Despite the onslaught of praise directed at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I can’t help but feel that the film’s rave reviews are undeservedly being colored by deep feelings of nostalgia. The new Star Wars film isn’t horrible, but it’s also not great. It’s an okay film that treads upon familiar territory and unfortunately doesn’t deliver anything new and compelling. As a standalone film, the film’s primary anchor is the iconic name it’s attached to. WARNING! Spoilers ahead.
No doubt, Disney executives are toasting themselves into oblivion over the number of box office records the film has already shattered. Still, I couldn’t help but leave the theater thinking that it was frustratingly overrated. And lest you think I was primed to poke holes in the film, I actually went in excited and with high hopes, encouraged both by an onslaught of positive reviews and the overall brilliance (and track record) of JJ Abrams.
I hate to say it, but there were even a few times during the film when boredom seeped in, not to mention a host of curious script choices and cringe-worthy moments. So with the risk that Star Wars fans are already sharpening their pitchforks, I’ve compiled a list of the 5 most annoying aspects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
1. Cheesy jokes
Some cheesy jokes are fine here and there, but the moments and manner in which JJ Abrams sprinkled them throughout the film quickly grew tiresome. Right off the bat, for instance, we see the brave and talented Poe Dameron, upon being captured by Kylo Ren, brashly say, “Are you talking first? Or am I? Who’s supposed to talk first?”
I hesitate to say that this was out of character as we were just being introduced to Poe. Still, the dialogue, and the manner in which it was delivered, seemed oddly out of place. In short, it seemed like a cheap and forced attempt to get a few laughs. And of course there were any number of barbs from Han Solo, some of which landed, and some of which seemed like they belonged more in a 90s era sitcom on ABC.
2. Kylo Ren takes his mask of too soon
Overall, I liked the Kylo Ren character; he’s cruel, has a temper, and in a lot of ways, is everything you want in a villain. Of course, some hardcore fans vehemently disagree, but that’s a topic for another time.
That said, I thought it was incredibly lame that Ren is so quick to take off his helmet the very first time that Rey calls him out for always having it on. There’s not even a hint of hesitation. It would have been far more interesting, I think, if Ren kept the contours of his face a secret for a while longer. Removing the helmet so early on made Ren seem weak, suggestible, and lacking confidence.
Now was this purposeful, perhaps intended to convey that Ren was, in fact, all of those things? Maybe, but consider this scenario put forth by Phillip Martinez:
During arguably the best scene of the movie — and what many fans will be talking about till the next movie — Han Solo approaches his son inside the Star Killer and asks him to take his helmet off. Of course, Kylo does so to confront his father who is the single most reason for his struggle between the dark and light side.
Now, wouldn’t it have been better if THIS was the first time he took his helmet off? Even the superficial stuff I mentioned before about Adam Driver not having the look of a villain would go away with him being revealed in this scene. That’s because it would show the son. The son of Han Solo who has turned his back on his family. It would have been a poignant scene and one that the filmmakers totally missed by having Kylo just take his helmet off for a stranger.
That scenario strikes me as being much more compelling.
3. Every scene with Han Solo and Leia
Did the screenwriter of You’ve Got Mail do some patchwork on the Star Wars script? The dialogue between Han Solo and Leia was absolutely nauseating. So while it was great seeing both Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher reprise their iconic roles, hearing the duo have a “where did we go wrong?!” talk regarding their son Kylo Ren was cringe-worthy and reminiscent of something you might have seen on a show like Saved by the Bell.
Leia: You know, as much as we fought, I always hated it when you left.
Han Solo: That’s why I did it, so that you’d miss me.
Leia: I do miss you.
4. Adam Driver was miscast as Kylo Ren
I like Adam Driver, but think he was completely miscast for the role. You can almost envision a boardroom meeting with a bunch of suits asking “what actor is hot right now?” before settling on Driver.
I think [Kylo Ren] is one of the worst Sith in the Star Wars saga. Without the mask, he doesn’t give a ‘bad boy’ look — he looks like some teenager Star Wars fanboy. When he removed the mask, I hoped there would be some scars (you know, evidence that war and combat leaves), like his grandfather has.
MovieNation, meanwhile, writes:
The new villains are Kylo Ren, a black-helmeted brute who throws hilarious tantrums, shorting out all manner of electronics with his Crusader broadsword light saber. Adam Driver is Hayden Christensen reborn, in essence, a somewhat amusing menace with the helmet on, that tall, skinny, curly-headed funnyman from “Girls” and “This is Where I Leave You” with the helmet off. Miscast.
5. It was the same plot rehashed!
Echoing a complaint many others have voiced, Star Wars: The Force Awakens essentially covered all of the same plot points as the original trilogy. There were no real risks or original storylines to enjoy. And perhaps that was the point. Perhaps JJ Abrams simply wanted to create a sound foundation for future films by creating something that was extremely familiar to the franchise’s gargantuan fanbase. Now whether that’s true or not remains up for debate. But either way, it was the same story, with many of the same archetypes that we’ve already seen over and over again.
As David Roberts of Vox writes:
Yet not a single expectation was confounded. Everything played out along its well-worn path. A swarming attack. A confrontation inside, on a spookily lit walkway. A shocking bit of father-son dysfunction, telegraphed from a mile away. A lightsaber fight, a narrow escape, a heroic bit of piloting, and, yup, the big weapon goes kablooie. Like how it does every time.
I realize that most people who saw the film absolutely loved it. And yeah, there were some great new characters introduced by JJ Abrams and co. But overall, there are still quite a few folks who had a lot of negative things to say about the latest Star Wars installment.