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Star Wars - A Nerd's Review

bsh1
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1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
I was typing up my thoughts on the The Force Awakens for a friend, and thought it might make an interesting discussion topic here. There are spoilers below, so read at your own risk.

===========================================

The movie was a mixed bag, and I want to divide my review into the good and the bad, starting with the former and then progressing to the latter. Perhaps the best thing about the movie was its characteristically "Star Wars" vibe--it did not feel like a whole new universe had been created with a few toss outs to the universe in which it was actually supposed to be happening (as was the case with Star Trek: Into Darkness, also directed by Abrams.) The effects were generally quite good, and the sets and costuming felt genuinely Star Warsian--chaotic staging, a bit haphazard in prop layout, great location choices, authentic-looking outfits, etc. In this sense, it captured the aura of Star Wars in a very positive way. There was some good acting--Han, Finn, and (especially) Rey, did well. Rey, in fact, was absolutely superb. And there were a few stand-out scenes: the race through the startship graveyard, Han's death, etc. that I could really point to as being good, adrenaline-inducing, well-acted scenes.

To take one example, while I am unhappy Han died, if only because of the fact that he is one of the better played roles and such an integral element of the franchise, I am happy that they killed him in the way they did--it added a lot of drama and depth to moment. It took the Vader-Luke scenario (where Vader's failure to kill his son saved Vader's soul) and flipped it in a way that surprised me, particularly given the rest of the movie's tendency to simply copy the outline of A New Hope. There was a second where I was unsure of Ren's next move, and that kind of surprise is a good thing at a climax.

That being said, there was quite a lot that left me feeling deeply frustrated. Perhaps my biggest complaint, and the most damning critique I could make of the movie, was that it was a complete and utter rip off of A New Hope. The movie did not have an original thought in it. Young kid on desert planet discovered droid with secret information. Young kid caught up in Imperial/First Order pursuit because of droid. Young kid escapes. Young kid seeks safe passage at a Cantina. Mega-weapon discovered. Young kid flees to hidden base with droid. X-Wings defeat mega-weapon with the help of young kid and Han/Chewie team. Young kid has questionable parentage. Young kid goes off to seek mentor and learn the ways of the force. That plotline could describe, identically, The Force Awakens and A New Hope with maybe the first quarter of The Empire Strikes Back thrown in. Abrams introduced almost nothing new--really, the only new things Abrams came up with were Luke's disappearance and Han's death (though even this was a riff on a theme), which is hardly original enough to say that Abrams didn't just plagiarize from earlier films in the franchise. I also think ending a 3rd movie with the destruction of a planet-sized weapon is a bit excessive...to the point where it just loses all impact on me. It is beyond hackneyed.

Moreover, one of the 2 original thoughts was itself an issue for me. We learn so much about Luke's maturity in the prior films (chronologically speaking), and so it makes little sense to me that he would suddenly withdraw in such a childish way. But, even more than that, the prophecy would lead us to believe that the Emperor's death should have brought balance to the force, but where is that balance in The Force Awakens. I think any sequel should've either pit non-force enemies against the Republic, or pit an equally powered dark side against an equally power light side. The whole ideal of the "balance" seems to have vanished.

I also objected strongly to how (little) R2D2 was used. He is perhaps one of Star Wars's most iconic characters, as well as my personal favorite, and he was in the movie for no more than 10 minutes. His awakening also seemed simultaneously random and contrived. There was no indication of why he would suddenly wake up at that point in time--there was no reason for it. And, his awakening was such an obvious plot device that it was hard to take seriously. Leia was also underused, and there was none of her fiery dialogue with Han this time around; that dialogue was one of the highlights of the sequel trilogy.

I also found that, save for a few exceptions which I noted, the acting fell rather flat, and came across as rushed and overly scripted. Lines lacked originality at every turn; for instance, there was way too much repetitive, cliched discussion about the force. Even the discussion about how to destroy the base (which should've been packed with energy) felt inorganic and emotionless--Leia's face didn't even look concerned. Leia felt lifeless in general, like she was just reciting lines. Same with the ace pilot and the man he opened the movie talking with. Kylo was that way as well, but more so when his mask was off. No one really felt like they had enthusiasm for their role or were really getting into character, except the 3 that I mentioned. Even C3PO's lines were horrible canned. And the names of characters, too, as with the lines, were idiotic and silly, with Phasma and Snoke being the foremost examples.

One of the biggest demonstrations of flatness I felt in the movie was my simple lack of fear of Starkiller base. I was afraid of the Death Star, but almost no time was invested in making me fear that base. Sure, there was that planet-destroying montage, but so little of the movie actually took place on the base that I never really got a sense for it or an opinion of it beyond, "wow, that is such a Death Star part 3."

Had the movie not been forced to contend with other movies in the franchise, it would've been a solid B+. Unfortunately, it cannot escape its history. It followed in a long line of mega-weapon using, red lightsaber-wielding, desert planet-loving, planet destroying, Space Operas, and it brought absolutely nothing new to the table, unlike every other movie in the franchise. And, what it chose not to use from previous films (like R2D2 or Leia and Han's playful banter) were things that it desperately needed. That, for me, is a huge problem. It preferred to be a carbon(ite) copy of its predecessors rather than to be a successor to them by building a new story on their rich plotline. In other words, the movie as a stand alone was good, but it was a terrible "Star Wars" movie.

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.
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TheFlex
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1/11/2016 1:59:33 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
Incredible review, and it echoes a lot of what I thought about it myself. The acting and plot line summary is almost word for word what I was thinking. Renn was considerably dull and the plot was a, "bigger, badder death star!" Completely unoriginal story, and there was no build up to how nasty this multi-planet destroying death star really was.

It was a good movie but such a huge waste of so much potential. I'm fine with them actually re-hashing a plot line as long as they do it well (for example, Han's death was done very well in this). Go explore the death star like they did in the previous movies and even like in "The Force Unleashed" video games. That really puts in perspective how fragile yet destructive a weapon on this scale is.

I understand the hype surrounding was too much to live up to but it still could've been better. It just needed to be expanded on better. It felt like a bad expansion pack to a great game.
Vox_Veritas
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1/11/2016 7:18:57 PM
Posted: 10 months ago
As one online reviewer ranted, Star Wars Episode VII is just the latest example of Hollywood having "sold its soul for profits". While this may sound strange to sound (the movie industry does and always has, after all, aimed to make a profit), the problem has been exacerbated in recent decades.
The first Star Wars film was, all rose-tinted glasses aside, a heavily cliched and highly unoriginal movie. However, because of the groundbreaking special effects and the brute awesomeness of the movie nobody gave a *expletive*. Hollywood learned one thing from this movie: screw original plotlines and deep, thought-provoking, clever movies. Car chases, big explosions, and hot chicks (Carrie Fisher could've never counted as a hot chick but still) is what brings in the dough. Hollywood followed the money trail accordingly, which is why movies like Fast and Furious are made and why these stupid movies make hundreds of millions of dollars.
On occasion somebody makes a movie like The Matrix, but these kind of movies are the exception, not the rule, and even these movies are then imitated by unoriginal and not at all clever producers.
Frozen was an absolute piece of s**t. There. I said it. But the movie enabled Disney to sell millions of Elsa and Olaf plush dolls, put Elsa's image on everything from crayon packets to backpacks to lunchboxes. The movie was massively commercialized in a way that I find repulsive, and this same kind of commercialization happened with Star Wars. Kylo Ren can now be found on Mac n' Cheese boxes.
Hollywood knew that there was no reason for Star War: The Force Awakens to be made well. All they needed was to spend millions of the movie's special effects and it'd have sales well surpassing 1 billion. Hollywood has truly lost its soul.
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1harderthanyouthink
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1/12/2016 1:01:59 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
I had the same problems. I would even say I had the same ratings.

Technically speaking, the movie was solid. But the depth was poor, and I'd rather have had the expansive EU stay canon (even with its own bad plotlines) than this be the canon.

I didn't have as bad a feel for Kylo Ren, but I did hate how Rey - who just picked up a lightsaber for the first time not too many hours before, beat what was really a de facto Sith Lord. Like, really?

I appreciate a "return to form". But a "return to form" does not mean copying the old scripts and replacing names.

On the bright side - and I don't think you mentioned him - I loved Chewie in this movie. Especially during the death scene - he really made it all the more emotional for me.

The most common theories right now seem to be Rey = Luke's daughter. In my opinion, that's probable - though my first thoughts was her being Leia and Han's daughter, I now think Luke is more likely in both timeline and Disney writing.

I had this thought during the movie, and I've seen a few other toss the idea around: Snoke could be Darth Plageuis. Unfortunately, I don't think that anyone at Disney really tried to put that sort of plotline together. If they did, the next two movies could absolutely blow this out of the water (not an accomplishment, but being optimistic here). Again, that's probably only in my imagination.
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ObiWan
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1/18/2016 7:26:05 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

I also think ending a 3rd movie with the destruction of a planet-sized weapon is a bit excessive...to the point where it just loses all impact on me. It is beyond hackneyed...

... One of the biggest demonstrations of flatness I felt in the movie was my simple lack of fear of Starkiller base. I was afraid of the Death Star, but almost no time was invested in making me fear that base. Sure, there was that planet-destroying montage, but so little of the movie actually took place on the base that I never really got a sense for it or an opinion of it beyond, "wow, that is such a Death Star part 3."

This is what really got to me the most. Up until the introduction of yet ANOTHER death star I was more or less enjoying the revival of a A New Hope's story line, the classic Star Wars visuals and getting to know the new characters (personally I enjoyed most of Kylo Ren's screen time and I'm looking forward to seeing on what path the character is taken). Obviously it wasn't brilliant or creative writing, but it was fun to watch.

But when it was revealed that the climax was going to be the inevitable explosion of another, bigger, death star I kinda lost interest in the plot, it was just so bluntly obvious what would happen. When the original Death Star blew up Alderaan I was shocked, devastated, bewildered and more importantly it gave me a concrete reason to hate the empire. Yet when Starkiller base blew up I think 5 planets (correct me if I'm wrong) I was just mad that we were seeing this same routine play out yet again. The scene was just so familiar it failed to elicit any emotional response.

I feel like the second half of the movie was carried by Harrison Ford and the fx team and if it wasn't for that fantastic, emotional scene with Adam Driver the movie would have fallen completely flat on its face.

Overall the movie did it's job:
It was for the most part entertaining.
It has made me interested to see what happens in the sequels.
It made Disney a sh*t load of money

But it was by no means a masterpiece
These are not the droids you're looking for.
ButterCatX
Posts: 2,228
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2/3/2016 12:39:44 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
I agree with you almost entirely and it irritates me to no end that many people shoot me down when i try to give a similar review when we are talking about the movie. As I basically grew around my small library of star wars books I see things from a perspective that goes against the common feel about the movie. I think it was a well made movie with great effects, scenes, acting, costuming, and many more. But it had major problems. The whole stopping a blaster bolt would require 6 well maintained force "hands" to fully capture it and likely a lot of concentration. If he had deflected it I would have accepted it more. And killing Han, was new hope rip off, he played the role of previous trilogy teacher(obi-wan) killed by man in black suit and mask(Vader/Ren). Overall Abrams was trying to give the old feel of A New Hope back, but forgot that it was so amazing because it was so original, there was nothing like it. Plus, it seemed like a whole clusterfvck of things that Abrams wanted to add to A New Hope when, he saw it. And the first order didn't even learn anything from the Empire, they still have AT-AT-esque walkers. Plus a few problems like, how they were able to accurately hit five objects from one barrel with exactly five beams. How they were able to drain suns of their power. How the whole planet's exterior didn't die from the temperature differences. Plus, Captain Phasma was over hyped and under used. Everything we saw said Phasma was amazing, Phasma is great. Yet she had basically three lines and was lame enough to be held at gunpoint by a janitor. Finally the Poemance. Poe can do way better than Fin, waaayyyyy better. So long for now, my nerd friends.
I bet fanfics are already being posted on random blogs about us.-Vaarka

Butters preformed his duty to the town and died with honor, he helped us kill scum, so we know have to go and make sure his death wasn't in vain and win this game for him.-lannan13

All hail the great and mighty Butters, who died for our inactive cause.-Vaarka

fuckith offith, lol.-Ore(talking to me)

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ButterCatX
Posts: 2,228
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2/3/2016 12:42:53 AM
Posted: 10 months ago
At 2/3/2016 12:39:44 AM, ButterCatX wrote:
I agree with you almost entirely and it irritates me to no end that many people shoot me down when i try to give a similar review when we are talking about the movie. As I basically grew around my small library of star wars books I see things from a perspective that goes against the common feel about the movie. I think it was a well made movie with great effects, scenes, acting, costuming, and many more. But it had major problems. The whole stopping a blaster bolt would require 6 well maintained force "hands" to fully capture it and likely a lot of concentration. If he had deflected it I would have accepted it more. And killing Han, was new hope rip off, he played the role of previous trilogy teacher(obi-wan) killed by man in black suit and mask(Vader/Ren). Overall Abrams was trying to give the old feel of A New Hope back, but forgot that it was so amazing because it was so original, there was nothing like it. Plus, it seemed like a whole clusterfvck of things that Abrams wanted to add to A New Hope when, he saw it. And the first order didn't even learn anything from the Empire, they still have AT-AT-esque walkers. Plus a few problems like, how they were able to accurately hit five objects from one barrel with exactly five beams. How they were able to drain suns of their power. How the whole planet's exterior didn't die from the temperature differences. Plus, Captain Phasma was over hyped and under used. Everything we saw said Phasma was amazing, Phasma is great. Yet she had basically three lines and was lame enough to be held at gunpoint by a janitor. Finally the Poemance. Poe can do way better than Fin, waaayyyyy better. So long for now, my nerd friends.

I forgot to add this. R2's return felt like a a cheap bailout of spending the time to find the pieces to the Luke puzzle. "Just boot up the droid, he knows everything" Why not slice into his main systems and extract the data??
I bet fanfics are already being posted on random blogs about us.-Vaarka

Butters preformed his duty to the town and died with honor, he helped us kill scum, so we know have to go and make sure his death wasn't in vain and win this game for him.-lannan13

All hail the great and mighty Butters, who died for our inactive cause.-Vaarka

fuckith offith, lol.-Ore(talking to me)

And guess what happened to FT? He got raped to death.-Xlav

You are so obviously town I love you man.-VOT
Maikuru
Posts: 9,112
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3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?
"You assume I wouldn't want to burn this whole place to the ground."
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bsh1
Posts: 27,503
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3/11/2016 9:07:03 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?

E = failure
A = great

What every school uses...
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

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Maikuru
Posts: 9,112
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3/11/2016 9:24:17 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/11/2016 9:07:03 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?

E = failure
A = great

What every school uses...

lol I'm so confused by this. So A, B, C, D, E? No F?
"You assume I wouldn't want to burn this whole place to the ground."
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Maikuru
Posts: 9,112
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3/11/2016 10:59:08 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/11/2016 9:07:03 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?

E = failure
A = great

What every school uses...

Are you from another country? I just assumed you were from the US.
"You assume I wouldn't want to burn this whole place to the ground."
- lamerde

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bsh1
Posts: 27,503
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3/12/2016 12:01:49 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/11/2016 9:24:17 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 3/11/2016 9:07:03 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?

E = failure
A = great

What every school uses...

lol I'm so confused by this. So A, B, C, D, E? No F?

My school system never had F's. E was the failing grade.
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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bsh1
Posts: 27,503
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3/12/2016 12:03:18 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/11/2016 10:59:08 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 3/11/2016 9:07:03 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?

E = failure
A = great

What every school uses...

Are you from another country? I just assumed you were from the US.

No. Born and raised in the U.S.
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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Subutai
Posts: 3,134
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3/12/2016 3:21:00 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/12/2016 12:01:49 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 9:24:17 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 3/11/2016 9:07:03 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?

E = failure
A = great

What every school uses...

lol I'm so confused by this. So A, B, C, D, E? No F?

My school system never had F's. E was the failing grade.

That's weird, I've never seen a grading system use E's in my entire life. My schools have always used the scale (from best to worst) A, B, C, D, F, where F was failing, and I went to four schools and two universities across two states.
I'm becoming less defined as days go by, fading away, and well you might say, I'm losing focus, kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself.
bsh1
Posts: 27,503
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3/12/2016 8:48:43 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
At 3/12/2016 3:21:00 AM, Subutai wrote:
At 3/12/2016 12:01:49 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 9:24:17 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 3/11/2016 9:07:03 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 3/11/2016 8:18:26 PM, Maikuru wrote:
At 1/11/2016 6:25:17 AM, bsh1 wrote:

My final rating, on an E-A scale is a D+.

What is an E-A scale?

E = failure
A = great

What every school uses...

lol I'm so confused by this. So A, B, C, D, E? No F?

My school system never had F's. E was the failing grade.

That's weird, I've never seen a grading system use E's in my entire life. My schools have always used the scale (from best to worst) A, B, C, D, F, where F was failing, and I went to four schools and two universities across two states.

"an 'E' or 'F' (failing) grade"

My state uses E's...as do the Department of Defense Elementary and High Schools I attended.
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

Follow the DDOlympics
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