I loved Episode VII, and there is a laundry list of elements to love about it. But on our hour and a half drive home, rehashing key moments and plot developments and characterizations and character growth, we started to critique it on bits and pieces that may in fact have been redundant.
I think it’s important to remember that Star Wars is primarily a fairy tale, so it has a recognizable pattern or formula. Screenwriters and directors play with that formula at their peril: purists, like my hubby, might find themselves a little turned off by certain choices or interpretations.
For example, there are some terrific comedic moments in the film — lines delivered at just the right time or with a certain inflection, body language and movement — and it’s definitely a trademark of JJ Abrams in the delivery. Hubby felt that there was too much “funny” and that Star Wars isn’t meant to be funny. It’s a space opera, after all. My counter to that would be that the original, Episode IV: A New Hope, had comedy in it as well but the funny parts fell a bit flat because George Lucas’s strength is not in comedy. Scenes like Leia’s rescue, when she tells a disguised Luke, “Aren’t you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?” And he responds, exaggeratedly, “Hunh? Oh, the uniform.” That’s supposed to be a bit of comedy, in my view, but it didn’t work. JJ Abrams is simply better with drawing out his actors’ timing and reactions.
Hubby also didn’t like some of the design choices of certain uniforms and weapons, and I kind of agree — what is ever the point of having soldiers in armour, be it chain mail or futuristic moulded material, that can’t take or deflect a hit and save the life of the wearer? That trope gets annoying after a while. But that’s really my only beef about the designs.
I knew there had to be a cliff hanger at the end, but it wasn’t where I had expected it to be. And I found that I didn’t like how easy the final problem was to solve. It was almost as though the McGuffin wasn’t needed at all! Or, at least, not in its perceived form. What good is a trail if you can tunnel straight to the end? What point is there to having place markers if you are going to bound right over them completely? And if the enemy has a gap in their information, shouldn’t they be able to exploit that missing piece by searching where the dead end leaves off?
I know, I know — as my son repeated back to me from previous story-related conversations, without these complications, there might not be a story to tell. But I think these problems over-simplified things. I would have preferred the cliffhanger to be five minutes earlier, or the McGuffin to have been less of a red herring. Kind of felt like a Dora the Explorer moment, to be honest, and then less than that, because even Dora has to work to reach her objective. That effort would have been terrific subject matter for the next film. Too bad for that missed opportunity.
Anyway, that is as much as I dare discuss without getting overly revealing. I still highly recommend the movie as an amazing ride, a very satisfactory follow to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. And I’m very, very glad we made the effort to see it tonight.
May the Force be with you!
Oh, one final note, on the record: I do NOT think that ——- is _______’s OR _______’s child! Something else is going on there. I do think that _______ knew ——– in their respective childhoods. Shhhh — can’t name the names right now . . .