WHM On-Screen: Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

On this episode of WHM On-Screen: Long story short - we liked it a lot.

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emsigisme said...

I vote that "Coolranchdoritodust" is a new returning character on the show, I adore this character!

Cory McMillen said...

Ugh. This movie. I don't think you guys captured a single one of the reasons that some of us didn't like it. The sloppy storytelling shortcuts, the "I write my 'wink and nod to the audience' jokes into the mouths of the characters" thing JJ loves to do, the fact that they couldn't think of anything to do other than completely gut EVERY success and ALL character growth from the original trilogy and then just redo that.

I think that, in 1999, if Lucas had released what was basically a remake as his new Star Wars movie, people would have hated it almost as much as they did the Phantom Menace. the narrative would have been, 'Fucking Lucas doesn't have any new ideas. There's so much that can go on in this universe, and he's just doing the same thing over and over...why won't he let someone else write something?' But since the prequels happened, and we're now in this Avengers era of 'soap opera as storytelling' schlock, this gets a pass.

Also, your "nuclear proliferation" defense of the "new" death star is weak. You know why the nuclear build-up happened? Because nukes worked. The military successes achieved by the weapon far outpaced the costs of making it. You know what didn't set off an arms race? The Landkreuzer tank. Because, like the death star, it never paid off on its investment. The idea that these guys would be standing around going, "So....try again?" at this point is hilarious.

WHM Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ufotofu9 said...

"I vote that "Coolranchdoritodust" is a new returning character on the show, I adore this character!"

Yes, I second that, But it's Coolranchdoritodust69

Ufotofu9 said...

The short story that Eric (?) mentions around 20:00 about the Stormtrooper from "A New Hope" is from a collection of short stories called "Tales From The Mos Eisley Cantina" which contains 16 short stories which tell the backstory of some of the most well known background characters that we see at Mos Eisley Cantina (including a stormtrooper who meets his maker while the Han, Chewie, Ben and Luke make their getaway).

Ever wonder what the story was with that human rebel pilot in the background who doesn't even have a speaking role? It's in there (he had just come back from a mission in which he beat Han Solo's record for the Kessel Run). What's Greedo's backstory anyways? http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Mos-Eisley-Cantina-Legends-ebook/dp/B00513DGPW/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

Michael Cat said...

Loved the movie at first as well. A few too many cutesy, trilogy referencing lines from Han aside, it really held up well to scrutiny as I was watching and enjoying it. Then I got home and started going over some things that occurred in my head, and that's when the "well, actually, that didn't make much sense's" started racking up. And racking up, and racking up. So after my initial enthusiasm for the film died down i dived into the infernal bowels of the internet to see if anyone aside from coolranchdorito69 was exploring the things that didn't work about the movie for me.

And boy were there a lot of them. Judging by the overwhelming praise that critics heaped on TFA, it seemed most people enjoyed the roller-coaster ride that Abrams laid out for us. But I wonder how time is going to judge the movie. Because once the rush of a good Star Wars theater experience peters out, there's a good amount of the film that just doesn't hold up to the light of day.

This is one article that gets a few things wrong by overextending itself, but lays out the really glaring issues in a more succinct way than your average cheetosdust reddit user may:


Bread and Booze said...

Great episode on a great movie! I'm glad JJ Abrams was able to create a new set of interesting characters with unique traits worth investing time in for Colin Trevorrow to shit on and make wear high heels.

Unknown said...

Am I the only one who heard the news that Kylo Ren Is the son of Han solo and Luke Skywalker? haha I was hoping the guys wouldve picked up on it at


Bread and Booze said...

Great episode on a great movie! I'm glad JJ Abrams was able to create a new set of interesting characters with unique traits worth investing time in for Colin Trevorrow to shit on and make wear high heels.

Michael Cat said...

Watching the original trilogy now it is such a drag to think about the lame ass way Han went out. It was like they were trying to smoosh Kylo's struggle between light and dark into a couple minutes in this first movie just to manufacture a moment where Han would let down his guard with him on that catwalk. It was so clumsily done and really needed time to marinate over the course of maybe another movie or two for it to have the impact it

Instead we get the most telegraphed major death in the series, with a sloppy, character-betraying Han going face-to-face with a serial murderer and telling him "hey buddy, turn that frown upside down" while the rest of his crew look on and don't lift a finger to try to intervene as he's about to get cut down. Even his life partner Chewbacca who has the clear upper ground on the entire confrontation below decides not to take a shot at Kylo until Han's gutted corpse falls over the catwalk railing. That's it, that's how Han bites it. In an unmerited, underwritten, half-assed pep talk to his dark side-deranged serial killer son while being covered by his entire weapons-drawn crew.

Great job JJ. As long as Disney can sell that 'Lightsaber-stomach Han' action figure though I suppose it doesn't matter

kellythatsit said...

Holy crap ... If there was a way to "not get" a scene, what you said was it.

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Michael Cat said...

You got my number, Kelly. Damn scene went wooshing over my head!

Jon said...

Wow, that was pathetic. Can't you guys just admit that a film can be entertaining and overall pretty well done (I'd give it 3 of 4 stars), while also (like much of what JJ does) being highly derivative and full of gigantic plot and logic holes?

For example, JJ decided to re-create the basic setup of New Hope, where the good guys are scrappy underdogs fighting an opressive regime, who must destroy an awesome super-weapon. Hence, for some reason the new dominant power in the galaxy, the Republic, is doing nothing to directly oppose the First Order, and the conflict is merely between the First Order and the Resistence.

But how does the First Order, which apparently controls only a small part of the galaxy, build a weapon with far more destructive power than what the Empire could build when it controlled the entire galaxy?

And don't give me that BS "nuclear proliferation" analogy. Building X amount of firepower requires both technical know-how and the necessary economic resources. The First Order building Starkiller Base 30 years after ROTJ, would be like North Korea building a nuclear arsenal in 2015, which was far more powerful than what the USSR had in in 1985.

And how does it benefit the First Order to destroy the New Republic capital planet? They already have their hands full fighting the Resistence, now they are going to provoke the galactic superpower into going to war with them too? Based on his speech Hux seems to think that destroying the capital will destroy the Republic, but this makes no sense.

Oh, and this idea that Star Wars gets a pass on flagrant scienific nonsense because it's just a fantasy with "space magic" is a lame cop-out.

The Force is a conceit of the Star Wars universe, so I'm willing to supspend my disbelief on anything Force-related. That's what I knowingly signed up for when I went to see a Star Wars movie. That doesn't mean I'm not going to object to having my intelligence insulted with science errors that could be easily spotted by a 6th-grader. Such as, Finn seeing the Starkiller Base beam as it is fired, which of course is only possible if the planet he was standing on and the Starkiller Base are in the same star system.

Ufotofu9 said...

Did you guys notice all of the of the Lost actors in this: The asian guy who can talk to dead people, the pilot from Lost who was also in Heroes (J.J Abraham's friend) and I THINK one of the Republic pilots was Desmond

Hakim S. Torza said...

I saw this movie and was underwhelmed. Its a middling movie at best, and you can tell it is a middling movie because of all of the caveats that people are throwing out. You shouldn't have to tell me to see a movie several times to get the "full experience." If it was a good movie, people would be saying is it better than A New Hope, rather than, "you have to see it twice."

I think the thing that makes it middling for me, is that the second act moves so fucking quickly. They find the Millenium Falcon so damned quickly. The stuff with Kylo Ren seemed rushed as well, but I'm glad that they killed off Han Solo. I wish they would have killed off Leia as well, so that you have a clean slate.

Things I liked -- seeing the results of people getting shots with blasters and lightsabers running through bodies. And yeah, it had humorous moments, which was good. Just wish they had filled out some of the stuff with Kylo Ren.

Ufotofu9 said...

Well now if Luke is Rey's daughter, does that mean the mother is...Mara Jade???
Also, I agree, Poe is awesome. For sure he was my favorite character in the movie.

Hakim S. Torza said...


Hell yeah! I laughed when I saw the guy from Heroes in one of the X-Wings. He's a big ass nerd in real life, so I know he was stoked to have that part.

Hakim S. Torza said...

The sun sucking was a big plot hole. In the movie, they show only one sun and it says once they suck all of the energy out of the sun, it is ready to fire. If that is the case, then how is the sun there for them to fire for the second time?

Also, Rey is Han's daughter. These Star Wars movies are family dramas played out over a galactic war backdrop.

Michael Cat said...

And all that gobbledygook about the First Order attacking the Republic because the Republic supports the Resistance? What the what? What kind of backwards motivation is that, it makes absolutely no sense! But so little of the movie does.

What a letdown Brinn of Tarthe was as well. All that buildup of having this giant bad-ass woman warrior in the film and she's relegated to a tedious and inept manager of the Starkiller Base who folds like a lawn chair the moment she's captured. She didn't even reach under the computer desk to hit the big alarm button or anything, just submitted to the rebels every command. What a mismanaged, ridiculous character

Hakim S. Torza said...

@michael cat:

She's going to have a bigger part to play in the other movies, I've heard. That's not necessarily a real "letdown" because you know she plays a big part in the movies because she's a named character. We'll have to find out what.

In regards to the Han's death scene, I think it worked in some ways for the movie. This movie was about how people struggle with the good and bad. Fin, starts out bad and struggles to be good. Ren starts out good (via his family) and turns bad. Thematically, Ren struggling with Han over the lightsaber fit as he was struggling within himself to be true evil. And at the end of struggle, his decision was made, and Han got killed.

Also, these Star Wars movies are family dramas played over a galactic war. It is fitting that the son would kill the father and continue the fucked up Skywalker family drama.

The only thing I wish is that we had seen more struggle with Ren fighting the good within him. Maybe a scene where he shows compassion, and then on second thought, kills someone.

Michael Cat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Cat said...

Good posts Hakim. To not be a total buzz kill I will add the things I liked as well: Kylo stopping the blaster shot in midair, then it completing it's trajectory minutes later after he releases it. All the new main characters, really well cast and written, especially Oscar Isaac's. Kylo's voice modulation. The tamed down use of CGI compared to the prequels. The fallen Empire ships on Jakku were gorgeous and one of the only truly ingenious additions J.J. brought to the universe. Liked some of the creatures in the new Cantina scene, especially the Hutt-looking guy and his woman. Also enjoyed the pace and experience of watching the film, even though it didn't hold up in retrospect and some things suffered for the sake of brevity. And of course, the final shot.

Hakim, to go back to the gripe I had with Han's death. In no way did I feel at any point in the film that Kylo was truly struggling between light and dark. All we get is two lines of dialogue referencing his supposed struggle and so it was definitely an instance where JJ decided to tell rather than show. But you can't rush something like that in such a haphazard way and expect your audience to believe Kylo's struggle is so real and significant that Han would think there was a chance of turning him.

None of that was accomplished for me. Just because Snoke says Kylo is struggling doesn't mean it shows up on screen when everything we see is Kylo hero-worshipping Vader and the Dark Side. And if you dont take the time to truly flesh out his struggle, the entire Hans scene doesn't have a leg to stand on. He may as well have fallen into that endless pit from the sheer scantiness of the skeletine foundation the scene is set upon.

Hakim S. Torza said...

@michael cat

Yeah, we get Snoke (sp??) and Leia saying that Ren is struggling to find good. I think it still sort of works because Leia tells Han to bring their son home. So, Han was going to give it a try, for Pete's sake. His wife, who is estranged from and still loves, asks him this one thing. It makes sense that he would do it.

As for the Ren part of the equation, we don't get to see him struggle with anything; you're right. Even that prayer he does to Vader's helmet, he mentions wanting the resolve to do evil. It's setup -- kinda -- but the middle part of the movie goes so quick that its hard to keep up.

On second thought, I would have liked it better, if there would have been no question of his evilness and that Leia's thoughts were just wishful thinking about their son's nature. Definitely would like to see a "Let's talk about Kylo" movie.

Pierce said...

I never imagined a comedic movie critique podcast would have so many actual whiney nerds. "Ehh! Where does the First Order get the financial resources to build the Star killer!"

cameo said...

I'm just glad that someone else's heart hurt when they saw Chewie piloting the falcon alone. I had to hide my movie theatre tears from my husband and my parents, who apparently are heartless monsters.

Michael Cat said...

@pierce Yeah that's probably in response to the lack of any real criticism in said movie podcast. We all enjoyed seeing the film, but to not point out there are also glaring flaws worthy of lampoon in it or to declare those things off-limits because 'woooo Star Wars!' kinda betrays what we do here.

But you rock on with your reverence of this unimpeachable movie, it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

Krund-The-Barbarian said...

I enjoyed this movie, but it was basically a remake of the first movie made.

Also Han isn't a normal dude, Han has always had a connection to the force...It's why he's always able to scrap by, pull off amazing piloting and his 'I have a bad feeling about this' is prophetic.

Gurney Halleck said...

Never have critics been more wrong about a film. It's as if critics have been cowed by the fanboyish-nerd rage that happens whenever anything nerds like is criticized.

A digression:

I remember in 2001 when "Fellowship of the Ring" came out. Richard Roeper (Of Ebert & Roeper) gave an extremely negative review of that film on that show, calling the whole trilogy project an attempt to steal 27 dollars from audiences. I mean he was absolutely brutal.

Then the nerds started complaining about him on the web endlessly, writing to his newspaper and saying endless negative things about him. When "The Two Towers" eventually came out -- a film worse than Fellowship -- Roeper gave it an enthusiastic review. Did he grow in the year since Fellowship's release? Or was he pressured by nerd-rage to like the film?

Basically, "Star Wars" has become such a giant franchise with such a vocal fan-base that critics felt the need to give this installment supposedly addressing the faults of the prequel trilogy a positive review so long as it wasn't an obviously laughably bad movie.

That's what really gets me here -- not the fact that some people who should know better say they like it, not the fact that it made a lot of money for Disney, but the fact that 94% of critics felt it was a movie deserving of a positive review.

What all this means is that the road to "Force Awakens" getting rightfully recognized as a bad movie will be a long one. But I'm 100% certain it will happen.

And lol:


Michael Cat said...

@Gurney I think it will happen as well, time won't be kind to this film. Some of the things in the script left me shaking my head after just one viewing, like Han shoehorning in references to the original trilogy as if he were a pull-string action figure rather than a fully realized character. How is that kind of fan service fluff going to hold up in repeated viewings over the next ten or twenty years?

It was definitely a movie crafted by committee for mass consumption to make a billion dollars at the time of release.

Ghah said...

Your repeated and unfunny insistence that anyone who didn't like the protagonist has to be a mealy-mouthed woman-hating subhuman from Mississippi was so retarded that I'm not giving you ignorant shitlibs any more downloads.

Hakim S. Torza said...

@Gurney, you have no point to that story because he reviewed two different movies. If he had gone back and said, "wow, Fellowship of the Ring is a great movie" after all of the blowback, then you would have a point. But movies, even movies in trilogies, vary in whether they are good or not. Many say the Empire Strikes back is better than Return of the Jedi. Was there a grand conspiracy set in motion by the studios to destroy the Star Wars franchise because it was making more money than it should have? Or was Return of the Jedi, a DIFFERENT movie and judged on its own merit?

I think you want this movie to suck so hard because of your political beliefs. Anyone who believes that there was some concerted effort to get 'the critics' on board, has a political axe to grind.

The fact is that this movie doesn't suck; its an ok movie. It's the Star Wars movie that people wanted to see. There was no Trade Federation space politics nonsense. It was mystical. It was about the Force. It was about the continuing fucked up Skywalker family. That's what people want and that's why people like it.

Michael Cat said...

The Force Awakens and a Critical Turnaround

Good article on the already shifting critical opinion of the movie: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/12/star-wars-the-force-awakens-nostalgia-and-expectations/422154/

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