My last two cents on the “is TFA just SW 2.0?” argument: This video, in which the guy tries to be as unbiased as possible. It’s a good video.
I will say it’s baffling to see people saying that TFA doesn’t have the same plot as SW. The story isn’t exactly the same (even though it’s incredibly similar) but the plot is, pretty much, the very same thing…
I don’t see how it’s baffling that someone would say they aren’t the exact same. I don’t think you’re actually baffled, you know full well they aren’t the same. I don’t understand why these conversations always turn to hyperbole. (Maybe because there’d be nothing to argue about if we were all honest with what the films actually are.)
Honestly, I like TFA, but I would say the plot is highly similar to ANH, with a few elements of TESB and ROTJ thrown in for good measure. The question is not whether it is, or isn’t similar, because it is, and not by accident, but if it is too similar, such that in the combination with the story, characters, and visuals, it ruins the movie for you. It didn’t for me, but I think because of the similarities, it’s lasting impact may be somewhat less, than if it had been more original. I would also say, that if someone were to argue, that they didn’t like TFA, because it was too similar to ANH, that that would not be an unreasonable point of view. I would say, that I can see their point, but the other elements in the film, and the way they were presented, made it seem fresh enough for me to like the movie, and not classify it as a rehash.
I would say the plot is completely different. ANH is driven by the Death Star Plans and a huge danger to the free galaxy (first Alderaan and then Yavin IV). TFA is driven by the search for Luke. In ANH Vader is searching for the plans protect his asset and they fall into Luke’s hands. In TFA, Kylo and Leia are searching for Luke and no one finds him until the last scene. The map to Luke never is within reach of Kylo like it is Vader (R2 is there on the Death Star with the plans). In TFA, the piece of the map they have is useless without the rest which we get after the climax of the film.
That is not completely different. That is very similar. In both films the villain is looking for important information vital to the survival of the heroes, that has been hidden at the last moment by one of the heroes in a droid. That droid ends up in the hands of the main protagonist, who lives on a desert planet, and with the help of an ally tries to get the information back to the home base of the heroes. The heroes go to a seedy bar in an attempt to further their quest. The villains use a super weapon to destroy a planet/planets. One of the heroes needs to be rescued from the villain’s base, we get another desperate attack to destroy the super weapon, we get another trench run, etc, etc.
Now what is the same are a lot of the setups and scenes. As I said before, the opening is setup almost identical in many ways, but once the McGuffin arrives in our hero’s hands, the story diverges greatly. We are treated to Abrams version of the Cantina (which makes story sense because it is the sort of place Han would frequent and would go to when he needed something), Death Star, trench run, enemy base rescue, imminent danger, etc. But the story between them is nothing alike. In ANH, they accidentally find Leia, in TFA they go to rescue Rey. In ANH Leia needs rescuing, in TFA, Rey does not. In ANH the Death Star is closing in to fire, in TFA Starkiller Base is charging to fire. In ANH Tarkin refuses to leave, in TFA Hux evacuates. So a lot of story points touch on the same ideas, but the execution and resolution is very different because they plot of the film has a different goal. ANH is all about the Death Star while TFA is all about finding Luke. The crawls set it up this way. I find both movies to feel very different. While TFA evokes a sense of nostalgia and plays in familiar territory, everything is different and new.
The fact that some details are different, or that the order of events have been altered somewhat, or that one character is switched for another does not suddenly make it completely different. It makes it not identical, because several things have been altered, but the similarities, are there, and they are obvious. The question is whether making a few changes, and adding some new elements is enough to make it seem fresh? Some will say yes, while other will say no.
You are focusing on what is the same. It is only the same in a vague way. In TFA the map was not stolen. Poe does not remain a prisoner but escapes with Finn’s help. Yes, that initial beat is the same, but nothing else about it is. TFA uses a few beats from ANH and rearranges them and changes how they play out to create a new story. It is not the same story retold. The details being different is what makes it a different story. It isn’t the second Star Wars film to feature a bar scene after all. It isn’t like it is the second Death Star. Star Wars has been full of reused beats and tropes. Most people have enjoyed it and it is the second most successful Star Wars film of the franchise. So it must have done something right. If you focus the the McGuffin and the super weapon, then yeah, they are going to seem the same. If you focus on who does what and why, then story is totally original. The McGuffin is not the plot. It is a tool to drive action and get us into the story.