The Force Awakens – The Angry Veteran Review

The Force Awakens…the Disney Product Machine.

Star Wars is back with The Force Awakens.

I had no intentions of writing a review until I read this VICE article (yeah, yeah, that Vice): We Got Star Wars Newbies to Review The Force Awakens. Helen Donahue, ‘Social Editor’ (what exactly does she do there, one has to wonder), is the third reviewer down. I’ll quote the most vapid section for you:

I didn’t know what to think until I realize it’s Adam Driver under the mask, who I can’t take seriously unless he’s asking Lena Dunham for apple juice and being the poster man-child for selfish assholes everywhere on HBO’s Girls. Even so, I actually think he’s a brilliant stage actor, and I’d fuck him, so I was nervous to see him in a Star Wars movie.

This is what passes for a review at Vice? She writes like a sixteen year old girl gossiping with her friends: “Ugh, I like totally can’t see this movie because I’m nervous about seeing Adam Driver on screen because I would like, totally fuck him.” (giggles)

I think I’m a better writer than Helen Donahue and I’m not myopic enough to think that my audience cares who I find fuckable, so I’m going to write a review just to spite the fact that Helen actually gets paid for this trash, and I don’t.

Like an Ex-girlfriend

Star Wars coming back into my life is like an ex-girlfriend coming back into town. Yeah, she’s been working out and she’s looking hot, but do you remember when she cheated on you back in the 90’s? Yeah, you remember.

First, let’s get into the hype that basically ruined everything sexy about The Force Awakens. Leading up to the release of the film, I tried to avoid reading anything about production or the story. But I couldn’t avoid seeing how Star Wars is a feminist and social justice victory. It can’t just be a fucking movie, it has to be “viewed under the lens of social justice.’ Barf. It’s all over the place.

Here are but a few pro social justice warrior/feministing posts:

and some anti-social justice warrior/feministing posts:

and even a social justice-y parody of the movie: Social Justice Wars

Can anything stand on its own merit anymore without being “viewed through the lens” of social justice, or racism, or feminism, or whatever? Like through the lens of film writing and production?

Rey is actually a shitty character

She’s a hot girl in the desert who does everything perfect, and has no depth. Oh wait, she lost her parents or something. How is that even a feminist victory? There’s no struggle for her! Even when she finds R2D2 with the Death Star plans inside BB-8 and is offered 60 portions of food (and hopefully some blue milk), she turns it down! Apparently she’s cool with a quarter- to half-portion, it doesn’t even bother her. She’s altruistic for some guy she never met because the droid says it has to find him. Yeah, ok droid, I’ll take you instead of the food.

How is she perfect? Let me count the ways:

  • She can fix everything, including the Millenium Falcon.
  • She can pilot anything, including the Millenium Falcon.
  • She’s a crack shot with a blaster, great with a staff, and when she picks up a lightsaber, instantly badass.
  • She kicks Kylo Ren’s ass at Jedi mind tricks without any training.
  • She kicks Kylo Ren’s ass at lightsabering without any training

Finn is kind of a shitty character

But he’s black, so that’s important, I’m told. He’s a stormtrooper who rejects the violence of his first firefight. He’s also quippy and funny, which makes me wonder if being a stormtrooper is really cool. Travel the galaxy, meet unique and interesting people from other worlds, and kill them. I would expect a guy who was stolen from his parents to be a trained killer to be two things he is not, however: 1) confused about how inter-personal relationships work and possibly angry (Rey, you got a boyfriend?) and 2) to be a trained killer.

He’s male though, so he has to struggle with everything, unlike Rey. He doesn’t know how to use a blaster. Or a lightsaber. Or pilot. He gets knocked out throughout the whole film.

JJ Abrams basically paraphrased Star Wars: A New Hope

As much as I wanted to like it, this film is so dastardly familiar. A droid with death star plans has to be delivered to someone. A Jedi Master whose apprentice is currently trashing the galaxy—he’s in exile. Oh wait, it’s like a Death Star on steroids, though, I guess that’s cool. Still sticking with the ‘royal blood’ Jedi thing. Oh look a Death Star trench run. More X-wings. Tie fighters. Stormtroopers can shoot now, although no one in the Star Wars universe seems to need sights.

There’s nothing much new about the way Star Wars is written, unless you wanna focus on the social justice angle. Yay there’s a female protagonist and a black supporting lead. But they’re both shallow characters, as much as the actors try bring them to life on screen. They have no struggle, no pain. No realism.

The old cast, however, brings an edge to the story that should’ve been fleshed out more. Perfect Rey is a dull story. Han and Leia’s failed romance, their son turning to the dark side, Luke running away from it all….these are some interesting plot points. But they’re drowned out in favor of featuring the new cast. I’ll say one thing, though, that JJ got right. Kill off one of the main characters. Make us hurt a little.

There are quick nods and salutes to George Lucas’ original film, and even a cameo by George himself. The Force Awakens one thing without a doubt: Disney’s remarkable ability to product-fetishize the piss out of a franchise and sell it to our kids. I can’t wipe my ass without Star Wars toilet paper, wash my hands with Star Wars soap, then eat some Star Wars cereal while watching Star Wars on TV, playing Star Wars on my ipad, but of course, there are Star Wars books if I get bored.

My conclusion?

The Force Awakens is a masturbatory fanboy film. Call it up during a drought for Netflix and chill. There’s the potential for a strong second act, which we’ll see in 2018. Hopefully JJ steers clear of an Empire Strikes Back clone.