Star Wars - The Force Betrayed
The Force Betrayed
I just want to get something off my chest: Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens is the worst film I have ever seen. No, seriously. I've seen Plan 9 from Outer Space, at least it had a coherent storyline. I've seen Highlander 2, at least it had something original. I've seen Terminator 3, at least the acting was passable. Admittedly I've not seen The Room, so there might be worse films out there, but I've not seen one. Here's why I was left with an acute sense of betrayal after watching the latest not-fit-to-be-called-Star-Wars film.
Expectations and Genre
The thing with Star Wars is that it has a history; this isn't the first instalment. So there are certain expectations. Expectations can be a good or a bad thing. Expectations are what resulted in the prequels being under-appreciated. They weren't meant to be remakes of the originals but rather complementary to them. I'm not saying they were great but they weren't as bad as some critics made out. At least they were original. The story line was original, the worlds were original, the lightsabre battles were brilliant. I didn't see anything original in The Force Awakens, except a new level of incompetence.
What on earth went wrong? I tried not to have too high expectations but when I heard J. J. Abrams was involved I lost all expectation and hope for this film. Why? Because I saw 2009's Star Trek. It wasn't even science-fiction! They made an action film set in space! How badly wrong can it go? Is it possible to make a more fundamental error? I didn't know Abrams would spoil Star Wars too, I just knew he was capable of it. I tried not to be biased, I just didn't want to have too high expectations and so be disappointed. What I'm trying to say is, I wasn't disappointed as a result of expecting too much; I had zero expectation for The Force Awakens but I was still sorely disappointed.
HD and Special Effects
As a result, I didn't make an effort to see the film at the cinema. Everyone I knew who was interested had made reservations to see it in the opening week. My colleagues went without me assuming I'd already seen it. The local cinema didn't even screen it. It wasn't until the film was out on Blu-Ray that I borrowed a copy and watched it on an over-sized TV. The first thing that bothered me was the image quality. There was a visible difference in quality between special-effects scenes and normal ones. For example, it was obvious from the picture when a lightsabre was going to be activated. Apparently, that was also a problem with Superman Return in 2006 when HD was just arriving - didn't they learn? The use of puppets on the other hand was an excellent idea. It feels so much more real and George Lucas underestimates how badly dated his special-effects updates already look. Now that he's sold Star Wars to Disney, is there a possibility of getting the originals released on DVD?
One especially good thing about the originals is the how the special effects are effective. The special effects in episode VII are obvious and in-your-face. They're there for the sake of showing off and failed to impress and didn't serve the story line at all. The most effective use of special effects are still the opening scene of the original Star Wars and the moment when the Millennium Falcon bursts out of the exploding Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
Having said that, some expectations are good. Star Wars has set certain standards. For one, it has set the standard for what a sequel should be. When The Empire Strikes Back was released, many were expecting a remake of the original and what they got was far greater. Consequently, I think it's a fair expectation that any new Star Wars film _not_ be to A New Hope what Die Hard 2 was to Die Hard or what Terminator 3 was to Terminator 2. Films like this just shouldn't be made post-The Empire Strikes Back. But The Force Awakens has taken this to a whole new level. Not only is it a remake of the first film, it is an incoherent, muddled up version thereof. Here's one comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlHlqFNnhIE. Here's a better one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXaa1BL7NXM. But neither of these comparisons do justice to the shocking incoherency of The Force Awakens' story line.
At this point I should watch the film again and carefully note down all the plot holes, but I just don't want to see this film again so I'll have to rely on memory. Here's a list of what I remember:
- The force doesn't awaken! Possibly it does in Finn, but it's not certain. Maybe it'll be explained in a later instalment but as far as this film is concerned, its title doesn't make any sense, it just sounds good in publicity.
- What on earth is going on when Rey picks up the lightsabre for the first time? It's gibberish!
- How do Rey and Ren, who've never used a lightsabre before, manage to hold out so long against Ren who's a trained Jedi?
- How does Rey learn to use the force so quickly, when it's implied she's had the natural ability her whole life? She hears the words "the force" spoken and almost immediately she can do mind control and use the force in ways it took Luke ages to learn. What utter twaddle!
- Why do Leia and Rey hug at the end when they've never met before?
- And there's plenty more that I can only vaguely remember but I'm not going back to watch it to find out.
The story by itself is incoherent but nobody seems to notice because it's so close to A New Hope that the human mind automatically fills in the gaps and rearranges the plot into the correct order.
Now I move on to sensitive ground. The next glaring mistake in the film was a black stormtrooper. No, I'm not being racist, and yes, I realise it was half-explained in the film but let me explain what a stormtrooper actually is. A stormtrooper in the original Star Wars is not just a dumbed-down clone of Jango Fett. The idea comes from real stormtroopers who were German soldiers in World War I specially trained in new tactics to be more effective in trench-warfare. Given that the story of the Star Wars prequels is an exploration of how a dictator rises to power it should be clear that the stormtroopers are used to loosely represent a kind of Arian Race. Yes, I'm aware that's mixing World War I and II but Star Wars is fiction and Lucas is free to draw inspiration from wherever for the story. The creators of The Force Wakens haven't given any consideration to this, they've just introduced a black main character and a strong female hero for the sake of being politically correct. It artificial and unnatural story-telling. If these people make a sequel to Schindler's List it would have multi-ethnic SS guards and be a romance! It's not racism or sexism to fail to meet a minimum required quota of female characters or ethnicities. There might actually be a valid reason for it.
The result demonstrates a lack of understanding about what the originals are all about, a failure to recognise what makes them good and enjoyable, a complete lack of respect for the medium of film and a contempt for the art of story telling.
Finally, the acting in the film is poor. I don't necessarily blame the actors. Who would question Harrison Ford's acting ability? But how did they manage to get him to put in such a poor and unbelievable performance, particularly at the end of the film? And Adam Driver's pathetic, moody Ren was painful to watch. It's not his fault, it was the character he was given. Bring back Darth Vader!
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
It's not the poor acting, or the jarring and ineffective special effects that especially bother me; it's the incoherent storyline, an artificially inserted political-correctness agenda and a lack of originality in a series known for its originality all crassly glossed over with a wad load of money that leads me to say that The Force Awakens spits in the face of the original Star Wars films and takes bad film-making to a level never before known to mankind. Those responsible for this abomination should be exiled to a galaxy far, far away. I'm glad I didn't pay any money to see this film because it was clearly made out of a greedy desire to make as much money as possible and I'll go out of my way to avoid the remaining sequels and spin-offs. Does anyone else think the trailer for Rogue One is terribly clichéd?