The Force Awakens…to a Khan job (SPOILERS)


J. J. Abrams is on my shit list.

That statement alone should tell you everything you need to know about my experience with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Ep. VII).

As background: I am old enough to have seen Star Wars: A New Hope (Ep. IV) in theatres as a young teenager. And I was so impressed by the film that I immediately came home from the theatre and wrote a sequel…400 hand-written pages of a screenplay. My first screenplay, in fact, at the ripe maturity of 13 years.

Star Wars is my birthright. I will defend it tooth and nail.

Thus, J. J. Abrams is on my shit list.

After the underwhelming prequels (Ep. I-III), I looked forward to Abrams’ take on the saga. I was a big fan of his reboot of Star Trek, although I had a bit of a nagging doubt after the reboot sequel Into Darkness. But if anyone had a sense of the epic, almost operatic scale of the Star Wars universe, it should have been Abrams.


And to some extent, he fulfilled his end of the bargain.

Shivers went down my spine when we scaled across the vast deserts of Tatooine…I mean Jakku.

I worried when R2…I mean BB-8, was captured by the Jawas…I mean scrap metal scavengers.

I bounced happily with the music of the Mos Eisley cantina…I mean the Takodana cantina.

I cheered when R2 successfully arrived at the Rebel base…I mean BB-8 arrived at the Resistance base with the vital information.

I sat back in awe as I saw the might of the Death Star…I mean Starkiller Base, for the first time.

J. J. Abrams is on my shit list.

To get back to Star Trek: Into Darkness, briefly, we all knew that Abrams was rewriting the story of Kirk’s greatest nemesis Khan Noonien Singh. And the movie didn’t disappoint in its grand opening flourishes and early Starfleet intrigue.

But then, at some point, it was like Abrams had run out of ideas and so simply inserted the last 20 pages or so of the original Wrath of Khan screenplay, hoping we wouldn’t notice.

The least tweaked moment of overlap between the two movies was the scene between Spock and Kirk across the glass as one dies from radiation sickness. Abrams simply swapped the positions of the two characters.


Some might consider this an homage to the original. A friend of mine, in discussing The Force Awakens, called it alt-universe mirroring. I call it bullshit, and lazy bullshit at that.

Now, Into Darkness was not intended to be a prequel to any of the older Star Trek movies, so I can buy into the alt-universe idea a bit. But The Force Awakens is Ep VII of a saga. It is not an alt-universe but the same freaking universe 30 years later.

An homage is the holographic chess set. An homage is NOT a beat-for-beat repetition of Ep IV, even if jumbled up a little bit and with a few scenes from Ep V and Ep VI thrown in.

The spell of childhood memories faded rapidly as The Force Awakens played out on the screen, and I spent much of movie sitting with an attitude of “Really?”

And as I walked home from the theatre…a 40-minute walk…I just got angrier and angrier as the volume and sheer audacity of the parallels continued to sink in.

J. J. Abrams is on my shit list.

Droid capture

“You’re pretty bang on, but it’s what I was expecting,” explained a friend whose ear I bent. “It’s the old ‘the same, but different’.”

“I saw it more as a mirroring of the previous six films; a device to draw in new fans and satiate old fans,” another friend said.

I call bullshit…not of my friends, you understand, but of the idea that The Force Awakens needed to remind us of the saga up to now or reinvigorate fans.

Please, how could anything from the Star Wars saga fail to draw box office records?

I know I’m in the minority here. Most fans won’t clue into any of the parallels but instead simply wrap themselves in the old familiar or marvel at the new spectacle. Cool, I am glad they enjoyed the film.

Even I will likely see it again as my first viewing was in regular 3D—strange to think of that as a thing—and not in IMAX or AVX.

And as much as I would buy Henry IV, Part Three if Shakespeare wrote a sequel to his first two Henry IVs, I will eventually add this movie to my Star Wars collections.

But J. J. Abrams is on my shit list, and I will approach any of his future movies with suspicion and cynicism.

And that, more than anything, I am saddest about.


4 thoughts on “The Force Awakens…to a Khan job (SPOILERS)

  1. I have to admit, when they told Han Solo they needed to get BB-8 to the Rebel Alliance because it contained vital information, I was truly shocked that Harrison Ford didn’t give a sublte double-take or murmer “this seems familiar…”

    However, as many parallels as their were, I still felt a return to the original feel with engaging characters and dialogue that was a vast improvement over the last three films (I-III) — which leaves me hold out a new hope that the next movie will be it’s own as we discover more about Rey, Fin, Luke and Ren. While I agree it was not very “new” or daring, I felt “The Force Awakens” was like a new walk through an old neighborhood and at least left me with some intriguing questions rather than disinterest or — in the case of Jar-Jar — an upset stomach.

    Cheers and May the Force be With You, my friend 😉

    • There was definitely much to like about the new film…the scenery alone was enough to thrill this aging heart. I just wish there was a way to make these more complete, standalone films within the broader context of a trilogy like Ep IV.

      The coup de gras for me was the Starkiller Base that obviously had a weak point…which was I believe a line in the movie: “They all have a weak point” or something similar.

      How did Han Solo not spend the entire movie quoting Lethal Weapon? “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

      I am glad to hear that Abrams will not be anywhere near the next two installments. Maybe he can go “reboot” another childhood fav like The Munsters.

      • Hahaha! I kept thinking the planet sort of looked like a giant butt crack with “something” sticking out. But I think “Starkiller” was a tip o’ the hat to Luke Skywalker’s original name, which was Luke Starkiller.

        And I hate to break it to you, but Abrams is executive producing the next film. The director of “Looper” will helm the next one. I haven’t seen “Looper” but I heard it’s good.

        Then again, they put Candian bacon on pizza… 😉

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