MAY THE FOURTH NOT BE WITH YOU.
Let me begin by stating I’m not here to be controversial and I think we can all talk about this like adults. So. The new Star Wars? It was dumb. I could do better.
NOT IN THE FACE! NOT IN THE FACE! Settle down. Thank you. I owe you an explanation on this your people’s sacred holiday.
Lots of people liked this movie. People I respect seemed to like it. I am at a loss. I find this inexplicable. Enjoying the new Star Wars takes the same mental back flips for me as accepting Donald Trump as a statesman. I am dumbstruck with the dumbness of it. There must be something dark and shriveled in my soul. Because, no sir. I did not like. Not one bit.
I’m “An Old.” I was in line in 1977 for the original and saw that film in the theater nine times during it’s first run. I’m a fan. I was a proselytizer, even. Back then Sci-Fi was not cool. Hype was not cool. This movie when it first hit my town was not cool with anybody over 12 years old. I talked it about it every day at lunch. Raving like a nerd priest got me roughed up by the cool kids. That is until a critical mass of kids decided to go to the matinee and see it. And then the cool kids apologized to me.
So. The Force Awakens. I wanted to like it. I avoided every spoiler and review. I was mentally jacked. I even went as far as to sit there and pretend to like it. Hoping that the old adage “fake it till you make it” was true.
I enjoyed the epic Ralph McQuarrie panoramas come to life. The analog effects excited me. The performances of the actors were sincere, moving, and wry. But as the story kicked in. Oooof. I felt like Alex from A Clockwork Orange strapped in the aversion therapy chair. Everything on screen seemed like something I might like but underneath, in the pit of my stomach, it was all wrong.
The wanton corporate avarice and commercialism of Disney didn’t really bother me. Movies should make money. So, yeah. Give the people a healthy dose of nostalgia. But don’t be lazy. That story? The plot of The Force Awakens was a cynical, lazy, insipid and uninspired mess of stunt casting and insulting coincidences.
The near duplication of the first movie was disappointing. The excitement generated by the original films was due to their original world building. We have this entire universe. Why do you keep showing us the same places?
Lazy coincidence number one: Jakku is another desert planet identical to Tatooine. Borrrring. Why not just go back to Tatooine?
On Jakku the character Poe immediately comes and goes and I guess he was a bad ass somehow? On Jakku we meet a Stormtrooper with a conscience and literally no skills? Was this his first gig or something? Then immediately on Jakku comes Rey, an interesting character who then immediately bores us with the lost orphan trope that eventually leads… nowhere.
Lazy coincidence number two: Rey just happens to run into and fix the defunct Millennium Falcon.
Lazy coincidences number three: Out of an entire universe; Rey and Finn run into Han Solo. In space. On and on go all these machine-gunned coincidences that substitute for story telling.
Who cares. The central plot of a “map” as a MacGuffin only works when you don’t have a universe with mass produced robots, hyper drive spaceships, and a finite number of livable planets. After all, once they get the map they find Luke in less than a minute. They had twenty years! Thousands of light-speed robot probes could find him in a few months. So right away a 20-year search for Luke Skywalker seems like a rather loose bent nail to hang your plot on. Particularly when they don’t really show us why it’s so important to find him.
Hey. I can think of a great reason it’s important to find him. Because he knows how to shortcut the force.
The better plot. A better MacGuffin.
In 1978 sci-fi novelist Alan Dean Foster wrote an expanded Star Wars universe novel titled ‘The Splinter of the Minds Eye.’ In the novel Luke Skywalker, an impatient Force acolyte, searches for an ancient Jedi/Sith technology that can greatly enhance ones control over the force. Kaiburr crystal – the titular The Splinter of the Minds Eye. Let’s use this already established cannon as our plot point. It’s more interesting. It would be new to most fans. And it explains away so many plot holes in the new film.
For the purposes of our re-write let’s say the Splinters of this crystal have been broken and spread out around the universe and most lost to time and rendered myth. The Splinter should be the MacGuffin not the map. Not even the old Emperor believed it existed. Somehow either Luke or Yoda knew of their reality. What good does that do?
Not long before Episode VI, Luke finds a Splinter. It doesn’t matter how. Luke sees the Splinters as a desperate way to kick start a new lineage of a Jedi army. With these Jedi he hopes to combat the still dangerous First Order Empire that, while on it’s heels, has constructed more Deathstars.
We begin the Story not on Jakku but while Kylo Ren, without tipping our hand that he is Han and Leia’s child, is still a boy training under Luke. We see the young boy fatally wound another young Jedi while trying to steal a glowing Splinter, and then flee as Luke drives him off.
We see it was Luke’s rash, undisciplined use of a Splinter that gave rise to Kylo Ren while under his tutelage. For the Splinters use will more often than not shortcut to the dark side.
Kylo becomes corrupted and is seduced by the Sith and the dark side because Luke takes the Splinter and its addictive influence from the young Jedi just as he was gaining power.
Through this we will learn why Kylo Ren left his parents, Han and Leia. And why Luke, ashamed of his impatience and terrible mistake, leaves the Republic. Taking a Splinter with him. Or so we think.
We cut most of Poe and BB-8. We essentially just see Finn go AWOL. Hook up with Rey.
The Better Coincidence.
We don’t know this yet but Rey is Han’s mechanic from the get go. Rey is scavenging for parts for the Falcon. None of this silliness about her family (which will be more meandering coincidence instead of story) because… who cares? Ren is on Jakku fixing the Falcon while Han is off trying to find out where Luke is. Their rendezvous with Han and Chewie is intentional. Han rather enigmatically avoids any conversation about Ren or Luke and takes them to Takodana. This explains why Rey is doing what she’s doing it explains why she’d take Finn with her – she had a deadline for a rendezvous and needed to flee the heat brought down on Jakku. And by the way Finn can actually fight. He’s actually a bad ass. Not a coward. Rey and Finn are equals.
So why the rush to get here? Because Luke didn’t leave his lightsaber on Takodana. Why the hell would he do that? He did leave a Splinter here. He no longer trusted himself with the power. Luke is still ashamed of losing Ren. Han is there to tell him he has been forgiven.
And it’s here we learn of the Splinter story from Maz Kanata. And she entrusts it to Rey (while Chewie and Han are fighting First order Stormtroopers). Maz Kanata, like Luke, believes the Splinter’s power to be faded and drained but it can be used to locate the other Splinters. But this is not true as the Splinter awakens the force in Rey.
What does this solve? In the original script Rey can suddenly fight a trained and combat experienced Sith? How? She can if she’s been hanging with General Solo and is exposed to the Splinter. She needs a reason to somehow, out of nowhere, be able to take on Ren. Even Skywalker couldn’t take on Darth Vader before Yoda. And barely AFTER Yoda.
Ren needs a reason for keeping these rebels alive, one he can justify to his superiors. The Splinter. And now he’s dead but the First Order, the Splinters and Luke are still out there.
Sad Luke Ending
Luke is a Jedi. He knows his best friend is dead. The disturbance in the force would be great. He also knows it’s his fault his friend’s son turned to the dark side and killed his father.
So what about Rey showing up in the Sad Luke Ending.
Get ready for the BIG clincher. The BIG moment. Why is Luke there with such trepidation and pain? Is it just because of Han?
We suspect Rey has a Jedi lineage of her own and that is why the Splinter suddenly “works.”
Rey is Luke’s daughter! THAT is another layer of shame and another cause of the split between Han and Leia? That Luke left them with his daughter and ran off (I’d love it if Rey was Luke and Leia’s daughter – but that might be too dark – but it would explain this rift between the three of them).
But he wants to be reunited with his daughter. And as she approaches him and holds him she whispers, “I’m so sorry, father.”
THE END. Boom.
Better god damned movie. And the one I watch in my head.
(Now for my Star Trek script re-write. Screw you J.J. Abrams!)