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Author Topic: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens  (Read 17401 times)

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Offline Orell

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[TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« on: 12/18/15, 08:34:55 PM »
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SPOILERS FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS BELOW SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT GO SEE IT BEFORE READING ON. THIS MEANS YOU.

So, saw The Force Awakens, and figured it might be a good idea to have a place for us all to geek out over it!

First things first? I had a blast. It's not a flawless movie, maybe not the best one I've seen this year (Spotlight was pretty damn good, and the Martian was FANTASTIC), but there was a ton of awesome bits. So, given how much I love dissecting media... screw it, I'mma talk about what worked and what didn't :).

Also: This gonna be loooooong...

Worked Great

Rey, the first Lady Jedi with Lines: It'd be really easy to dismiss her as just a gender-flipped Luke from A New Hope, and that's because... well, there's a lot of "Like ANH, But" in the film (going into that later...). Rey's journey is a lot more interesting than Luke's was, though. She started out clearly capable and surviving, showed she was a badass pilot and engineer, learned she was a Jedi, her refusal of the call led pretty directly to her capture...

...and then she worked her way through the Force enough to escape her capture and evade pursuit long enough for the rescue party to get there. She figured out some of the basic Force techniques on her own and, most importantly: She stood up, grabbed a Lightsaber and kicked ass, Jedi style. That moment when she caught the Lightsaber for the first time had the audience cheering in my theater, and I got chills when, locked with Ren, she closed her eyes, letting the Force in, and took Ren apart.

Importantly: She didn't whine. When she complained about being cheated... it was because she was being cheated. Her refusal of the call was... totally legit, it's the sort of young fear anyone might have, and then the vision freaking her out... she felt like a stronger person than Luke, and never, ever got on my nerves.

She is easily my favorite character in the whole damn film because of how her arc played out, and I can't wait for #8 to see what comes next.

Han Solo, back for the Death Scene: I admit, I kinda knew going in that Han was going to die. It felt a lot like Nimoy going back for Wrath of Khan: The fantastic actor that's extremely well known for this one role, but who has gotten weary of it, returning for one last hurrah, where the character can go out with a scene to showcase the actor's talents.

...and boy did it. He had the great jokes (don't BS a BSer, Finn!), the awesome "Old Badass" action beats, a wonderful scene with Leia, and... yeah. Han Solo and Kylo Ren, on the bridge. You knew it was coming, and even then.. it hurt, because for a moment there... I suddenly wasn't sure. It takes a great scene to make a hardened cynic ignore the meta-narrative and wonder, just for a moment, if the obvious wasn't about to happen.

Finn, Defector from Deadliness: I wasn't a fan of his earlier "Obvious liar is lying and this will get uncovered later on", but... eh, it was handled well. His "I have to go save the girl I've known for maybe a day!" thing in act 3 was a bit contrived, but some tropes exist because they work well. And his turn was a bit blatant, and I wish we had seen more of him before he went good.

But those are comparatively minor bits, because dude was great in just about every scene he was in. He had fantastic chemistry with everyone, had some of the best jokes, his arc felt totally natural (aside from the time-compressed relationship thing) with the deception coming out right when it should have. Aside from him fighting Ren at the end, there wasn't exactly a single super-awesome moment from him, just a ton of really strong ones.

BB-8: DAWWWWWWWWWWWW. SO CUTE. SO GUUD. WELDING TORCH THUMBS UP FOR EVERYONE!

Handling the Reveals: I liked how a lot of the reveals were handled, in that they weren't all the bog-standard "WHAT A TWIST!". Kylo Ren being Han and Leia's son, I like how that was just dropped here and there, not the bombshell you were expecting... but also not pretending like his identity wasn't important. We got clues, they filled in pieces, it progressed nice and naturally.

And it made the big reveal, Rey with the Lightsaber, all the stronger, because holy hell was that awesome.

Some Subtle Bits: Kylo Ren hitting Chewie's blaster wound to give him a bit of an edge in the last fight, it was a great idea that I felt came off pretty well, Rey closing her eyes while saberlocked, just letting us picture what was going on with her there.

And some of the New Hope points were hit quite nicely, especially when they were nice and subtle. I mean, stop me if you've heard this one: 20ish potential-Jedi on a desert planet who dreams of being more, joins up with an underdog army against a totalitarian and murderous regime, while also meeting a wise old master, willing to train the young person and show them the ropes to the greater galaxy, but who tragically dies in a confrontation with his past. It's one of those overarching threads that makes the stronger in retrospect, while not actually detracting in the moment.

Could Have Worked Better

Poe Dameron, Ace Pilot: ...yeaaaaaah. Any time he's on-screen? He's being awesome and epic and badass and hilarious. If he was in the film for more than 10 minutes, I'd really like him, but it felt like he had a bigger part that was cut down severely for time.

I hope we get more of him in 8 and 9, that's for sure. Oscar Isaac owns the role, there's just not enough meat for him to work with.

Kylo Ren, "Conflicted" Sith: I love the concept: Han and Leia's son falls to the Dark Side, idolizes his grandfather, is trying to stay pure dag-nasty-evil but feels temptation of the Light, seemingly cements his destiny by killing his own father. That's a great character concept and a strong arc to create a real threat for the future.

I sure wish he showed some of that conflict, though. There was basically no hesitation whenever he did anything evil. Murdering captured villagers, torturing prisoners, implied rape threats, Super-Death-Star-ness. The only time there seemed a conflict was when he exposited about how tempted he was by the Light and that final scene with Han. It just didn't feel earned, he just feels like a standard-issue Evil Villain with some "Oh but he's kinda conflicted" bits stapled on. A good idea not well executed.

Chewbacca, the Afterthought; It's small and trivial. While I loved his enraged fire after Han died, and his brief bit mourning him, it didn't feel like the kind of attention that Han's best friend, who's been through hell and back with him, and was part of the original trilogy, deserved.

Just Didn't Work

Super Death Star: I know, it has a proper name (Starkiller Base or something?), but that's all it really is.

Remember how I said that the "New Hope beats" worked best when they weren't obvious? This was obvious. Obvious as hell. It's not just comparable, it's in your face. They literally showed that it's like the Death Star, but bigger! And it doesn't just destroy one world, it destroys bunches at a time! And this time it takes more than a lucky shot to destroy!

I get that they needed some major threat to make the final act stuff required, but they could've just gone with "We need to rescue Rey, because otherwise they might get the last piece of Luke's map out of her mind!" and it would've worked fine. And it's presence is part of problem #2...

Issues with World-building: Over the course of the film we saw six worlds: A desert planet, the planet with the cantina, New-Alderaan (which blowed up), Rebel-Base-World, Starkiller Base world (which blowed up, and presumably had a different name first) and Jedi-Hermit-Land. Pop-Quiz: What are the actual names for those planets?

Answers are, as far as I know: Jakku, Unnamed, Unnamed, Unnamed, Unnamed and Unnamed.

(Actual answers, thanks to Wookiepeida: Jakku, Takoanda, Hosnian Prime (HQ of the Senate, apparently), D'Qar, Unnamed and Unnamed)

Maybe the others were named in the film at some point, but I didn't catch them, and I was eager to find them out, hoping for an EU reference here or there. At most, their names were said once. It's hard to really build worlds if you don't name them, after all, and it extends to more than just that.

Why was the Resistance fighting the First Order instead of the Republic as a whole? Not answered, implied to be political in nature, the Republic funding the Resistance under the table.

Was the Senate actually destroyed? Apparently? It was mentioned during the echo-y speech, and wookiepedia says that it was, but no one seemed to really care at all about it afterwards. Even Alderaan got more than one mention, and it was just an important core world, not the HQ of the Republic.

How did the First Order come about? Unanswered.

Now, look, I get it: They were going for the New Hope beats, and we didn't learn much about the Empire in the first film. But leaving aside that we did learn a bunch about it (They had a senate, but it was disbanded, they used to be the Republic before it fell, Jedi were a thing once in the Republic, Alderaan is a major world and it's destruction is a massive step by the Empire, the Rebellion exists but is a severe underdog...), we're stepping back into a galaxy, thirty years after Episode 6.

They couldn't spare a few lines of dialog talking about the galactic political situation or the First Order and Resistance's history? They couldn't give an idea of the consequences of the events of the story?

The Prequels had a lot of problems, no question. But they made an effort towards worldbuilding. Too much at points, certainly, but it felt like they were too afraid of the details.

The Action Cinematography: Yeah, you all saw this coming >_>.

First off? I liked most of the action scenes. Pretty much any scene with boots on the ground was either fine or great. My worries of a shaky-cam Lightsaber duel were thankfully unfounded (although I wouldn't have minded a few static camera medium shot bits, like you see in 2d fighting games).

But the space action was... Baysian. They overdid the editing and the camera movement in a lot of them, and while sometimes it made for a great shot (Finn running through the cantina's rubble while dogfighting goes on in the space behind him was EPIC), most of the time it just hid the action.

Shooting dogfighting action scenes is hard, no question. But while the space action in TFA can be exciting, it felt like Fireworks to me: A lot of flash, a lot of noise, no real substance. I wonder what it would look like if the number of ships were cut in half, or if the camera were zoomed out further...

I dunno. I can't really think of a lot of films that have done that particularly well. It just felt really subpar here :(.

There's other bits I liked and disliked, of course, but those are the most significant bits.

And if I type for any longer, the forum might explode >_>.
« Last Edit: 12/19/15, 12:16:35 AM by Orell »
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Offline recoveringgeek

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #1 on: 12/18/15, 09:39:18 PM »
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Okay, here we go.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a love letter to Star Wars: A New Hope. It's a beautifully written love letter, no denying it.

However, Orell probably hit on most of my... let downs is the best way to describe it.

Rey made the movie, hands down. Orell's points above are all valid. Except, the power of her latent Force abilities was so strong so fast, that I worry the only answer will be she's Luke's daughter. If she is... then damnit, what a waste. It also makes all the movie conveniences even worse, since BB-8 falls directly into her hands?

I also hope Rey's piloting ability isn't explained away as the Force, yet if it isn't, how the hell did she get so good at it living as a backwater salvager? The Force can't be her crutch, but I'm afraid it will be.

The movie needed to be 20 minutes longer, broken down into four or five minute exposition scenes for the reasons Orell named above. Simply, what is the state of the galaxy and why? I can't believe I am saying this. It made me appreciate the attempt Lucas made in the Prequels to show us the larger galaxy and how some of these things affect them. He may have done it ham-handed, but think of all the world building the Expanded Universe authors and creators did using that extra work.

The galaxy got so small again. As Orell said, unnamed planets and Systems. Also, how the hell did the Resistance and the First Order keep finding each other? A New Hope made it simple. A homing beacon. That's all they needed to say, and it even gave Leia and Han some nice banter.

I understand dramatic license, but the Force Awakens just broke its' own continuity with the hyperspace jump into a planet's atmosphere. Not even withstanding the Starkiller shields explanation, what about Han's comment from A New Hope? "Jumping through hyperspace ain't like dustin' crops boy. Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick wouldn't."

Jumping into a gravity well isn't supposed to work, but they do it for the flare and because this is Han's swan song. Also, if he can get the Falcon onto the Starkiller, why not take a team of top Commandos? Oh, because there are none? Just like there is no Republic fleet. General Organa is given a secret mandate by the Republic of the Free Galaxy to fight the First Order and her resources are? A couple dozen X-Wing fighters apparently.

I hated that.

Dameron Poe was great. So great, that because they gave so little time to develop him, he made all the other X-Wing pilots look like rookies. Presumably he'll have more to do in the next movie, and he was well casted and acted. I suppose I'll look forward to the Rogue Squadron movie, but damnit, let this one breathe just a little?

I felt like Leia and Han had zero chemistry. I felt like Carrie Fisher didn't have anything left in the tank, or, her dialogue was so short and limiting, she had no time to be a strong female character. It's like they literally took their cues only from Return of the Jedi, and Leia can feel her friends through the Force, and that's it. Yoda might have said there is another, but Luke decided not to train her to do anything else apparently?

Han was awesome. One last glance at swashbuckling smuggler Han tickled my heart in all the right places. However, their finding the Falcon as they did was another hand-wave moment that just took me out of the moment. It came across as lazy scriptwriting again and again when characters would just... find each other right when they needed to.

Maz had great dialogue, but that entire Force vision sequence and the lightsaber, Han's question was right, why is that there? There could be some great explanations, but I fear we won't ever have them.

Also, between Maz and Snoke, filmmakers need a ban on CG characters who have to make this exaggerated peer right into the camera. I was doing my best to absorb Snoke and buy in to this new character, and then you remind me it's a total CG thing.

The end scene, well, once the dramatic pause went from dramatic to uncomfortable, it was all such a wasted moment. They had nothing to add there?

It was a beautiful love letter. It's not the letter I would have written, however I'm glad so many people love it that they'll go back and do it again.

I'm seeing it again on Sunday. I look forward to a second viewing without all the anxiety. Unfortunately, it's going to take some time to get over my disappointments.
I knew some of the Palace history, but not the bit about Jaade crashing that barge. That's good lore, right there.  :grin:

Offline Hawking

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #2 on: 12/18/15, 10:01:09 PM »
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Briefly because I'm away currently:

I actually loved everything about this movie, legitimately can't think of anything I didn't enjoy thoroughly.

Also Snoke is 100% Plagueis.
Some mates and I have been going over the clues that have been dropped...very compelling arguement.
Read into it.
Also listen to Snoke's theme compared to the music from Episode 3 where Palpatine tells Anakin about Plagueis.
(Hint: it's exactly the same)

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Offline Orell

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #3 on: 12/18/15, 10:08:36 PM »
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Rey made the movie, hands down. Orell's points above are all valid. Except, the power of her latent Force abilities was so strong so fast, that I worry the only answer will be she's Luke's daughter. If she is... then damnit, what a waste. It also makes all the movie conveniences even worse, since BB-8 falls directly into her hands?

Oh, that reminds me of one thing I forgot to mention.

There's a lot of people suggesting that she's Luke's daughter, and... well, I hope that she's not myself. The Skywalker line dominates the films enough as it is, I'd rather there be at least one Force User in the new trilogy that's not related to Anakin, just to make the world seem larger. That does seem like the most likely thing, though.

But! There's another theory as well: The silver-armored lead Stormtrooper, named Captain Phasma, who has a few lines but doesn't do much (and presumably will do more in the future): She's Rey's mother.

It fits with the vision we see of Rey as a kid watching a ship, in actuality a Stormtrooper transport, leave. And given what happened to Finn (taken in for brainwashing and training to become a stormtrooper at the age of like 5), it's entirely possible that Momma Phasma would abandon her child there instead of risking her being turned into expendable foot soldiers like the other Stormtroopers (maybe fully expecting to come back in due time).

While there's a lot of foreshadowing that Rey is Luke's daughter (her power, her reaction to Luke's lightsaber, her being strong in the force period), it might be misdirection, like how all the promo shots of Finn with a Lightsaber made it look like he was going to be the Jedi.

Of course, it might be that Rey's Luke and Phasma's daughter, they hooked up for reasons long ago, but split off and Luke doesn't know that a kid came from it or something (...seriously, I don't see Luke as the sort to abandon his daughter on a barren wasteland. He'd at least ask Leia to look after the kid...).
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Offline Sebrik

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #4 on: 12/19/15, 12:16:40 AM »
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I was under the impression that "Rey" was Jaina Solo, brother to Jacen Solo (Kylo Ren).

It would explain the uncanny ability with a lightsaber, Force prowess, and similarity in facial features to Kylo.

Also, I thought the most B.A. scene was when we see "the resistance" for the first time, X-wings flying over the water.  That part wasn't in the unedited screening at all.

Offline Orell

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #5 on: 12/19/15, 12:27:26 AM »
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I was under the impression that "Rey" was Jaina Solo, brother to Jacen Solo (Kylo Ren).

Nah. I mean, they're referencing that dynamic, that's for sure, but for Rey to be Han and Leia's kid? It'd require Han and Leia to be COMPLETE MONSTERS to leave their daughter on a barren desert world and never come back looking for her.

And once she does come back, never acknowledge it to her.

It'd be too out of character for the pair.
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Offline Sebrik

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #6 on: 12/19/15, 12:36:53 AM »
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I was under the impression that "Rey" was Jaina Solo, brother to Jacen Solo (Kylo Ren).

Nah. I mean, they're referencing that dynamic, that's for sure, but for Rey to be Han and Leia's kid? It'd require Han and Leia to be COMPLETE MONSTERS to leave their daughter on a barren desert world and never come back looking for her.

And once she does come back, never acknowledge it to her.

It'd be too out of character for the pair.

To be fair that's pretty much exactly what happened to Luke and Leia.

Offline Orell

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #7 on: 12/19/15, 12:41:14 AM »
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I was under the impression that "Rey" was Jaina Solo, brother to Jacen Solo (Kylo Ren).

Nah. I mean, they're referencing that dynamic, that's for sure, but for Rey to be Han and Leia's kid? It'd require Han and Leia to be COMPLETE MONSTERS to leave their daughter on a barren desert world and never come back looking for her.

And once she does come back, never acknowledge it to her.

It'd be too out of character for the pair.

To be fair that's pretty much exactly what happened to Luke and Leia.

Except for how the parents are good, kind, benevolent (if somewhat scruffy) people, as opposed to a child-murdering psychopath and a corpse...

Also, Luke and Leia were given to loving families, not abandoned as an orphan.
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Offline Auryn

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #8 on: 12/19/15, 12:46:51 AM »
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I'm going to wait until the second time I see the film to write up a full review like this :) first time has just hit me real hard, so I need the second to be more analytical. Plus I have Gold Class tickets too, wooo~

One thing I do wanna say though?

Betcha 100 bucks Harrison Ford said "I'll only do the film if Han dies." :lol:
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Offline Malkerik

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #9 on: 12/19/15, 08:27:01 AM »
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I'll keep saying it: The Force Awakens was like a great dinner out. I had -just- enough of my favourite meal without over-eating.

I felt the beginning, like a New Hope, took a bit to take off (which is expected and in some ways necessary in order to world build for 30 years in the future). Not a bad thing but it also speaks to the fact it doesn't necessarily have that gripping writing right off the bat (EXCEPT FOR THAT BEGINNING. HOT DANG THAT FIRST ORDER SLAUGHTER).

That plot similarity tho. That is maybe my biggest quirk with the movie, but it's totally forgiveable. The characters bring it to life in a new way and it's built JUST the right way in order to overlook it. Now with the world built and the character's set up appropriately I want to see what new directions the story can go.

Finn. I love him. Shut up. He's my bae.

Rey. I love her. She better not be a new Skywalker. I want more for her than that.

Kylo... UHHHHHHHHHHHHHM. Adam Driver was fantastic, though I'm ultimately concerned about the shallowness of our major 'Sith' this time around (using the term sith loosely). While I've both written and played dead-pan/inwardly emotional characters before, we got more telling than showing of that inner conflict. I love what I saw, but I want more before I say he's a great villain. SHOW me, don't TELL me about what's going on.

R2-ex-machina. Y U WAKE UP NOW WHEN WE NEEDED YOU TEN MINUTES AGO?!

That General... SUCH A GINGER. IS HE ANGRY ABOUT HIS LOT IN LIFE?! DANG GINGERS. (I love gingers, don't kill me)


Those are all my negative points, but they didn't detract too badly. I'm very excited to see where the story goes next. In SW8


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Offline Armeria

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #10 on: 12/19/15, 11:00:33 AM »
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STORM TROOPERS THAT SHOOT AND HIT TARGETS!!! :nuu: :aww:

Offline Zmaj

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #11 on: 12/19/15, 11:13:25 AM »
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Betcha 100 bucks Harrison Ford said "I'll only do the film if Han dies." :lol:

^^^^^^
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Offline Tyria

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #12 on: 12/19/15, 11:25:55 AM »
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Actually for the R2 part, in the flashback scene it looks like Luke is shutting him down and telling him when to reawaken. And R2 ONLY turns back on AFTER Rey arrives at the rebel base, which is at the end of the movie. So that leads me to believe that Luke has been waiting for Rey this whole time.

That said, I feel like Rey has got to be Luke's kid. How else would Anakin's saber have such a connection to her? Also, I think Luke must have put Rey on Jakku after Kylo screwed over his academy because he felt that she needed to grow up like him so she doesn't become a spoiled brat like Kylo.

Offline Hawking

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #13 on: 12/19/15, 12:05:11 PM »
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There's a lot of evidence pointing toward Rey being Luke's.
Was keeping an eye out on my second watch through for hints...

I think it'd be possible that her birth is what set Ben Solo on his fall, initially. Seeing his mentor break his vows (Likely Luke seeing it as a harmless contribution to the force sensitive gene pool) may have been what triggered his fall, with some help from Snokus.
Luke's wife, not!Mara Jade, is killed.
Luke disappears from the training world, leaving Rey on Jakku for her own safety(Snokus and Ren are hunting down survivors) along with the toys (straw doll in a rebel pilot outfit, Luke's rogue squadron helmet).
Maybe he was hoping she discover her force sensitivity, or maybe that she'd just live out her life in peace.
He then runs to a planet that looks suspiciously like Tython(or the canon equivalent, same situation as Korriban/Morraband) to find answers.

And then there's all the foreshadowing in the movie itself, with all the Slywalker related stuff directly reacting to her.

Plus, her physical similarities to Carrie Fisher and Natalie Portman can't have been a coincidence.

#ReynaSolo
« Last Edit: 12/19/15, 12:10:16 PM by Hawking »

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Offline Orell

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Re: [TFA Spoilers] Thoughts on The Force Awakens
« Reply #14 on: 12/19/15, 01:21:03 PM »
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Luke disappears from the training world, leaving Rey on Jakku for her own safety

...this is the part where it falls apart for me. How is being alone on a desert wasteland where food and water are tremendously scarce and she has to work hard just in order to survive "safety"?

To me, the only way the "Rey is Luke's daughter" bit works is if Luke doesn't know himself. Otherwise... look, I get Luke thinking that it's too dangerous around him for his daughter. But abandoning his daughter alone, no one to look after her, on a brutal world that makes Tatooine look positively homely, as opposed to...
  • Asking his sister Leia to look after Rey.
  • Asking Han and Chewie to look after Rey.
  • Asking one of the many ex-Rebellion people that decided to settle down to look after Rey.
  • Anonymously putting her up for adoption on a safe, healthy world.
  • LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE.

It'd just be a massive idiot plot point if it were true. I can see Captain Phasma doing that, she's not a super nice person and might not have people she can count on. But the symbol of good in the universe abandoning their child on a nightmarish hellscape? That's a wee bit too dark side for him...

As for why the Lightsaber caused those visions?

Because it's a Lightsaber. The crystal within it is attuned to the Force. It's a weapon that's closely connected to two of the most important Jedi ever. That thing's probably going to be a lightning rod for anyone with Force abilities. It honestly feels more like misdirection by JJ (like all the Finn with a Lightsaber promo material).
Character List:

Pub side: Lien Orell, Kyri Orell, Shaantil (possibly Dumas), Norland, Everen (bank alt ATM), Quarashaa (Pub version of the real Quarasha), Merrant

Imp Side: Quarasha, Effet Ornell, Arazel, Zedney, Zhel, Asori-Alnas