Don’t get me wrong: I liked the movie. I also loved the Original Trilogy.I also tolerated the prequels, but that’s largely because I avoided most of them. Unfortunately, JJ’s love for his source material tends to manifest in following the feel of a franchise just a little too closely (see Star Trek: Into Darkness), and that means that he’s generally not willing to resolve any of a franchise’s already existing issues. In the case of Star Trek: The Force Awakens, a good half of the movie is simply ripped from the Original Trilogy, in a different context. It’s not quite a reboot and not quite a sequel. It’s a requel.
But just complaining is for sissies. Upon consulting with my numerous geeky friends, here’s what we would have changed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
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1. Show Rey Using Her Force Powers At the Beginning
No — not obviously. Or even significantly. But there were multiple opportunities for Rey to show a certain level of “force awareness” at the very beginning of the movie, with the implication that she had learned it as a child but was not quite aware of it. Perhaps she makes a jump that’s slightly too long for her as she’s scavenging. Perhaps she tries to argue for more rations (knowing that it’s futile) and finds her attempt mysteriously successful.
The goal of this would be to establish that she can tap into those powers, because she is incredibly powerful. She is, as far as the movie is concerned, far stronger than Kylo Ren, who has been trained by Luke and under Sith tutelage. She’s far stronger than Luke, who needed extensive training. She may be stronger than anyone we’ve ever seen yet. Can we really believe that she’s comes upon this level of power by just calming her shit down for a second?
The problem with The Force Awakens is that the force awakens pretty damn quick. Within minutes of discovering her force powers, Rey is already force persuading like a pro. Within an hour of discovering her force powers, Rey is winning against Kylo Ren. Yes, we know she’s incredibly powerful. Luke was incredibly powerful. But Luke got a montage.
2. Make Finn’s Journey His Courage, Not His Fighting Aptitude
Why can a stormtrooper use a lightsaber immediately after grabbing it? How does he even know how to turn the thing on — he had to be told the thing was a weapon! We assume that it means Finn is force sensitive and that this will be dealt with in another movie — fine. But the Force is Rey’s journey. Finn’s journey should be his courage — and that’s already half established. Finn is constantly running from situations in the beginning of the movie, and he only begins to run to things once he meets Rey.
At the climax, Finn is able to hold his own against Kylo Ren with a lightsaber, even getting a shot in, which makes no sense. He’s hopelessly outclassed and he’s never trained with a lightsaber. Kylo Ren knows Finn and has seen him before. A better climax would include Kylo dismissing Finn as a threat because he knows that he’s a coward. Finn could have then provided a distraction, possibly just running at him to get beaten down, surprising Kylo with his new courage — and allowing time for Rey to recover. This would have been more meaningful because it would have shown Finn’s true nature had changed without him whipping out a lightsaber.
In fact, Finn’s character needs to be explained in entirety, because it really makes no sense. Let’s put it this way: if stormtroopers can freak out the way that he does on their first battle, we would see a lot more freaked out stormtroopers. It seems as though there should be a process for culling these, or we would be seeing them all the goddamn time. But there are some interesting theories about that.
3. Give Kylo Ren an Epic Mid-Movie Scene to Avoid Nerfing
Kylo Ren’s bad-assery is established at the very beginning of the movie, and then sharply plummets throughout the rest of it. This happens a lot. Kylo is basically used as a tool: he is supposed to show how powerful Rey is. But the inverse occurs. Instead of showing how powerful Rey is, it just makes Kylo look ridiculously weak. It doesn’t help that Kylo is about 19 years old; his epic face reveal is more “whoa, he’s just a kid,” than “whoa, scary.” (Which I assume is intentional.) By the final showdown of the movie, Kylo isn’t even really scary anymore. He’s just some dude with a lightsaber.
Mid movie, Finn fights a random stormtrooper grunt and almost dies. The stormtrooper still puts up a better fight than Kylo!
Kylo simply wasn’t scary. Most of his rage was taken out on inanimate objects. The ability to destroy a circuit board with a lightsaber is, I’m sure, a practiced one, but it’s not really a threatening one. Kylo is unlike any other villain: he shows the full force of his powers at the beginning of the movie and then tapers off throughout. When the Resistance and the First Order are both fighting it out mid-movie, Kylo should have been able to display the full scale of his power — not just knocked Rey unconscious and dragged her to his ship. As it stands, Kylo’s “epic mid-movie scene” was just him carrying away an 18 year old girl.
Also it’s stupid that his lightsaber has a hilt. It’s just stupid.
4. Fix the Entire “Death Star” Problem
It’s almost like JJ just wanted his own death star. The Starkiller weapon is the Death Star “but bigger” and there’s no getting around that. It’s repetitive, but it might be fine… except it makes no goddamn sense. Why would you leave a single spot vulnerable on your death machine when you know this has gone wrong in the past? Why would a stormtrooper grunt know which area to hit? He was in sanitation!
They did try to fix this by making the vulnerability a little harder to attack, but it was still taken out by a dozen people. Suffice it to say that if you’re blowing up planets with the power of the sun, more than a dozen people are going to be angry at you.
It would make more sense if they knew how to disable the weapon, not how to destroy the entire goddamn thing and make it collapse into itself — or if the plan was always to plant explosive charges deep inside of the infrastructure. This is something they couldn’t really anticipate or protect against, rather than keeping their “destroy us” button on the outside.
5. Have Leia Reach Out to Luke Using the Force
Look, Luke. You can’t have it both ways. Either you want to be found, or you don’t want to be found. Don’t half-ass it by leaving maps everywhere. The map situation doesn’t make any sense. There’s a fragment of the map that the Resistance now has, and then there’s the rest of the map in R2D2. But we don’t know this until the end of the movie, because R2D2 is in a “powered down” state and only awakens… because plot. I
assume that it will be explained in the next movie. Nevertheless, as far as we, the audience, know, R2D2 just wakes up at random at the end of the movie to say “Hey, dudes, I totally have the rest of the map!” Why not earlier? Because, well, then the movie would be too short. Or maybe R2D2 is just kind of a dick.
It would make more sense if Leia reached out to Luke using the force following Han’s death. Leia could then have had the sense that the map was trapped in R2D2 and do whatever she needed to do to wake him up and get it out. It’s even implied by C3PO that they’ve considered that the map is inside R2D2, but they didn’t try very hard to get at it because… reasons. You know, reasons.
Star Trek: The Force Awakens isn’t a bad movie. It does suffer from wanting to redo too much of the Original Trilogy, and it isn’t a standalone movie; there are too many things that are left unexplained and in the air. JJ is either tethered by production or simply doesn’t have the faith in himself to make changes to original source materials as needed; both his last Star Trek movie and the Star Wars movie suffer from exactly the same issues that the original films did.
An experienced freelance writer, Jenna specializes in the areas of technology, business and alcohol. She spends her spare time either with her dogs, playing video games or fighting crime as "The Lace-Strewn Battleship." (The name needs work.) She is survived by... wait, wrong draft.