Monday, November 23, 2015

The Force Awakens - The (Potential) Story Problems

I’m writing this a month before ‘The Force Awakens’ opens. Like most Star Wars fans, I’m giddy with anticipation. Unlike most, I’ve read an early treatment of the film, and understand the story in broad strokes.

Here’s my biggest concern: Episode VII “The Force Awakens” is a loose retelling of Episode IV “A New Hope” (and a bit of V: The Empire Strikes Back) in much the same way JJ Abrams retold “The Wrath of Khan” in “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. I hope it fares better than his WoK remake.

Why do I say this? OK -- let’s begin.

WARNING - Spoilers Beyond here.

1. Hidden McGuffin in a Droid
ANH started with 2 droids crash landing onto a desert planet. The bad guys were seeking something hidden in these droids -- the plans to the Death Star.

TFA starts with The First Order shooting down Poe Dameron’s ship. His droid BB-8 escapes when the ship crash lands on a desert planet. Hidden within the droid is what the bad guys are looking for -- Luke Skywalker’s light saber.

2. Hidden Skywalker
In ANH, the McGuffin ends up with the farm boy Luke Skywalker, who is in fact related to one of the most powerful and people in the Galaxy -- Anakin (Darth Vader) Skywalker, despite living on a backwater world with no idea of his heritage.
Rey finds BB-8 on Jakku.

In TFA, the McGuffin ends up with the scavenger girl Rey Skywalker, who is in fact related to one of the most powerful people in the Galaxy -- daughter of Luke, and niece of Leia.

3. Bad guys resort to torture to find the McGuffin
In ANH, the bad guys (Darth Vader) resorts to torture to find out where Leia hid the plans

In TFA, the bad guy (Kylo Ren) resorts to torture to find out where Poe hid the light saber

Poe Dameron is tortured by Kylo Ren who seeks the missing McGuffin

4. Hidden Skywalker finds mentor who understands history
In ANH, Luke finds Ben Kenobi who knows the truth about the past -- the fall of the republic, the clone wars etc.

In TFA, Rei finds Han Solo, who knows the truth about the past -- the fall of the empire, the Jedi, the Sith. “It’s true. All of it.”

“It’s true,” says Han “all of it.” - talking about the “stories about what happened”

5. Bad Guys demonstrate doomsday weapon to prove a point
In ANH, Tarkin blows up Alderaan as a ‘test’ of the Starkiller weapon.

In TFA, Hux blows up Yavin IV as a ‘test’ of the Starkiller weapon -- watch the theatrical trailer at 1:02, and you see the impact of a star exploding on the planet. Also the reason for the chaos on Yavin IV that we see in the trailers -- the Rebels/Resistance need to evacuate. 

6. Mentor dies saving our heroes.
In ANH, Ben Kenobi gave his life to give Luke time to escape

In TFA, Han Solo gives his life to give Rey time to escape

Rey cries over Han’s dead body

7. Bad guy ends up related to our MC
In TESB Darth Vader was revealed to be Luke’s father.

In TFA Kylo Ren will be revealed to be Rey’s cousin, the son of Han and Leia after killing his own father.
Han and Leia find the destiny of their lost son -- Kylo Ren (Kylo = sKYwalker + soLO)

8. Hero finds a new mentor, previously hidden for his protection
In TESB, Luke finds the incredibly powerful, hidden, Jedi, Yoda

In TFA, the movie ends with Rey finding the incredibly powerful, hidden, Jedi, Luke.

Skellig Michael in Ireland -- filming location where only Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley shot scenes. It’s the epilog of the film where Rei finds her mentor, and father, Luke.

9. Fake Script?
In November 2013, a script leaked onto the internet that was rapidly denounced as a fake. It’s a fun read, and a very different story. Even if it is a fake, there are some interesting coincidences

  1. Luke has a daughter called Rei Skywalker! She’s also described as looking as if her mother was Asian, or the SW equivalent of it.
  2. There’s a Starkiller Weapon -- but it’s a bit of a surprise reveal
  3. The bad guy -- Lygion -- is obsessed with Luke Skywalker, and the entire point of the plot is to capture him and turn him to darkness
  4. The ‘Neo-Empire’ is very like the First Order -- emulating the empire in every way.

There’s an interesting theme about the motivations of the Neo-Empire in it. It makes me wonder if the First Order have the same motivations…