Critique and Review of Star Wars VII
Published by James Octavo
Distributed by Shakespir
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This is a free work of critique and review. Characters and story mentioned belong to Disney Corp. There is no attempt to financially capitalize on their copyright material.
Other Titles by James Octavo
‘Gifts From The Stars’
‘The Legend of Lor’s Lost Tribe’
‘When Is A Video Game No Game’
Chapter 1 – California
California is home to both LucasFilms and Disney, both home to beloved characters in both studios. So how did the handoff of Star Wars from Lucas to Disney go?
I saw the incredible 1977 movie in a half empty theatre in its first release, due to snobbish local reviewers who panned it. From the opening scene of the ship flying overhead to everything else, Star Wars totally stunned me. When the final credits rolled I sat in the theatre totally pleased and trying to absorb what I saw.
. All these years later, how would this reboot fare under the hands of Disney? Considering how the prequels looked, and the lack of early reviews, I felt trepidation. So I had to find out, not on DVD or streaming, but at the theatre.
Normally, I watch most movies at home, satisfied with the experience. This movie demanded the full theatrical experience and audio experience. I also wanted to watch it before reading or seeing reviews and plot summaries. If you feel the same and haven’t seen it, do not read any further. Save this for after you see the movie. So having the full goal embraced, was it worth seeing it early? For the most part, yes. The new characters are worth seeing. Finding out what happened to the original characters was satisfying. The audio had a 3-D reality which empraced the viewer throughout the film. The energy in the story was high with few slow spots. The plot felt more like a reboot than a new story, but it was acceptable. (More on plot later).
This is NOT a reboot in the traditional sense. A reboot would use new actors to play young versions of the original characters such as in Spider-Man or Star Trek. Thank goodness they didn’t go that route. To do that would have implied the original creation of Lucas was lacking and needed a complete retelling. Again, thank goodness they didn’t do that.
But the story had a reboot feeling to it using similar plot elements and themes. Did this reboot feeling hurt the movie? No, thanks to the new characters.
Suppose we couldn’t see the beloved original character, expect only as ideas or legends. Would it be enough?
Yes! These new heroes and protagonists are interesting, developed characters who satisfy. With Finn, we get to see the Storm Troopers as human and not merely rpbotic clones. Poe is a high energy likeable resistance fighter. Rey is definitely a powerful female hero of the story. What about BB-8? This could have easily gone badly as Jar-Jar Binks. But by using the character in small doses, it was endearing and welcome. The only type of character missing was a Jedi mentor, someone equal to Obi-Wan or Yoda. Will we see someone equal to Obi-Wan in the next installment? Maybe it’s Luke!
What about the Bad Guys?
They were the most disappointing and almost predictable. They were too much like the Empire. Instead of them using the similar type of weapon as the Empire, (Starkiller? Really? It’s just a bigger Death Star), why not come up with something truly original and potent.
How about using the Force?
I think, the most powerful tool of the Force, is Mind Control. Why not have the bad guys come up with a device which could amplifly the Mind Control. They could control whole populations instead of destroying them. Then, the Resistance could be fighting a whole phalanx of ships controlled by them, as they try to destroy the new device.
It was good to see them as we remember them. But it provided me with a problem. They were all basically the same in their same situations as we left them, Couldn’t Han have amassed fortunes and found ways to get along with other rogues. They still chase the old guy. Really? Why would Chewbacca stay with Han after all these years. It wasn’t clear. Leia was believable as leader of Resistance, but even there, it would have been nice to see some difference. Well, at least she had a new hairstyle. Oh. And she and Han had a son! Now that was ‘different’. Not really. But more on that later.
Plot, It was good, but we seen it before. It would have been nice to see Abrams put up something outside the Lucas canon to shake things up or really inspire as Lucas did. But it’s okay.
As I stated, Abrams seemed too fearful to stray from the canon. Worse, the plot was too derivative and didn’t allow the original characters to grow. Hans felt like the same ‘rogue’ as in the original trilogy. One would have thought he would have amassed some money or fortune to create a different life. Why does he continue to cause hostility in his dealings with other traders? Also, it’s not clear why the Wookie Chewbacca would stay with him all these years. Explanations would have helped. Maybe a moment of anger for Han, where he tells Rey why his life returned to his old ways.
When the Millenium Falcon ship breaks down, it would have been a good time for characters to get to know each other as they try to fix it. Also, instead of having Han’s ships surprise them, have the alarms in the ship go off. They would believe it’s all over. “Nice to have met you” scene as they await their fate. Also, it was hard to believe the gangs would attack Han just as he retrieves his ship. It felt bizarre. And ‘raptors? They felt out of place.
Biggest Problem: What kind of Force is this anyway?
The Force must be a weak thing indeed, leading it’s practitioners to go bad. This I don’t understand. All the Jedis under Luke’s tutelage wiped out so easy by one man? Leia’s son?
If the Force is so weak leading it’s students to go bad, who would go near it? It’s a disappointment. I would have thought there would be hundreds or thousands of Jedi, practicing similar to Martial Arts trainees, optimistic and hopeful. It was depressing to see things would go so bad..
This brings me to the biggest problem with the story. The Force is strong in families, not based on training, faith or effort. Luke’s father had it and went bad. Luke had it. Leia’s son had it and he went bad. What’s going on with this Force? It’s not what I exptected the Force to be.
Repetition- Good and Bad
By using a rehash of the original Star Wars 1977 as the basis of the new story, it felt familiar, cozy almost too much, but didn’t create discontinuity. The weakness was unlike the 1977 movie, there was nothing much original here. Except for the new characters, it felt too familiar. Especially, the attack on the StarKiller. I felt if I left and came back as the attack ended, I could figure it out. Like I said before, it would have been fun to see something a little different in the final battle of the VII movie..
The problem is the 1977 movie was novel and had many original elements. A reluctant young hero’s journey (Luke). A female hero (Leia).
Robots as fun side characters. A rogue-ish reluctant hero (Han). A ‘monster’ as good guy (Chewbacca). New weapons (the Lightsaber and DeathStar). A truly, truly bad guy (Darth) with fearful garb and power. All this plus a stunning soundtrack.
So how could Abrams develop something new without hurting the canon? It might have been impossible, but I wish he tried.
Reading all this, you might think I didn’t like it. The paradox is, in spite of all my criticisms and misgivings I did like it!
For pure feeling, I would have given it an 8.5 out of 10. Subtracting my criticisms, I give it a 7.5.
I believe with all the characters together, VIII will be better and am looking forward to it. Luke may emerge as the Obi-Wan or Yoda to the new character, especially Rey. I just wish others such as Finn and Poe are trainable, and Luke tells them it doesn’t need to run in families to work.
Here are samples from three other ebook titles I wrote. The first took place 30,000 years ago. So how could it link to today? It’s a science fiction mystery.
The following is part of the first page.
“The Legend of Lor’s Lost Tribe”
We lived in peace for so long. Can our tribe be in danger now? Lor wondered this as he climbed to the top of a cliff. Looking at the horizon while the setting sun lit the valley in reds and purples, he saw bright lights looking like slow moving shooting stars near that horizon. Those illuminations and the recent attack his father witnessed brought him up on the cliff. Would he see the attackers as his father did? The lights which seemed to follow his people and the attack felt like bad omens of things to come.
He prayed the bad omens wouldn’t happen, and for the healing of his father, still in pain. He waited on the cliff until the night sky replaced the twilight. But the attackers didn’t return, so he left feeling confused. Where are they?
However, as he walked down the hill, he heard the rustling of leaves. He stopped. Was it the attackers? No. But it was something deadly as he looked at the bright eyes of a large cat piercing the darkness.
“Oh no. Not today.” He lifted his spear, but it was too late. The tiger leaped up and used its front paws to bring Lor down, scratching his arm. Lor felt the cat’s breath as the giant teeth were about to clamp down.
Lor noticed a wound on the cat’s shoulder, so he bit down on it. The tiger roared out and jumped off.
“I don’t like to eat cat. But I’ll make an exception if you don’t stop.”
Lor stood up, recovered his spear and began to poke the cat.
“Go away kitty.”
It roared again and refused to back off. So Lor lifted his spear to make a fatal blow. But hearing squeals from the brush, he paused.
“Mama cat? No wonder.” Lor smiled, looked at the tiny faces shivering at him, stepped away from them, and the cat returned to her cubs. He felt his bloodied arm and placed leaves on it to ease the bleeding.
He walked from the cave cliff to the valley where his tribe’s dwellings stood, made of huge mammoth bones and skins. Approaching his family’s, he added tree branches to a campfire near it. Inside, he saw his lady Beth applying herbs and water to the bruised leg of his father.
“How is he?” Lor asked her.
“How are you?” She looked at his bloodied arm. “What happened out there?”
“I just played with a cat.”
“Really? Lion or tiger?”
“Liar.” She smiled, removed the leaves and placed herbs on it.
“Ow. Don’t press so hard. So how is he?”
“I think he’ll be alright. But he does sound feverish, the way he’s talking.”
The next ebook is
“When Is A Video Game No Game”
A young game developer invents a new form of Virtual Reality which empowers him, but also causes chaos. Here is a scene from the book, illustrated by Sherry Leak.
Now stressed by the actions of his co-worker, he drives to a park instead of going home. Sitting in his car, he again puts on his high-tech helmet, lowers the visor and turns on the black box. He feels himself bounding through the city like an acrobat.
He hops over parked and moving cars, jumps on the girders of a bridge and walks easily across. He climbs the roofs of tall buildings, enjoys the views and jumps the gap to other roofs as real Parkour runners would. “This is insane. It feels so real. My heart is pounding. It’s like a roller-coaster.”
After ten minutes of it running, he shuts it off.
“Wow. Exhilarating. I feel the energy in my arms and legs. Will what happened before still work? I’ve got to try.”
He puts the devices under his passenger seat, walks to a picnic table and sits down.
“This looks like a good place to test it. Will this work again? Or was it a fluke?” He looks at rows of empty picnic tables and parked cars and stands on the picnic table he’s sitting at.
“Now for some real fun,” he yells out, looking at the park vista.
Still standing, he puts his arms in the air and cartwheels on the picnic table and jumps up, leaping to another table. And another and another, and begins jumping like a gymnast from one picnic table to another.
After a few minutes, he changes direction and leaps to the roof of a parked car and another, until he accidentally sets off a car alarm.
“Whoops.” He jumps to the ground and stops.
“Maybe I should’ve tested its effects on me somewhere else.”
Some people playing baseball notice the commotion and point at him.
“Hey, look at the punk,” one of them yells out. “What’s he doing to our cars?”
They stop playing and chase him when he runs away. He sprints faster, but trips over himself as his panic increases. When they almost catch up with him, one takes a swing with his bat, but misses when he hops up.
“I didn’t mean to do it,” Jimmy yells while still jumping. However, a second swing of the bat smashes his leg.
“If you even put a handprint on my car…”
“Ow. I would clean it,” Jimmy says while wincing in pain.
“So stop. Come over here.”
“Forget that. Never mind,” Jimmy says and leaps back.
He almost falls, but flips over and manages to escape, bounding off into the woods. However, they continue to chase him. He runs in a zig-zag fashion and heads further into the forested darkness. He makes one last leap near a large tree and lands six feet off the ground on a large branch.
“Where’d he go? I don’t see him,” one of the pursuers say. “It’s too dark. Let’s forget this and play ball.” They all leave and head toward the baseball diamond.
“How is this possible?” Jimmy wonders. “How did I end up here? My virtual reality machine is a lot more than VR. What did I really invent? I need to figure out what’s happening and come up with a different name for it.”
Jimmy waits several hours until the park empties before leaving and driving home.
The third ebook is
‘Gifts From The Stars’
When brilliant gemstones and colorful
crystals appear in seemingly random places starting on a Pacific beach, then in a California forest, they cause excitement. People think the gems are valuable jewels. But they appear in more places, causing chaos and danger. Why are they appearing? What are they? Who is doing it? Follow scientists Dan Ophelder and Nora Jonston as they race to find the answer.