sniffnoy: (Chu-Chu Zig)
[personal profile] sniffnoy
So, I basically stopped really caring about Star Wars a while back, but Noelle organized an expedition to see The Force Awakens today, so I went and saw it. It was OK? There were substantial parts that didn't make a lot of sense, or at least weren't sufficiently clarified, so I'm basically going to complain about it here.

1. What exactly is the status of the New Republic and the First Order? I went in assuming that (as in the old Expanded Universe) the New Republic had basically taken over either all of the old Empire, or at least most of it except for a small Empire rump state. The opening crawl, however, spoke of a "resistance" against the First Order -- OK, so I guess the First Order is an actual state, and a powerful one? And the rest of the movie mostly treats it like that?

So I mean, there's a few confusing things here. If it's an actual government, why does it call itself the "First Order"? That sounds, y'know, like, well, an order, such as a military order, or a religious order -- well, OK, not a religious order, definitely a military order. I was definitely confused at several points watching this whether the First Order actually held and governed any territory, or whether they were just a bunch of marauders trying to recreate the old empire.

Second of all, where's the New Republic? Later things in the movie suggested that the New Republic has not gone and replaced the Empire but in fact only holds a few planets. If this is true, couldn't we have been told this at any earlier point? That's pretty unexpected. But OK, so the New Republic is around. So the situation is one of two warring states -- the New Republic and the First Order? With the First Order more powerful, I guess? (How did that happen?) As I've said, I was definitely confused as to which ones were actually states, which ones were just roving warbands, and how they stacked up against each other.

But anyway yeah, if the New Republic is there, why is all the focus on this Resistance? Rather than, y'know, open warfare between the Republic and the First Order. Apparently the New Republic has decided instead to just fund and support a resistance group inside the First Order, but I don't understand how the two sides aren't at open war which would be a bigger deal.

2. You can't just brush over the destruction of the Hosnian system like that! I mean... holy shit, that thing just destroyed, what, five planets? I mean, let's compare this to the original Star Wars. There the Death Star was used to destroy Alderaan, and it was a big freaking deal. This was an unprecedented atrocity. I mean, in the real world, an atom bomb can wipe out a city, this is a hell of a lot bigger than that. Now, OK, Star Wars, and science fiction in general, is frequently not very good about scale; "planets" tend to be quite small. Nonetheless, the original Star Wars did acknowledge that yeah, this was a true atrocity. Consider the exchange between Leia and Tarkin:

Tarkin: Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel base, I have chosen to test this station's destructive power on your home planet of Alderaan.
Leia: [shocked] No! Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons. You can't possibly–
Tarkin: You would prefer another target? A military target?! Then name the system!

...emphasizing that yeah, the Empire is willing to kill a planet's worth of civilians just to get what it wants. (Or just to demonstrate its capabilities, as ends up happening when Tarkin destroys Alderaan anyway.) And it's a "great disturbance in the Force", let's not forget that bit.

I mean, yeah, Star Wars underplays just how big an atrocity this would be, realistically speaking, but that's a little hard to convey, I think what it does at least deserves credit.

Now we contrast The Force Awakens. Here, the First Order destroys, what, five planets? I don't know if it's actually five, but it's multiple. And it's just kind of brushed over as yeah, another bad thing that they did. No acknowledgement that this is an amazingly horrible thing at all. Hell, barely even any acknowledgement that it's a terrible thing for the New Republic, even though this presumably took out basically the entire government; the New Republic should be in chaos after this, yet no mention is made of this. Does the New Republic even still exist as a political entity after this? Who knows! This one attack potentially reshaped the whole fucking political landscape of the galaxy, ending the war in a single blow, and nobody's talking about whether it did or not.

Which leads me to a tangential point. Starkiller Base was somehow kept secret? I mean, c'mon. In the original, not everybody knew about the Death Star, or its full capabilities, but at least the rebels knew it existed -- I mean, a project of that scale would be a bit hard to hide. Sure, scoring the plans was a big coup for them, but finding out that it existed wasn't the hard part. Here, apparently Starkiller Base was just totally unknown until it was used. (Because again, if the New Republic knew about this at all, which they should have, they would be at open war with the First Order.)

Which leads me to another tangential point that ties back into #1 -- the First Order has the resources to build such a thing? That's way more power than I would expect of them. (Not to mention to develop the technology in the first place...)

3. Why does everyone care so much about finding Luke Skywalker? I mean, yeah, OK, he's a big deal, but surely he's not going to turn the tide of the war (or resistance, or whatever; see #1 again) all by himself. He's not Fox McCloud. I mean it makes sense why Han and Leia (and later Rey) would care so much, but not so much why the Resistance aside from them would. (I suppose we can justify the First Order obsessing over him as being due to more of a desire to exterminate the Jedi than due to war-related goals.) "Find Luke Skywalker" is the driving force for so much of the story, but I don't understand why that's something worth doing. And where the hell did this map come from, anyway? I mean somebody had to make this map, right? Maps to Luke Skywalker don't just appear out of nowhere.

EDIT: Struck that last bit as not really essential.

On that note, what was up with R2-D2's sudden awakening at the end? In that it seemed to have no cause within the story. It seemed to be a "because the plot requires it" sort of thing.

...OK. I'm done complaining for now. There's more I could say but I think that would be picking nits. The original left a lot unexplained too, after all, and wasn't really the worse for it. These are just the things I think need explaining or fixing.

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