4 things that The Force Awakens must get right.
The Force Awakens the best Star Wars movie? It certainly seems possible just a few weeks ahead of release. Sweet Jesus, the final trailer makes it look amazing. Kylo Ren looks just as fearsome and impressive as Darth Vader ever did. Han, Leia and Chewbacca are back and all look exactly how you expected. And there’s nary a Jar Jar or Gungan in sight.
Disney looks to be on track to make the best Star Wars movie ever in its first crack at the franchise since purchasing Lucasfilm back in 2012. But of course, trailers can be deceiving. Remember how awesome The Phantom Menace trailer looked in 1999? Only a handful of deluded souls now say that was the best Star Wars movie. No one wants a repeat of the Episode I debacle, and it’s unlikely that The Force Awakens will be that bad, but here are four things that The Force Awakens absolutely must nail if it truly is going to be the best Star Wars movie of them all.
Now look at the villains in the prequel trilogy. None of them had enough screen time to be built up as real threats. Darth Maul’s tattooed, horned face and double-sided lightsaber were incredibly imposing (and hopefully we see more double-sided lightsabers in the new trilogy). He still might be the coolest looking villain in all of the Star Wars films. But he had all of three lines and was unceremoniously killed off at the end of The Phantom Menace. Count Dooku was a much better villain in Attack of the Clones; at least we learned about his back story and motivation. And it’s hard not to love any character played by the late Christopher Lee. He even survived the movie after an epic lightsaber battle with Yoda… only to die in the first 15 minutes of Episode III. The final film of the prequel trilogy introduced another antagonist, General Grievous, who didn’t even fit into the film’s climax, and somehow seemed less threatening than either Maul or Dooku despite wielding four lightsabers simultaneously.
You can argue that Emperor Palpatine was always meant to be the main villain who was built up throughout the prequel trilogy, and he was the guy calling the shots for Maul, Dooku and Grievous, but none of the film’s heroes even suspected Palpatine of anything nefarious until midway through Episode III. The Star Wars films have always been about action, not Machiavellian plotting. It’s nice to see Kylo Ren out in front as the bad guy who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Hopefully he doesn’t get sliced in half by a lucky lightsaber strike from a rookie user at the end of The Force Awakens, and sticks around through Episode IX.
The Force Awakens picks up roughly 30 years after the end of Jedi. It does seem like the story is picking up at right point for the characters to be doing interesting things, but setting the new trilogy that far into the future could harm how the characters in the original trilogy are viewed. From Han’s comments to Rey in the trailer that “It’s all true…” it almost sounds as if the Rebels have been forgotten over the past three decades. Luke has apparently been in hiding since the Battle of Endor, but let’s hope that everyone else didn’t just find quiet backwaters to cool their heels for all that time. Giving so many great characters nothing to do for 30 years would be a real slap in the face to fans.