The Force Awakens — aka the new Star Wars movie — may be the worst thing ever to have happened in the history of cinema. (I say “may” rather than “is” because, of course, only a Sith deals in absolutes).
Obviously there have been many more terrible movies — The Phantom Menace, Ishtar, Battlefield Earth, Grown Ups II, Love Actually, etc. — but never before has there been a movie where the generally favourable reception by critics and audiences alike has been quite so dramatically at odds with the actual product.
There is no question about it: The Force Awakens comprehensively sucks. Yet mysteriously almost no one has come round to admitting it. Until now.
Warning: There WILL be plot spoilers. But if you haven’t seen it, I’m doing you a favour. Now you needn’t go.
1. Et Tu, Nolte?
All the critics have been extravagantly kind about it. Even our fearless John Nolte found some almost nice things to say. (Well, he didn’t stamp on it as you would a bubonic cockroach, just damned it with very faint praise). I can think of only two possible explanations. Either Disney has deeper pockets than we imagined, or all those people who conspiracy theorize about the mind-warping effects of chemtrails were right all along.
2. Basically it’s an extended propaganda promo for women in the military
In the original Star Wars movie, the ONLY interesting characteristic about the ineffably dull Luke Skywalker was his battle to overcome his innate milquetoastness and somehow become the saviour of the universe. With the new heroine, Rey, we don’t even get that small consolation. Basically she is AMAZING from the off.
Why is she amazing? Girl power, of course. Girls can just do the most incredible shit that boys never could. They can fly ageing space cruisers they’ve never once flown before, mastering the controls in seconds to the point where, just a minute later, they can steer them through near-impossible dog fight manoeuvres. They’re good in hand-to-hand combat situations too. They’re so naturally brilliant — because they’re girls, obv. — that they don’t even need to undergo lengthy training sessions on Dagobah in the use of The Force. (Bollocks this is).
And they’re great mechanics, too, because, again, girls are like that: their minds are so geared to engineering and spacecraft maintenance and stuff, they can teach guys like Han Solo a thing or two, just you listen. Oh, and they’re also fluent in robot. Some critics of the old school might argue that a heroine who can overcome every obstacle without difficulty is a heroine without interest or entertainment value or, indeed, plausibility. But that’s just sexism.
7. The scene that ruins everything
Sci-fi above all is about suspension of disbelief, about the joys of pure escapism. So much effort has gone into creating this galaxy far, far away — and for much of the film you buy into it: the alien creatures, the amazing spaceships that can warp speed blind from one side of the galaxy to the other without bumping into even the tiniest rock, the desert planet and the tree-y, snow-y planet which look likes ours yet so very different. But then, about three-quarters of the way in is a scene so ludicrously implausible that all the magic is lost.
It happens during the X-wing fighter attack on the Bigger Death Star (or whatever it’s called). In one of the X-wing fighters, the co-pilot — or “back seat driver” as she should be more correctly called — is clearly identifiable as female. Yet at no stage during the attack is her fighter’s progress marred by poor map-reading, irksome injunctions to turn the windscreen wipers on or off and the music down, expressed anxieties about whether the fuel and oil levels have been checked recently, or indeed even low-level nagging and bickering and suggestions that the stubborn driver stop and ask for directions.
Extraordinarily, not only does the X-wing fighter fail to crash, but it actually reaches its target on time and delivers its payload accurately. Everyone knows that even in a galaxy far, far away, such a scenario would be quite beyond the realms of possibility.
8. “George, you can type this shit, but you can’t say it.”
This reboot’s fidelity to the qualities of the original screenplay is impressive indeed.
Token. That’s what