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

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


In all this failure to develop characters and their relationships, is there anything that could be considered even a relative success?  As I alluded to earlier, yes. In many ways, Kylo Ren is actually a shockingly fully-formed character. He’s petulant and angry, brimming with the kind of adolescent rage that made prequel Anakin seem ridiculous but strangely works here. Desperately trying to live up to his half-formed idea of the grandfather he’s never met, Kylo projects Vader’s cold menace but loses his cool as soon as anything goes wrong. And inside he’s so messed up and emotionally confused he doesn’t really know what he wants, lead down a dark path by a mentor figure who clearly doesn’t have his best interests at heart. Sure, it’s a bit thin and archetypal, but so is just about everything in Star Wars. The key is that everything Kylo does, even before we learn all this information, is consistent with this picture of him, and we’re given everything we need to understand where he’s coming from. It’s almost unbelievable how successful the movie is with him given how abysmal everyone else is.


And yet the movie’s handling of Kylo Ren is still far from perfect. So desperate is it to have constant homages and references to the original trilogy that Kylo is often inserted into a Vader role. In some ways, this actually works. We are introduced to Kylo in such a scene, leading us to feel like we understand him (“Oh, he’s the new Vader.”) Then as the tantrums start, we realize that there’s more to him than we initially assumed. I’m somewhat unsure of how I feel about this, given the confusion it creates in a movie already so filled with confusion about character motivations, but in a better constructed movie I think it would be a really interesting bait and switch. But then other times, this shoehorning into the Vader role just makes scenes feel bizarre and out of place. There’s no better example of this than when we find out that he’s Han and Leia’s son. On the one hand, this is clearly meant to reflect the famous Vader reveal: the dramatic way Snoke drops the information suggests Vader’s delivery, and his parentage has been strategically hidden from us until then to maximize the drama of the moment. And yet there is no drama in the moment. Snoke and Kylo, the only two people in the scene, already know it, so of course they don’t react, but that lack of reaction makes the reveal limp at best. Not even a swell of music is there to signify that we’ve just learned something important. The whole presentation is so weird, so contrary to its own goals, that it falls totally flat. Moments like this mar Kylo’s character throughout the movie, so that despite his relative successes, he still often feels like a failed attempt.

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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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