OPINION: Why ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Will Not Be On My Top Films Of The Year List

By December 23, 2015
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First off, I want to set the record straight: I am a fan of Star Wars. It was a big part of my childhood, and one of my most memorable movie going experiences was watching Return Of The Jedi in the theatre with my brothers (yes, I’m that old!). This isn’t about hating on the new film or anything like that, and the people who are comparing it to the prequels are just crazy. I actually enjoyed the movie quite a bit—I’m just not in love with it. And now I’m going to tell you why.

Just a warning, this post is going to contain SPOILERS for the film, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you turn back now. You’ve been warned!







While there are plenty of things to love about the film, overall, I think the studio played it far too safe in regards to the story. I get the need to appease the rabid fan-boys and not stray too far off the grid, but this telling was pretty much a beat by beat re-hash of A New Hope, right down to the death of a mentor/main character in Han Solo and the weapon that the big bad Empire (because let’s face it, that’s what the First Order is) uses to destroy planets. While I wasn’t expecting the studio to reinvent the wheel, I was hoping we would get something different, at least in regards to this universe. There are so many people, places and stories that could have been told, and yet, although technically the locations are different, we’re still bombarded with sand and space and snow. The scenery was a recreation of things we’ve already seen and done and have the t-shirts for. In that regards, I will admit to being disappointed.

My other main issue with the film was that there were a number of things that felt like they had been tacked on, so that the filmmakers could come back later and fill in the blanks, or because they thought they had to add it in in order to make this feel like a Star Wars film. I get that not everything needs to be explained in minute detail right away and that a little intrigue goes a long way, but for me, it became more of a distraction than anything else. In regards to characters, this was the most evident with General Hux and most especially Captain Phasma. Domnhall Gleeson’s Hux was fine, although if he had a mustache, I’m sure he would have twirled it on a number of occasions. The only time I was remotely interested in the character was when he was interacting with Kylo Ren, but that may have had more to do with Adam Driver’s fantastic take on the new villain. And don’t even get me started on Gwendoline Christie and what a waste that whole thing was. After all of the hype and the buildup of a female villain, she had all of ten minutes of screen time and was dispatched rather easily. While I have no doubt we’ll see her again (at least I hope we will!), the point of the whole things here escapes me. We learned nothing of the character at all, and then it was over. Her role could have easily been filled by a random Stormtrooper leader and it would have served the same purpose. It does lead you to believe that if we see her again, she may have a bit of an axe to grind with one of our new heroes, however, so we can at least cling to that.

The other issue I had involved pacing and the inclusion of the battle to bring down Starkiller base. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I watched the original trilogy, but the whole outer space battle felt sort of out of place. Like it didn’t necessarily belong in the movie, but was added on because it was Star Wars and we needed X-Wings battling Tie Fighters to make it legit. I, personally, would have been more than content to stick with what was going on down below, on the ground, because it was much more interesting. (Honestly, if the entire movie consisted of that lightsaber battle between Kylo Ren and Rey in the forest, I would have been a happy girl!) This inclusion meant that we didn’t get a whole lot of new character development or explanation and instead got a bunch of cool, new space battles and chases through the galaxy. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, to me it didn’t seem to fit with the story being told. I don’t need everything spelled out from me right at the get go, but a little backstory never hurt, especially when introducing a whole new generation of characters. Keeping the mystery alive is one thing, setting aside characterization for the sake of large set pieces and action sequences is quite another.

I get that J.J. Abrams had a monumental task with not only bringing the franchise back to life, but by also having to condense thirty years of galactic history into a single, two hour movie. Not only that, but he also had to pay homage to the original trilogy and its characters, as well as introduce us to a whole new generation and conflict. And don’t get me wrong, I think he did it well, given everything going on. There is plenty to like about the film, including the new cast of characters. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is so intriguing that I can hardly wait to see what Disney and Lucasfilm have in store. I have no doubt that, like The Empire Strikes Back before it, Episode VIII will be the best entry in the franchise to date. Now that the shackles are off, the story and characters can truly shine. I think Rian Johnson is the perfect person to take over the reins, and I can’t wait to see it.

I just think that a lot of folks out there are viewing this film with the rose-coloured glasses we all have a tendency to wear upon occasion. Especially when dealing with things that we love so passionately. And I love that so many people love the film and are either willing to overlook its flaws, or don’t see them to begin with. Maybe I’ll feel that way too, once I see the film again. Regardless, The Force Awakens will not be on my top ten films of the year list, and that’s okay.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently in theatres. Star Wars: Episode VIII is set for release on May 26, 2017.

Make sure to check back for updates—right here on Geek Nation.

Erin Parisien
Erin is a writer, a comic-book geek, a movie nerd and a pop culture junkie... all long before it was cool! She's the senior Editor and a writer over at SchmoesKnow.com and can always be found behind a keyboard, because it's all about the words. Follow her @erin_the_novel over on twitter.
  • Cory Naught

    I agree and disagree… the teasing of this film was expected. Being the first of a new trilogy is difficult. What do you show? What do you hide? And, what do you tease? To introduce and explain anymore than they did would add an extra hour of story telling which I wouldn’t mind. Others may fall asleep. My only gripe is that there was one person I really wanted to see and I didn’t get to see that character but for a snippet. I get the reasoning. I understand the McGuffin but COME ON IT’S BEEN 30 YEARS.

    • Erin Parisien

      I get the teasing and the keeping things close to the vest. You don’t want to spill everything on the table all at once. Intrigue is good. But when it affects your movie in a negative way, is it the best way to go? I realize I’m in the minority on this, and I’m okay with that. I may feel differently when I see the film again and it in no way diminishes my anticipation for Episode VIII.

      • Cory Naught

        People are already debating what the name of that film will be.

  • David Johnson

    I’ve only seen it once & that was in IMAX 3D so I probably missed 20 or 30% of the movie just gonjg Owww & Awwww! I think they had to be gentle with as many people that hate the prequels. So overall I liked it & am going to re-watch it in 2D but I plan on re-watching the original trilogy first!!!

    • Erin Parisien

      Yeah, I do think that JJ had to walk a fine line between not making Lucas’ previous mistakes, keeping the fan-boys happy and introducing us to a new generation… and in that regard, I think he did a bang up job. I will definitely be checking it out again and am really excited to see what happens in Episode VIII.

      • anon234324

        I have a really hard time hearing “not making Lucas’ previous mistakes”, in all honesty the entire franchise is an incredible stroke of marketing genius that turned an unknown and fairly unique movie idea into a multi trillion dollar worldwide phenomenon. There is no one qualified to judge to determine whether Lucas made mistakes, given no other has been able to create a movie franchise that has such a diverse following for such a period of time. That being said I agree with your review, minus what appears to be a bit of a crush on kylo ren.

        • Erin Parisien

          Thank you. And I do agree that Lucas is an absolute visionary and without him, we wouldn’t have this franchise. I think that while he’s a great idea man, sometimes things get lost in the execution. I also think he had a tendency to do things because the technology allowed him to… whether it actually worked with the story or not. And I wouldn’t exactly call it a crush on Kylo Ren (although I do love Adam Driver). It’s more of an intrigue in that, so far, I see what should have been Anakin, had a better actor played the role in the prequels. While Luke never truly struggled with the Dark Side, I’m interested to see someone who walks that fine line. I also think it’s interesting that Ren is actually fighting the pull of the Light Side. And thanks for reading! :)

  • Jarrod CL

    I agree, but, I decided that the highly similar plot line was there for two reasons:

    1) To let everyone know this is going back to the older style star wars and away from the prequels. If this has tanked, it would have been bad.
    2) To make the cyclical nature of the force blatantly obvious.

    • Erin Parisien

      Those are both very valid points! I will take them into consideration when I watch the film again. Thanks for reading! :)

  • Eat Me, FFace

    Hmm, I respect your opinion but if I may add some thoughts that might make you see it…from a different point of view.

    All the trilogy beginnings so far have a poetry. In each beginning film, a loved mentor passes – Qui Gon, Obi-Wan, Han.
    It’s “Star Wars-y” to do that.

    All the films have poetic cadence and rhyme scheme -things repeat – like our lives when we feel like we go through the same situations and motions repeatedly. These movies aren’t about technology and fantasy as much as all that is just used as devices to tell the story of familial relations and destiny.

    I’m not seeing it through rose colored glasses (actually 3D glasses this time) but I am settling into the realization that this IS how the Stars War, capice? This is how the trainer ball bounces.

    I will agree with the Starkiller base being completely irrelevant and tacked on – I would have been satisfied with the battle at Maz Kanata’s being the “big battle sequence” but it did my old cranky heart good to get some better pilot banter this time around rather than “I’ll try spinning, that’s a good trick.”

    All I know is it’s not fake or “rose colored glasses” that JJ made me actually CARE about three new characters so much that I’ll follow their adventures just like Luke, Leia and Han’s (rip). That’s real, that’s Star Wars.

    • Erin Parisien

      I’m glad that you loved the movie so much. A lot of people got the impression, because I have criticisms of the film, I must hate it, which is absolutely not the case. I enjoyed the film, I am just not in love with it. And I agree wholeheartedly that Star Wars is back! JJ absolutely made me care about these new characters, like you I am interested in seeing what happens to them. My main issue is that this film has flaws (like all the others, in any genre, before it) and it’s not the be all and end all of film, like a lot of over-zealous fans are making it out to be. I have no doubt that Rian Johnson’s Episode VIII will be as close to perfection as you can get, however, and I can’t wait to see it. Thanks for reading! :)

  • http://www.daveandtom.com Tom Konkle

    If the Starkiller base has to literally intake a star to get power to fire at planets isn’t it killing the planets by removing the heat, light and gravity that makes them exist? Is it “double killing” the planets in the system after removing the star ? What star was it around that it’s attack was visible to Han and the others as it streaking through the sky? It can’t have been their own star because there was light and life in the system and planet and if the Starkiller struck from going out of its way to shoot into another solar system from another star in another solar system why didn’t they just destroy the resistance planet? Was it a secret? I thought only Luke’s whereabouts was the secret. Why wasn’t it Phasma who had the big build up as a “special” storm trooper the one who yelled “traitor” at Finn and had the cool light saber battle with him. The armor could have protected her to just being injured when Han shoots the trooper attacking Finn. With Finn how is a person who was a sanitation guy who didn’t shoot or do anything on his first combat mission able to swirdfight Kylo Ren using a lightsabre. Why was Rey supernaturally good at everything she tried the first time from flying a spaceship to knowing about the force mind trick which she admitted never hearing about or was shown or trained ? Rey didn’t have anything to do with the destruction of the bad guys super weapon unlike Luke who was the only reason the bad guys didn’t win so why was the story about her? If she won or lost the sabre battle the outcome of the movie would be the same as the Starkiller base was already being destroyed by Hans explosives and Poe Dameron who disappeared for most of the film and was the best pilot yet no one seemed to be surprised he disappeared or returned and never was in danger like having the villain after him in the attack the way Darth personally went after Luke in the X-Wing