If you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, you’re not going to like what you’re about to read and that’s OK with me. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, you should probably stop reading right now because I will be giving away some major spoilers, and, subsequently the main reasons I’m done with the franchise.
I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan and it was always a part of my personal pop culture, just as it was for millions of others. But, The Force Awakens was so tragically disappointing that it has ended my interest in any future Star Wars movies with director J.J. Abrams at the helm.
In 2009, Abrams did little to endear himself to fans of CBS Paramount’s Star Trek franchise when he tossed the half-century-long story canon established by Gene Roddenberry in favor of his “alternate universe.”
But, for Star Wars, I was willing to give him a chance and hold my opinions until seeing the movie. Sadly, my worst fears were realized and I simply do not understand why any true Star Wars fan likes this film.
However overblown the hype and merchandising, this “new” story is little more than a mashed up repeat of the original trilogy into one movie. At its core, The Force Awakens is the story of a wannabe Lightsaber jockey seduced by the dark side who adopts a Vader-esque breath mask and sets out to hunt down former teacher, Luke Skywalker.
His evil cohorts have build a space station (that looks like a moon) and blow up some important planets before being destroyed by a spunky pilot and his adorable robot. Does any of this seem familiar yet?
But wait, there’s more! The worst part of the story is that the bad guy is the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia and isn’t much more than a whining, 20-something, Darth Vader fan boy with daddy issues. He doesn’t even need the mask, popping off regularly throughout the movie!
Near the end of the film, he confronts Solo on a bridge and kills him to prove how “evil” he is to his master. And that’s just about when I nearly walked out on this film. Killing off a beloved, long-lived character should be purposeful and respectful. Abrams’ blatant “murder” of Han Solo was anything but either. The word that comes to mind to describe it is, pointless.
As a writer, it’s hard for me to accept that a character like Solo was written to have survived everything we saw in the first three films just to be murdered in a moment of gullibility.
Rumor has it that this was the only way actor Harrison Ford would agree to return to Star Wars. If that’s the case, then the character’s death should have had meaning. But it didn’t.
Sadly, some great performances by the new cast, including the female lead, are overshadowed by the retread story line. I’m well aware that more than $1 billion in box office returns – not to mention a flurry of media praise – do not support my conclusions. But it won’t be the first time good box office returns had no real relationship to the quality of a film.
Personally, I believe this film travesty is just a way for director Abrams to leverage his control over Star Wars. He simply punched the fans in the face to reinforce that this is now his property and it will go how he wants it, fans and good writing not withstanding. But, money talks so you’re likely stuck with him for a while.
As talented as he may be, J.J. Abrams will never be a George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. No amount of lens flare will make up for the fact that he simply doesn’t care about these stories, the characters, or, more importantly, the fans.
All we can do is hope no one lets Abrams anywhere near Indiana Jones. Now excuse me, I need to go put the rest of my Star Wars collection on eBay. May the Force be with you.
Gery L. Deer
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com