It’s one of, if not the most profitable and innovative film franchises in the history of the medium. Star Wars has fascinated audiences around the globe since George Lucas first revealed A New Hope, in 1977. Three years later The Empire Strikes Back was released, and it remains the favorite for many fans of the series. Another three years went by and Return of the Jedi finished off the original trilogy; considered a decent movie with a fitting ending, but ultimately not the strongest of the three.
Over a decade and a half later The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith made us all wonder whether Lucas hated us. Maybe this is an exaggeration, but suffice it to say, the three prequels were a vast and poor departure from the legacy of the originals.
A little over a month ago, fans of this incredible series were treated to something that was a long time in the making: a new and awesome Star Wars flick. The Force Awakens was the most anticipated movie event of the last several years and for the most part it did not disappoint. But there is that modifying phrase: “for the most part”. I’ll admit, The Force Awakens was an awesome addition to the Star Wars story, with the kind of storytelling that devotees and casual fans alike have come to expect. Unfortunately, the movie was oversold from the start and plenty of people, despite having experienced the final product, are praising it as something both figuratively and literally out of this world. While some fanboys seem to be making this film out to be one of the best films of all time, it isn’t even the best in the Star Wars series. While I, and many of my colleagues loved this movie, it has plenty of flaws. Here are twelve reasons The Force Awakens is overrated.
12. Kylo Ren: Multiple Issues
To start off this list, the new bad guy, Kylo Ren, does not stack up well compared to other Star Wars villains. Obviously he’s essentially a minion to the new bad dude on the block Snoke, but as the main menace in this film, he’s a step down from the likes of Darth Maul, Count Dooku, Darth Vader and Darth Sidious. He’s well above General Greivous, of course, but that’s another story.
In short, his temper tantrums, along with the fact that he looks like he’s about to cry when his mask is off, make him a sub par bad guy. Along with the character himself, the casting choice of Adam Driver was not a good one. While he is respectable at his craft, given his past roles, he is not quite believable as a force-wielding, grandson of Vader. Then again, he’s no Hayden Christensen as Anakin, so I guess we can’t complain too much.
11. Some Fans Are Still Caught up in the Hype
This was, as I have indicated, the most anticipated movie of the year, possibly of the decade so far. I’ll say this a few times, and have said it already: it was a great movie. I enjoyed it, have seen it a couple of times now and will see it a few more times in the coming months. But with that said, there are too many fanboys out there still drooling over this movie like it’s the best movie in the history of film purely because the hype has not worn off yet. The movie did not live up to the hype, but this does not take away from it: no movie could live up to this hype.
10. Poor Cliffhanger
A cliffhanger is important for a Star Wars film. A New Hope left us wondering how Darth Vader would attack next. We saw his fighter careening through space, him regain control and then fly off. There was no doubt that the big man in the black suit would be back. The Empire Strikes Back did it better, with Han encased in carbonate and Luke finding out his true ancestry. I don’t like to say many kind things about the prequels, but Attack of the Clones ended with the start of the Clone Wars.
Very little was left unsolved at the end of The Force Awakens. The First Order isn’t gone, Kylo Ren lives and will likely come back stronger, but Rey and Chewbacca found Luke Skywalker, Finn’s in a coma but breathing and the resistance will live to fight another day. I want to see episode eight and every other movie this series will ever produce but in the same way I wanted to see number seven. Fans still want to see the story progress and the legend continue, but there is no sense of urgency.
The cliffhangers that do exist have little to do with the plot, but more to do with characters, such as what is Rey’s back story and who is Snoke and when can we know more about this awful person.
9. Humor: Questionable Timing
Some may call it child-friendly, but far too often, the franchise has erred on the side of innocent humor that seems more in place in an animated Disney film than a classic sci-fi adventure like Star Wars. Maybe it’s just me, but while the original three films had comic relief placed throughout the film to compliment the story details and action scenes, The Force Awakens seemed to involve far too many minute attempts at humor right in the middle of what could be action scenes. Han Solo telling Chewie how much he likes his crossbow in the middle of a firefight was unnecessary, much like Finn getting annoyed when Solo was trying to tell him to look behind him while they were searching for Rey after the capture. These scenes (just a couple of notable examples of a recurring theme) felt like they were straight out of a Disney cartoon flick rather than a classic Star Wars movie. Again however, maybe it’s just me, I’ve been wrong before.
8. Awkward Dialogue Strikes Back
I should clarify, much of the dialogue was worlds better than the prequels, but much like there was no chemistry and poor dialogue between Anakin and Padme in episodes two and three, Han and Leia’s chit chat about their past relationship and son-gone-wrong was just painful…kind of like most of their back and forth was in the originals though.
I don’t know what it was this time around. In the past, it was undeniably George Lucas’ questionable writing, but that excuse no longer works.
7. Too Many People Compare it to the Prequels
Again, to clarify, many of the people who have been raving about how great The Force Awakens is, are comparing it to episodes one through three. Yes, compared to those films, it is unbelievable, incredible and monumental. If you had eaten nothing but wood chips for six years, stale McDonald’s fries would seem like the greatest food you’ve ever consumed. But looking at it compared to A New Hope through Return of the Jedi, it’s still good, but not nearly as impressive as those three (especially A New Hope and Empire).
6. Money Earned
Unfortunately, there are some out there who argue that the amount of money The Force Awakens has made makes it something special. The short answer is, “it does not”. The long answer is: this is the most famous and one of the most beloved film franchises in the world, and Disney force-fed (pun alert) this project $200 million. If it didn’t earn an obscene amount of money, there would be a serious problem. The story, combined with solid writing, skillful acting and a beautiful imagery make it something special. Stop mentioning the money unless you paid for the film or are benefiting from it.
5. Han Solo
Spoiler alert, but if you still haven’t seen the movie you have no excuse anymore, get it together. The best character in the entire series was killed off in a disrespectfully unceremonious way. The beloved scoundrel himself was skewered with a red lightsaber by his kid and then fell off a platform into who-knows-what on some cold, miserable planet. Qui-Gon Jinn said his last words to his padawan, Obi-Wan came back from the dead to guide Luke, Yoda told Luke the identity of his father, and Anakin returned to the light side of the force. These were all great deaths, worthy of those characters.
I can sympathize with the choice to kill him off. We all have to go sometime, and the death of Solo at the hands of anyone would get the required reaction out of fans. No matter how he went, the crowd would be crying out for the death of whatever character did him in, but for it to happen in the way it did was more painful than it had to be.
Obviously it doesn’t take a genius to see why it happened the way it did. We, the fans need a reason to come back and see more films. We now want revenge for our witty buddy Han, but as I’ve said, an amazing character being killed in such a way is like the emotional equivalent of rubbing salt in a wound.
4. So Many Lingering Questions
After Return of the Jedi, it seemed that the light side of the Force, in the form of the rebellion, had taken the upper hand in the war, and that the Empire was on the run. Obviously this is a story that could be played out in future installments of the series, but what exactly happened to keep the rebellion/resistance from actually taking some kind of control in the galaxy? Why do they still seem to have inferior numbers of both bodies and equipment?
Luke Skywalker is a smart guy. He controls his emotions as a Jedi should (he did in episodes four through six anyway) but as the story went, he left all of known space and went into exile after a padawan turned bad. What changed? It’s no fault of his that such a thing would happen, so why give up and leave the galaxy essentially at the mercy of this rebuilding group of pricks?
There are plenty more questions, but for our purposes, I’ll stick with just listing one more: who the heck was the old man at the start and why did he have info about Luke? Okay one more, how the hell did someone find Luke’s lightsaber? Somebody actually decided to search Bespin, a gas giant planet, for a lightsaber and possibly a hand attached to it?
3. Rey the Self Taught Jedi Babe
Rey is a great addition to the Star Wars franchise, and I can’t wait to get to know her story better and see who she’ll mangle next. However, her ability to mind trick a stormtrooper, along with her lightsaber skills developed absurdly quickly, and with no formal training. It has been established that kids train from young ages to use the force and that it takes over a decade to become an effective swords-person.
Rey took on Kylo Ren, who has at least a decade of training under his belt, and nearly finished him. Admittedly, he took a shot from Chewie’s crossbow in the hip and was in severe pain, but still, a total rookie owned a promising Sith recruit. I think J.J. Abrams, bless his heart, took a significant liberty with how the force works. Then again, it’s the force, it works in mysterious ways and that’s all anyone has to say in order to make this comment null and void.
2. Anti-Climactic Action Scenes
The special effects that accompanied the aerial fight scenes were amazing, and looked worlds better than the space battles that were made in the early 2000’s in episodes one through three. Ultimately though, these main battle scenes were less climactic than their equivalents were in episodes one through six. The first and second Death Star battles, of Hoth, Endor, and even Geonosis and the fight scenes from Revenge of the Sith, were entertaining and left the viewer with an adrenaline high. The same can’t be said of the major battles in The Force Awakens. When Poe and the X-wings interrupt the First Order’s assault in search of Rey and BB-8 on Takodana, the battle starts out entertaining (especially watching Poe vaporize four or five Tie fighters in the same amount of seconds) but the action quickly winds down. The same can unfortunately be said of the final battle, in which Poe skims along a trench, flies into the main core of the planet-weapon and then just flies in a circle firing at anything and everything.
Overall, the scenery and the action was more than passable, but these scenes failed to bring the same energy to the experience that Star Wars had in the past. The notable exception is when Rey and Finn first get the Millennium Falcon airborne and have to outrun those two Tie fighters. That was awesome.
1. The Story
There really is nothing wrong with a good re-hash. Family Guy copied The Simpsons, who copied The Flintstones, so on and keep rewinding through history just a bit farther, and you’ll end up with The Honeymooners.
The stories of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back were good ones, so good in fact that the two were essentially squished together and remade for episode seven. Much like Avatar (another good, but overrated flick) the story of The Force Awakens is great, but unoriginal. This shouldn’t take away from anyone’s enjoyment of the film, but anyone claiming that the story is anything new and original should go review episodes four and five.
J.J. Abrams has admitted that he gave the fans a product that he wanted to honor the older films, and given the final movie that we have all seen, it was a good product, and did what he intended. The story was great, but unoriginal.