HomeMoviesThe Force Awakens - Why It's Not As Good as You Think

The Force Awakens – Why It’s Not As Good as You Think


Now, I’d like to start things off by first explaining what my criticisms are not. There’s two kinds of complaints I’ve seen tossed around before, so I want to make it clear that they do not compose the substance of my problems. First of all, like with nearly every movie ever made, there are people who complain about scientific or logical inconsistencies. You know, “Starkiller base doesn’t make any sense,” “How did Rey beat a well-trained Sith lord,” stuff like that. Generally speaking, I don’t care about that kind of thing. For scientific accuracy, Star Wars has never been a bastion of hard science fiction, and I don’t see why we should start demanding that now. Even if it was, bending science in favor of a good story is perfectly fine by me. When it comes to logical inconsistencies, unless they’re so egregious that they jump out at you and ruin a moment even when you’re not looking for them, I don’t think those really matter either. When you view a movie as a totally logical construction that should make complete sense from beginning to end, you’re ignoring the functioning of the actual story in favor of something that’s not as important. If a movie has logical faults but tells an amazing story, then it can easily be forgiven those faults. If a movie makes complete logical sense but also tells a bland, boring story, then that tight logic doesn’t stop it from being a bad movie. Ideally every story will make perfect sense, but seeing as how most logical faults can be overlooked in a good movie, I don’t find them at all useful in explaining why a movie is constructed poorly.


The other common complaint is a little trickier. Many professional critics, and even George Lucas himself, have expressed disappointment in The Force Awakens‘ lack of originality. There’s certainly no denying that the movie relies heavily on reusing, remixing, and calling back to many elements of the original trilogy (and even a couple from the prequel trilogy). And I do think this approach causes its fair share of problems for it, as I’ll describe later. Where I take issue, however, is in the idea that this is inherently a problem that weakens the movie regardless of how successfully the approach was executed. I get that fatigue with nostalgic properties that mine our fondness for old franchises is at an all time high. If anything, I feel that fatigue more strongly than most people I know, unless they’re just not voicing it to me. But at the end of the day, building off nostalgia and older works is just an approach to making movies, and there’s nothing inherently good or bad about it. And while there’s been plenty of bad examples, last year alone we got two new entries in old franchises that took the ideas and beats of their predecessors and remixed them into something fresh and new (Mad Max: Fury Road and Creed, to be specific). So to me, complaints that the movie is not original and therefore lesser miss the point, as it’s not the mere fact of using familiar beats that makes The Force Awakens a lesser movie.

So what does make it a lesser movie? To answer that, let’s first talk about A New Hope (I promise this is all important and I’ll get to the point eventually). To some who come to Star Wars late in life, it can seem baffling that this is where it all began, as A New Hope is a very simple story. But that simplicity is, itself, one of its strengths. Its structure is essentially a blueprint to the classical hero’s journey, echoing every familiar beat we’ve seen in countless movies, books, and shows before. Yet it doesn’t feel unoriginal or boring, because it completely nails the execution of these beats. The opening scene alone conveys so much to us: the vast scale of this conflict, a scrappy Rebellion versus a massive Empire, the defiant Leia versus the menacing Darth Vader. It works in broad strokes, painting a grand struggle between good and evil, but it does so marvelously, making the good so heroic and likable and the evil so detestable and threatening that our attention is immediately grabbed and never let go.

The characters, too, are pretty familiar archetypes: the everyman suddenly thrust into greatness, the charming rogue, the wise mentor, the determined princess. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but these characters are immediately established to us as soon as they’re introduced, and everything they do from that point forward comes from an identifiable place that we’ve seen and understand. So while A New Hope may be a simplistic movie on the face of it, it’s so completely mastered the basics of storytelling and character that it turns this potential weakness into a great strength, creating a solidly entertaining story with hugely broad appeal. Which, at long last, brings us to the thesis of my argument: that, for all its gorgeous visuals, funny lines, and interesting ideas, The Force Awakens is utterly devoid of these basics that the original trilogy shows such mastery of.

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Chris Diggins
Chris Digginshttps://alittleperspective.substack.com
"Lord" Chris Diggins, "Grand Prognosticator of ThePopBreak.com" is a staff writer and incorrigible layabout for The Pop Break. He usually reviews TV and movies, although he sometimes writes ludicrously long pieces of critical analysis and badgers the editors to publish it. He cannot be stopped.


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