The main reason I don’t like TFA is this:
If the filmmakers want to add something to the sequel trilogy that changes the original trilogy, that’s fine as long as it enhances the original trilogy. But if it neither enhances nor weakens the original trilogy, it may or may not be the right choice. And if the new addition even goes so far as to weaken the original trilogy, that is an unequivocal sign that the change should not be made, and that a different approach should be taken to the narrative. And there are too many places in TFA that weaken the original trilogy.
Specifically why I don’t like it (The Force Awakens SPOILERS):
- Rey’s rapid mastery of the Force undermines the hard work that was put in to make Luke’s transition from novice to master a believable one in the original trilogy, and it diminishes his accomplishments.
- Rey learning the Force with little to no guidance undermines the purpose of having a mentor in both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy.
- New Force abilities break continuity with the way the Force is portrayed in the original trilogy:
- Paralyzing a person.
- Freezing a blaster beam in mid-flight.
- Walking while using the Force.
- Reading the memories of an inanimate object.
- Lack of originality. The filmmakers played it far too safe by duplicating too many narrative elements from previous Star Wars films.
- Having Han revert back to smuggling undermines all of the hard work that was done to develop his character in the original trilogy. I would have preferred to see him continue to evolve as a character rather than regress.
- The circumstances of Han’s death should be more dramatic or more exciting than a talk. Especially considering that the Star Wars series is a space opera.
- As a character, Kylo Ren is a weak villain. And the comic relief in his scenes doesn’t help.
- Rey is overpowered even if we pretend for a moment that the original trilogy doesn’t exist. As a novice with the Force, she is somehow able to overpower a trained Sith at telekinesis.
- The shift in humor to a satirical sitcom style is out of place for Star Wars. It’s the kind of humor that makes me roll my eyes when it’s not in a sitcom like Friends.
- Maz Kanata is out of place. Just because Disney owns Star Wars is no reason to put a Disney character in a Star Wars movie. I was actually surprised when she didn’t break into song to explain the Force to Rey.
- The film feels incomplete because there are too many important narrative threads that remain unresolved by the end of it. Key words: “too many.” I’m fine with being given a puzzle to solve, but the problem is that we aren’t given enough of the jigsaw pieces—or that we are given ones that should have been saved for later. And anyway, Star Wars is supposed to be a space opera, not a mind-bender.
- Luke’s part in the film isn’t right. It would be better if he intervenes in the fight at the end to save Rey and Finn (preferably against an uninjured Kylo Ren). But if it has to be Rey who defeats Kylo Ren, there should be no cameo with Luke at the end. It achieves nothing more than the creation of an offbeat ending. They should have saved that scene for the beginning of The Last Jedi. It’s like ending The Empire Strikes Back with R2-D2 and C-3PO arriving at Jabba’s palace—it just doesn’t make any sense in the episodic format of Star Wars (to compare, The Lord of the Rings is a single story split into three parts, as opposed to three episodes that make up a story). The only reason for Luke’s cameo that I can come up with is that Disney wanted to sell more tickets by having Mark Hamill’s name in the billing—and that’s an insidious incentive when it comes at the cost of the narrative.
And that brings me to another point. There are too many decisions that appear to be made for the sake of making more money at the box office, but at the expense of the narrative: duplicating proven story elements from previous movies to play it safe, reverting Han’s character back to what it was in movies that have proven to be successful, and tacking on the appearance of Luke. Even Han’s death felt like it was tacked on to check the drama checkbox on the Star Wars checklist, rather than to tell a good story.
- The decision to change Force terminology by replacing the word “good” with “light” proves to be problematic in certain sentences. It’s better to use either of the two words depending on context, rather than rigidly sticking to just one.
- Changing the design of the lightsaber for Kylo Ren is fiddling with perfection. The original lighsaber beam is a perfect design, both visually and sonically. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And having cross-guard beams on a lightsaber is just stupid.
- It was predictable, and I mean well beyond the fact that the good guys are going to blow up the “Deathstar.”
- Kylo Ren doesn’t need a mask. Cosplaying villains aren’t intimidating.
- Han Solo is too old to be gun slinging. And he’s definitely too old to be shooting without even looking what he’s aiming at.
- The hologram technology is too advanced.
- There are gaps in the worldbuilding logic of the narrative, such as the storm trooper’s melee weapon, or Finn’s fencing skills.
- The transition from the final scene into the credits music was not smooth.