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Star Wars, The Force Awakens - Elf M. Sternberg
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Star Wars, The Force Awakens
I hate to say this, but I really wanted to like The Force Awakens more than I did. I can't, and for one simple reason: JJ Abrams.

In his "Star Trek" reboot, there's a scene where Kirk and his crew are marooned on a distant planet and from an interstellar distance they watch as Vulcan is consumed by an artificial black hole.

In his "Star Wars" reboot, from their rebel hideout the heroes watch as Coruscant is destroyed by Death Star III.

George Lucas was a science fiction nerd, along with everything else in his film nerd career. He knew he was writing science fantasy, but he wanted there to be the underpinnings of classic SF in his work. To that end, he had some respect for things like the speed of light, and vast interstellar distances.

JJ Abrams has no respect for space, or his viewers. To JJ Abrams, everything in the universe is in low orbit. Things happening across interstellar distances are immediately visible to everyone, everywhere in the galaxy, with at worst the resolution of an aircraft somewhere high overhead. It's an insult to the viewer to assume that they need "lights in the sky" confirmation of the horror the rump Imperials inflict on the Republic. It's a deformation of science fiction beyond all reasonable bounds.

We humans have a bad sense of causality in the light-speed sense of the term, but we do have an intuitive grasp of great distance, of information taking time to reach us, and of things happening beyond our sight. Abrams is so visually driven that he cannot think of a way of communicating these things, so he feels compelled to show us, directly, bluntly, artlessly.

I liked the movie, but I would have liked it more had it been in the hands of less inept director. Any depth to the film was not Abrams's fault.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Comments
tagryn From: tagryn Date: January 5th, 2016 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, that bugged me about the film as well. Either they're not all in the same system, which makes what the heroes see impossible at those distances, or they are, in which case the Republic can't figure out that the nouveau-Empire is building a bigger Death Star in the same system as their center of government.

What's more, for all that TFA borrowed from IV and V, they could have easily dealt with the distance problem by taking another part from ANH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKu7TYWNxqA . Considering they'd pretty much telegraphed by this point that Rey is extremely Force-sensitive, it wouldn't be too far of a stretch that she'd feel that kind of disturbance as well, even if she couldn't interpret what the feeling might portend. I'm sure there's better ways to close up that plot hole than suddenly having everyone develop superhuman vision.
sakayra From: sakayra Date: January 5th, 2016 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
It's pretty much the most aggravating thing to be seen in this movie, although the whole workings of "Starkiller Base" are rabbit-out-of-the-hat style too. FTL shooting? Sun sucking? Does the thing move or not?

Not to mention the tons of open questions that the film leaves open, because Abrams wants to have some "surprises" left for the next one. (While I have the feeling that these surprises will just work out like the plot of "Lost". Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.)

BTW, the planet destroyed is not Coruscant, but Hosnian Prime. It just happens to look a lot like Coruscant, because... of reasons.
vasaris From: vasaris Date: January 5th, 2016 10:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for so clearly articulating something I couldn't quite explain to a friend. While I also have issues with some of the actual narrative, the pacing, and a handful of details, it's the lack of respect for space itself (never mind physics) that grates the most. Star Wars has vaguely feasible underpinnings, this just didn't (even ignoring the idiocy of charging a weapon via eating a star, how do you *aim* a planet?)

In the midst of seeing so many friends and acquaintances gush about The Force Awakens, it's comforting to know I wasn't the only one feeing twitchy about all of that.

Thank you again :)
ungulata From: ungulata Date: January 5th, 2016 03:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Disappointment With The Rehash Increases With Time

Oh yes! Between the nigh wholesale rehash of Episode IV and the impossibility that a planet could swallow a sun and spit out big chunks of it at FTL speeds, with no recoil, that would be visible in normal space as it flew by, that one planet would see another planet explode, that... Let me make a list.

-- Vader wannabe Kylo seems to have a really wobbly grasp on the Force, so wobbly that he can't defeat newbie, untrained Rey in the forest light saber fight.
-- "Weapon" planet swallows a sun but does not increase in gravity or get hotter.
-- [Plasma?] blasts from the "weapon" traveling faster than light.
-- FTL [plasma?] blasts being visible in real space time from a non-target planet's surface.
-- The night-club in a stone temple in the middle of nowhere,
-- The inability of the Rebel Alliance to match a big chunk of the galaxy with existing star charts (up until R2D2 woke up). How do they navigate the galaxy without charts?
-- The need for a Rebel Alliance.
-- A sanitation drone (Finn) on a military away mission that involves shooting people.
-- The whole "the First Order knows that we're here and is aiming its giant gun at us. Lets just stay here" attitude of the Rebel Alliance.
-- I must have missed something that caused the "flood the Falcon with poison gas" plan to fail.
-- The military space vehicles in the desert that had to have been _very_ gently landed and abandoned.
-- The FTL arrival at the "Weapon" planet without apparent machine-timed handwaving to explain why they weren't a smudge 1,000 km below the planet's surface.
-- The rehash!! A chirping robot sidekick (albeit useless beyond serving as a drawer to store the map), the desert planet, the scrap collection culture, the character that wants to leave but doesn't (Finn), the 'get this schematic to the rebels' quest, the Death Star but bigger, Darth Vader II, the Storm Troopers...

A fan told me that: "Star Wars is very, very soft sci-fi ...[I] don't really expect most of it to make sense". Thing is, I do expect it to make sense, within the realm of possibility of FTL travel, light sabers, the Force, and so many alien species thriving in the one mutual atmospheric/biological/gravitational environment. The Little Mermaid is soft scifi, Road Runner is soft scifi, Star Wars is not.
elfs From: elfs Date: January 5th, 2016 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Disappointment With The Rehash Increases With Time

Yes, that's exactly it! There are Rules that have been established in both the Star Wars and Star Trek universes. Those Rules are similar to the ones in High Fantasy-- the magic/tech/macguffin works, and after six movies, two TV series, and (although disavowed, still honored) a vibrant written series, the audience has internalized those Rules.

JJ Abrams has not internalized The Rules. He doesn't care about them. He completely neglects them to give his movie the veneer of a roller coaster ride. And by doing so, he shows his contempt for the audience that came for one of the biggest special effects of all in an endeavor like this: nostalgia.
ungulata From: ungulata Date: January 5th, 2016 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Disappointment With The Rehash Increases With Time

His ploy appears to be for the nostalgia. I think that's why this is such a retread of Episode IV with so little that is new thrown in and such a disregard for The Rules when stitching this patchwork together.
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: January 5th, 2016 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

'he had some respect for things like the speed of light'

"It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs."

For all the excuses made by fans, it's obvious that Lucas knew / was told that a parsec was about 3 1/4 light years and went 'neat unit of time' with no understanding of how Earth-centric it is, never mind being a unit of distance.

Repeating the line this time is just proof of that.
en_ki From: en_ki Date: January 5th, 2016 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Clearly a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the speed of light was infinite. NBD
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: January 13th, 2016 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having just seen it, no, it's extremely variable!

How else is someone who has to travel faster than light able to go 'now' and end up stopping in exactly the right thousand or so (being generous!) miles? Or being smeared across the windows because of the deceleration?
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