Well. What a sad, strange journey took us to this place. Was it just three years ago that, like some bolt out of nowhere, we learned that not only had Disney bought Star Wars, but we’d be getting a new movie in 2015? And now that date’s come, children. All those months of growing dread are over, all those months of rumors, on-set photos, scouring over toy commercials for some hint of what we’re in for. Star Wars Episode 7: The Imperial Legacy is finally out.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck fuck FUCK.
It’s awful. It’s beyond awful. It’s bwful. It’s cwful. It’s so bad I’m making terrible jokes just to put off talking about it. We had no idea what was coming. No idea of the doom bearing down upon us like an orbital missile full of fanwank and lens-flare. But it’s hit now, so let’s assess the damage.
The story picks up thirty years or so after ROTJ, with the Galactic Republic chugging merrily along despite being as stable a governmental body as a model UN staffed by howler monkeys. Han, Luke and Leia (who yes, are all played by their original actors, more on that later) are enjoying retirement, which is to say they still do a crap ton of work but don’t get nearly as much credit for it. Luke is busy juggling the duties of Jedi leader and single father to his son Ben, played by franchise newcomer Liam Hemsworth, while Han and Leia bicker like every stereotypical old married couple ever. I’m sure they glossed over the scenes where Leia is quietly drinking herself into an early grave and Han contemplates suicide on a nightly basis.
Ben introduces himself in true Skywalker fashion by being a whiny, annoying prick, so I guess they got that right at least, mostly complaining about how Jedi have nothing to do these days. But of course that all changes when news starts to spread that Emperor Palpatine has risen from the dead (again!) somewhere in the Outer Rim territories and the old crew head to check things out, making the instant mistake of taking Ben along for the ride and not lashing him to the outside of the fucking ship.
What you’ll probably notice from this brief summary is that the story offers about as much new and interesting material as those same cheap microwave meals I stuff down on a nightly basis because I made the horrendous mistake of getting a film degree. There aren’t any new challenges, new scenarios, nothing we haven’t seen a million times before. The movie plays like a check list. Stormtroopers: check, Millennium Falcon: check, whiney douche with a lightsaber: oh, dear GOD check.
And the more the movie goes on the more you realize the sickening truth: this was written by a fan. And even worse, it was written FOR fans. By about five minutes in you’ll start to notice that the movie takes every opportunity to throw some obscure reference at your face as if to say “See, see, we did our homework, LOVE US!”. I mean they reference comics, games, books, that godawful CGI cartoon series, it never fucking ends. At one point Kyle Katarn and Dash Rendar can be seen in the background during the inevitable cantina scene, probably arguing over who has the sillier name.
The aesthetics are uninspired as well. Technology in the Star Wars universe does tend to move at mysterious rates, doesn’t it? In the prequels everyone was tooling around in bright, advanced looking ships but then when you get to the original series everyone apparently buys their stuff used from Crazy Watto’s Discount Starship Barn. The ships and tech in the new one barely make an effort to look more advanced or interesting, preferring to just look like someone tacked an extra set of wings or an extending dildo launcher on something from the old trilogy and then called it a day.
The movie just takes no risks, it doesn’t dare to tell a story that isn’t a cavalcade of Star Wars tropes served fresh to us on a bed of mediocrity, failure and iceberg lettuce. I don’t even care that JJ Abrams went all….JJ Abrams with the lens-flare and that weird, shaky, often out-of-focus style photography for the space battles like we’re all watching Battlestar Galactica again and pretending it’s good. Where the movie doesn’t so much as shoot itself in the foot as feed its foot to a fucking rancor is that it just doesn’t try to be anything other than 90 minutes of fanservice.
And speaking of which, whose fucking idea was it to bring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison fucking Ford back? I didn’t want to believe the rumours back when word started spreading, and this is exactly why. You can’t take three actors, two of whom have barely worked in front of a camera in over two decades and expect them to headline a movie with only Thor’s asshat brother to pull up the slack!
The film isn’t even offensive in that Episode One, “Oh God this is the worst script ever and will someone shut that fucking thing up” way. It’s offensive in an even worse way, a desperate way. Rather than do what it should have done, IE take risks, be content to tell its own story and do its own thing, it tries to coast by on just reminding you of something better, and I’m not even sure what it thinks that better something is. It spends the entirety of its ruthlessly padded 90 minute run time just trying to please everyone and failing across the board, like that one really over-eager person at every orgy. And yes, I’m talking about you, Cheryl.