By GB Edwards (Gainesville, FL, USA)
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Did Episode 7 in the Star Wars saga live up to its billing? Here’s the perspective of someone who has been a diehard fan from the very beginning. While not as fanatic as the Lego builders and convention costume wearers, I have the rare perspective of one who not only has seen every movie, but in addition, read almost every book written in the Star Wars Universe.

The good about the movie was that it revived the Star Wars saga, brought back old characters (literally), restored some of the campiness and humor of the original trilogy, and created some interesting new characters (even though the plot made no sense at all, which other reviewers have already covered). With some decent special effects and sets, it was probably enjoyed by a lot of new and casual fans who only have a cursory knowledge of the characters’ lives and their roles in the greater story.

And that was what was wrong with it. Aside from the fact that it was a very poor rehash of A New Hope, it was just WRONG in every way imaginable. About every other scene brought a “it’s not supposed to be that way” reaction from me, including for the new characters. For example, how did Rey go from realizing she had force powers to force grabbing a light saber to fighting with it like a Jedi Knight in about 5 minutes? Suddenly she’s defeating a powerful Sith lord (who went from an evil presence to a wimp in the same scene), when it took Luke Skywalker three movies to fully develop his powers. Whatever happened to character development? Incidentally, the light saber fights were awful, just terribly choreographed. You can’t even say that about the prequels, which I agree in most other respects were not in the same class as the original trilogy, but they had some great light saber action.

But to get back to the wrongness, let me illustrate it with an example from another movie. When the first Spider-Man movie came out (the one with Toby McGuire), the fans of the Spider-Man comics were justifiably outraged at all the mistakes that were made with the original story line. I mean, these were the true Spider-Man fans, how dare the movie makers screw with the facts as they already knew them!

That is why this Star Wars movie is so much worse than even Spider-Man, because there is already so much more story line. What the casual fan doesn’t realize is that there are many dozens of books extending the main story line for over 40 years containing several main sequential substories, plus a number of offshoot series. Recently there have even been earlier prequels written documenting the history of the Jedi and Sith. All these works were the coordinated effort of numerous authors who wrote fabulous novels in the Star Wars Universe for more than three decades, consulting and brainstorming with each other to maintain consistency. There is now an enormous library of stories in this universe.

What the movie makers did was almost totally ignore any of this, mostly inventing new characters, and the one future book character they did use was misplaced and heinously out of context. Why? There already exist several wonderful story lines, any of which could have been reworked into a movie! The creators of this disaster don’t even pretend to follow the real story, they just made up a new (actually old) story that had new, or worse, composite characters, and events occur (like Han Solo dying) that are the absolute opposite of the written story. As a result, for a hard core fan of the Star Wars Universe, The Force Awakens was almost unwatchable. When will the producers, writers, and directors ever learn that true fans want them to stick to the gist of the real existing story line!

To give a few of the main examples of how Episode 7 trashed the extended story: Han and Leia never separate and go on to have numerous adventures together after she retires from leading the New Republic; they have 3 children (2 sons, 1 daughter), the older son of whom does become a Sith lord, but his name is Jacen, and he becomes Darth Caedus; Luke Skywalker gets married and has a son named Ben. In Episode 7, all of this is not only changed, but inexplicably confused (deliberately?). Now, I do have to say that Rey would have been a fine offshoot story, say of one of the few Jedi that survived the purge, but to put her in the main story line like that was ludicrous.

I finally decided that the only way to enjoy any part of this movie is to accept that it occurs in a parallel universe. J. J. Abrams used that ploy in the Star Trek series, but as noted by others, he trashed that movie too; I’m sorry to say that he’s consistent. To not accept the parallel universe hypothesis is to reject the fine work of the authors who continued the original written story. I salute all those authors, and thank them for giving me much enjoyment through all these years. I hope they continue to add to this legacy. I’m just sad that the latest movie episode could not have been a relevant part of that legacy. It is a complete travesty, and I likely will avoid seeing any sequels to it, as they will be meaningless to me. I have not been so disappointed in a movie in a long, long time, and I wish it would go far, far away.

Addendum: After I watched The Force Awakens, I went home and watched A New Hope. The older movie was so much better there was no comparison. The true fans wanted to see the already written extended story come to the big screen because of all the rich character and plot development, but unfortunately that’s not what they got. It makes me ill to think how much money was spent creating this pathetic garbage pseudo-remake, and what a wonderful movie could have been made with a smidgeon of forethought. I wish I had never seen it.

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