I thought The Force Awakens was pretty terrible. I can do better recycling at home. I really didn’t like it that they flatly recycled the “secret holographic info in the droid” plot. Why bust your ass from one end of the Empire to the other to carry a 75 lb. robot containing information that could be emailed? When the first Star Wars movie came out, we didn’t have email — but now we do. Why are we asked to believe they won’t have email (in a society that still hasn’t solved the social problems we have today) 300 years from now?
Generally, there was too much action, not enough character development (like the scenes in the original when Luke is being trained in the Force by Obi-Wan Kenobi), and all the plot lines and characters were recycled, if not directly from previous Star Wars movies, then from other Disney features. For instance, the little female Jedi who gives Luke’s light saber to Rae (the next gen heroine) looks just like ET with Minion glasses, and the new Emperor is a straight hybrid of Gollum and the Wizard of Oz floating head. I appreciated the shout out to Frank Herbert’s Dune with the desert planet called “Jacu”, but there was no good use of it, as Rae embodies a straight recycling of the hero-rising-from-orphanage-by-crime-and-violence plotline that characterized Luke in the first movie.
There were too many plot inconsistencies, and too many opportunities for depth that were passed up in favor of more roaring empire fighter ships, zinging lasers and — oooohh!! — explosions! Examples: open access ramp to the Millennium Falcon in the junkyard so they didn’t have to break into it, and the greedy owner of it sent no repo team after it when it was stolen, which would have made a great subplot. Then the empire fighter being stolen next was tethered in the mothership bay with a physical cord when they already had tractor beam tech in the ’70s Star Wars movies — ridiculous. Also, the next gen heroes, Finn and Rae, displayed deep loyalties given in 10 minutes for no reason but serendipity and then redirected somewhere else in a turn on a dime. I thought it was junk and walked out after about an hour.
Plus the evil empire guys were configured as Nazis, with big crowds in open plazas draped everywhere in red, and a screaming totalitarian dictator. Boring. Sort of as if they wanted us to think that because we’re aware of evil by remembering WWII, and of course because that only happened somewhere else, we are safe from it here at home. As if there’s no evil involved when a bank steals your home through predatory lending and illegal foreclosure. Well, that may be evil, but at least you can be sure justice is near when we are threatened with militarized police and indefinite detention without trial just for objecting to gratuitous foreign wars, or extravagant inequality causing widespread harm by deprivation.
Last but not least, I really didn’t like what the movie evinced in terms of its relationship to the audience. It seemed to pander to the lust for violence and nostalgia, taking NO RISKS whatsoever in the development of new material, as if no one in America would ever like to see something new and different, and thoughtfully provocative. The whole idea of the “Awakening of the Force” is rife with opportunities to discuss spiritual depth and enlightenment.
Another opportunity lost could have related to the electrically rapid development of community consciousness taking place all over America. The movie completely failed to explore the differences of consciousness and social disposition that must exist between the First Order Empire and the Rebel Alliance, which could have spoken to our burgeoning national community consciousness. Maybe that was all in the second half of the movie, but that’s not what they were telegraphing me in the first half.