What’s Wrong With Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens is a good movie and everybody should see it. The actors – old and new – are all pretty great and the action is terrific. That said, the movie is definitely not perfect. Now it’s difficult to discuss what you dislike about a movie without giving away plot points but if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you may want to skip this article for now (and go see the movie!). Otherwise, consider yourself forewarned. Without giving away any spoilers, here are our five biggest problems with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Snoke is a ridiculous villain

Supreme Leader Snoke takes up the role of emperor in this movie, issuing commands to the bad guys via a projection from some remote location.  Snoke appears as a large hologram who looms over his subordinates with a weirdly humanoid face, but we’re never given any explanation for how he got to the position he is in (most every other character gets an exposition dump, why not him?).  If you're like me, you'll watch the movie hoping that he'll do something interesting, particularly as he's being played by Andy Serkis.  But no, he sits softly illuminated for most of the movie simply issuing commands.  His face is weirdly unremarkable; of all of the characters in the movie, his face is the hardest to remember.  The biggest problem with Snoke is his name; he sounds more like an Ewok chieftain than the bad guys supreme commander.  After Vader, Grievous, Palpatine, and Maul, Snoke is the worst name for a villain since....well, Dooku.

Maz Kanata’s Cantina makes no sense

Much of the middle act takes place at a bar owned by Maz Kanata, which is much like Mos Eisley from the original trilogy. However, there is one specific difference: Mos Eisley is a bar near a large spaceport (technically it is the spaceport) in a busy city, Maz’s bar is in a castle in the middle of nowhere. Who comes to this bar that is lightyears out of their way? Weirder still, she's running a dive bar inside the enormous castle. It's an almost jarring contrast between the structure's exterior and interior when characters enter or exit the building. Imagine if the interior of the Death Star looked like a western saloon, or if the interior of the Millennium Falcon was entirely pink plush furniture. It's a bizarre, distracting choice for the portion of the movie.

Kylo Ren’s motivations are frustratingly vague

Kylo Ren’s identity is an important part of The Force Awakens and is disclosed surprisingly early in the movie.  Why Kylo Ren does the things he does, though, is left somewhat unexplained.  This is problematic because Kylo Ren does some pretty horrible things in the movie but why exactly he does them seems very important but remains frustratingly vague.  Without understanding these motivations, it becomes hard to see him as anything but a guy who dresses up like Darth Vader because he really likes Darth Vader (my nephew does the same thing).  Why does he dress like Darth Vader?  And how silly does the extremely competent General Hux feel reporting to his supervisor while standing next to his coworker who dresses up like his hero, Darth Vader (including the mask).  Would you take a coworker seriously who came to work dressed as Abraham Lincoln? Or Michael Jordan?  Or Tom Brady? Maybe future movies will explain what exactly happened in his history that set Kylo down the path he’s on, but - for now - he simply seems like a petulant Vader-fan who is somehow taken seriously by the First Order.

Captain Phasma sits this one out

Captain Phasma, the first major female villain in the entire series, does very very little in this movie.  She appears at the beginning of the movie and returns towards the end, but she is sadly absent for the bulk of the movie’s activities.  This seems like a wasted opportunity; the movie could definitely more voices on the villain’s side and a female villain is something new to this series.  Phasma is played by Gwendoline Christie from Game of Thrones and she is pretty awesome as a dramatic actor and action hero (I'd love to see Brienne of Tarth with a lightsaber).  Perhaps the writers felt that they already had an armored villain in Kylo Ren so having two fully armored characters talking to each other regularly might be confusing (it is kind of difficult to tell them apart early in the movie).  She'll be back in Episode 8; let's hope she's given more space to be evil.

Poe Dameron is missing for way too long

Poe Dameron is one of the highlights of the movie. Imagine Han Solo with a strong sense of duty or Lando Calrissian as an X-wing pilot and you have some idea of the character. He’s the swashbuckling hero the prequel trilogy desperately needed and here he brings the confidence, loyalty, and camaraderie that the movie needs. Other characters are often stomping off or sneaking away or tormented by their past, but Poe Dameron seems to know who he is, who he cares about, and what his plan is. This is all great, but the problem is that he’s absent for a lot of the movie. In fact, most of the most interesting plot developments happen with Poe in the background or completely absent, which is unfortunate because his charisma could power the Millennium Falcon.  We're sure Poe's going to play a larger role in future movies and we'll look forward to those but we really hope he doesn't turn out to be related to anybody.  Let Poe be his own character in this universe, there are plenty of Skywalkers as is.