Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Minor spoilers but I'm going to be very careful not to give away any major plot lines.  If you haven't seen it, by all means go, but maybe don't read on.

First of all, I went in with very low expectations.  Those expectations were significantly exceeded.  The acting was, for the most part, worlds above the PM trio (again, not a particularly high bar to meet).  There was one speaking-part character who was so formulaic that I was annoyed just watching him, but fortunately he played a relatively minor part so I didn't have to deal with it for long.

Good job surprising me with plot twists and, in my opinion, true to the original story lines from A New Hope.

Plot quibbles, if you REALLY need the droid that got away from you on the planet, why do you send two stormtroopers when you have a whole Imperial Star Destroyer packed with them floating just above the planet, and why do you send two Tie fighters to stop the good guys escaping when you have said Star Destroyer also packed with Tie fighters.  (This might fall under items to consider from The Evil Overlord List, which is well worth a read if you are considering taking over the universe)

Technical quibbles: WTW is the one storm trooper doing with a light saber proof nightstick looking weapon attached to his armor?  It was clearly inserted into the movie to provide a little suspense as to whether the good guy could actually win the fight, but it makes no sense that a) anyone would bother developing light saber proof weapons when the Jedi are extinct, and 2) in an army which is outfitted in the same armor and with the same weapons, thousands upon thousands of them, where the soldiers aren't even allowed to have names or remove their helmets without permission, one guy and one guy only has this different weapon hanging off his armor.

Side note on clones: I've heard some discussion about why you would have different types of clones in your army, rather than having them all be the same.  I think this is actually confusion about the composition of the Imperial army and the use of clones.  Most importantly, stormtroopers predated clones, and after the clone wars still existed as the shock troops of the Empire and its successors (in the books the successor is referred to as The Imperial Remnant).  The clones were an effort to secretly build a large army (most of which was outfitted as stormtroopers).  The Clone Wars occurred around the times covered by the Phantom Menace series of movies.  Important to remember that stormtroopers exist independently of clones and clones were just a way to bolster the number of stormtroopers available.  There is an interesting sequence in the movie where the stormtrooper who bailed to join the good side talks about being taken away from his family to go into stormtrooper training, so clearly the troopers are not volunteers and are conditioned to be obedient fighters.  They are not, however, all clones.

My feelings on the Legend vs Canon debate:  If you don't know, Disney announced that the vast repertoire of books, comics, information, etc on the Star Wars universe would henceforth be known as Star Wars Legend.  It would not have any relationship to the actual Star Wars universe.  The Canonical Star Wars would include the six movies and the two TV shows, Star Wars Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.  I was not too thrilled but having seen the movie, I think they've done a good job.  Presumably they will start licensing fiction to fit into the new timeline and that will give us fans of fantasy/sci-fi that much more to read.  I am told by a source who I consider reliable that there are some timeline issues even between the movies and the aforementioned TV shows, as well as some storyline inconsistencies but I guess you can't have everything.  I am planning on watching the Clone Wars and Rebels as I haven't yet so we will see.

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