they've lost.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:42 AM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


I am well satisfied. I laughed, I was-all-like-holy-shit, I cried a bit, I was in suspense, I grinned a lot, I had the swelling heart-wobbles, I got a contact heroism-high, it had all the moving parts that make me happy.

Overfamiliar moving parts, overmuch, perhaps, but: I am well satisfied.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:55 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Star Wars is its own thing and I'm not sure I wanted to know that those characters have spent the last 30 years being about as miserable as I have.

You just put into words something that bugged me about the film I couldn't put into words.
Damn.
posted by Mezentian at 2:37 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


So, OK, Harrison, you never got the franchise and resented the fans, and now you've made sure the character is dead, dead, so dead. Now you can go back to... I don't know, playing presidents in movies that don't earn back their budgets? Have fun with that, dude.

Harrison Ford is 73. Maybe he just wants to retire? If they hadn't killed off Han this movie, they'd be facing the increasing possibility of having to patch in CGI Solo on the Episode VIII or IX scenes he didn't manage to complete before he died, died, so died. Or have Han Solo die off-screen between episodes. We can imagine how well that would go over. This was much better.

(Still annoyed that some internet rando spoiled it for me, but it was a great scene anyway.)
posted by rory at 3:11 AM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


I enjoyed this movie while I was watching it, but in hindsight I find myself kind of wishing that these sequels weren't happening.

If only the prequels had been solid good Star Wars movies. They came so close in some respects, but in other respects so broken. (Although I suspect I'm the only one driven nuts by how the production team decided to use Obi-wan's desert hermit attire as their source material for how jedi would actually dress back in their golden age(?!) and now desert robes are official jedi uniform. At least Anakin styled it less tattooine once he was old enough.)

But the opportunity is lost. Maybe someday the prequels will be rebooted (I hate reboots, but I also hate how the prequels were botched. Such conflict within me... :) ) but either way they're never going to fix that desert-robes / swamp-rags screw-up :-/
posted by anonymisc at 3:17 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I watched the movie 3 days after the mainstream opening, and didn't know he died in the movie until the moment I saw it.

I am floored that this wasn't spoiled for me. I am surprised this wasn't leaked long before the movie even screened (it might have been - I've been avoiding spoilers, but I was under the impression there were none until the first screenings). In a production of thousands of people, keeping that a secret successfully until opening night is amazing. I'm curious how they managed that. It seems like a lot of effort must have gone into that.
posted by anonymisc at 3:25 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


that big joyous ending in ROTJ really tied things up

You can almost hear the Yub Nub.

now desert robes are official jedi uniform

It seems especially wrong to see Luke wearing them on the Skelligs. He should be in a raincoat.
posted by rory at 3:29 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm a little annoyed with Harrison Ford, to be honest. His performance seemed pretty phoned-in

I interpreted as the same difference we saw between brash energetic young obi-wan and calmer wiser classic obi-wan.
It's Han Solo, but his temper doesn't flare as much. He gets his kicks from subtler digs. He's seen it before, and enough times that someone-else's screw-up isn't his emergency any more. He might go above and beyond and give you some advice (and it'll probably be good advice) but it certainly ain't his job to follow up. Your problem if you weren't paying attention.

He looks like he doesn't give a shit because passion is for the young.
That's now Finn.
posted by anonymisc at 3:42 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Although I suspect I'm the only one driven nuts by how the production team decided to use Obi-wan's desert hermit attire as their source material for how jedi would actually dress back in their golden age

Oh no, you are not alone in this. I wrote about this back in the Phantom Menace thread, because yeah, guys, what are you doing with the production design? You really think Obi-Wan just spent the last 30 years hiding on Tatooine wearing literally a uniform of an outlawed and hunted down order?

Meanwhile: I have tickets to see this again today (hooray, time off to use up my vacation time before year's end). Super excited for round 2 :)

Oh, but also:

So Ren's character wore the face mask and respirator to be more like Darth Vader?

As far as we know, yes, and I kinda love that. Like, at first you're thinking "OK, maybe having another black-cloaked and black masked deep-voiced villain is a little much, JJ Abrams", but then you find out pretty early on that this is an intentional reference by the character themself. And then you start wondering about that mask, and noticing that it actually seems a little roughly made (the metal ridges have what seems like machining marks on them, compared to Vader's probably vacu-formed plastic), and ... wait, did Ren make this thing for himself down in the Starkiller's machine shop? Is he literally cosplaying this shit?

There's something pretty awesome about that as far as a character tic goes.
posted by tocts at 3:44 AM on December 21, 2015 [34 favorites]


Why were the First Order senior officers so young? I liked the effortless elder-statesman thing the classic Imperial officers had going. These younger officers had to work harder for the gravitas.
(I initially thought the First Order must be a young man's game after the losses the Empire suffered, but reading the timeline backstory summary, they've been locked in a cold war for decades. That's perfect breeding ground for old men clinging to power.)
posted by anonymisc at 3:54 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems especially wrong to see Luke wearing them on the Skelligs. He should be in a raincoat.

Force raincoat, keeps all the drops from making physical contact. Luke's come a long way in his mastery of the force in thirty years. That or a spray on hydrophobic coating.
posted by biffa at 3:55 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now you can go back to... I don't know, playing presidents in movies that don't earn back their budgets? Have fun with that, dude.

Has Ford played the president in anything other than Air Force One? That made $315m against an $85m budget.
posted by biffa at 3:58 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Probably saying some stuff that's already been said here, but i just finally saw this(yes, i know it's been out like two days, yes, that's a while for me considering the people i know who all somehow got tickets for thursday night).

- I turned to my friend immediately after the ending and said "That sequence in the woods had more character than anything in the prequels". He agreed. Seriously, if even just the darth maul fight had that kind of energy and just fucking feeling to it there would be something to defend about episode I.

- There's no stupid gigantic battle scenes with a bajillion distracting things! When there are shots that have a bunch of tie fighters/xwings in them they look the way they did in the OT. There aren't like, 1000 little blipblops going in ridiculous directions and shorting your brain out. It's all "these guys coming from this direction, those guys coming from the other direction. It looks like a dogfight, not like some final fantasy spirits within sort of "look at what we can do with CGI!" sort of thing that would be used to demo a graphics card at a trade show. Everything had a sense of scale, but no attempt to go "look there's like a BAJILLION OF THEM OMG EPIC".

- There was no stupid gag reel shit! The dumbest sight gag in the entire movie is BB-8 going down the stairs. George lucas added dumber gags than that to the remastered episode 4 just in mos eisley. I didn't even realize how relieved i was by this until i had already ridden home and put my PJs on. It really had to sink in.

- If i really had to pick out something that was stupid shit, it would be all the "HAHA LOOK IT'S THAT THING!" comic-book-guy-fodder. Seriously, the garbage can robot from ep4? I loved the subtle evolving equipment/industrial design/overall style stuff like the control room of the starkiller canon looking like some fancy upgraded version of the one from ep4 on the death star. It reminded me of how star trek smoothly shows the evolution of design with callbacks. I didn't like most of the background reused props as fanservice stuff. This probably wouldn't drag on somebody who hadn't seen the SHIT out of the previous movies, but it made me groan instead of going "hey it's that stuff i like!". You can tie things together without beating people over the head with it.

- The lightsaber fighting in this, even if you just take one scene out of context, is better than ANYTHING show in the prequels. Seriously. No stupid air-flippy stuff, no ridiculous wire fighting. It's deliberate. It shifts from calculated to angry without ever feeling like fucking dragonball Z or something. Rey's style is the absolute best of the OT lightsaber fighting with some flair. Kylo's is awesome in the raged out luke sort of way. The first strike finn makes impaling the stormtrooper is totally brutal without being silly. I was SO worried they were going to sparkle trek the hell out of this and they never went there.

If i had to pick a weakest part of this movie, it would be going for... the story of episode 4 again but With A Twist. George lucas already got away with doing a second death star despite the protests of other people involved in ep6. Why the fuck did they have to go there again in literally the next movie? Pick like any other plot device besides that. I started imagining this movie with it being slightly tweaked so that it's just a siege on a big first order base to recover some macguffin(like say BB-8, in addition to Rey being there) and... it doesn't fuck the movie up that much?

I liked this movie. I didn't just like it because it was better than the prequels, i thought the pacing and most of the notes it hit were spot on. But the parts where they're going HAHA LOOK LIKE THE OLD THING! like the cheesy redux of the death star trench run/porkins, blast The Thingy with the missiles(but it doesn't work! but then the hatches are open and it does!) complete with the fly through the inside of the thing scene from ep6.

The fresh parts of the movie, even with their callbacks, were refreshing. I think it comes on ridiculously fucking strong with the first act. Basically everything right up until we see the starkiller fire i could basically shut the hell up about.

I'd give this movie like, another 20 out of 100 on whatever i eventually decide to rate it in my mind if it hadn't gone there. The good going there was stuff like the reveal of the cruiser at the beginning aping the star destroyer in ep4. But they could have like... stopped after that and a couple others?

Hell, i would have smiled at a middle finger in one of the "AWW!" moments. Like R2D2 powers back on and his memory is erased like the end of wall-e... and it doesn't come back. But i'm a sadistic asshole.

Here's to hoping the next movie is just good and doesn't just try and do the ep5 thing again. Now that they've set it up and dumped a bunch of fanservice maybe they can just make good movies without that? If they do, this will feel like a much stronger movie in retrospect. And it's already, honestly, one of the best star-wars-themed-things to be made.
posted by emptythought at 4:18 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seriously, the garbage can robot from ep4?

You best not be talking smack about Power Droid, friend.

Why the fuck did they have to go there again in literally the next movie?

I haven't read much of this thread, but the tech is out there (and, in universe, it's almost 70 odd years old).
People are gonna build a bigger bomb.
It almost makes more sense than not building a Death Star 3.
posted by Mezentian at 4:37 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


People are gonna build a bigger bomb.

See also: 1945-1989.

They should go full Cold War on this shit. Death Stars for everybody. Stockpiling Death Stars and testing them on asteroids. Mutually Assured Deathstars. A Doomsday Clock, set at one minute to A Long Time Ago. Death Star Winter. The Strategic Deathstar Initiative, popularly known as "Star Wars".
posted by rory at 4:49 AM on December 21, 2015 [43 favorites]


Rejected title: Star Wars VII: The Search For Luke
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:00 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also it's not like the real world Nazis weren't totally into creating stupidly large and impractical superweapons and trying to go even bigger.
posted by arcolz at 5:18 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


On reflection I wonder if Kylo Ren destroying Luke's New Jedi Academy is one of those true from a certain points of view things? Couldn't the Knights Of Ren arise from Ben Solo convincing his classmates it's more fun to go play lightsabers than taking turns at giving Master Luke piggyback rides?
posted by comealongpole at 5:21 AM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Rejected title: Star Wars VII: The Search For Luke

The Search for Skywalker, surely?

(Angry Star Trek Into Darkness John Harrison joke goes here.)
posted by Mezentian at 5:21 AM on December 21, 2015


I feel guilty for not liking the movie more.
posted by angrycat at 5:23 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think we all know what anger turns to, don't we angrycat?
posted by biffa at 5:30 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ha ha, fuck Max Landis.

He's just going to be the Orgasm Sheriff for me from now on.
posted by kmz at 5:32 AM on December 21, 2015


I suspect the Resistance/Republic/First Order relationship will be fleshed out in the coming films and the New EU, but after some discussion, I think the way I am interpreting it at this point is thus: The Republic knows about the First Order, and they are aware that they are a growing threat, but given the current climate of demilitarization and decentralization there is no political or financial will for the Republic to directly oppose the First Order. The Resistance is an independent military organization like the Knights Templar or the Order of Malta - either explicitly permitted or implicitly tolerated by the Republic - that is using its relatively meager resources to take on the First Order guerrilla-style. It makes sense that Leia would be drawn to such an organization and they they would be glad to have her.

mrzarquon: "Oh, I guess for folks who didn't read more about Snoke"

I wish I hadn't read the rest of that comment, and I hope folks will resist posting spoilers for future films in this thread.

My daughter's OTP is still Chewie/R2D2.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:18 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


given the current climate of demilitarization and decentralization there is no political or financial will for the Republic to directly oppose the First Order.

Apparently Mon Mothma disbanded the rebel fleet in Aftermath? A decision that makes no sense.
posted by Mezentian at 6:24 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel guilty for not liking the movie more.

There, there. Here's a shiny copy of Fury Road, it'll cheer you right up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


You best not be talking smack about Power Droid, friend.

GONK

Ok, I've slept on it and have more ruminations.

I think the big complaint we're going to hear repeated a lot is the copying of story beats from the OT. This was very much a torch-passing movie, and I think they chose a plot with familiar patterns so they could focus on the characters and not have to explain a lot about what they were doing. That's how I'm seeing it anyway.

I do agree, and hope that this movie was a dose of "Ok nerds, here's your fanservice, shut up" and the next episode will move forward in a new direction. I feel that they've set that up well:

Kylo Ren isn't just a copy of Vader, even though he's trying to be. He struggles with the call to the light. I love the notion that he's trying to do Sith cosplay. It feels like they're trying to do a better version of the Anakin fall to darkness.

Rey isn't the farmboy done good, she's a survivor, tough as nails, but with the ambition to become someone greater and take steps into a new world.

Finn is a former soldier seeking redemption, but also looking for hope and a home. Yet he has a sunny personality. He doesn't know quite who he is, but he's really excited to be here!

Poe is... well I agree with the comment from earlier: "What if Wedge had a personality?" I do love Poe's attitude vs Kylo. "Who talks first, do I talk first? I'm talking first."

I also noticed that Luke's Jedi robe was gray, not brown. I wonder if that means anything?
posted by Fleebnork at 6:33 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, JJ Abrams said on Conan that he worked the phrase "Jub jub" in somewhere, did anyone catch where?

I think it might have been when someone – Han? – cursed someone else out. It’s tickling my memory banks but I can’t quite place it.

What's slightly more depressing is that soft CG still looks utterly awful after decades of work. The two close-up CG characters (Grand Master Snoopy and Glasses Lady) were both just dire.

I completely disagree about Maz Kanata (Glasses Lady). Great character design and very expressive, even in close up.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:39 AM on December 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


This was very much a torch-passing movie, and I think they chose a plot with familiar patterns so they could focus on the characters and not have to explain a lot about what they were doing. That's how I'm seeing it anyway.

Looking on from the outside, i.e. I idn't really get into the movie, I think Star Wars isn't just a film, but a cultural experience. People go to experience certain feelings and/or share the feelings with others, knowing that even more people are experiencing the same thing at the same time. It's the Superbowl time experience for a segment of the population that often doesn't get to have these type of crowd experiences, so this is a big deal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh that settles it, Rey is Han's out-of-wedlock daughter with Lysa Tully.

Hm. This would be both acceptable and sad (did Han not know/not try to find her when she was abandoned?)

Still hard to reconcile "they knew Rey existed" with "but were ok with leaving her as a tiny girl at the mercy of hostile assholes in a place she might easily have died." Even Luke had his aunt and uncle.

If they knew she existed but not where she was, ok. If they thought she had caretakers but those got killed and nobody knew, well, they weren't keeping good tabs on her, but maybe ok.

Han seems more like the type to just not reach out to a daughter (especially if he had a son and his daughter was from an affair). I could buy this.

It also gets us some non-Skywalker Force blood, so that's good. But also implies that maybe Han had a touch of it but didn't know it. Or was attracted to another woman who had it, which I guess implies he has a type.
posted by emjaybee at 6:44 AM on December 21, 2015


I'm kind of hoping Rey isn't related to any of the OT crew, but Leia gave her an awfully familiar hug.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:52 AM on December 21, 2015


Maybe Rey's parentage can be determined through midichlorian matching.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:07 AM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


Jizz music was spot on.
posted by Artw at 7:13 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


The main thing that will bother me about Rey being a Skywalker is that Leia (especially) and Han didn't tell her. Leia's been through her own secret parent drama, so why would she perpetuate that secrecy in a new generation? It's a crappy thing to do do Rey.
posted by Mavri at 7:36 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Awaken's jizz was one of the few let downs for me to be honest. I'd have preferred something more up tempo like Hope than what I remember as kinda reggae or dare I say it... smooth jazz / jizz
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:37 AM on December 21, 2015


Maybe Rey's parentage can be determined through midichlorian matching.

That's it, you're outta here buddy!

I think the music at Maz's was intended to reflect more the style of the Max Rebo Band, given that it's partially named after Jabba in the credits.

I also contend that Han and Leia simply don't know Rey's parentage or if they did, those scenes or that information was cut from the film. The latter makes some sense given the scenes we do see, but we won't know for a while.
posted by Atreides at 7:40 AM on December 21, 2015


Get a strong feeling that these films will be a prequel free zone.
posted by Artw at 7:42 AM on December 21, 2015


(I am probably the only person in the universe even vaguely whistful about that. Still, Rebels is humping the leg of Clind Wars pretty hard right now so I've got that for fanservice.)
posted by Artw at 7:44 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm glad someone provided a credible explanation for Kylo thumping himself during the fight.

I really enjoyed that. I respect other people may not have, and I respect that there will be a difference in opinion. But I am happy I saw that in theaters. My romance comrade has been watching I-VI, so I've been exposed through osmosis. TFA is a nice palate cleanser compared to the prequels.
posted by LegallyBread at 7:47 AM on December 21, 2015


Get a strong feeling that these films will be a prequel free zone.

I think Disney wants to avoid anything to do with the Prequel Trilogy concerning its films. As you noted, Rebels is associating itself with the material set in the Prequel Trilogy timeline, but doing so with one of the few things people consider decent.
posted by Atreides at 7:48 AM on December 21, 2015


Still hard to reconcile "they knew Rey existed" with "but were ok with leaving her as a tiny girl at the mercy of hostile assholes in a place she might easily have died." Even Luke had his aunt and uncle.

Maybe Simon Pegg wasn't playing an alien, maybe he was playing a protector who was playing an alien in order to keep a regular eye on Rey? Keeping her hungry... for adventure!
posted by biffa at 7:52 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


It feels like they're trying to do a better version of the Anakin fall to darkness.

What's been going through my head since I saw it: If everything about Kylo had been transposed onto Anakin in the prequels, and you made Rey Luke's mother, the prequels would have been fucking fantastic. Watching Kylo was like watching the well-written, well-acted struggle with the Dark and the Light that the prequels utterly failed to deliver. All the more reason I feel like Disney's first move should have been to just overwrite the prequel trilogy.

The Force Awakens shows us that ROTJ's ending was just one happy day that didn't really change much, and then things fell apart for those characters the same way they fall apart for us.

I feel that frustration, but it also rang true for me in the context of the arc of the OT. At the end of Jedi, Luke does not have control of his power. He's arrogant and easily goaded into anger by the Emperor. Also, Luke's attachment to his friends is a genuine weakness for a Jedi facing the Dark Side. Fear of losing those he loved is exactly what Palpatine used to turn Anakin to the Dark Side.

All of which is to say that it makes sense to me that Han/Luke/Leia were shattered by Luke trying to mentor New Jedi when he did not have full mastery of the Force. You can make the case that Kylo's struggle echoes Luke's (just more on the Dark Side than the Light) more than Vader's.
posted by dry white toast at 8:09 AM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


However, assuming that the Republic is at least a fraction of the size of the empire, it's composed of a multitude of systems. So presumably the Republic survived this in some fashion.

My take was that the new Republic was more of work in progress than an already successful galactic government. If you look at real life revolutions, toppling the old unpopular government is sometimes easier than creating a new functional one after a devastating civil war. So destroying all of the fledgling Republic's leaders during an already chaotic period of upheaval following the war might amount to starting over from scratch.

That said, it's extremely unclear why the Republic is using a proxy force to fight the First Order. The movie didn't seem interesting in explaining it, which is fine, except that it's a detail that makes the plot more complicated. So why?

The new film is pretty clearly structured to take everything that was good about the original trilogy and apply those concepts to new characters and plot. And the plucky but outnumbered freedom fighters facing off against a much more organized lawful evil bad guys was a big part of the original films. It's more satisfying to see Leia as the leader of the Resistance planning how to win the next battle against all odds than as the Queen of a big boring Republic trying to mop up the last remnants of the Empire.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


As you noted, Rebels is associating itself with the material set in the Prequel Trilogy timeline, but doing so with one of the few things people consider decent.

I have so, so much love for Clone Wars and have reluctantly begun to love Rebels just as much (particularly with the classic returning voice actors - Lando FOREVER!). I find it very telling that although my kid has grudgingly accepted that Captain Rex could not possibly still be alive during TFA, he continues to hold out hope that Ashoka will appear in the next installment (or maybe Rogue One).
posted by anastasiav at 8:13 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's really just no defensible explanation for the idea that Rey was left in that situation as an act of goodwill. To drop Luke into a family unit somewhere that was maybe not a palace but still stable food and lodging and something resembling parenting, fine. To drop a child into what is by all indications one step up from a refugee camp, a shipbreaker station? That's just plain abandonment, and not something you do to someone if you care if they live or die.

This movie managed to portray the SW universe as seriously bleak and awful. Which isn't so much a divergence from the prequels, but here it has the courtesy to feel awful. Anakin's situation, despite being the child of a slave, never manages to feel that dire. I honestly wondered if the movie was going to manage to distract me from it and am glad it did. But it certainly gave me a certain sense of "so what?" to the conflict between the First Order and the rebels. I'd like to give the filmmakers credit for making a movie showing that this doesn't really have dick to do with the plight of the seriously downtrodden but I think they're still just window dressing. They are just better at actually crafting a feel than Lucas was.

If you look at real life revolutions, toppling the old unpopular government is sometimes easier than creating a new functional one after a devastating civil war.

🎵Winning was easy, governing is harder.🎵

I didn't have a problem with the idea that it was still a mess after the Empire was crippled. I understand why some find that to be a serious bummer but it was okay by me. If anything the major failure here is that the result wasn't a hundred little fiefdoms running around with the Empire's sizable resources.
posted by phearlez at 8:18 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's really just no defensible explanation for the idea that Rey was left in that situation as an act of goodwill. To drop Luke into a family unit somewhere that was maybe not a palace but still stable food and lodging and something resembling parenting, fine. To drop a child into what is by all indications one step up from a refugee camp, a shipbreaker station? That's just plain abandonment, and not something you do to someone if you care if they live or die.

This is true and definitely implies that Rey's parents either a) did not intend or realize she would end up living the way she did or b) they're scummy people.
posted by Atreides at 8:23 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kylo Ren isn't just a copy of Vader, even though he's trying to be. He struggles with the call to the light. I love the notion that he's trying to do Sith cosplay. It feels like they're trying to do a better version of the Anakin fall to darkness.

I really hope that the plan is to kind of reverse Vader's arc. Vader starts out as a pure villain but eventually gets humanized to the point that he betrays the dark side to save his son, and finally you get to see him take off the mask and say that they were right about him still being good deep down inside. With Kylo Ren I don't think redemption would work as well because it's not as much of a surprise. It would be much more interesting if his arc ends up more like Palpatine's, where he starts off as a relatively normal human and is warped into an unrecognizable monster by the dark side. They already kind of had the same choice of either family or the dark side and he did not make the same choice as Vader. His tantrums are played for laughs in this film but I think making him into a crazy loose cannon would be an interesting juxtaposition to Vader's calm and composed personality.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:35 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, in other small town Force Awaken News, Charlottesville, Virginia, was until recently a one movie theater town courtesy of Regal Cinemas. Regal had shuttered at least one if not two theaters it had purchased in town and opened up a massive eighteen screen/quasi-Imax theater at the Stonefield shopping development.

Then a new competitor opened up, Violet Crown Theater, a smaller operation, one of only a handful of theaters in the company. Fewer screens and much fewer seats, but with more luxurious seating, dining and drinking options, and the ability to reserve specific seats.

Somehow, still not quite yet to be easily accepted, once Violet Crown requested and was allowed to carry The Force Awakens (non-exclusively), someone at Regal made the decision that their massive theater in town would not. A number of people are lamblasting Regal's Charlottesville facebook page, especially for using Star Wars related ads on their page - and also thanking them for pointing them to Violet Crown.
posted by Atreides at 8:39 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Do we have any info as to when the massacre of the new trainee Jedi happened? Was it Kylo Ren or could it be another Ren? Older brother etc?

Does Ren struggle with lack of control due to a paucity of training from a proper Jedi? I.e. did he lose the plot early in the training process, or did he only do that as an adult? Basically is he Vader (albeit more powerful) without the full training that Anakin got from Obi-Wan?
posted by biffa at 8:43 AM on December 21, 2015


I find it very telling that although my kid has grudgingly accepted that Captain Rex could not possibly still be alive during TFA,

Have you told them the theory that Rex might be in ROTJ?
posted by drezdn at 8:44 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Somehow, still not quite yet to be easily accepted, once Violet Crown requested and was allowed to carry The Force Awakens (non-exclusively), someone at Regal made the decision that their massive theater in town would not.A number of people are lamblasting Regal's Charlottesville facebook page, especially for using Star Wars related ads on their page - and also thanking them for pointing them to Violet Crown

What the heck? I used to live in Cville. This is so weird.

Is Violet Crown the one next to the ice rink downtown? Did the other one up 29 North close?

Anyway, sounds like a clusterfuck.

Our local theater up here basically turned itself into a Star Wars Machine last weekend. When I went the parking lot was almost totally full but when I walked in the lobby was empty since all the humans had been funneled to their seats already. Impressive!
posted by selfnoise at 8:49 AM on December 21, 2015


Is Violet Crown the one next to the ice rink downtown? Did the other one up 29 North close?

The Violet Crown replaced that theater downtown, and the one I think you're thinking of on 29, was shut down a few years ago.

Locally in Columbia, Mo, I showed up about an hour and a half early and was immediately ushered along to my theater. It was nice.
posted by Atreides at 8:52 AM on December 21, 2015


Do we have any info as to when the massacre of the new trainee Jedi happened? Was it Kylo Ren or could it be another Ren? Older brother etc?

Unfortunately, no, and that timing drives me batty (see above somewhere). It does seem that at least Ren left the academy, was trained by Snoke and formed (or became a part of) the Knights of Ren, and returned to massacre the Jedi. After all, his promise to his grandpappy's mask was to finish what he had started, presumably referring to the Dark Times when Vader (and we now know also Inquisitors) eliminated the Jedi.
posted by Atreides at 8:54 AM on December 21, 2015


I find it very telling that although my kid has grudgingly accepted that Captain Rex could not possibly still be alive during TFA, he continues to hold out hope that Ashoka will appear in the next installment (or maybe Rogue One).
posted by anastasiav


I do too, though it's hard to think she could have gone totally unnoticed through the events of the Original Trilogy.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:05 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


So I had the early Christmas gathering with my brother and his family yesterday; my niece and nephew are 7 and 4 (touchingly, that's also how old me and my brother were when WE saw A New Hope at a drive-in on a family vacation in 1977). My brother has shown the movies to the kids on DVD, and plans to take them to The Force Awakens (but probably won't for a while - they live in a small town near Cape Cod and the only theaters screening this are sold out for weeks still).

The interesting bit is that my nephew apparently flat-out loves Darth Vader. He insisted throughout the first two movies that he was "a good guy", even after my brother gave him a come-to-Jesus during the second film explaining that "no, he's supposed to be the bad guy". My nephew apparently just nodded skeptically. But then during ROTJ, when Palpatine is attacking Luke and Darth throws Palpatine off the bridge, my nephew apparently jumped up and said "see? I KNEW Darth Vader was a good guy!" (He even chimed in when my brother was relating this story, telling me that "I saw when Darth Vader saved Luke!")

In other words: I think my nephew is Kylo Ren.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:14 AM on December 21, 2015 [38 favorites]


The weird chest thumping is consistent with my theory that Adam Driver is the same character in Girls, because he's totally do that for no reason.
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


If anything the major failure here is that the result wasn't a hundred little fiefdoms running around with the Empire's sizable resources.

Tarkin has a line about oh hell I'll just google it

"The regional governors now have direct control over their territories."

A couple things would make sense after RotJ: a) that the Empire would break up into small factions (this is how things went in the EU, and in the EU properties that didn't suck, it more or less worked) and b) that the Republic would have to utilize much of the existing Imperial infrastructure in order to maintain some continuity of government. This would be one way to make sense of the First Order/Resistance situation, if the Republic was basically the Empire with a newly-minted senate plopped on top to replace Palpatine's dictatorial rule, and there wasn't any political will to oppose the First Order outright because the First Order was essentially a militant ultrarightist movement within the Republic, rather than a thing wholly outside it.

But then you have Snoke and the fact that they blew up whatever seat-of-government planet looked like but wasn't Coruscant, so I dunno.

Snoke theory: doesn't he kinda look like those creepy assholes Palpatine brought on the shuttle with him when he visited the Death Star II? One gets the sense that Palpatine wouldn't be very chummy with people who weren't fairly well marinated in the Dark Side, and Snoke looks like he got burned up pretty bad at some point, so maybe he's one of those dudes who somehow survived the explosion. Revealing him as such would be more of a "huh, okay" moment than an "OMG WOW" moment though so probably not.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:24 AM on December 21, 2015


I don't think the chest-thumping is weird if you understand it as him deliberately aggravating his blaster wound so as to let more anger & pain flow through him (thanks to Justin Case above)

....

I swear this will be my last time bean-plating this particular detail.
posted by LegallyBread at 9:33 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maybe Rey's parentage can be determined through midichlorian matching.

GET_OUT.JPG
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


A couple things would make sense after RotJ: a) that the Empire would break up into small factions (this is how things went in the EU, and in the EU properties that didn't suck, it more or less worked) and b) that the Republic would have to utilize much of the existing Imperial infrastructure in order to maintain some continuity of government. This would be one way to make sense of the First Order/Resistance situation, if the Republic was basically the Empire with a newly-minted senate plopped on top to replace Palpatine's dictatorial rule, and there wasn't any political will to oppose the First Order outright because the First Order was essentially a militant ultrarightist movement within the Republic, rather than a thing wholly outside it.

From what I've gathered so far from the new EU, the Alliance embarked on a multiple planet "clean up" so to speak to seek out Imperial resistance and wipe it out. This essentially culminated in the Battle of Jakku, where one of the main principal Imperial power mongers decided to have one final battle to settle the affair between the Empire (which by this point was really a conglomeration of war lords who had grabbed what power and resources they could) and the Alliance. The Empire lost that day.

In Aftermath there's a conflict among the inner circle of the Rebel Alliance on the path for the New Republic. Mon Mothma pushed for a demilitarized Republic (i.e., never have the military power to dominate like the Empire did) while others, Ackbar among them, believed that a strong military would keep the Republic safe. Through the course of the book, there's a meeting among the more powerful individuals left in the Empire to decide the face of the Empire (pre-Jakku), headed by Admiral Sloane (introduced in New Dawn when just a captain in the time before A New Hope), but tellingly, (SPOILERS IF YOU INTEND TO READ IT STOP NOW AND SKIP DOWN), it's revealed she's working for a mysterious admiral of her own who had orchestrated the event simply to wipe out his competitors. This admiral "may or may not" be Snoke.

Ultimately, after Jakku, it's reported in Lost Stars that a treaty had been struck with whatever remainder of the Empire there was (not much) for peace. Those remnants did not become incorporated into the Empire, though former Imperials were potentially being allowed to become citizens if they weren't too high up and involved in Imperial atrocities (war criminals). Also in Aftermath there was a suggestion, by a Dark Side fanboy of Palptaine's, that they should simply shove off into the far reaches of the galaxy and do their own thing. (possibly affiliated to this guy was the growing movement of Darth Vader worshipers - potentially the origins of the Knights of Ren - who were avidly seeking Vader's lightsaber).

Sooooo....in short, the First Order is probably the evolved entity of the strongest remnant of the Empire that has simply been biding its time in its treaty territory for the chance to strike back at the New Republic. The New Republic, knowledgeable that there's a military organization that wants it dead, but not wanting or unable to go into full fledged war, secretly funds the Resistance to operate within a neutral or First Order territory to bring it down from within.

Worse, though, is the fact that the new EU has simply not strove to fill that thirty year gap between Jedi and this movie. At best it's a year out of RTOJ and has only laid out the potential seeds of what came to pass over these past few decades. Apparently, when they tagged every new book or comic with "Journey to the Force Awakens," they meant a journey to your bank's ATM or credit card to buy their stuff leading up to the movie. As I understand it, the visual guide just released has some info in it, but even then, kinda scarce. They will either have to release a book or something that significantly brings us up to date or we'll be waiting forever for these answers to truly be solved.
posted by Atreides at 9:49 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


potentially the origins of the Knights of Ren - who were avidly seeking Vader's lightsaber

I'll be disappointed if Vader's saber shows up at all. It fell down the same shaft the Emperor did and got blowed up real good along with the Death Star II.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:54 AM on December 21, 2015


I'll be disappointed if Vader's saber shows up at all. It fell down the same shaft the Emperor did and got blowed up real good along with the Death Star II.

I would agree. In the book, the lightsaber does have a red blade, but from the seller's POV, it was implied it was simply a lightsaber with a red blade, and he had no clue if it truly had any relation to Vader at all. It was presented much more like someone making an opportunistic sale than strongly advertising a belief that the merchandise was what the buyer thought it was.
posted by Atreides at 10:04 AM on December 21, 2015


Atreides: "Worse, though, is the fact that the new EU has simply not strove to fill that thirty year gap between Jedi and this movie."

I suspect they are leaving a good deal of it open for now because if they nail things down it may tie their hands for certain elements of Episodes VIII and IX that they would rather leave some room for the writers of those movies to establish, or spoil revelations that are being held for those movies.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:06 AM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


A bit of soundtrack review.
I hadn't considered the difficulty in doing leitmotif backwards for the prequels.
posted by charred husk at 10:08 AM on December 21, 2015


That's just plain abandonment, and not something you do to someone if you care if they live or die.

Which is why I'd think that she might have been placed somewhere safe, but was eventually kidnapped by pirates or something, then sold on Jakku.
posted by grubi at 10:24 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd forgotten how disappointed in the soundtrack I was. That was probably the thing I liked least... it too often sounded like rehashes of the old themes glued together with some incidental music. Which is strange. The prequels are terrible but their soundtracks are quite fun and memorable! Maybe John Williams has just reached the limit?

I did listen to Rey's theme separately on Youtube and I do like it... it just doesn't feel like Star Wars to me.
posted by selfnoise at 10:25 AM on December 21, 2015


Hmm, now that I think about it, how come no Republic state funeral for Han? Would it resemble too much the medal ceremony in New Hope? (It's like poetry, it rhymes)
posted by FJT at 10:27 AM on December 21, 2015


"The regional governors now have direct control over their territories."

Which proves the Empire was pro-states'rights. Another reason to hate them.
posted by grubi at 10:29 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hmm, now that I think about it, how come no Republic state funeral for Han? Would it resemble too much the medal ceremony in New Hope? (It's like poetry, it rhymes)

1. There's no body.
2. How do we know they didn't have one (or are not going to) even without the body?
posted by grubi at 10:32 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I meant without the body, so it's a memorial service then. And, if there was, they didn't show it. So I guess that makes me think of why they decided not to.
posted by FJT at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2015


I thought I was going to be annoyed with Kylo Ren's lightsabre design - posters suggested the beam was rough and sparky which is Just Not Cricket. But on seeing the movie (and assuming that he built it himself) it really is a good reflection of himself; it's most of way there but still in the rough, not honed and fine-tuned. A bit crude and imperfectly contained, nonetheless vicious and dangerous.
posted by anonymisc at 10:39 AM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


%n:
"So I guess that makes me think of why they decided not to."
I'm sure there was a small, private memorial, but he died working for the Resistance, which the New Republic officially disavows. Kind of like dying as part of a CIA skunkworks op - you get a nameless star on the wall because noone can know you were there.
posted by charred husk at 10:40 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Which is why I'd think that she might have been placed somewhere safe, but was eventually kidnapped by pirates or something, then sold on Jakku.

That flashback seems to strongly imply that she's watching her family leave and it sure looks like Jaiku. Certainly I can't see an interpretation where she's that bothered the slavers who sold her as blasting off.
posted by phearlez at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2015


you get a nameless star on the wall because noone can know you were there.

Ouch, that has to just make it worse for Chewie and Leia. Man, I actually think this SW is more sad and depressing than ESB.
posted by FJT at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Of course there were no Y-Wings. They're hell of obsolete. The B-Wing was developed to replace the Y-Wings, which were Clone Wars era technology ffs.

Yeah, they would have to be in their sixtieth year of active service by now. How weird would that be?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:45 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think the bigger issue with Han getting a state funeral would be that there currently is no state, or what's there is in complete shambles after the total destruction of its seat of government and all the presumably billions who lived there.
posted by bettafish at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Of course there were no Y-Wings. They're hell of obsolete. The B-Wing was developed to replace the Y-Wings, which were Clone Wars era technology ffs.

Yeah, they would have to be in their sixtieth year of active service by now. How weird would that be?


B-wings were supposed to replace Y-Wings, but the B's were hard to maintain, so the Y's stuck around a lot longer. Eventually the X's were just upgraded to be capable of bombing runs, since they were an "almost perfect blend of maneuverability and defense."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:53 AM on December 21, 2015


That's cool how there's fewer starfighters now. That's fun.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:55 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was waiting for someone to say “The Force? Doesn’t that involve midi-chlorians in your blood or whatever?” and someone else to respond with “Midi-what? Oh yeah, no, that was some dumb thing people believed like 50 years ago. Midi-chlorians have nothing to do with The Force.”
posted by Diskeater at 10:56 AM on December 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


And [Snope]'s always debunking urban legends and email chain letters!

Via Wikipedia: "On April 25, 2014, following the acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company in November 2012, it was announced that all previously released expanded universe content would be declared non-canon and rebranded as Star Wars Legends."
posted by larrybob at 10:57 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


B-wings were supposed to replace Y-Wings, but the B's were hard to maintain, so the Y's stuck around a lot longer. Eventually the X's were just upgraded to be capable of bombing runs, since they were an "almost perfect blend of maneuverability and defense."

Wookiepedia Brown.
posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


Snoke might be the worst Star Wars villain name, which is an achievement.
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dooku, man. Give the prequels some credit.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:14 AM on December 21, 2015 [25 favorites]


Eh, Dooku is pretty bad. Cad Bane always seemed like the laziest fucking name too.
posted by selfnoise at 11:15 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


The only explanation for Snoke that MAKES SENSE is that his real name is a major spoiler (somehow) and so they relied on an obviously bad name to hide it until the proper time.

Otherwise, when I first learned that was his name...I thought it was a joke. I MEAN IT EVEN RHYMES WITH 'JOKE.' Probably the one thing I loathe most about TFA.
posted by Atreides at 11:15 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dooku is worse because Dooku is the worst everything, ever.
posted by Diskeater at 11:16 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Eh, Dooku is pretty bad. Cad Bane always seemed like the laziest fucking name too.

Savage Opress. They didn't bother that day.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on December 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


Confirmed: Snap Wexley (played by Greg Grunberg) in the movie is Temmin Wexley from Aftermath.
posted by Atreides at 11:18 AM on December 21, 2015


I thought Nein Numb being in it was a joke. Then he shows up and whuuu-?
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on December 21, 2015


I 99% bought Aftermath to annoy idiots but it's very solid nerd nonsense if you like that kind of thing.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on December 21, 2015


Hey now. That's Christopher Lee in that Dooku suit.

I kinda like villain names that don't go for obvious harsh-sounding phonemes and word associations. Weird is good, even if it sounds silly at first. Those Clone Wars names are definitely the worst.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:21 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Other achievements: JJ Abrams gives even less of a shit about how space works than Lucas even did.

(Some howhow it matters less her than in Star Trek, see also his plots being basically nonsense and coincidence. It’s about space wizards, whatevs.)
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dooku only sucks in long shot.
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Would bet money they went full Rowling and Kylo Rens full name is Ben Anakin Solo.
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm going to argue Darth Sidious is the worst because it canonified the terrible, terrible fan theory that Darth came from Dark Lord of the Sith and opened the door to such inspired names as Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus, Darth Bane, Darth Krayt, Darth Plagueis, Darth Millennial (no lie), Darth Ruin, Darth Nihilus, et cetera.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:24 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


...always seemed like the laziest fucking name too.
...They didn't bother that day.


So a Long Time Ago, a certain subset of parents were just as what-were-they-thinking?! when naming their kids as we see today on Earth. But sometimes their poor kids make good anyway. Yay! Good for them!

(Presumably the Empire frowns on operating under name but the one assigned to you. If you're FN-2187, then you stay FN-2187. If you start answering to some hokey nickname like "Finn", next thing you'll be joining the rebellion or something!)
posted by anonymisc at 11:24 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Darth Millennial

"Always two, there are. A master, and an unpaid intern."
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:26 AM on December 21, 2015 [80 favorites]


Ok, a couple things I haven't seen mentioned. They have a holo map of the Starkiller, but dont know how to read it until Finn points stuff out? And it looks like it's completely manufactured, like a Death Star, so then why does it have mountains and forests on it?

And I'll have to see it again, but I thought it was Phasma that was chasing the Falcon and was surprised when she showed up later. Maybe it was a black uniform and not chrome.

Seriously, why does Leia have the Force, but only in the lamest I-can-feel-sadness kind of way?

I think I laughed out loud when the ground split between Rey and Ben -which side are you on?
posted by sweetmarie at 11:32 AM on December 21, 2015


Ok, a couple things I haven't seen mentioned. They have a holo map of the Starkiller, but dont know how to read it until Finn points stuff out? And it looks like it's completely manufactured, like a Death Star, so then why does it have mountains and forests on it?

Because rather than use the resources to build a superstructure around the weapon, they simply used a planet and built the weapon inside of it.


Seriously, why does Leia have the Force, but only in the lamest I-can-feel-sadness kind of way?

It's been implied that Leia for a reason never known opted not to pursue training to use the Force, but simply remains Force sensitive (see ESB/RTOJ for past instances where she had 'feelings' about one thing or another.). In this case, she knows the Force simply enough to feel the loss of Han (same way she knew Luke was all right after the Death Star went kablooie!).
posted by Atreides at 11:36 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am stunned that people think "Snoke" is a dumber villain name than "Boba"
posted by Greg Nog at 11:40 AM on December 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


They should have Leia discover a holocron containing Bastila's Battle Meditation technique, then use it to win a series of amazing battles against a superior First Order fleet.

Ok that's ridiculous fanfic, but then that's kind of where we are with this series.
posted by selfnoise at 11:40 AM on December 21, 2015


Most hilarious joyless pedantic nerd point seen so far: BB8 would not work on sand, coz no grip.. in a universe that has ftl and laser swords, I think they would have sorted out a workaround for that
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:40 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


The biggest problem with the complaints of BB-8 on sand is the fact that it's not a CGI creation on the sand. It's actually the BB-8 puppet rolling around (at least for some of it). One can hand wave it away by simply stating that BB-8 extends panels underneath him like paddles to propel himself and provide grip on such terrain. We can't see them because of the angle and the rest of his body smooths out the irregular indentations left in his wake. BOOM.
posted by Atreides at 11:42 AM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


Most hilarious joyless pedantic nerd point seen so far: BB8 would not work on sand, coz no grip.. in a universe that has ftl and laser swords, I think they would have sorted out a workaround for that?

Lol. I mean, obviously he has a series of microscopic plastisteel hairs covering his ball that channel the sand.

testicles
posted by selfnoise at 11:44 AM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


Because rather than use the resources to build a superstructure around the weapon, they simply used a planet and built the weapon inside of it.

Pedantic alert!

Sooooo, rather than building something, they found an oxygen rich planet with a stable atmosphere, then scooped out its insides to build a giant weapon that drains off the power of a local star.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:50 AM on December 21, 2015


Most hilarious joyless pedantic nerd point seen so far: BB8 would not work on sand, coz no grip..

Wat?! BB8 would work on sand... because they built one to make the movie. And used it to make the movie. And it worked. On sand.
(Demonstrably-real physics get seniority over imagination-physics :) )

(I'm pretty sure not all those BB8 shots were CG)
posted by anonymisc at 11:51 AM on December 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


No no, he means the real historical BB8
posted by Greg Nog at 11:53 AM on December 21, 2015 [40 favorites]


Most hilarious joyless pedantic nerd point seen so far: BB8 would not work on sand, coz no grip..


Er, guys, it is actually a pretty high-level nerd who brought this up.

posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:03 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's some trivia on Maz Kanata:

According to a couple of friends who also grew up in L.A., Maz Kanata (codename during filming: Rose) is based on an incredibly popular literature teacher at Palisades High School (where J.J. Abrams and a number of other notable alumni went to school) named Rose Gilbert. Check out her obit. Look familiar?
posted by Sophie1 at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2015 [21 favorites]


You say high level nerd, I say insufferable "well actually" killjoy
posted by cnelson at 12:08 PM on December 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


I like that neither glib geeky filmmakers nor intense nerd scientists can tell the difference between what Star Wars is and what Star Trek is.
posted by selfnoise at 12:11 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Er, guys, it is actually a pretty high-level nerd who brought this up.

Doesn't matter, it's contradicted by the real world: "BB-8 is very much a real robot with puppeteers. There were a few that did different scenes."

Neil would be the first to agree that when an eminent scientist says something that's contradicted by the real world, the real world take precedence.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:20 PM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Star Wars has Proton Torpedoes and Star Trek has Photon Torpedoes.

But that's been messed up from time to time in radio dramas, comics, and other Star Wars spinoffs.
posted by larrybob at 12:22 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Neil would be the first to agree that when an eminent scientist says something that's contradicted by the real world, the real world take precedence.

I know. That is what makes it so odd. Perhaps he has been into the nog already.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:25 PM on December 21, 2015


Star Wars has Proton Torpedoes and Star Trek has Photon Torpedoes.

But that's been messed up from time to time in radio dramas, comics, and other Star Wars spinoffs.


Aherm... Photon Torpedoes have been deprecated by Quantum Torpedoes. Totally different.
posted by selfnoise at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Look, I love me some Neil Degrasse Tyson as much as the next guy, but he prefers Trek over SW, so I'd be careful about anything he says that's critical of the Saga.
posted by grubi at 12:28 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


BB8 would not work on sand, coz no grip.

Sand is so coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere. It's not soft and smooth like BB8.
posted by FJT at 12:30 PM on December 21, 2015 [59 favorites]


Looking forward to what Stephen Colbert has to say about the movie.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:31 PM on December 21, 2015


2nd viewing: just as fun as the first!

A couple thoughts:

One of the best hair-raising OMG AWESOME scenes the second time around for me was the moment in the early Falcon vs TIE Fighters chase/fight, when Rey cuts the engines to intentionally stall / flip so that Finn can shoot the TIE with his immobilized gun. Good god is that moment just awesome and breathtaking.

I am in love with how supportive the main hero cast is of one another. The new characters and the old all honestly believe in each other and praise each other and it is almost a-ironic in its approach. I suppose perhaps just: genuine.

I paid a lot more attention to what was up in Rey's flashback, and I am quite intrigued by the Knights of Ren. From what you see of Kylo Ren in that flashback, he's definitely taking out Jedi with the help of a fairly big crew, so I don't think this is just prequels-like Anakin going and killing a hundred Jedi all by his lonesome. Also, the guy taking Rey's hand is definitely the weird alien trader dude (is that Simon Pegg?).

Also, in defense of Rey (vs. "mary sue" claims): she is, in fact, not great at everything at all times. Her plan to gas the presumed First Order guys boarding the Falcon goes so badly that if it hadn't turned out to be a semi-friendly Han/Chewie, they would have almost certainly been killed or captured. Not long after that, she completely screws up in releasing the horrible beasts ("wrong fuses..."). So, yeah, I think while she's definitely capable, she makes mistakes (and I think the Force has something to do with her ease of picking up new skills).

On another note, I really enjoy that they're de-mystifying lightsabers, at least a little. Over the years, there's built up this mythos (largely EU or in RPGs) that you have to have the Force to use one at all, because otherwise you'll just kill yourself -- nevermind that Ep IV Obi-Wan hands Luke one with no training and just lets him wave it around. So, I really enjoy seeing Finn (who is presumably trained in melee weapons, just like the vibroblade (?) wielding guy he fights early in the film) wielding a lightsaber. Is a guy with the Force going to have more options with it? Sure, but it's not an insta-suicide for a normal person.

Hmm. 3 viewings? Maybe? Must consider.
posted by tocts at 12:42 PM on December 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


In further fairness to Rey, Luke taught himself how to Force-grab lightsabers stuck in snow too, and probably also the mind trick (that doesn't seem like it would be a top priority in Yoda's cirriculum, and who on Dagobah would he practice it on anyway?).
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:49 PM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Luke has some training, but he's never actually had a swordfight in his life before Vader on Bespin, right? Which is why we get nothing like the wuxia nonsense from the prequels in the later/earlier films (thank God).
posted by selfnoise at 12:54 PM on December 21, 2015


I will try not to roll my eyes too much if Rey turns out to be Luke's kid, but if Finn is a Calrissian I am letting out a Patton Oswalt Jerry Maguire "Fuuuuck YOOOOOOOOU" in the theater.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:01 PM on December 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


Let's be honest here: the Republic/Resistance/First Order situation makes even less sense than the Trade Federation stuff in the prequels

Yep. Even though that all barely makes any sense, though, I don't really care. For all of the completely justifiable nit-picking and spleen vented at the prequels, their real problems weren't really the innumerable plot holes (although turning Hermit Ben into Hiding Disguised As A Jedi Ben was pretty egregious), it was that they were flatly directed films with flat characters and flat acting, so the already bad plot problems were magnified to small moon size.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:04 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I will try not to roll my eyes too much if Rey turns out to be Luke's kid, but if Finn is a Calrissian I am letting out a Patton Oswalt Jerry Maguire "Fuuuuck YOOOOOOOOU" in the theater.

Or Mace Windu's kid! Nah, I don't think they'd be that dumb.

I'm coming around to the idea that to pull off the whole beat-for-beat reboot mythic resonance thing, there needs to be a shocking reveal of Rey's parentage in episode VIII. But if it turns out Rey is Luke's daughter, everyone's gonna be like YEP SAW THAT COMING and it won't be shocking. So there's got to be some other explanation. "Results of an attempt to clone Anakin" is one fan theory I've heard.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:08 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Results of an attempt to clone Anakin" is one fan theory I've heard.

I bet Ridley could knock some emotional turmoil at that revelation clear out of the fucking park.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:13 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have to disagree. The Republic/Resistance/FO thing makes way more sense. Exactly what the situation is between the two Rs is unclear but it doesn't matter for our purposes. We're not even really clear on whether the Republic and FO are in a detente, regularly having military exchanges, or whatever. And, again, for our purposes it doesn't matter. The Trade Federation stuff matters because how it goes apparently shifts the power and course of history.

In this movie the course of history is shifted when the FO fires up a weapon that can blow the shit out of a bazillion people. At that point the relationship between the Resistance and the Republic is pretty irrelevant, as is my relationship with a man-sized invisible rabbit named Harvey. Unless I or the Resistance insist on going on like either of those things exist now, but that's kind of a different problem.

That's not to say the Star Wars universe doesn't have a huge problem with how resources and construction work, and it bugs me, but that hangs over everything - not just government relations.
posted by phearlez at 1:16 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


for added parallelism, "there is another," and in the climax of episode IX Rey fights her clone-brother, played by

okay I just googled what Jake Lloyd has been up to these days and I feel pretty bummed now
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:19 PM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Way late to the discussion, but I liked it. Abrams managed to reign in (or had reigned in for him) his deficiencies as a writer and a director. It's a lot of retreading the main trilogy, but it does so in a really fun way. The new blood characters are exciting and fairly different, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

As an aside, I really liked Fin's character being a sort of blank slate to the rest of the universe. He's mainly trying to survive (at first), he's a trained slave warrior, so a lot of stuff is new to him (like him being perplexed that there aren't just blasters everywhere), and Fin is just a really great character with a satisfying arc.

Anyway, I'm pleased with it. It's also going to gross like 800 million domestic. Disney is making their bones back with this one.
posted by codacorolla at 1:23 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


On another note, I really enjoy that they're de-mystifying lightsabers, at least a little.

I liked that, but thought that overall they went further the other way (and badly) - introducing the idea that Luke's sabre was calling to Rey, as if it's not a tool or an heirloom but a mystic magic totem, infused with Meaning.
A weapon shouldn't be the soul-stone of a jedi, and giving worshipful status to weapons starts getting war-porny.

The original movie did it right - Ben Kenobi digs it out of the closet, an inert old piece of metal and craftsmanship, and hand it to the kid. An heirloom, an elegant hand-made tool, not some magic wand full of mystic visions.
posted by anonymisc at 1:25 PM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Little Anakin sure could pilot a fighter plane pretty fucking well after being in one for five minutes.
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh! One other thing I liked. During the catwalk confrontation, Han says "You know it's true." It's a subtle callback to Vader and Luke's exhortations to "Search your feelings! You know it to be true!" but not ham-handedly using the exact same words, because Han has never had to search his feelings. He's all feelings, all the time. Han completely wears his heart on his sleeve through every second of these films, even while Leia and Luke learn to disguise their thoughts and feelings, even when he thinks he's being cool as a cucumber.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:27 PM on December 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


phearlez: "Unless I or the Resistance insist on going on like either of those things exist now, but that's kind of a different problem."

Hmm. I don't think we are meant to believe the Republic is destroyed as a result of the Starkiller attack? It destroyed the new capital, but I'm sure there is enough decentralization that the Republic can continue to exist. The USA wouldn't disappear if Washington DC was blown up. It would probably be better off! Politicians, amirite, folks?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:27 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


infinitewindow: "During the catwalk confrontation, Han says "You know it's true." It's a subtle callback to Vader and Luke's exhortations to "Search your feelings! You know it to be true!""

I swear, as we were sitting in the theater during the trailers, I told my daughter that the two lines she would be sure to hear in this movie would be "I've got a bad feeling about this" (the Rathtars) and "Search your feelings". I agree that it was an even more powerful callback that Han didn't say it than it would have been if he did. I also think he probably didn't want Kylo doing too any feeling searching at all.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:32 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Concept art for Snoke: František Kupka’s Resistance, or The Black Idol (1903).
posted by larrybob at 1:34 PM on December 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


The USA wouldn't disappear if Washington DC...

Now I'm imagining the Pentagon as the muzzle-top of a giant beam weapon built out of planet Earth... :)
posted by anonymisc at 1:34 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll search my feelings in my room, dad! Gonna put on NIN far too loud and do that right now!
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


You know, son, if you search your feelings too much you'll go blind, or worse. Look what happened to your uncle Chewie!
posted by infinitewindow at 1:37 PM on December 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


/plaintive roar.
posted by Artw at 1:39 PM on December 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


Oh really? That must have been very difficult. You're quite brave.
posted by meinvt at 1:46 PM on December 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


Fave callback: Han Solo menaced by a Scottish gangster.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


So since the Falcon was able to exit hyperspace in atmosphere, I feel like it's probably ok if maybe destructive to things around you to jump into hyperspace from in the atmosphere Adama Style, in which case those government buildings in the capital really should be essentially huge escape ships capable of hyperspace travel with preprogrammed jump calculations if your main enemy is pretty much the same guys who built two Death Stars.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:00 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Twice now Abrams pulls this shit.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


So since the Falcon was able to exit hyperspace in atmosphere, I feel like it's probably ok if maybe destructive to things around you to jump into hyperspace from in the atmosphere Adama Style, in which case those government buildings in the capital really should be essentially huge escape ships capable of hyperspace travel with preprogrammed jump calculations if your main enemy is pretty much the same guys who built two Death Stars.

Shhh, you're thinking too much. This is all nostalghia and good feelings. It's calling to you. Just let it in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:06 PM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Shhh, you're thinking too much. This is all nostalghia and good feelings. It's calling to you. Just let it in.

It's also just a really good movie, I usually only nitpick stuff I actually enjoy because it's fun to beanplate.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:11 PM on December 21, 2015


Phasma was a bit shit.
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2015


Phasma was a bit shit.

There is an ancient Jedi proverb:

"She who fights not, and is a bit shit
lives to make her mark on the next big hit" :)
posted by anonymisc at 2:16 PM on December 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


So since the Falcon was able to exit hyperspace in atmosphere, I feel like it's probably ok if maybe destructive to things around you to jump into hyperspace from in the atmosphere Adama Style, in which case those government buildings in the capital really should be essentially huge escape ships capable of hyperspace travel with preprogrammed jump calculations if your main enemy is pretty much the same guys who built two Death Stars.

FTL travel is like time travel. Once you introduce it nothing makes sense period. Unlike time travel, however, it is both fun... and cool.

Phasma was a bit shit.

There wasn't any time left in the movie to have her do anything. They would have been better off just having her lurk menacingly in the first scene and then save her for the next film.
posted by selfnoise at 2:17 PM on December 21, 2015


You don't get to be the new Biba Fett bring menacing in the background AND falling down a big hole in the same movie.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Little Anakin sure could pilot a fighter plane pretty fucking well after being in one for five minutes.

And wasn't that a high point of the saga?!
posted by entropicamericana at 2:20 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am so happy there is no fucking time travel in this universe.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


I wonder if Rey and the Falcon were stolen by the trader at the same time - Han and Chewie could have been trying to track the Falcon to find the girl.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2015


After they sucked the entire sun into Death Planet I thought it was going to be darker outside. And everything standing on planet + stored-up sun juice would be a LOT heavier
posted by theodolite at 2:22 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


And everything standing on planet + stored-up sun juice would be a LOT heavier

The non-evidence of physics with putting a sun inside a planet was bugging the crap out of me, but in a protracted battle and heroic effort to regain suspension of disbelief, I sternly and firmly pointed out to myself that I already knew and accepted that they have faster-than-light, therefore my physics is invalid. I then proceeded to enjoy myself and have a good time. :)

But yeah, I wish they hadn't tried to out-deathstar the death-star that out-deathstarred the death-star.
posted by anonymisc at 2:28 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Still hard to reconcile "they knew Rey existed" with "but were ok with leaving her as a tiny girl at the mercy of hostile assholes in a place she might easily have died." Even Luke had his aunt and uncle.

They clearly show her being left with someone. I just assumed that person is supposed to have died, when she was old enough to figure stuff out on her own.

Maybe it's that person speedercycle thing?
posted by emptythought at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2015


They left her with the asshole portions alien voiced by Simon Pegg.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:31 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


They just had the antigrav units they put on speeder bikes pointing up from under the surface, keeping the experienced pull of gravity the same on the surface as it increases beneath /noprize
posted by jason_steakums at 2:32 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would imagine that the evil slaver (well, I guess sharecropper) alien took her in under false pretenses. But that was definitely his arm she was clinging to in her lightsabre induced flashback.
posted by codacorolla at 2:44 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good use of animated gif on Twitter: "@BlackGirlNerds: .@neiltyson in #TheForceAwakens like"
posted by larrybob at 2:45 PM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


They left her with the asshole portions alien voiced by Simon Pegg.

On a note: Pegg was in a costume, not just doing voice over work. Though, the costume definitely made me think CGI of some sort was involved.
posted by Atreides at 2:45 PM on December 21, 2015


John Boyega is awesome
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Shower thoughts: Han/Leia/Luke represent us who grew up with the originals, Rey/Finn/BB8 are for the new generation for whom this is the one they "saw in the cinema". Poor bitter Kylo Ren is the tragic lost generation brought to see the Prequels and told it was Star Wars.
posted by Iteki at 3:16 PM on December 21, 2015 [53 favorites]


Poor bitter Kylo Ren is the tragic lost generation brought to see the Prequels and told it was Star Wars.

Don't feel too sorry for us. We still have the best Star Wars games compared to either generation.
posted by FJT at 3:26 PM on December 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


When watching the first time, I was simultaneously aware of both interpretations and I was unsure whether Kylo Ren gave the lightsaber to Han as in order to surrender or to have Han kill him. I was waiting for someone to do something that would settle what Kylo Ren's intentions were. And nothing settled it. Watch it again with this other reading in mind! There are two viable readings here, which is really cool.

Precisely the way I felt. As I watched the scene, I was totally aware that both possibilities were being hinted at, but that it wasn't going to end well no matter what. I strongly feel that ambiguity was deliberate, and it was well done.

At the end, Rey follows Chewie down the Falcon's gangplank. Chewie approaches Leia (and you can feel his shoulders sagging), but Leia walks right past him and engages Rey in a full embrace. But at this point in the film, Leia has not yet met Rey. Leia knows a young woman had been instrumental in getting BB-8 to her, and was being held by the First Order, but she ostensibly doesn't know anything else about Rey. So why such a warm welcome? It seems to me that Leia might know far more about Rey's background than we do at this point.

This struck me very strongly as well. I was hoping it wasn't just a bum note, so to speak, and was deliberately setting something up for later. I feel like the latter is probably the case -- there was a lot of subtle stuff going on in offhand comments characters make and little tiny sideline story beats that seemed very deliberate, if often ambiguous, but always in service of something to be paid off later.

I think the people who made this were very much aware of the slightly obsessive nature of much of the fandom, and were consciously packing in hints, allusions, misdirections, and ambiguity in the background, as yet more fan service.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:34 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I couldn't help but notice that the first half of the movie was taking place literally in the wreckage of the original trilogy. I was wondering if that was intentional symbolism.
posted by codacorolla at 3:35 PM on December 21, 2015 [19 favorites]


Well, when Han says something like "It wasn't all bad -- some of it was pretty good" and Leia says "Some of it" I couldn't help but think that they were also talking about the previous movies, which made me laugh (even if it took me out of the moment a bit).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2015 [20 favorites]


In Aftermath there's a conflict among the inner circle of the Rebel Alliance on the path for the New Republic. Mon Mothma pushed for a demilitarized Republic (i.e., never have the military power to dominate like the Empire did) while others, Ackbar among them, believed that a strong military would keep the Republic safe.

I'm just a sucker for any recreation of the Federalist debate, to be honest, so I'm pretty down with this.

I'm coming around to the idea that to pull off the whole beat-for-beat reboot mythic resonance thing, there needs to be a shocking reveal of Rey's parentage in episode VIII.

I don't think there is any reveal of Rey's parentage that could be similarly shocking. Why is the Empire reveal such a dramatic plot twist?

1. Luke has never known his father, but is hungry for information about him. "You knew my father?" Rey may or may not know who her parents are, but she doesn't evince anything like the same curiosity.

2. While her parentage may be a mystery to us at this point, it doesn't entirely seem to be to her, but much more to the point, at this stage after Ep IV, Luke's parentage isn't a mystery to us or to him. We think we know where Luke came from, and so does he. He isn't wondering who his father is throughout Empire.

3. Luke has spent two movies first idolizing the Rebellion and then helping to lead it, trying to do what he thinks his father did. Vader is the embodiment of everything he has been working against his entire adult life, everything he thinks his father would have hated and indeed died resisting. Discovering that his father is still alive as Luke always secretly hoped but is the epitome of evil is shattering. There's no real similar idolization for Rey, who is a survivor just trying to get along on a remote planet and hasn't wanted to be involved in the grand sweep of history. The only person you could point to is Luke Skywalker, and Rey thinks Luke Skywalker is a legendary hero. Finding out that Luke is her father would be awesome, not horrifying.

Rey doesn't fit the pattern. You know who does? Kylo Ren. We think we know who Kylo Ren's grandfather is, and so does he. He's spent all this time idolizing Vader and then leading a movement in his name. He's hungry for bits and pieces of Anakin, from the mask to the actual saber. We're all wondering who Rey's parents are, so there isn't an answer that's going to be totally surprising or turn the story on its head. We are not at all wondering what Kylo Ren's heritage is, because we think we know. I personally believe they're going to have to do something different than the familial plot twist because everyone's expecting it, but if they do go back to the well, the best candidate isn't Rey.
posted by Errant at 3:52 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


But at this point in the film, Leia has not yet met Rey. Leia knows a young woman had been instrumental in getting BB-8 to her, and was being held by the First Order, but she ostensibly doesn't know anything else about Rey. So why such a warm welcome?

They are both force sensitives, and can sense that in each other. And Leia knows that Han has died, and Rey can sense that. And Leia can sense Rey's grief at Han's death also.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:55 PM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Finding out Luke is Kylo Ren's father would be an ungood twist for everybody involved, including the audience and me just thinking of it just now.
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


With the amount of fan-service in evidence, I suspect/hope that fan reactions to and fan criticisms of TFA are going to be used to inform some of these story decisions in the rest of the story, rather than just forge ahead with the original plan regardless of whether that's still a good plan.

(But I was similarly hoping that the Hobbit movies would learn from the errors of the first movie that they could (and should) be regular length movies and people would like them more because of it, but no, they forged ahead and insisted on saddling every subsequent would-have-otherwise-been-good movie with fifty-seven hours of awful padding and fluff because... I don't know? Because a Lord of the Rings runlength was the template?)
posted by anonymisc at 4:04 PM on December 21, 2015


We've established that Rey was waiting for her family, but we don't know who her family is. There's going to be a reveal. Might be her folks were anonymous spice traders, but I kinda doubt it.

And I'm really not seeing Luke as the type to be littering the galaxy with his Force-sensitive by-blows.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:05 PM on December 21, 2015


Liked the movie! Thought it was weird that it was so much hewing to the original film, but I suppose a modern Homeric epic can stand a few rewrites.

What's the deal with all the red shoulders? The Stormtroopers pauldrons, which the Internets tell me is a thing that's been done before. OK. But also C-3PO's red arm. Even Finn/Poe's jacket has an assymetrical red patch on one shoulder.
posted by Nelson at 4:17 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


No one's even talking about Maz Kanata's parents, I suppose because there's no question it was Edna Mode and her first husband, an Oompa Loompa.
posted by nom de poop at 4:20 PM on December 21, 2015 [41 favorites]


I am so happy there is no fucking time travel in this universe.

It's just a matter of time.

Btw, I don't think this one has been posted here yet: 33 Questions We Desperately Want Answered After Star Wars: The Force Awakens (from io9). Most have been covered in this thread already, but there are some things there that I haven't seen elsewhere (like the connection to "The Raid").
posted by effbot at 4:25 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nelson: don't forget the red section on the front of the new TIE fighters.
posted by biffa at 4:29 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Entertainment Weekly article quoting Arndt and Abrams as saying R2-D2 got the map of where Jedi temples were when he plugged into the Death Star's data banks back in Episode IV.
posted by larrybob at 4:41 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Weird. I thought Artoo would have learned about the Jedi temples when he was living in the Jedi temples during Anakin's training. Wait, no... that didn't happen! I forgot! None of any of that ever happened!
posted by anonymisc at 4:48 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I know I've been focusing on the tangential things - Stars' reactions, audience reactions - chalk it up to having worked in theater, and grooving on that stuff just as much as the actual script and production.

Towards that end - John Boyega is now one of my favorite people because he is having SO MUCH FUCKING FUN with this. During filming he would do things like drag Harrison Ford out to cheap hole-in-the-wall restaurants in London, he brought all his buddies to the London Premiere and got a shot standing with them on the red carpet, he jumped over a couch when he first saw the trailer, and apparently on the night of the U.S. premiere he was bouncing around a handful of New York theaters and just dropping into the space during the closing credits to surprise fans, and to THANK THEM for seeing it.

LOVE THIS GUY NOW.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 PM on December 21, 2015 [38 favorites]


Entertainment Weekly article quoting Arndt and Abrams as saying R2-D2 got the map of where Jedi temples were when he plugged into the Death Star's data banks back in Episode IV.

Soooo, wouldn't someone else have that map also? Like an offsite backup or something? A Star Destroyer perhaps? "Hey there visiting Star Destroyer? Want a copy of the map of Jedi temples? Oh, I don't know why you'd need it, but seeing as its a map to all the temples of our enemies, just hold onto it, ok?"

Honestly, just stop trying to explain this stuff, because it makes no goddamn sense at all. Bask in the feelings!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:58 PM on December 21, 2015


Entertainment Weekly article quoting Arndt and Abrams as saying R2-D2 got the map of where Jedi temples were when he plugged into the Death Star's data banks back in Episode IV.

So that's what took him so long: he was grabbing copies of everything on the Emperor's Dropbox account.
posted by grubi at 4:58 PM on December 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


There's a lot here to support the R2D2 as secret mastermind theory.
posted by Artw at 5:05 PM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I liked this essay: The Force Awakens is deeply broken. It makes the argument that there's really two stories here: The Search for Luke (starring new cast) and then also Destroying Starkiller (starring old cast). And that the two stories don't really belong together in one movie. I liked the film as-is so I'm not going to say that this was all a huge mistake. But it did highlight something that was bugging me about the story.
posted by Nelson at 5:17 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The recent Nerdist podcast with Kathleen Kennedy is pretty good. Some interesting criticisms of George Lucas in there if you read between the lines.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:35 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]




Not to imply or endorse the suggestion that anyone here is a rancid garbage person, of course. I just thought that was a... redolent pullquote.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:40 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just because Rey waited about fifteen years for her family doesn't mean that was the plan. Perhaps she was only to stay there for a week or two while her parents ran some mission or whatever and what was initially a sub-optimal, temporary solution turned into, well, her life.
I can also imagine a reluctant caretaker becoming increasingly distant as she grew, long after the cash ran out, and treating her much enough like anyone else local.
posted by Iteki at 5:41 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


If Rey is Luke's kid (I mean... how is this not the case?) then feelings of resentment and abandonment are going to be a major aspects of the plot in the next movie. The story in all of these movies have been about a Jedi getting tempted by the dark side, and I think that those dark feelings are going to be a source of Rey's temptation.
posted by codacorolla at 5:56 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


A weapon shouldn't be the soul-stone of a jedi, and giving worshipful status to weapons starts getting war-porny.

I don't entirely disagree, but in fairness to Abrams this isn't his doing. It is my understanding that some level of lightsabers-as-mystic-totem stuff has shown in up the cartoon iterations of Star Wars in recent years.

Also, I know first hand that quite a lot of effort in other Star Wars sources (e.g. the RPGs and sourcebooks) is focused on the crystals that power lightsabers, and how rare and precious they are, etc. There's even a whole explanation of why Sith lightsabers are usually red, because you see they usually use synthetic crystals because they're not patient enough or selective enough in who they train to be able to find real ones for everyone, I guess? And those are usually/always red hued, and also they don't last very long and blah blah fictional tech wankery.

For added fun, the crystals used to make lightsabers are called kyber crystals. In early drafts of the original Star Wars, the plot focused on a macguffin called the Kyber Crystal, which was some sort of force-sensitive holocron memory thing and has nothing to do with lightsabers. This is somehow not quite the same thing as a Kaiburr Crystal, which was used in one of the earliest EU novels?

George Lucas loves re-purposing names like nobody else.
posted by tocts at 6:08 PM on December 21, 2015


Rey is related to Obi-Wan, so when she and Kylo Ren face each other once more we'll have another Skywalker/Kenobi battle on our hands.
posted by crossoverman at 6:26 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


If Rey is Luke's kid (I mean... how is this not the case?)

The Rey-being-Luke's-kid was telegraphed SO HARD in Episode 7 (especially when Maz is trying to get Rey to take the saber) that I'll honestly be very surprised if that's the direction the narrative takes; it seems to me like it's there entirely as misdirection for the audience, similar to the "Vader killed your father" stuff that Ben Kenobi says in Episode 4.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:42 PM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Rejected title: Star Wars VII: The Search For Luke

I prefer the sequel, Star Wars VIII: The Search for C3PO's Original Arm
posted by knuckle tattoos at 6:42 PM on December 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


I agree that her not being Luke's kid would be more satisfying, but do you think that they'll introduce a whole new set of characters to explain her parentage? Abrams loves stories about conflicted fatherhood more than he loves air, water, and lens flair.
posted by codacorolla at 6:46 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I just thought that was a... redolent pullquote.

What an incredible smell you've discovered!
posted by knuckle tattoos at 6:48 PM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


You'd think more people would be upset thst a female heroine has to be portrayed as twice as good as her male counterpart to be taken seriously.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:52 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


What an incredible smell you've discovered!

And you thought they smelled bad on the outside!
posted by crossoverman at 7:25 PM on December 21, 2015


You'd think more people would be upset thst a female heroine has to be portrayed as twice as good as her male counterpart to be taken seriously.

Yeah, that's too close to real life. This is a Space Opera!
posted by crossoverman at 7:25 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know Mark Hamill is just itching to deliver the line "Rey... I am your father."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:44 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just imagine how differently this would all have played out if the Star Wars universe had ever invented color photography!
posted by Andrhia at 7:51 PM on December 21, 2015


do you think that they'll introduce a whole new set of characters to explain her parentage?

Well, they don't have to: they could just have her be a person who happens to be strong in the Force.

I kind of hate the idea that all the important people in this galaxy happen to be Skywalkers or related to Skywalkers. Dynasties are BAD, people!
posted by suelac at 8:04 PM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


Well, they don't have to: they could just have her be a person who happens to be strong in the Force.

Once again, agreed that this would be better, but then most of the shots in the flashback are wasted, and the subplot of waiting for her parents to rescue her from Tat-two-ine just sort of fizzles.
posted by codacorolla at 8:15 PM on December 21, 2015


Calling it now: Luke killed Rey's father.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:39 PM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


And Rey's father is...Boba Fett!
posted by FJT at 8:44 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Her mother? The Sarlacc.
posted by tocts at 8:46 PM on December 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


'The Force Awakens' Meets 'Please, Mr. Kennedy' (Inside Llewyn Davis)

"Does it work? Yes it does."
posted by wallawallasweet at 8:49 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is of course kind of weird how everyone knows everyone or has some connection with them. You could say it was implausible coincidence, or you could say it was the Force... I would simply say that the Star Wars aligned.
posted by Artw at 8:50 PM on December 21, 2015


I just wanted to say that I'm in the minority; I think "Snoke" is a fun bad guy name. It beats the hell out of most bad guy names that try way too hard to sound sinister by sounding like sinister words, etc.
posted by Gymnopedist at 9:18 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's Han Solo, but his temper doesn't flare as much. He gets his kicks from subtler digs. He's seen it before, and enough times that someone-else's screw-up isn't his emergency any more.

No Galaxy For Old Men.
posted by mazola at 9:36 PM on December 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm kinda wondering if Rey isn't related to Qui Gon because he'd be a curveball when everyone's thinking she's a Skywalker AND since they set up the idea that he figured out the Force Ghost thing at the end of Episode III they could interact. And it would be a good reason to bring Neeson back for a much better movie than TPM.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:14 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think "Snoke" is a fun bad guy name.

Yeah, if you think less "sounds like joke" and more "sounds like smoke" with maybe some Snape thrown in, it's fine. Better than Darth-anything (other than Vader)
posted by anonymisc at 10:16 PM on December 21, 2015


Yeah, if you think less "sounds like joke" and more "sounds like smoke" with maybe some Snape thrown in, it's fine. Better than Darth-anything (other than Vader)

My kid kept calling him Snook which my stupid brain turned into "Snooki" and now I can't get away from it.

also Kathleen Kennedy says "all the cast members" will be in episode VIII". She seems to be including Ford as well, but who the hell knows.
posted by anastasiav at 10:31 PM on December 21, 2015


Snoop Darthy Darth.
posted by Artw at 10:42 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


So Kylo's got that Vader worship thing, and Snoke is this tall, scarred mystery figure... It would be very easy for Snoke to manipulate Kylo if he was pretending to BE Vader. Who actually knows that Vader died? Those stories are just Rebel propaganda! But keep it on the DL and call me Snoke in mixed company, Kylo, this is just between me and my favorite grandson...
posted by jason_steakums at 10:46 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just got back from a second viewing. Some further thoughts:

- Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) doesn't appear to have any idea that Rey exists, or vice versa. Poe get the map from him at the village. Ren invades and kills everyone, BB-8 runs off, travels across the desert all night, and winds up outside Rey's home the following evening. So there's no real sense (from the movie, anyway, can't say about the tie-ins) that they have anything to do with each other.

- The opening crawl calls him "an old ally", which is weird for a character we've never met, but he and Ren definitely know each other very well.

- The death planet stuff was a lot less intrusive this time. It exists mostly as an action-based metronome to give a sense of position to the individual duels and encounters.

- I feel like I was much too harsh on Adam Driver the first time around. I was able to settle and take in his performance this viewing, and he's really amazing. The stuff that seemed a little hammy at first is a lot more nuanced and layered as I watch it again. His line readings are outstanding.

- I was not too harsh on Harrison Ford, but it does bother me less now that I know the shape of his story. More investment from him would have gone a long way, but eh, the character's dead now, I'm not going to spend a lot of time kicking him around.

- Rey has a lot more vulnerability and frailty than a lot of people have given her credit for. The last fight is a good example: people are griping about how she just picks up a saber and is a master blade, but actually Ren pretty much kicks the crap out of her, right up until he inadvertently reminds her that the Force is a thing, and then she relaxes and hands it all back. But she's definitely not preternaturally competent. She's just regular competent, and I wonder if we're collectively inverting the "twice as good to get half as far" thing with her.

- Poe and Finn's brodown is still great.

- In Rey's Force vision, she sees Ren stab a guy and then the image resolves into what appears to be the Knights of Ren. But this time, it looked a whole lot from Rey's first-person POV like the guy who Ren stabs was attacking her. He has a weapon over his head, he looks like he's bringing it down on the viewer while screaming, and then he gets impaled back to front on Ren's saber. Ren is also the only one with a saber ignited in the group shot, and there's something about the blocking that makes it seem as though he might be surrounded and menaced by that group, not necessarily leading them. It goes by very quickly, so I'm not totally sure about that stuff, but it looked very different this time than I first thought.
posted by Errant at 11:22 PM on December 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


Don't feel too sorry for us. We still have the best Star Wars games compared to either generation

I seem to be very confused about when X-Wing and TIE Fighter were released.
posted by flaterik at 11:23 PM on December 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


(This also works with Dark Forces)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:32 PM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


(ALSO DARK FORCES)
posted by flaterik at 11:36 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I seem to be very confused about when X-Wing and TIE Fighter were released.

I think if we're using Adam Driver's age (32) as the approximate age of Kylo Ren, then he would have been just born when ROTJ came out, so too young to belong to the OT generation. He would be in high school when Phantom Menace was released. I think he would have been in middle school during Dark Forces and beginning high school when XvT came out in 1997.
posted by FJT at 12:37 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I seem to be very confused about when X-Wing and TIE Fighter were released.

Spaceflight games today run on VR headsets and look like this, and this, and this. How soon until we can have a 21st-century "TIE Fighter" game? HOW SOOOOON??????
posted by anonymisc at 12:38 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't get how the Starkiller thing instantaneously destroys nearby star systems with its super big laser, given that they're made of light and other star systems will presumably be several light years or more away. Feels like it would be, "Okay, I've destroyed that star system - they'll probably know in about three hundred and fifty three years when the beam hits them".
posted by barbelith at 1:39 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think if we're using Adam Driver's age (32) as the approximate age of Kylo Ren

I'm using my own age of 36. I was brought out of an original showing of ROTJ at age 3 because Jabba the Hutt scared me.

The games mentioned were top amongst in my favorites.
posted by flaterik at 1:48 AM on December 22, 2015


Snoke might be the worst Star Wars villain name, which is an achievement.

You guys are making fun of Snoke and Dooky (and Savage Opress)?
Does no one remember Elan Sleazebaggio, deathstick dealer?
posted by Mezentian at 2:03 AM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


You will forget Elan Sleazebaggano. You will go home and rethink your life.

Savage Opress is pretty amazing though, you have to admit. I'm waiting for Episode VIII to introduce Snoke's new apprentice, Mra Seksism.
posted by Errant at 2:26 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I prefer the sequel, Star Wars VIII: The Search for C3PO's Original Arm

I love the idea that none of the humans around C-3PO could be bothered getting his replacement arm resprayed. He's like an old Ford Falcon with one door the wrong colour.
posted by rory at 2:44 AM on December 22, 2015 [21 favorites]


I don't get how the Starkiller thing instantaneously destroys nearby star systems with its super big laser, given that they're made of light and other star systems will presumably be several light years or more away. Feels like it would be, "Okay, I've destroyed that star system - they'll probably know in about three hundred and fifty three years when the beam hits them".

My theory for both how the suns energy is stored within the planet without causing huge problems, and how it gets places... is that the energy and the blasts the planet-canon shoots are in hyperspace and going way above the speed of light. Probably above the maximum hyperspace speed any ship could sustain without breaking apart or overloading or something.

What it's firing is the star wars universe equivalent of an ICBM, which once "ballistic" cannot be outrun or stopped. This is a way crazier weapon than the big energy/laser canon on the death stars.

As for why you see it going a visible speed within the solar system, that's also when it splits apart. The beam is contained in the hyperspace bubble until it splits and goes all MIRV within the solar system. The bubble is basically a shape charge with intentional weak points that when collapsed, sends the energy out in the directions they want it to go.

I hope there's a cool canon explanation of this, but that's what i thought as soon as i was like "how does that sun-energy go in the planet?". This is sort of the sun version of a contained singularity in lots of other scifi.

This is also supported by the fact that when they break the system the planet just turns into... a sun. That sun energy wasn't existing in normal space, it was in hyperspace occupying the same physical location as the planet. The portals on the sides of the planet are just gateways in and out of the bubble.

This also explains why it could be a planet. It doesn't need to move if it can send a hyperspace conduit/bubble anywhere it needs to go, or at least close enough to anywhere. That planet is likely in a super strategic location where it can reach the majority of the space they want to control.

It's also worth noting that in the star wars universe(Or at least, the old EU) hyperspace is handled by folding space, not by encapsulating something in a bubble of normal space while pushing the bubble faster than the speed of light. You just need a system that can suspend things between a fold, and punch a hole where you want that stuff to come out.

why did i already think about this so much?
posted by emptythought at 2:49 AM on December 22, 2015 [22 favorites]


So, is everyone else now super-stoked for Rogue One? 360 days and counting... Even though they've been careful not to use the P word, the story (as much of we know of it) sounds like the prequels done right: not focusing on Vader or Kenobi or Yoda, but on entirely new characters set in the same galaxy (though I wouldn't mind if they have a cameo for the Big D). TFA has just shown us what excellent dividends new characters - and actors who can act, and screenwriters who can write - can deliver. I'm just as keen to see Rogue One as Episode VIII, and I'm very, very keen to see VIII.
posted by rory at 3:08 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like Rogue One has to have a Vader cameo in it, just for marketing's sake. I'm really excited for a Star Wars universe story that isn't part of the saga. I haven't read a lot of the EU books, but enough to know that some of them are amazing and I love this universe being fleshed out in detail.

Also, the cast they have looks freakin' incredible.
posted by crossoverman at 3:39 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I may have missed it above but there's a savage takedown of the movie's "emotional blind spots" and blithe treatment of the deaths of billions of people here. It discusses the odd storytelling that asks us to care about Han's death without showing us anything of the relationship we're supposed to be caring about on that bridge, but then really goes off on Abrams for not seriously acknowledging the billions of deaths Over There, instead valorizing the Two White Guys moment of redemption for a mass murderer. It's fairly brutal:

[T]he climax of the film asks the audience to project emotional resonance on a situation that has (and I cannot emphasize this enough) none. The Han-Ben relationship is among the emptiest I’ve ever been asked to mourn.

... [T]he franchise–and this film in particular–is catastrophically confused about its own psychology in ways that should trouble us precisely because it satisfies. Take, for example, the annihilation of several planets, and the way we’re invited to regard them as so marginal to the story that no one even seems to remember it happened by the end. When you’ve actually invented a tragedy that’s hundreds of thousands of times bigger than the Holocaust (in a film that prominently references Nazis) only in order to threaten that they’re about to do it again, in a matter of seconds, YOU CANNOT ASK YOUR AUDIENCE TO CARE THAT SOME GUY AND HIS SON ARE WASTING THOSE ESSENTIAL SECONDS HAVING A MOMENT ON A BRIDGE.

No. You cannot. That is a fatal flaw. That is an inversion of stakes so monstrous that it makes the film actually despicable.

posted by mediareport at 4:02 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, is everyone else now super-stoked for Rogue One?

Yes.
Yes, I am.

360 days seems so long away.

But, frankly, if they can spare me the associated marketing push? That'd be so great.
I sat through 30 minutes of ads at a theatre that shows 20 minutes at best, and about two thirds were ads with marketing tie-ins, official or unofficial, and none of them were as charming as that Superbowl one from a few years back for that car.

(But, if they are as disciplined with the trailers for SW:R1 as TFA, I would appreciate that).
posted by Mezentian at 4:05 AM on December 22, 2015


No. You cannot. That is a fatal flaw. That is an inversion of stakes so monstrous that it makes the film actually despicable.

::shrug:: A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:08 AM on December 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


Just want to add: I hope Disney lets the anthology films stand alone, like Marvel did.
And stops for a while.
posted by Mezentian at 4:09 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, and more pleasantly, this article about the salaries of the various Warring Stars says that both Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill only got paid a couple million, while Ford got $10-20 million, because *both* of them will have more to do in the next film:

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher took home salaries in the low-seven-figure range, according to sources. Newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were paid in the low-six-figure range ($100k-$300k).

Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac, meanwhile, received offers of mid- to high-six figures. Because Driver and Isaac had fixed quotes from previous film and TV work, sources say their deals were negotiated higher compared to Boyega and Ridley, who, for the most part, had never appeared in a large-scale film before.

Hamill and Fisher’s salaries are expected to rise in upcoming installments as their parts grow with each film.

posted by mediareport at 4:14 AM on December 22, 2015


So, is everyone else now super-stoked for Rogue One?

No, the plot seems to contradict established history ie Bothans.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:18 AM on December 22, 2015


Oops, never mind! The Bothans were involved in the second Death Star!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:22 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just want to add that I have a 4-year-old nephew named Finn (who saw TFA over the weekend) and both he and I are greatly enjoying the idea of me calling him Big Deal from now on.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:35 AM on December 22, 2015 [26 favorites]


Oops, never mind! The Bothans were involved in the second Death Star!

You know, there were plans in Attack of the Clones... there could have been Bothans.
posted by Mezentian at 5:36 AM on December 22, 2015


No, the plot seems to contradict established history ie Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors.

FTFY. Though one of the writers is Gary Whitta, former editor of PC Gamer, so hopefully ol' Kyle won't be completely relegated to the memory hole.
posted by clorox at 6:17 AM on December 22, 2015


Sorry, don't know that reference.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 AM on December 22, 2015




Again, Abrams gave zero fucks how space works when he made Star Trek and he gives twice as zero now. And he can multiply by zero because, pffff, math. Mostly it doesn't matter because Star Wars has never really cared anyway (how does the Death Star get from place to place?) and nailing all the emotional beats with a plot that's arbitary nonsense is less of a problem there.

(I mean, *I* would have liked it if it was a hyperspace howitzer, but let's not kid ourselves about the level of thought that went into this.)
posted by Artw at 6:45 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]




YOU CANNOT ASK YOUR AUDIENCE TO CARE THAT SOME GUY AND HIS SON ARE WASTING THOSE ESSENTIAL SECONDS HAVING A MOMENT ON A BRIDGE. No. You cannot. That is a fatal flaw. That is an inversion of stakes so monstrous that it makes the film actually despicable.

Unless some guy's son is the main villain of the story who could conceivably abort the impending holocaust if he suddenly switched sides, as his father was trying to get him to do.
posted by rory at 7:04 AM on December 22, 2015 [29 favorites]


how does the Millenium Falcon get from Hoth to Bespin?
posted by Artw at 7:10 AM on December 22, 2015


Emo Kylo Ren is an amazing Twitter account.
posted by kmz at 7:13 AM on December 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


how does the Millenium Falcon get from Hoth to Bespin?

Very carefully.
posted by mazola at 7:13 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Let the record show that the wookiepedia article buffs is quoting cites the Death Star Owners Manual and I have questions regarding its canonicity. Also they never show the Death Star in Hyperspace, do they? Because it would look silly.
posted by Artw at 7:27 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


how does the Millenium Falcon get from Hoth to Bespin?

Do you mean the Millennium Falcon? Two weeks.
posted by biffa at 7:30 AM on December 22, 2015


Take, for example, the annihilation of several planets, and the way we’re invited to regard them as so marginal to the story that no one even seems to remember it happened by the end.

This line makes me wonder if the author of the piece has ever actually seen Star Wars.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:31 AM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


how does the Millenium Falcon get from Hoth to Bespin?

Bespin is actually just on the other side of Hoth. After the Imperial fleet jumped to hyperspace, the Falcon just swooped back to Hoth and around it. It's all there if you pay attention carefully.

Here's a thought: After Rogue One, we'll only have a five month wait to Episode VIII.

Also they never show the Death Star in Hyperspace, do they? Because it would look silly.


They never show the Emperor taking a bath, either.
posted by Atreides at 7:31 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't get how the Starkiller thing instantaneously destroys nearby star systems

Absolutely nothing about this makes sense. The part that had me baffled was how all 5 planets it blew up were all within visible range of each other and the Rebellion planet, the one that at that moment the First Order didn't know yet. I mean the shot with our heroes all standing on the ground watching the giant death bolts blow up the other planets was lovely, but in no way physically plausible. Maybe all the victims were on different moons / artificial satellites in a single star system? Coincidentally orbiting the same star as the secret Rebellion base? (It's definitely a secret; there's a throwaway line about how the First Order tracked a Rebellion ship to find the base. Talk about sloppy OPSEC.)

Newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley were paid in the low-six-figure range ($100k-$300k).

Wow! How is that possible? Those two actors carried the movie. I get that they were mostly unknowns, but it turns out both are great actors. And they're basically sacrificing their whole careers for this role. The article goes on to comment this is not unusual and that "back end bonuses" kick in for a presumed box office take of over $1B. Add in residuals and new contracts and OK, that starts to be star-level compensation. Still, wow.
posted by Nelson at 7:33 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


One detail I loved in the movie; the badass melee Stormtrooper with the electric weapon. I think the nerds are calling this an electrostaff, although the Clone Wars version is different.

I'll be curious to see how Rey's martial skills develop. She's not a bad shot. And she's great with a big ass quarterstaff. She was kind of awful with the saber, honestly, all clumsy lunges. I like the staff. But what she really needs is Mockingbird's boomerang batons.
posted by Nelson at 7:36 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's in his egg.

Also: so they needed Boba Fett, ace bounty hunter to tell them Han Solo and Leia Organa had gone next door?
posted by Artw at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2015


One detail I loved in the movie; the badass melee Stormtrooper with the electric weapon.

It was cool but why didn't he shoot at Finn? Why was he carrying something that he could take into a fight with a lightsaber? No one has seen a Jedi since Luke ran off after his trainees were killed. The only other people who might carry them are on his side and there don't seem to be many of them.

I know, I know. Not to think about it.
posted by biffa at 7:45 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't get how the Starkiller thing instantaneously destroys nearby star systems with its super big laser, given that they're made of light and other star systems will presumably be several light years or more away.

A wizard did it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:51 AM on December 22, 2015


VADER'S HELMET IS A HORCRUX
posted by duffell at 8:02 AM on December 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


Why was he carrying something that he could take into a fight with a lightsaber?

For one thing, The First Order seems pretty intent on finding Luke, and has no idea if he's off somewhere secret training more Jedi. So, it doesn't seem crazy that they'd have a small number of people embedded in their units with a weapon that can handle a lightsaber. Plus, if the ends are electrified / energized as they seem, it probably does a fair bit of damage as a melee weapon, and may be more useful in in some close quarters fighting scenarios than blaster carbines are.
posted by tocts at 8:06 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The melee Stormtroopers might be riot control troops. The discussion I linked mentions he had a shield in his other hand that he throws away to fight Finn. It looks a lot like a cop with a club and a riot shield.

That Emo Kylo Ren Twitter is amazingly great. My favorite so far: heritage not hate (featuring a picture of Vader's charred helmet).
posted by Nelson at 8:15 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had a lot of thoughts about this movie but mostly I think the one that hasn't been mentioned in this thread was how much I love the scene where Finn leaves Maz's bar and for about 2-3 minutes Rey is hallucinating all over the place and the audience has no idea what's going on. That was surreal and pretty amazing. I'm not sure if I'd even say it was pure Star Wars, but it definitely elevated this above typical JJ Abrams holiday blockbuster.

It reminded me pretty quickly of the sequence on Dagobah where Luke has a vision of confronting Vader, killing him, pulling off his mask, and seeing his own face. It was a very different sequence but it had some of the same feel.

I saw this for the first time last night and while I feel like they got a lot of small things wrong, they got a lot of big things right, and overall I liked it a lot. I was especially impressed because they had to work with both characters from the previous movies and at the same time bring in a bunch of new ones, and overall I felt like things meshed pretty well.

I'm not bothered at all by the similarities between this movie and A New Hope, because there were so many ways they switched the details around. The new Luke analog is the one people are trying to rescue on the new Death Star thing (and she's pretty far along the way to rescuing herself). But the one that really hit me was the scene with Han and Ren. The instant Han decided to walk out onto the catwalk was when I had an "oh shit" feeling and realized he might be going to sacrifice himself. Except in A New Hope, it was Obi Wan doing the sacrificing, and even seemed to have a plan: "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine". And he is able to return to guide Luke. In TFA, Han doesn't have a plan, he's just trying to deal with this impossible and horrible situation. So that scene felt a hell of a lot more raw than when Darth killed Obi Wan.

I still don't feel like I've gotten a believable explanation of why a character turns to the dark side, though. Ren seems more confused than anything.

The final scene felt kind of symbolic, like Abrams was through Rey presenting the new movie and saying "Here is what I've got, Mr. Luke S., what do you think?"
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:15 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


biffa: "Why was he carrying something that he could take into a fight with a lightsaber?"

I'm with tocts: I think it is just the First Order equivalent of a Billy Club. That it happens to be able to stop a lightsaber is a secondary feature.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:15 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ren is all about his struggle with the light side. "Must not... Nnn... Look at kittens.... Aggh."
posted by Artw at 8:26 AM on December 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


Jurassic World producers congratulate Star Wars on beating global record

Back in the old days, they used to take out full-page ads in Variety, these days they just fire off a tweet. Cheapskates.
posted by effbot at 8:29 AM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Early signs something was up with young Ben include taking down all his Max Reebo posters and putting up Korn.
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I distinctly remember them saying something about hyperspace when they were charging the Starkiller lasers, so the earlier speculation is probably spot on.

Also, little known fact: The Force is passed on through families, but not by genetics. So adopted kids inherit their adopted parent's abilities. That means Luke is Rey's father, but so is Luke's husband, Wedge (the OTP if the OT).
posted by charred husk at 8:39 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I still don't feel like I've gotten a believable explanation of why a character turns to the dark side, though.

It's quicker, easier, more seductive... BUT I don't feel like that's been thought out anywhere in any Star Wars film, because all the dark side guys are involved in basically the same monastic lifestyle of prophecy and mysticism as the Jedi, only eeeeevil. Where are the dark side jerks who use the Force for quick personal gain, the con men and the Killgraves and the thrill seekers? The Dark Side itself might be quicker and easier but the Sith life is a huge hassle.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:44 AM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


In any event, the Guatemalan-born Oscar Isaac (born Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada) might be surprised to learn he is the designated white guy.

I know I'm a little late to the game here, and without wanting to derail a very interesting conversation I'd like to remind folks that race has been complicated in Latin America for most of the region's history. ( see this chart)

I don't know Oscar Isaac's background or identity, but it's certainly conceivable he's white and Latin American at the same time.

Now back to Space Fights: Space Magic wakes Up
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 8:44 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


The seductive thing about the dark side is you get to massacre a lot of sand people, because apparently that's hard.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on December 22, 2015


badass melee Stormtrooper with the electric weapon.

Eh, Finn should have just done this.
posted by FJT at 8:49 AM on December 22, 2015


Han Solo digging the bobcats we was very fun.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I keep thinking about this movie and its place in the series and really, for the most part, its flaws are the same old Star Wars flaws all the movies have. It does some things better, some things worse... refreshingly it at least does some things different. But there is no perfect Star Wars movie, not even Empire, which has plenty of its own stuff to criticize. So I feel like, especially for people who are seeing this as kids and forming that pre-critical emotional attachment most of us have with the OT, this one's going to hold up extremely well in the long run.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


the badass melee Stormtrooper with the electric weapon

I like the new special edition version of that scene.
posted by Phatty Lumpkin at 9:00 AM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Bobcats = bowcaster. Jesus, autocorrect, you know nothing.
posted by Artw at 9:00 AM on December 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was wondering if I somehow missed a crucial scene all 3 times I saw the movie...
posted by kmz at 9:01 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Don't feel too sorry for us. We still have the best Star Wars games compared to either generation.

Piffle. The tech is spiffier now but I remember the arcade games as fun, and wikipedia cites this one as being the #4 game of all time. Plus we got arcade culture which was a lot of fun.
posted by phearlez at 9:07 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Han Solo digging the bobcats we was very fun.
---
Bobcats = bowcaster. Jesus, autocorrect, you know nothing.


I dunno, I'm really liking the mental image of Han Solo siccing a team of trained bobcats on Kylo Ren.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:16 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Chewie just pulls little "bobcat eggs" out of those pouches on his bandolier and when he throws them at stuff they hatch/explode into angry full-grown bobcats.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:21 AM on December 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


Loth-cats
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


*Finn fumbles with some grey spheres*

"Careful, those are bobcat eggs."

"Now you tell me?"
posted by Errant at 9:27 AM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


"That's no moon, it's a giant bobcat egg!"
posted by Rock Steady at 9:33 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hmm, that insta-bread thing that Rey makes was kinda cool... I wonder if there's any more info about it... 'About 200 results for bread from Wookieepedia'... okay that can wait
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


I show people the gloves page to horrify them.

The actual worst page I hold back to defend the sanity of the world.

(It's breasts)
posted by Artw at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Emo Kylo Ren is so good.
posted by ignignokt at 10:00 AM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hmm, that insta-bread thing that Rey makes was kinda cool...

Yes, I think it was good they showed that it was actually bread she was bartering for, cause those neatly sealed small packages looked a little like "space drugs". (Which would still be a better name than death sticks.)
posted by FJT at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Snoke might be the worst Star Wars villain name, which is an achievement.

And Ello Asty might be the best Star Wars name of them all.
posted by effbot at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


And Ello Asty might be the best Star Wars name of them all.

Ah yes, along with his friends Auls Outique and Censedo Ll.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:48 AM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


There is a lot of fantastic deep analysis in this thread, and I love it. But I'm not here to contribute to that right now.

There's one big thing that makes me love a piece of storytelling, be it television, movie, or books: the "of course" factor. I'm sure there's a better name for this, but what I mean is when something happens and I delightedly think, "of course that's how it happens." TFA was full of "of course" moments.

I loved the prop continuity in the Falcon scenes, like Finn tossing aside Luke's lightsaber training drone/ball/droid/thingy, and how the breather masks they used looked like the same ones that were used when they hid the Falcon inside the giant Asteroid Sandworm so many years ago. Of course all that stuff would still be there. Han isn't going to upgrade his safety equipment, and neither he nor Chewbacca is proficient (or interested) at housekeeping. Of course the monster chess board was still set from the time they let the Wookiee win. Of course Rey has to open the same hatch Han was stuck arse-over-teakettle in, trying to fix the ship. That gave such a great sense of physical continuity. The Falcon, stolen and abandoned, was a time capsule full of things from the original movies. Of course it would be.

The prequels were so shiny and clean and un-Star Wars that all the age and grit made me feel like I'd come home to the galaxy far away that I know and love. Rey urbexing a crashed Star Destroyer was brilliant. The instant bread looked pretty cool - I'd try it - but also the kind of Weird Future Food Stuff from a galaxy that gives you blue milk. The sets were cluttered with props and people and confabulations of Muppets, everyone was sweaty and dirty, there was grit and dust: it felt like a used universe. It felt the way Star Wars should.

Kylo Ren both intrigued and annoyed me. Palpatine would've Force-choked the little brat the moment he threw a tantrum and sliced up some useful machinery. Vader would just tilt his head, crook a finger, and slam him to the ground. For all the Sith talk about rage and passion, they also show huge amounts of self-control. They store it up and use it when it serves them. They don't let it control them. Ren hasn't learned this yet. If he does, he'll get scary. Right now, he just needs some sense slapped into him. I did like how his homebrew lightsaber was so subtly wrong: the blade itself made the wrong noises, the thing seemed to sizzle at the ends - he didn't know what he was doing when he made it.

As for Maz Kanata, I have two words: NO CAPES! Tell me someone else thought that.
posted by cmyk at 10:49 AM on December 22, 2015 [31 favorites]


Wookiepedia: Rejected Mon Calamari concept with breasts
posted by Nelson at 10:55 AM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


But there is no perfect Star Wars movie, not even Empire, which has plenty of its own stuff to criticize.

CRAZYTalk!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 AM on December 22, 2015


Spent a while figuring out what "the fucking article" you all were referring to was
posted by azarbayejani at 11:20 AM on December 22, 2015 [33 favorites]


Apparently Daniel Craig's uncredited turn was as stormtrooper JB-007, because of course.
posted by Errant at 11:52 AM on December 22, 2015 [20 favorites]


and I delightedly think, "of course that's how it happens."

Further up in the thread somebody complained about the unlikely coincidence of Han and Chewbacca being anywhere near where they had to be to notice the Falcon taking off. But to me, that was far and a away the best way to get them back into the narrative: if their ship is just sitting empty in a junkyard somewhere, it's obviously been stolen. And obviously they'd be looking for it. Of course.

Had I been writing the script, I'd have come up with something much more convoluted to account for their reappearance. Hell, it would've depended on first coming up for an explanation for their absence first. Having them come back in the way they did is an admirably blunt plot mechanism. So blunt it verges on clever.
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:03 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can we call this cmyk's law of storytelling?
posted by cmyk at 12:07 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


*shrugs* Pretty obvious to me who Snoke is. You kill a guy's beloved pet rancor, it's only natural his grief will twist into a fury and madness that will consume him in a bloody quest for revenge.

Cracked it.
posted by duffell at 12:12 PM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


Apparently Daniel Craig's uncredited turn was as stormtrooper JB-007, because of course.

He delivers a wonderfully dry line reading (one of the times my theater burst into laughter) and I remember thinking "what a great job by whatever bit actor that was".
posted by selfnoise at 12:40 PM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


*shrugs* Pretty obvious to me who Snoke is. You kill a guy's beloved pet rancor, it's only natural his grief will twist into a fury and madness that will consume him in a bloody quest for revenge.

Cracked it.


Nah, bro. You want your mind blown?

Snoke is one letter off from "Snake."

Rey is one letter off from "Ray".

Lando's first line in Episode VIII: "Kept you waiting, huh?"
posted by selfnoise at 12:42 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Snoke is one letter off from "Snake."

Rey is one letter off from "Ray".

Lando's first line in Episode VIII: "Kept you waiting, huh?"



I don't understand that joke at all... please help me selfnoise...
posted by kittensofthenight at 12:48 PM on December 22, 2015




Snoke is one letter off from "Snake."

Rey is one letter off from "Ray".

Lando's first line in Episode VIII: "Kept you waiting, huh?"


I don't understand that joke at all... please help me selfnoise...


Lets just say that midichlorians are a lot like nanomachines, son.
posted by selfnoise at 1:10 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also do not understand what "snake ray" has to do with Lando Calrissian. Unless it's a weird "snakes on a plane" joke?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on December 22, 2015


It's a play on a line from a Metal Gear trailer, featuring a character named Snake, and a giant robot named RAY.
posted by codacorolla at 1:16 PM on December 22, 2015


Metal Gear? Right?

This thread is amazing by the way, took me all of yesterday to read it. Totally agree that Rey is fucking awesome and I hope she is unrelated to Luke.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:17 PM on December 22, 2015


Please Stop Spreading This Nonsense that Rey From Star Wars Is a “Mary Sue” by Charlie Jane Anders at io9

Man, I found Rey incredibly refreshing just BECAUSE she seemed to be take-charge and competant right from the get-go. I can't believe people spent decades complaining about "whiny" Luke and you're going to tell me this character isn't whiny enough?

Also, I like how they took the "whiny" audience surrogate Luke and replaced him with the "excitable" audience surrogate Finn. I love Finn's "holy shiiiiit" reaction to everything.


It's a play on a line from a Metal Gear trailer, featuring a character named Snake, and a giant robot named RAY.


Please don't explain my "jokes", people will realize they're not funny.
posted by selfnoise at 1:20 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been really in to Mark Hamill's recent work on the Flash and re-watching some old Batman cartoons. He is a really great actor when he is allowed to go big. I was disappointed that I'll have to wait 1.5 years to see how Luke has grown and changed with age but if that beard is any indication it will be great.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:20 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Finn's dialogue brought an energy to movie that really engaged me. I was worried during the Poe and Finn scene that it would be to anachronistic, but it clicked once they stole the Tie Fighter. The only thing that didn't work for me was the rushed Star Killer explanation and assault, although I appreciated that the movie wasn't Hobbit length.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:22 PM on December 22, 2015


> Rey is fucking awesome and I hope she is unrelated to Luke.

Agreed on both counts, but I suspect that she will in fact turn out to be his daughter. Star Wars is aimed at kids - never bet against the obvious.

(It would be really cool if they actively worked to subvert the whole concept of "royal blood" - she really is no one, and the Force chooses people for mysterious reasons. But I think we're more likely to see Rey turn to the Dark Side than to find out that she is *not* Luke's daughter.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2015


Talking this over with my kids, I realized that I think Rey and Finn are half-siblings, fathered by Han Solo, only because of the doubling of dialogue with Rey/Han and Rey/Finn. Why the simultaneous phrases, if not for sharing some special bond? And not once, but twice? (Idle thought; not to be construed as anything more.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


BTW: I'm not sure if this has come up in the thread yet, but if you go back and watch the second Teaser trailer, it begins with a Luke voiceover (clearly old Luke, who doesn't actually speak in the movie) about his family. I guess he's either talking to Ben/Kylo or Rey in that VO?

I really, really hope Rey isn't his daughter. That seems like the least interesting possible twist.

Finn's dialogue brought an energy to movie that really engaged me. I was worried during the Poe and Finn scene that it would be to anachronistic, but it clicked once they stole the Tie Fighter. The only thing that didn't work for me was the rushed Star Killer explanation and assault, although I appreciated that the movie wasn't Hobbit length.

Back when people were doing the prequels rewatch here on Fanfare I pointed out that nobody ever really moves quickly in the prequels, even in an emergency. This film definitely didn't have that problem!
posted by selfnoise at 1:27 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Regarding the Rey "Mary Sue"-ness, I think one of the things I really loved about her is that even though she's good at a lot, she seems really jazzed and proud of herself when she does it. Like when she fixes the Falcon in the co-pilot seat (she takes off the compressor, I think? I forget what the actual macguffin part is), and is, like, beaming at Han Solo about how smart the thing she just did was; it's less cool capable always-on badass, and more charmingly-excited nerd who's thrilled to show off the things she knows.

One of the other big scenes that charmed me about her was just before she met BB8, when she was sitting on the sand with the helmet on, glumly chewing. She's not doing anything operatic, she's just kinda bored because the desert kinda sucks, and the camera lingers on her while she chews, the movie kinda wordlessly saying "this person thinks this is all a bit shit and she is right"

Those tiny little human moments went a long way toward me loving her character, and thinking of her more as an actual person than as some kind of author-stand-in-for-coolness.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2015 [57 favorites]


if you go back and watch the second Teaser trailer, it begins with a Luke voiceover (clearly old Luke, who doesn't actually speak in the movie) about his family. I guess he's either talking to Ben/Kylo or Rey in that VO?
I think the line you're thinking of is "The force is strong in my family. I have it. My father has it. My sister has it. You have that power too."

The audio is taken straight from ROTJ, when Luke is telling Leia that they're siblings in the Ewok village or whatever. Although the original line is in a different order: "You have that power too. The Force is strong in my family. I have it. My father has it. My... sister... has it. [MEANINGFUL LOOK]" At least, that's how I remember it.
posted by whitecedar at 1:32 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


That scene with her eating in the shadow of an AT-AT and wearing that Rebellion helmet is one of my very favorite in the entire movie.
posted by kmz at 1:33 PM on December 22, 2015 [29 favorites]


This thread has completely cratered by billable hours in the last couple days. Notwithstanding the foregoing, I want to thank you all for the lovely conversation. Totally worth it.
posted by LegallyBread at 1:46 PM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


she really is no one, and the Force chooses people for mysterious reasons.

This is what I'm hoping, and I'm pegging a bit of that hope on the sub-title of the movie. Rather than make this a dynastic narrative, I'd like to see them work with an over-arching plot something like this: in the wake of (1) Anakin Skywalker slaughtering an entire batch of young Jedi, and (2) Ren offing most of the students of Luke's academy, all within the space of a couple generations, the Force needs new avenues for manifestation. It has therefore begun to channel itself through a seemingly random population of new people and creatures. Because of the disruption to the normal progression of things, the new manifestation is both more powerful and more unstable. People are spontaneously reproducing feats that used to take years of training to achieve, and they don't even know what they're doing or how it's happening. Rey is way out on the far end of the bell curve in this regard, but she's not alone by any stretch of the imagination.

That can be the crisis that draws Luke out of seclusion. Rey can become his emissary, with Finn, Chewbacca and the droids her support team, in a quest through the galaxy attempting to outrace the First Order in recruiting these new Force-sensitives. Finn is actually Force-sensitive himself, now that I think of it. As a bonus, this whole setup can create conflicts of method with Leia and the military forces of the resistance, since they'd be functioning as a convert operation in the midst of an active war, giving us a reason for Luke and Leia to butt heads.

I don't want it to turn into X-Men in space, necessarily. But make it "Avatar: the Last Airbender" in space, and I'm all in.
posted by Ipsifendus at 2:02 PM on December 22, 2015 [16 favorites]


Maybe midichlorians are sensitive to Force-droughts, and multiply at greater rates when the galaxy is running low on Force-sensitives.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:13 PM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


People are spontaneously reproducing feats that used to take years of training to achieve, and they don't even know what they're doing or how it's happening.

I am only half-kidding when I say you should call up Rian Johnson right now because FUCK YES TO THIS
posted by invitapriore at 2:18 PM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


> Maybe midichlorians are sensitive to Force-droughts, and multiply at greater rates when the galaxy is running low on Force-sensitives.

Out! OUT!!
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:26 PM on December 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm still not sure why having some sort of observable biofeedback mechanism aspect to the Force is so much more objectionable than the Force being Interventionist Space God.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:31 PM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Well, more or less objectionable depends on where one wants to set the ratio of fantasy to science fiction in these movies. I suspect midichlorians as a concept are irrepairably damaged by having been introduced in the prequels more than by anything else. But if someone is looking for the Force to work more like the idea of Ki from kung fu movies, where you can cultivate it through the practice of a particular discipline, having a physical explanation sort of rankles.
posted by Ipsifendus at 2:41 PM on December 22, 2015


I think the line you're thinking of is "The force is strong in my family. I have it. My father has it. My sister has it. You have that power too."

One of several things that never made it from the trailers/teasers into the movie (such as Kylo igniting the lightsaber from behind). Abrams came out and said the first part of this was lifted straight out of Jedi, but they then tacked on the ending with Hamill recording it recently. If anything, this really drove my thought that Rey was somehow a Skywalker, and may also be an early indication that they were originally going to make that reveal in this movie, but then opted not to do so.

I would definitely prefer and love it if Rey really was a nobody whom the Force selected to be its next great champion, so to speak, but a theme that has been reiterated by everyone of the higher ups on the production side is that these trilogies are the stories of the Skywalker family. While it's entirely possible Kylo Ren would meet that bill, I don't think that will be the case. There will be other Skywalker children and I believe Rey will be one of, or simply the other one.
posted by Atreides at 2:42 PM on December 22, 2015


My martial arts woo knowledge is a little rusty these days but I don't think qi energy is conceptualized as purely spiritual, is it? What is something you can "cultivate through practice" if not something with a material, physical, biological component?

I suspect midichlorians as a concept are irrepairably damaged by having been introduced in the prequels more than by anything else.

Well this is kind of the thing that bugs me; people didn't like the prequels, and that's fine, but there's a lot of babies in that bathwater.

I just hope the new movies don't make shitting on the prequels part of their fanservice. There's a lot to make use of, expand on, and redeem in those movies.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:47 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


a theme that has been reiterated by everyone of the higher ups on the production side is that these trilogies are the stories of the Skywalker family.

I WILL say that one of George Lucas's bitter grumbling complaints is that he felt the new movies didn't understand this was supposed to be the story of a family. So it may have been that he foresaw Rey as a Skywalker and he's mad at Disney because they decided to go in a different direction.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:48 PM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'd just like to throw out there, to whoever is listening amongst the movie production gods, that Rey + Furiosa is a totally legitimate and workable and potentially amazing tag team duo for a movie.

Just sayin'.
posted by tocts at 2:51 PM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Kyle Ren would totes be into Dark Enlightenment.

Hey, title idea!
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


That scene with her eating in the shadow of an AT-AT and wearing that Rebellion helmet is one of my very favorite in the entire movie.

I love it so much. Like when Luke looks out across the desert in Episode 4, it feels like this big operatic swell, all Belle In The Provincial Town, about to break out into song about how SOMEDAY he is going to be BIGGER than ALL OF THIS, and it feels very dramatic and Chosen One

Whereas Rey reminds me in her staring-across-the-desert scene as nothing so much as a teen in a small-town seven eleven parking lot, just fucking tired of this stupid shit with its stupid merchants and the stupid sand
posted by Greg Nog at 2:52 PM on December 22, 2015 [52 favorites]


I just hope the new movies don't make shitting on the prequels part of their fanservice. There's a lot to make use of, expand on, and redeem in those movies.

This is definitely a very fascinating thing to watch unfold. As someone pointed out above, Abrams and Kasdan have stated that R2 had the map information (which contains the location of the Jedi temples) from the Death Star. He got it when he was plugged in during ANH. Another person then rightfully pointed out, "What, he didn't get it when he was working in the Jedi Temple with Anakin?"

But that might highlight what happens as we go forward. If there's a reasonable excuse to ignore the Prequel Trilogy, they might simply do that. Rebels is really the only Disney Star Wars material that references the events of the Prequel Trilogy, and it does so almost entirely referencing mainly the events from Clone Wars.

I suspect that the Prequels will ultimately become the step children of the Star Wars universe, avoided when possible, and reluctantly engaged in only the most beneficial light. This may or may not hold up depending on future one off films they might do (PLEASE GIVE ME A KENOBI STAND ALONE FILM, PLZ!).
posted by Atreides at 2:53 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kyle Ren would totes be into Dark Enlightenment.

The first time I heard the name Mencius Moldbug I assumed it was, in fact, a new creature from the Star Wars galaxy.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:56 PM on December 22, 2015 [12 favorites]


Although I can't believe I'm saying this, there was a better sens of galactic scale in the prequels. How populous the galaxy was as seen by the huge senate chamber, each representing a star system. Some small touches like the hyper-drive attachment on Obi-Wans ship, indicating the distance of travel was more than a small fighter could accomplish. The different settings seem to be pretty distant and communication took effort.
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:00 PM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


I finally saw this yesterday, and quite enjoyed it. Here are my inane observations.

- Rey, as in ray of light, ray of hope, etc.
- Finn rejects the inhumane slaughtering of villagers. Hence, "Finn the Human"
- Ren is another word for kidney, which Kylo seems to get shot in during the climax.
- Snoke....uh...I got nothing. Maybe he's good at snooker
posted by mrjohnmuller at 3:05 PM on December 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm conflicted about the mary-sue thing. On the one hand I don't agree, but on the other, it was responding partly to some things that bugged me too. I think it's pointing in the direction of a legitimate problem, but it's not a problem with Rey or with the character or the character writing, it's a problem with more of the minor plot points being more hand-wavy than in the original trilogy, and Rey is at the center because she is the center of the movie. (And it may be the case that they're not hand-wavy but that I just haven't seen the movie enough times to connect all the dots)

Watching the film, a lot of things that Rey does raised eyebrows because we didn't find out until later that she was strong in the force. (Farmboy-Luke wasn't a good pilot because he put in all the training hours and had all the best teachers, he was good because of the Force). Whereas seeing Rey shoot a speeding tie fighter out of the air with a shot from a careening moving platform by aiming the bottom of a spaceship she doesn't know how to fly, to move the barrel of a fixed-turret she couldn't see and had no sights for, with ridiculous precision, that's just stupid without the Force. That's not how any of that works. I didn't trust the filmmaker enough to say "Clue! That was a clue! She's a force-user and doesn't know it!", because normally that kind of scene means "Idiot! That was an idiot scriptwriter attempting spectacle! I'm trying hard to suspend my disbelief for you people, could you please at least try to meet me half-way?!"

She kicks ass with a quarterstaff, so she's well ahead when it comes to handling close-combat weapons like a lightsabre; even if she's never used one before she's still put in the hours - a lot of the fundamentals are already in place. I think criticism of her lightsabre skills being too good are misplaced.

Some things (like being better at fixing the Falcon than Han) still ring wrong, so I grasp at my own explanations (it's been many years since Han last tinkered with it, and maybe Rey has done work on it for the previous owner, we don't know, therefore it's plausible.)

So while most of the things make sense in the end, my memories are of the feelings of things not making sense in the moment. I think on my second viewing, this will evaporate. Also because:

I think one of the things I really loved about her is that even though she's good at a lot, she seems really jazzed and proud of herself when she does it

I think having resolved most of the things that were bugging me in the moment, I'm going to enjoy this movie even more when I see it again :)
posted by anonymisc at 3:12 PM on December 22, 2015


Thinking a bit more on the Knights of Ren:

I'm happy to see the writers allowing for a more numerous group of evil (presumably) force-enabled antagonists. The "rule of 2" from the prequels is totally stupid, both logically (how the hell are the Sith staying around if it's just an unbroken chain of 1 Master and 1 Apprentice till the Apprentice kills the Master and repeats?) and storytelling wise (how boring is it that there can't be a bigger threat?). It's so stupid that the expanded universe and RPGs have been coming up with ways around it since basically day 1 (e.g. there's a whole lot of ink spilled explaining that the Sith aren't the only evil users of the force, also that Sith used to be a race but is now a calling of some sort, etc).

Seriously, screw that. Bring on the knightly order of bad dudes with lightsabers. Give us some way to build up stakes that doesn't require blowing up more planets. I don't care if that means they get marked down on the ledger as something other than Sith, just give us the opportunity for some stories that aren't just 1 Big Bad and 1 Apprentice.
posted by tocts at 3:13 PM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I know it's way too early to speculate but I just feel so invested in the new characters now and I really really really hope the next episodes do right by them. Like, I think I trust Rian Johnson but Colin Trevorrow? Eyuch.

Just... Please don't fuck it up guys.
posted by kmz at 3:16 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Although I can't believe I'm saying this, there was a better sens of galactic scale in the prequels. How populous the galaxy was as seen by the huge senate chamber, each representing a star system. Some small touches like the hyper-drive attachment on Obi-Wans ship, indicating the distance of travel was more than a small fighter could accomplish. The different settings seem to be pretty distant and communication takes effort.

I'll concede that, but i also feel that one of the worst things about the sequels was how they handled scale.

Over the past few days i've talked to a ton of people about this movie. My dad, old friends, new friends, random internet acquaintances. Every single person had something to say about the new movie not being visually overwhelming or being really clunky with trying to show Huge Scale.

Some of the best parts of the prequels were yea, that scale... the few moments in which it was done well. A lot of the BAD stuff was them fucking up that scale.

The Coruscant chase is visually muddy and confusing. Basically every space battle that has more than a couple ships is. Every ground battle is, unless it's a very small fight usually with lightsabers(and some sequences inside the palace).

Even the depth charge sequence with the jedi fighters is all "look at this RIDICULOUS weapon with it's HUGE explosions that are like, the only sound!".

So yea, there were moments when the sense of scale was well done or clever. But the fact that the scale refused to shift gears from "omg epic" at nearly any moment in the prequels really harms them.

Even the coruscant looking city in TFA feels like it has more of a sense of scale. It's not infinitely tall buildings that go right to the core of the planet and are thousands of floors high. It looks like the city from blade runner, but star wars'd.

I don't even think we've gotten a chance to see the scale of the galaxy in this new take on the universe yet, because i don't think there's been a context where it would be super meaningful. ANH wasn't all scale scale scale either. The closest we got was the map. But i, for one, am happy they're not beating us over the head with EPIC EPIC MUST BE EPIC.

The closest TFA got to that was the starkiller blowing up planets you could see and that was one of the weakest things in the movie.

I think we will see a city, or a big fleet, or a better shot of a whole system, or something like the senate. But shit, i like the scale of things in this new take. When they show them addressing the first order army it's what, a couple squadrons of tie fighters, a few walkers, maybe a couple thousand troops. It isn't a billion clone troopers or any of that stuff they showed in the prequels. It's like, a couple marine expeditionary units but in the star wars universe. I LOVED that.

I think the most meaningful thing they've done for scale is show that there aren't a lot of people left fighting this on either side, and that this is just a small corner of the universe. We don't need to know there's 1000 kinds of aliens. And small touches like the operatives in the bar contacting the resistance/first order did make the universe feel big without being too heavy handed.
posted by emptythought at 3:18 PM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Clone Wars et al seemed to solve this problem by making sure every Sith Lord had a shitload of not-officially-Sith underlings running around with face tattoos and lightsabers, but it'd be fun to find out that in addition to the Sidious/Vader Sith tradition, there were also the True and Loyal Church of the Sith, the Originalist Dark Lords of Authentic Sithhood, the First Orthodox Order of Sith Knights, etc etc etc and basically the galaxy is just pockmarked with Sith pairs following the rule-of-two and not recognizing the legitimacy of any of the other Sith sects.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:22 PM on December 22, 2015 [28 favorites]


I had some windshield time today (after having seen the film twice now) and I have my new pet theory on who Rey is, how she is a Skywalker, and how it is going to lead to an amazing Episode VIII surprise reveal that is also an amazing callback to ESB.

The first observation is that we don't know exactly how long it has been since the Emperor fell and Death Star II was destroyed. We can guess a bit, but it may be 30 years, it may be 35, perhaps even 40?

Likewise, we don't know the ages of the characters. But, Rey in particular I believe is young, especially the scenes on Jakku. My friend's wife thought she was supposed to be about 16. I think a bit older, but barely an adult.

Luke and Leia seem to know who she likely is (and by extension I'll assume Chewie). No one else does. But Kylo Ren, or Ben, appears to start having a suspicion.

And that is because this is what happened:
Shortly after the Emperor fell, Han and Leia married. They soon have a son amid the chaos and as he got older it became evident that he was strong in the force. So, they began to have Luke train him.

Luke, seeking to rebuild the Jedi order, and perhaps with council from Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin begins rounding up force sensitive children. With Kylo being the oldest and apparently most powerful.

But, Kylo is short tempered, he has his grandfather's anger in him. As he becomes a teenager he begins to rebel.

He also has his father's charm. By the time he is fifteen or sixteen he has begun to sneak away, to a relationship with another young woman.

Han, Leia and Luke find out. They disapprove and send Kylo away (Away from Luke? I'm not sure on this point, perhaps he gives him a quest of some sort).

But, it turns out his sweetheart already has a child coming, and another man in her life who is a more suitable protector. The protector is needed because Kylo breaks while away, and comes back to exact vengeance on his parents and Luke by killing the young Jedi. He can never confirm whether the child is born, but begins pursuing his former sweetheart across the galaxy, always one step behind her, and ahead of his father.

One day, nearly caught, they are forced to abandon young Rey, promising they will return. Han never knows where she was left, and in his uncontrolled anger Kylo kills his former lover and her new husband without learning of his daughter.

Now, Han and Leia have figured it out. Perhaps telling Rey as well. Luke isn't her father, or her uncle. He is her great uncle. She must train with Luke and prepare for the day that she faces Kylo Ren again. Rey must reveal to him, in a bid to bring him to her side, "Ben, you are my father."
posted by meinvt at 3:27 PM on December 22, 2015 [20 favorites]


I agree empythought. The inital shot after the crawl of the First Order capitol ship was so much more awe-inspiring than the opening of RotS, specifically because of the lack of spectacle let the scale of the ships sink in. I was pretty much only referring to the sense of how big the Republic was and the outer reaches being difficult to reach and communicate with, not the scale of the battles or most of the settings, which was pleasingly readable and human scale in TFA. The ground battles seemed like a lot of effort was spent choreographing shots and making each soldier important. But the sense of the distances involved in space travel, the distances involved in..hyperdrive sun cannons, communication between the Resistance recon team and the base, where the hell the planets were located, etc seemed a lot smaller to me because there weren't enough establishing shots or sense of travel. Does that make sense?
posted by kittensofthenight at 3:27 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Two there are, plus exceptions.
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


it'd be fun to find out that in addition to the Sidious/Vader Sith tradition, there were also the True and Loyal Church of the Sith, the Originalist Dark Lords of Authentic Sithhood, the First Orthodox Order of Sith Knights, etc etc etc and basically the galaxy is just pockmarked with Sith pairs following the rule-of-two and not recognizing the legitimacy of any of the other Sith sects.

I must have seen it quoted elsewhere, since I thought it was in this thread, but the official Star Wars database entry on Lor San Tekka mentions something relevant and amusingly early Star Wars sounding:
Following decades of adventure, San Tekka retired to live simply on Jakku, where he follows the dictates of the once-forbidden Church of the Force.
posted by Gnatcho at 3:28 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Those tiny little human moments went a long way toward me loving her character, and thinking of her more as an actual person than as some kind of author-stand-in-for-coolness.

The moment for me was when she finishes dinner, licks the plate (cause only a quarter-portion, can't waste), puts it aside, dusts off and dons the helmet, and looks out wistfully over the sand. Right there we know: she wants to be a pilot, she wants to be part of something, it's not fear keeping her here but something else, and no matter how tough and badass she is, she's also a child with dreams she allows herself to have in a quiet solitary moment. Just amazing.

Similarly amazing without words is Mark Hamill at the end. His whole look is great, but then the emotions that run through his eyes and over his weary face, as he sees that lightsaber and what it means, what must have happened to bring this woman here, that it's time to come back whether or not he's ready...he just does an outstanding job in a few seconds. Weirdly, the thing I noticed the most the second time around was his hair and beard, which is styled so much like prequel Obi-Wan. I feel like the Force makes everyone look the same in the end.

Like when she fixes the Falcon in the co-pilot seat (she takes off the compressor, I think? I forget what the actual macguffin part is), and is, like, beaming at Han Solo about how smart the thing she just did was; it's less cool capable always-on badass, and more charmingly-excited nerd who's thrilled to show off the things she knows.

And really well counterbalanced by seen-this-shit Han Solo.

"What did you do?"

*beams* "I bypassed the compressor!"

*side-eye* "...huh."

Now that I think about it, a lot of the way that Han Solo deals with Rey is a lot of the way Harrison Ford seems to deal with the enthusiastic fanbase, with a little embarrassment and a little disdain. He's clearly charmed by her against his instincts, and I think if we'd had a couple more scenes with him being won over, I'd feel less like his story is dominated by the metaknowledge of how over it the actor is.
posted by Errant at 4:06 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Han is dead, right? (Spoiler alert?)
posted by popcassady at 4:07 PM on December 22, 2015


I don't think we're going to really know until Ep VIII. He could be returning because somehow he fell through a reactor core with a lightsaber hole in his chest and survived the planet exploding ... or maybe they just need him for some flashback footage.
posted by tocts at 4:10 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Need to rewatch to see if he Vulcan-mind-melded with Chewie.
posted by popcassady at 4:13 PM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hokey Relgion Ghost.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


(cause only a quarter-portion, can't waste)
That's what I was thinking, too, so it felt really wrong to me when she spilled some of the powder as she was dumping it in the bowl.
posted by clorox at 4:21 PM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


- Snoke....uh...I got nothing. Maybe he's good at snooker

He's cocking a snook at the New Republic.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:21 PM on December 22, 2015


Could be some force ghost bullshit?

Interesting order on that cast list.
posted by biffa at 4:26 PM on December 22, 2015


I squirmed a little at how Rey is instantly better than Han at fixing up the Falcon, not because it's implausible or Mary Sue-ish (fresh eyes are a thing, and Rey knows her shit) but because it seemed like it's part of a thing Abrams was doing at that point in the movie, where he's like putting old Star Wars to bed. See also Finn going on and on about the gunner's chair. Audience, this old original-trilogy stuff you love is, no joke, kind of a ruined and broken piece of shit, and could easily be better.

I noticed one wipe transition early on in the film. Were there others? I hope someone with a better eye makes a video of like a stylistic progression. Though I hope it also skewers the shit out of Abrams because oooh how I hate him. *shakey fist*

So yeah my current theory is that the first bit of the movie is Abrams doing homage, but he is also trying to wean the audience away from classic SW towards AbramsSW. Older isn't better... Hope has failed... Relinquish to the New... There's a decent theme in there, but its not really pursued in some large sense. Its just there to get buy-in to AbramsSW. The rest of it is lost in callbacks and switcheroos, some lines by characters 4 u 2 consider.

Though it's probably no accident that the baddie is the most focused of all on the old movies. Hell he keeps a prop in his bedroom. He wants things to be the way they were and hates traitors. He probably wigged out in Jedi school because Luke tried to tell him the EU wasn't canon anymore. His opposite, Rey, is steeped in the old things as well, but is also bright, blank, forward looking.

Anyway, if I'm right at all, I think the joke's on him because the Star Wars homage part is good watchin', while, for example, the episode in Maz's Castle/bar is TV product; one that would look clunky and low-effort on Stargate SG1.
posted by nom de poop at 4:27 PM on December 22, 2015


Though it's probably no accident that the baddie is the most focused of all on the old movies. Hell he keeps a prop in his bedroom. He wants things to be the way they were and hates traitors. He probably wigged out in Jedi school because Luke tried to tell him the EU wasn't canon anymore.

This Emo Kylo Ren twitter account is giving me lols today.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:31 PM on December 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


Rens Rights Activist.

Everything.
posted by Sophie1 at 4:43 PM on December 22, 2015 [19 favorites]


"what if men and women just have naturally different levels of force ability"
posted by Errant at 4:45 PM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


Perhaps Rey has already had some force training but, because of trauma, cannot remember undergoing it.

Also, another thought: Luke brought the lightsaber to Maz's bar. He recovered it from Bespin and left it at Maz's as a sort of sword in the stone.
posted by popcassady at 4:57 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


meinvt: Ben, you are my father.

I don't know if the age differences can be made to work out, but this is a seriously awesome theory.

(It bugs me that this faraway galaxy isn't bound by Relativity, because that would make random ages easy to handle. But I guess that seriously screws with simultaneity.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 5:22 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think one of the things I really loved about her is that even though she's good at a lot, she seems really jazzed and proud of herself when she does it

Ha. Daisy Ridley's middle name is Jazz. Well okay, one of her middle names.
posted by megafauna at 5:46 PM on December 22, 2015


I squirmed a little at how Rey is instantly better than Han at fixing up the Falcon

I'm as big of a Han Solo fan as anybody, but Han is notoriously lousy at fixing the Falcon. It's held together by spit, baling wire, and duct tape. If he'd been any good at fixing the Falcon, it would have stayed fixed occasionally.
posted by immlass at 5:53 PM on December 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


Originalist Dark Lords of Authentic Sithhood

Please tell me there's a Sithhood of the (Hyperspace) Traveling Lightsaber.
posted by tocts at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


And yeah, let's be clear here: like 80% of the Han/Leia/Chewie plot in ESB revolves around Han and Chewie failing to fix the Falcon's hyperdrive, repeatedly.
posted by tocts at 5:57 PM on December 22, 2015 [17 favorites]


And yeah, let's be clear here: like 80% of the Han/Leia/Chewie plot in ESB revolves around Han and Chewie failing to fix the Falcon's hyperdrive, repeatedly.

And Lando's cloud minions also.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:06 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah Han and Chewie seem to get by on their willingness to take risks and break laws; half the fixing-the-Falcon scenes were always them shouting angrily at each other like two dads over a rickety lawnmower when it's still too early on Saturday morning to justify cracking open a cold one
posted by Greg Nog at 6:33 PM on December 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


half the fixing-the-Falcon scenes were always them shouting angrily at each other like two dads over a rickety lawnmower when it's still too early on Saturday morning to justify cracking open a cold one

oh, so never o'clock, got it
posted by Errant at 6:44 PM on December 22, 2015


Han Solo is alive. Evidence as follows:
1-No body
2-He is still breathing when he is thrown from the catwalk.
3- Leia shudders, but keep in mind that her son has made decision to go all evil.
4-He's Han Solo.
5-You probably thought Poe was dead too.
posted by humanfont at 6:57 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did he survive by falling into a very sturdy refrigerator?
posted by knuckle tattoos at 7:12 PM on December 22, 2015 [46 favorites]


My only complaint. Anakin's grandson is going to the darkside and talking to his Vader Helmet. Where was Anakin's force ghost?
posted by humanfont at 7:22 PM on December 22, 2015


He fell into the trash compactor that Phasma was in, and in her huge annoyance at the stupidity on display, she took him along as she busted right out of there and is now keeping him in a bacta tank like the world's grumpiest goldfish while she plots destruction.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:23 PM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm as big of a Han Solo fan as anybody, but Han is notoriously lousy at fixing the Falcon. It's held together by spit, baling wire, and duct tape. If he'd been any good at fixing the Falcon, it would have stayed fixed occasionally.

Han is an intuitive pilot and engineer. Not a lot of schooling, but smart as hell and can *make* his hacks on the Falcon work, mostly. Plus there's the problem that Falcon has three droid brains that run it and they tend to squabble.

Considering how much of the Falcon's local history and modifications that Rey was aware, she's probably done some of the work on it, may have even flown in it or piloted the ship before.

Where was Anakin's force ghost?

Abrahams was only ripping off Star Wars, not Return of the Jedi.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


My only complaint. Anakin's grandson is going to the darkside and talking to his Vader Helmet. Where was Anakin's force ghost?

Ben probably doesn't know who it is because the actor keeps changing.
posted by Artw at 7:24 PM on December 22, 2015 [23 favorites]


Why was he carrying something that he could take into a fight with a lightsaber?

I realized on the second viewing that this scene exists to explain why Finn can hold his own against (a wounded) Kylo Ren despite not being Force Sensitive (assuming they stick to that) -- TFA-era Stormtroopers are trained in anti-lightsaber tactics.

As a bonus it will make future RPGs easier to justify mooks that can resist ligthsabers.
posted by gerryblog at 7:24 PM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Nobody thought Poe was dead.
posted by Artw at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


The sinking exploding ship was trying really loud to shout, "No, seriously folks, he's dead!"
posted by Drinky Die at 7:30 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like to think Han was saved by Luke's cut off hand and they're off having adventures.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 PM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


C'mon, we've all played this "watching a movie" game before.

Also he's pretty clearly on the poster.
posted by Artw at 7:33 PM on December 22, 2015


I just saw a Star Wars movie in a theater THAT I DIDN'T IMMEDIATELY REGRET SEEING!!!!
posted by Golem XIV at 8:10 PM on December 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


1-No body

When Han was thrown into the shaft, I momentarily saw the reams and reams of fan fiction that will be written to keep him alive. The same way every single EU story involved Boba Fett escaping the Sarlacc, every single post-VII story will involve Boba Fett flying into an exploding Starkiller to save Han.
posted by Gary at 8:20 PM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Speaking of picture painting, Isaac explained how the character backstory he created for Poe before the film found itself in the Marvel Comic, Star Wars: Shattered Empire.

“This is one of the very cool things about working with Lucasfilm and J.J. [Abrams] is we’re creating this stuff together,” Isaac said. “And they’re open to that and they’re excited by that. So [the backstory] was a collaboration. That was me realizing that Yavin, the Rebel base at the end of A New Hope, was shot in Guatemala. I was born in Guatemala. This takes place 30 years later. Which is close to my age. And so I thought ‘Why couldn’t Poe be from Yavin? He could be from there, that rebel base.’ And I said that in some interviews. Lucasfilm heard that, it got back to the creators of Shattered Empire and they thought ‘That’s a cool idea.’ This is the first time where me talking about my character background I usually do as an actor, I get a comic book out of it. It’s pretty wild. They’re doing a beautiful job. I think it’s great. The story itself I had nothing to do with just the seed of that’s where Poe in born.”
-- io9
posted by bettafish at 8:39 PM on December 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


Don't forget, Rey mentions the junk guy had her work on the Falcon, installing the compressor. She knew exactly where to go and what to do from that experience. She didn't necessarily out fix Han.
posted by Atreides at 8:44 PM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


The sucessful navigation of an asteroid field was also thought to be impossible. Yet Han survived that.
posted by humanfont at 8:44 PM on December 22, 2015


I never wanted Death Star 3.0 and I really don't want to see version 4, but I am so looking forward to the inevitable Hoth Assault 2: AT-AT Boogaloo. Big lumbering death machines and BOMBASTIC IMPERIAL MIGHT are always better than running around in corridors and impersonal planet-kersplodey effects.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:47 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you're like me and might not read the novel and wants to know some facts the movie didn't get to, you should read this list.
posted by numaner at 8:48 PM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Who actually knows that Vader died?

SLIGHT SPOILERS FROM THE NOVEL: Both Snoke and Kylo knows that Vader sacrificed himself to save Luke; Snoke called him a fool and Kylo said he just had a "sentimental" moment.
posted by numaner at 8:51 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Setting fire to Anakin was a bit of a mean trick if he wasn't dead.
posted by Artw at 9:00 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


why did i already think about this so much?
posted by emptythought

eponysterical
posted by numaner at 9:09 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess he's had worse...
posted by Artw at 9:14 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you're like me and might not read the novel and wants to know some facts the movie didn't get to, you should read this list.

Well, there goes my half-baked theory that Rey was tapping in to the more-accessible dark side when she started using her Force powers.

Also, C-3PO at the head of a robotic spy network? Really?
posted by clorox at 9:21 PM on December 22, 2015


1. No body

The star wars movies are built on repeating motifs (e.g. "I got a bad feeling about this"). One of the repeating motifs is death by giant pit. The Emperor. Death Maul. Boba Fett. There is also no body for Obi wan, Yoda, etc.

Luke survived a giant pit but the audience was quickly shown that. I think a pit fall is the traditional Star Wars way to kill a character dead-for-reals.
posted by anonymisc at 9:31 PM on December 22, 2015


On the list of things that happened to Han—lightsaber through the chest; left for dead in a facility that was soon blown up, on a planet that was also blown up; exuberant disinterest on the part of H. Ford to continue playing the role—the pit fall is really the least of his worries.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:43 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I won't believe Han is dead till I see an official First Order death certificate.

</truther>
posted by mazola at 9:50 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Darth Maul turned out not to be dead for real.

/wonders about the emperor. >
posted by Artw at 9:51 PM on December 22, 2015


Snoke is secretly Han whose fall in the pit made him Force-sensitive and is holograming from the future. The Force Awakens is about his Force.
posted by numaner at 9:52 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


make it "Avatar: the Last Airbender" in space, and I'm all in

I so so so so so want this to happen
posted by numaner at 9:53 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]




I'm silently dying over here so I won't wake up the roommate, I actually know someone who would totally act like Emo Kylo Ren if put in the exact same situation.

dear diary hux and i are wearing black to commemorate the defeat at the battle of endor we both always wear black but today it means more

grandpa does my hair look okay

i get all my winter clothes at Hoth Topic

*force-slams his bedroom door*

what about the civilian contractors who lost their lives on the second death star

#notallsith

*corners you at a party to explain the Force to you even though you literally wrote the book on it and all he read was the review*
posted by numaner at 10:28 PM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


okay I finally saw it and

a girl

with a lightsaber

my fourteen year old self is so, so vindicated.

I may or may not have coherent thoughts later but you guys. I built my own lightsaber with a lathe and a lucite rod and an LED when I was fourteen years old and I just saw a GIRL with a LIGHTSABER on the big screen tonight in a film that was really actually for real Star Wars and I am so, so, so happy.

It wasn't perfect but for that I can forgive every other thing.
posted by dogheart at 10:47 PM on December 22, 2015 [50 favorites]


I'm 47 years old. I lived Star Wars the first time around and that will never be recreated (not for me anyway).

My kids loved this movie and that brings me joy. So mission accomplished.
posted by mazola at 11:01 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]




Yglesias: I'd like to see how history shakes out before I come out with an opinion on a charged issue like Did I Enjoy This Movie
posted by Greg Nog at 1:12 AM on December 23, 2015 [32 favorites]


I've only seen it once: But was Han's "Hoth" coat blue or brown inTFA?

I ask because at times it seemed its right and proper blue, and yet there were a couple of scenes where it was brownish, and another cut where it seemed to shift colours, and I wondered if they were trolling.

And, was it his Hoth gear at all?
posted by Mezentian at 1:33 AM on December 23, 2015




"It's much, much too early to tell if you had any fun or not. Maybe you won't like the next movie, and then won't you feel stupid for saying that you enjoyed this one when it's retrospectively artcrime?"
posted by Errant at 2:23 AM on December 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


So you know how I said that it was highly unlikely that there'd be a lot of Poe/Finn because no one pays attention to adorable guys of colour?

Thank you, Internet, for proving me wrong.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:24 AM on December 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've only seen it once: But was Han's "Hoth" coat blue or brown inTFA?

It was white and gold.

#so2015
posted by crossoverman at 3:00 AM on December 23, 2015 [19 favorites]


you guys are gonna LOVE friendship

It is Magic.
posted by Mezentian at 3:41 AM on December 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


It was white and gold.
#so2015


Original 1980s controversy is BEST.
posted by Mezentian at 3:42 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Internet, for proving me wrong.

I just figured it was a given, and I hate slash with the burning fire of Starkiller base.
But, you know, I guess for you it's a Life Day/Droidmass miracle!
posted by Mezentian at 3:47 AM on December 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The coat he wore on Hoth in ESB definitely looks pretty darn brown. His big coat in TFA looked like a very dark gray to me.
posted by clorox at 4:05 AM on December 23, 2015


His big coat in TFA looked like a very dark gray to me.

What.... what?
HERETIC!
posted by Mezentian at 4:22 AM on December 23, 2015


Saw it last night, have some theories and thoughts, need to catch up on the thread, but mostly just came in to say that it was really hard to watch Adam Driver be the new baddie, because I'm mostly familiar with his work on Girls, so I kept thinking of him as Darth Fuckboy.
posted by palomar at 5:30 AM on December 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


That was pretty much my whole first take on him. I liked him a lot more the second time around, but the first time, I kept expecting him to use his lightsaber for pegging play or something.
posted by Errant at 5:59 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


so I kept thinking of him as Darth Fuckboy

I'm not sure the film as text presents any compelling reason to give up this approach.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:01 AM on December 23, 2015 [24 favorites]


My kids loved this movie and that brings me joy. So mission accomplished.

Yep. I was really happy with how much more I enjoyed the movie than I expected to, but the bigger deal in my mind is that when the last scene smashed to the credits, my 11 year old daughter made an audible cry of dismay that it was over. My nephew apparently wrapped up his viewing immediately wanting to know when, exactly, the next chapter is coming. So this thing is playing exactly the way it should to the demographic that really counts.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:11 AM on December 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Does The Dark Side Of The Force just turn u into a fuckboy or what

(Whole thread is good.)
posted by kmz at 6:12 AM on December 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Saw it last night, loved it.

But I think everyone is missing the obvious key that ties all the plots together. Luke is obviously Rey’s father. But equally obvious is this: GENDER-SWAPPED HAN SOLO IS OBVIOUSLY REY’S MOTHER.

Go with me for a minute:

-Leia sends her sweet boy Ben off to Luke Skywalker’s Montessori Religious Fundamentalist Jedi Summer Camp/Gifted and Talented program, partially because she and Han are fighting all the time, also sometimes their ships and bases are firebombed, which is generally not recommended for childhood development
-Han pisses Leia off, and she sends him away. Then he pisses someone else off, who genderswaps him as punishment. Figuring that if anyone can fix it, Luke can, he heads off to wherever the school is. But when he gets there, a wacky set of coincidences means that he somehow doesn’t manage to tell Luke who he is, and then they’re making out for some reason and Han goes with it. Because why not. Old school love triangle has already explored all the other permutations.
-Ben, already feeling excluded by his mystical classmates because they think he’s both royalty AND dirty rebel scum (it takes a while for Jedi school to teach kids to leave their prejudices behind), suddenly has no facetime w/Uncle Luke, because Uncle Luke is always running off to mash faces with his new mystery girlfriend.
-School lessons suffer. “Balance rocks for 12 hours, feel the force!” Luke says, then peaces out. Jedi busywork! Not surprising, since Luke has, like, half of one 101 credit in the Jedi curriculum. His school is not accredited.
-Ben befriends the tiny man who runs the local candy shop. “You seem like such a brave and smart young man!” kindly Mister Snoke chuckles. “More caramels?”
-Han gets pregnant, reacts w/panic and lying. The usual.

Eventually there is a big showdown after Rey is born, kindly Mister Snoke somehow arranges a revelation scene where Han is switched back to his old self, Ben sees the whole thing, realizes his father came to the Jedi School planet to conduct a gender swapped affair with his uncle AND NEVER EVEN CAME TO SEE HIM OR GIVE HIM ANY ALLOWANCE MONEY, has some sort of Jedi rage blackout. Han and Luke escape, separately, someone else has the baby (Jedi school gym teacher?), they all scatter.

When Ben comes to, all his classmates are slaughtered around him. Maybe from his Force tantrum, maybe NOT, but Mister Snoke pulls a Scar and a “Simba WHAT HAVE YOU DONE” and says that Ben can never go home, they’ll never want him now, first they sent him away and now he’s a monster, but Mister Snoke will take him in. Mister Snoke will give him a home, and a new name, and his dead grandfather’s charred skull. Everything will be fine, little buddy!

So, the traumatized, newly named Rylo Ken runs off to be a bad guy, and he tries super hard to be extra evil, so that Mister Snoke won’t send him back to his mother. She’ll be so MAD.

Luke, horrified at Han’s betrayal, and also at how much he truly sucked at educational administration and basic pedagogy, runs off to find a possibly mythical temple. He thinks Han has the baby, or thinks the baby died, or something.

Han gets back into smuggling, sure, why not. He thinks Luke has the baby, or the baby died, or something.

The Jedi gym teacher sends a message to Han that he needs to come pick up his Jedi kid on Jakku. The message misses Han, but gets to Leia, who thinks it is a weirdly cruel insult about Ben, and ignores it.

And 20 years later: BUM BAH BAH DAH BUM BAH DAHHHHHHHHHHH

(Please note: the joy of this crackpot theory is that it adds a lot of unsubtle layers to any interactions where:
-anyone talks to Han about Luke (“Yeah, I knew Luke.” BOY DID HE.)
-Han looks at Rey with his heart bursting through his eyes, especially because she has such an inexplicably instinctive way of working on the Millennium Falcon
-Rylo Ken being so perplexed yet fascinated by Rey
-Rylo Ken promising hologram Mister Snoke that he can totally be evil, he can! He might need some help but he can definitely do it! Please don’t send me home, please please let me stay! I promise to double my evil quota for the month, really truly!)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:15 AM on December 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


I saw it last night. Loved it. I had a smile on my face right up until the very end. Fortunately, I had nothing major spoiled for me, only things like "they show the chess board in the Falcon again", which I would have preferred to have been a surprise, but whatever.

I saw Jedi on opening night when I was 13. Waited three hours with my older brothers. May 25, 1983. I've been waiting for this movie ever since. I had my 13 year old son with me and he also enjoyed it.

It was a Star Wars movie. It was what the prequels should have been. It was what Star Wars as written and directed by not-hacks was like. Yet it felt very much like a modern movie and not something from 1978. Go figure.

The only thing I didn't care for was the giant bad guy who was Kylo Ren's master. He just didn't feel like something out of this universe. Felt more Lord of the Rings to me.

I enjoyed Adam Driver more than I thought I would. I hate him on Girls, though I hate everyone on that goddamn show. His tantrums made him feel a bit like someone out of Spaceballs but I actually enjoyed that about him.

I want to see it again after reading about all the Easter eggs.

Seeing "Bad Robot" right away in the end credits was weird, as was not having the Fox fanfare in the beginning.

It's not gonna win best picture, but it was a totally enjoyable Star Wars movie.
posted by bondcliff at 6:23 AM on December 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, one of the things I loved most was how they showed us familiar things, but more of them. Like the inside if a TIE fighter, the TIE fighters in their hangers. TIE fighters have ejection seats and parachutes! They showed more of the Falcon, but also familiar stuff like the holo-chess, the gas masks, and the smuggling compartments. The goddamn targeting computer with it's shitty 1970s graphics! And the deflector shield thingy was square because Lando knocked the old one off on the Death Star 2.

And it was great to see Chewie be more of a central character rather than a sidekick. He was a badass in this one. Funny though that Han had never before noticed Chewie's crossbow.

It was a great mix of the familiar and the new, which is exactly what it should have been.
posted by bondcliff at 6:35 AM on December 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


The only thing I didn't care for was the giant bad guy who was Kylo Ren's master. He just didn't feel like something out of this universe. Felt more Lord of the Rings to me.

It struck me as an older reference--the Great and Terrible Oz.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:36 AM on December 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


I felt the hologram was definitely intended to mislead, though probably not Hux or Kylo, unless Snoke's interactions with Kylo have been exclusively through holograms. The first time we spied the Emperor, he was a giant hologram hovering over a kneeling Vader in ESB. I think that served as a reference as well.
posted by Atreides at 6:45 AM on December 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like the inside if a TIE fighter, the TIE fighters in their hangers. TIE fighters have ejection seats and parachutes!

Funny thing about the TIE fighter, I did sorta wonder how much they were using it to drop some info on the hardcore nerds, as far as how things have changed under the control of the First Order. Two things spring to mind that aren't said, but are apparent:

First, older TIE fighters were single seat. So, apparently the First Order has a new version with a pilot and a gunner. Teamwork (vs. just having two TIE fighters in the air at once), I guess?

Second, and more importantly, TIE fighters from the original trilogy reportedly don't even have landing gear, in order to prevent defection (you have to land them in a special thing in the hangar). Parachutes would probably be right out, in that context. But, the First Order doesn't have a problem with this, perhaps due to the whole mind control / indoctrination thing.
posted by tocts at 6:48 AM on December 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


This thread is almost a week old – can we just keep it running until Rogue One comes out? I've been enjoying this discussion almost as much as the film itself.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 6:54 AM on December 23, 2015 [24 favorites]



Funny thing about the TIE fighter, I did sorta wonder how much they were using it to drop some info on the hardcore nerds, as far as how things have changed under the control of the First Order.


There is a self-proclaimed "hardcore nerd" in the next cube over. I have listened to him yammer on about how "awful" the movie is ever since the first teaser trailer. I just listened to him rant about how predictable the movie was (of course he saw it opening weekend, even though he knew he was going to hate it) so it is my wish that J.J. Abrams and any other future directors go out of their way to piss off the hardcore nerds.
posted by bondcliff at 6:57 AM on December 23, 2015 [17 favorites]


Also, the First Order Nazi-esque call backs felt really out of place for Star Wars. The general who was giving the speech sounded like an honest to god true believer that echoed real Nazis waaaay too much. I was all like "JJ, what the fuck my man? This is supposed to be escapist fun, not space nazis!"

I don't think TFA was great, I didn't hate it either. But it did manage to sour me on J.J. Abrams as a director. He's solid, but not great and his directorial work often feels derivative (like Super 8). He's been involved in a lot of stuff I like, such as Fringe, Lost and Alias, which makes me think he's stronger writer and/or idea guy as opposed to director. For that, look no further than the Star Trek films, which were pretty unmemorable.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ok, second viewing now questions: The First Order are so far 100% human, right? They're ethnically diverse within humanity, but I spotted no aliens at all and Hux's distaste at the clone army suggestions - I'm thinking they're pushing the human eugenics hard, even though the Supreme Leader is clearly Not Quite Human - that the First Order is the human-only section and every other race is welcome into Snoke's horrible empire but all neatly and orderly sectioned off into their own sectors? Or is Snoke the glorious future of evolved humans to them?

And more than that - I didn't see any droids in service of the First Order this time either. I was thinking of CP3PO's droid spy network and how Rey really talks to BB-8 and treats BB-8 as a sentient creature with individual worth and not a commodity. The First Order seems to have no independent droids - instead they use humans, programmed like droids, and turned into a giant hive-machine. Is that related to the First Order being Force-driven and anti-droid, or some other EU reference?

Another little thing I absolutely appreciated was that they let Rey get dirty. Her hands are weathered and grimy, her face is basically clean but not all "I'm fighting crime in subtle make-up" - she looks like someone who has been sweating and climbing through a jungle when she does those things. It's so good.

And the camera angles - I was watching for all the usual lingering on body parts and the camera doesn't - the camera gazes at everyone pretty equally. When Rey is crawling through the ducts, there's no swing of the camera to linger on her butt or to go over her face, framing her oh-so-pretty with cleavage - the way they did with Padme which reduced her from this kickass Senator-fighter to a hapless Jedi pin-up by the end. The camera lingered most on Han Solo of all of the characters, and it was so - not exactly neutral, but the sexualized aspects of the characters weren't spotlighted.

Also all the touching. The Resistance people are constantly touching each other. Rey on Jakku doesn't touch anyone. She parks at a distance, she works alone, she holds herself carefully apart and she doesn't like being touched. Finn touches but in this furniture way - people are just furniture at first, and then there's that moment somewhere for both of them where they start touching people for more than utility. It's so warm.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:59 AM on December 23, 2015 [20 favorites]


Rey is not a role model for little girls (Spoiler: title of article may not exactly reflect actual contents)
posted by anastasiav at 8:06 AM on December 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


The coat he wore on Hoth in ESB definitely looks pretty darn brown. His big coat in TFA looked like a very dark gray to me.

Crap. I always saw blue (most of the photos AND the action figure showed it being blue), but, to quote Henry from Longmire: it is what it is.

All things considered, I'd prefer it in navy blue. That's Han's jam!
posted by grubi at 8:11 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread is almost a week old – can we just keep it running until Rogue One comes out? I've been enjoying this discussion almost as much as the film itself.

Fanfare threads don't close, so I really wouldn't be surprised if this happens.

so I kept thinking of him as Darth Fuckboy

I'm not sure the film as text presents any compelling reason to give up this approach.


Yes, this is basically his name for me now now.

From KMZ's twitter thread above:

Not All Kylo Ren
/tips sith hood
m'leia
Rens' Might Activists. They're not anti-Jedi; they're just concerned about issues that affect dark side users.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:23 AM on December 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, I wrote another post: Tolkien, THE FORCE AWAKENS, and the Sadness of Expanded Universes.
posted by gerryblog at 8:51 AM on December 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


The TIE fighter is a "special forces" TIE, hence it's red marking and the two seater. In terms of the safety gear, we can determine one or two things: 1) The First Order does not have an infinite supply of humans to simply toss away like piecemeal, and therefore, it's important to keep them alive. Somewhere I read that the TIEs of the First Order also have shields, something the original TIE did not. 2) The First Order only values its Special Forces guys, so puts in extra measures to keep them alive due to the time and expense of training them. It can also be both.

There's at least one droid working for the First Order, a mouse droid was killed when Finn blew up the hangar's control center. Also, we spot an upgraded version of the interrogator droid (the original seen when Leia is being questioned in ANH) in use with at least Poe. These two droids are both droids or versions of droids used by the Empire.
posted by Atreides at 8:55 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's a great essay, gerryblog, thank you for sharing it. I've only seen the main films so all my Star Wars knowledge is full of optimism and heroism, it's interesting to read it through the prism of crushing bleakness.

I find myself wanting more Star Wars. Are any of the Expanded Universe novels actually good? I mean good novels with real characters and interesting stories you'd read even if it wasn't Star Wars? So many franchise tie-ins are mediocre filler. FWIW this GoodReads list has Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy at the top of the heap. Those were written back in 1991 and are set 5 years after Return of the Jedi.
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on December 23, 2015


There's a lot of little details that are bugging me about this in the harsh cold light of the week after, and one of them is that the new TIEs have shields and hyperdrives and parachutes and seat two but they look exactly like the old TIEs we're nostalgic for.

The pilot-in-a-bubble design of the original TIE communicated something about how much the Empire valued those ships and the people flying them, and contrasted with the larger, more complex, droid-equipped starfighters the Rebellion used. And it made perfect sense when Vader was able to take his into hyperspace at the end of ANH after Obi-Wan had already established that TIEs were short-range fighters; his TIE had a big trunk projecting from the rear that could obviously fit a lot of spaceship guts.

Are any of the Expanded Universe novels actually good?

The Thrawn books are good in and of themselves, but the tone never really felt quite like Star Wars to me. The only ones I ever felt inclined to re-read were the Rogue Squadron novels by Michael Stackpole.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:44 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved The Force Awakens. Every minute. I saw the original trilogy in theaters and drive-ins. Each movie 3 times, mostly with my grandmother. After ROTJ, I sort of had a moratorium on Star Wars. I was immersed in the prequel hype but trusted my friends' warnings and never saw the films, wanting to preserve the fuzzy memories of Han, Luke and my grandma. I went Monday AM with my wife, the first time we'd been to a movie since Capote and we both had our socks blown off. This has been a great thread with some thought provoking and funny stuff. I would like to know more about the ship than Han and Chewbacca were using prior to recovering the Falcon. I never heard it mentioned by name and don't remember seeing a clear shot of it.
posted by firemouth at 9:54 AM on December 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, the First Order Nazi-esque call backs felt really out of place for Star Wars.

Have you seen a Star Wars?
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on December 23, 2015 [25 favorites]


Here's the problem with the printed Expanded Universe. Virtually everything since 1991 (and beyond) is officially not canon concerning the characters we have known and love from the Original Trilogy. That's a great swathe of material, some fun reads among it, that has been reduced to "Star Wars Legends." You might consider things like Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy as one of those comic book like "Alternative Universe story!" They can still be enjoyable, but you have to admit that anything that happens in them isn't happening officially from Disney's perspective.

With that in mind, Disney is busy trying to fill this new gap with new material. Aftermath by Chuck Wendig was highlighted as the biggest new piece and it starts off shortly after Jedi, but it doesn't really feature any of the primary characters. It's a generally fun book to read, though Wendig has an odd style which can be kind of aggravating at times. There's a young adult book, Lost Stars by Claudia Grey, which actually ends up being a lot of fun to read, again not about the main stars, but it wraps its multi-year story around key events in the Original Trilogy and that blows one's heart up with nostalgia. It starts off a tad slow, as she made the decision to write initially a more simple style to fit the age of the characters, then makes it more sophisticated as you watch the characters grow up (quickly). That book actually takes us to the Battle of Jakku, which is why there's all that old rusting Imperial equipment and ships hanging around Rey's home. It's partly fascinating because it shows generally good people going into Imperial service, believing it to be a source for good in the galaxy, and covers their own evolving understanding of the government they serve.

I found A New Dawn a fun read, but it covers characters from the tv show Rebels, and so, it may not be that interesting unless you know the show. There are books coming out about our main characters, but I haven't had a chance to really delve into them. I picked one up on Luke, but I haven't had a chance to read it - it's probably a middle school level book (something I didn't realize!), so I don't have high hopes on it being that fascinating. The book on Moff Tarkin, Tarkin, likewise wasn't bad either, and shed's light on how he came to be who he is and how his philosophy came to symbolize the Empire's rule through fear ideology.

Here's a list of the new books, you'll notice a fair chunk are considered for young readers.

I think some of the new books are as enjoyable as the stuff of the old Expanded Universe (I was another Michael Stackpole fan, too!). If you're cautious, find a library and go from there. If you are just hungering for new material, I wouldn't not recommend any of the books I've mentioned. I wrote brief reviews on Aftermath, Tarkin, and Lost Stars, too, if you want a deeper look than what I've written here.
posted by Atreides at 9:57 AM on December 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, and I did want to agree with everyone who has pointed out the bleakness of the movie. It is remarkably sad that these fast friends and lovers can't stand to be around each other now. It's easy for me too see Han slipping back into smuggling after losing a child to the dark side. H. Ford seemed not disinterested in the role to me, instead Han Solo felt heartbroken.
posted by firemouth at 10:02 AM on December 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Film Crit Hulk: "OKAY STAR WARS. ITS NOT JUST A "BAD PLOT" PROBLEM. THERE WAS BARELY AN EARNED MOMENT OR COMPLETE PSYCHOLOGY IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE, LET ALONE A DRAMATIC ORDER... GREAT ACTORS THOUGH. THEY HAD NO FOUNDATION THOUGH."

Just a tweet, no essay unfortunately. I can see some of this point, since certain things didn't land as solidly or allowed to sink in, because the film felt like it was moving pretty fast. I really want to read a fuller view as to why he think the whole movie falls apart though.
posted by FJT at 10:09 AM on December 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of the things I love most about Rey is that she is, in-universe, an unabashed Star Wars nerd. She doesn't just know the story of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon, she's studied the specs of the YT-1300 Corellian light freighter and grouses about the untutored hackery of putting a compressor on the hyperdrive coupling just because you can't handle that much kick. She's a canonical rebuke to the whole "fake geek girl" epidemic sweeping through the minds of dudes everywhere.
posted by Errant at 10:10 AM on December 23, 2015 [23 favorites]


She even has her own collection of Star Wars memorabilia.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:17 AM on December 23, 2015 [31 favorites]


I haven't read any new EU novels yet, but as I said above the Marvel comics line that started earlier this year is great and really captures the original trilogy feel.

Of old EU/Legends I agree with a general consensus that Rogue Squadron (Stackpole is straight up military sci-fi; the Allston books are more comedic) and the Zahn books (read in publication order) are among the cream of the crop, but I need to throw my hat in the ring for Matthew Stover's Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, a metafictional pulptastic adventure which on the strength of its characterization alone is probably the single novel I most regret losing from "official" canon, Thrawn and Mara Jade notwithstanding. I've also heard from people who've read Stover's RotS novelization that it's so vastly superior to its source material that it reads as though it were the original and the film a poor adaptation.

Prose-wise, I'd rank them Stover > Zahn > Stackpole/Allston.
posted by bettafish at 10:30 AM on December 23, 2015


One of the things I love most about Rey is that she is, in-universe, an unabashed Star Wars nerd. She doesn't just know the story of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon, she's studied the specs of the YT-1300 Corellian light freighter and grouses about the untutored hackery of putting a compressor on the hyperdrive coupling just because you can't handle that much kick.

Rey worked on the Falcon in some capacity and some piloting/engineering knowledge. She knew exactly who had put that compressor on the Falcon and had argued against it. She knew where the electrical systems were and how to use them to bypass the compressor and was well aware that the Falcon hadn't flown in years. Plus the knowledge of exactly who had owned after it was stolen from Solo (though she didn't know it was THE Falcon).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:45 AM on December 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Was Leia claiming that Luke had turned Ben Solo a throwaway line (chalked up to grief/bitterness) - or did I mishear her?
posted by Golem XIV at 10:45 AM on December 23, 2015


...turned Ben Solo to the dark side that is...
posted by Golem XIV at 10:52 AM on December 23, 2015


You misheard, she said Snoke did it. But she did mention something about Luke training Ben.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on December 23, 2015


i realize that Kylo Ren's mask is because he worships Vader, but also it covers up Adam Drivers kind of adorable vocal fry. So when his helmet is off he sounds like the child-man he is.
posted by angrycat at 10:59 AM on December 23, 2015


Was Leia claiming that Luke had turned Ben Solo a throwaway line (chalked up to grief/bitterness) - or did I mishear her?

This is a thing I've been thinking about, because I'm not totally convinced that Kylo Ren actually trained with Luke or is the person who destroyed the Academy (although he probably is, but in the interest of anticipating plot twists, let's proceed, and all of this is just f