This post will be talking about the most recent Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. It will probably be spoilery.
Full disclosure: I really enjoyed the movie, and I am eagerly looking forward to future installments. And I’m looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens again (because at the time of this writing, I’ve only seen it three times and that’s too few, yo.)
That doesn’t mean I think the movie is perfect, there are things that I’d like to examine, but overall I loved it. In general reviews have been positive, but I respect and appreciate criticisms of the movie.
If everyone loved every single thing about it, there’d be nothing to talk about.
In between the first and second times I saw the movie, a buddy of mine emailed me a Huffington Post article entitled Forty Unforgivable Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. I’ll admit that I enjoy nit-pickery examinations of movies and TV shows, which hit on things from continuity errors to classic inconsistencies to flat out errors. There’s a famous essay (famous at least to me) written by Dana Gould and Dan Vebber on the 50 Reasons Why Jedi Sucks, detailing issues with the sub-par third installment of the original trilogy.
Even if someone doesn’t agree with all 50 (I probably agree with over 40 of them) it’s a hilarious read, as one would expect from people who are known (among many things) to write for The Simpsons.
I was hoping that this article by UNH Assistant Professor (of English) Seth Abramson, detailing 40 plotholes, would have been in the same humorous vein, but it really wasn’t. They seemed merely to be a collection of odd assumptions, weird misinterpretations, and things that I just wouldn’t call plot holes. He did raise some interesting questions, and one or two valid points for discussion.
Over the next several posts, I’ll be talking about his 40 plotholes as a means to discuss the movie, and my overall take on things. There’s definitely going to be a rebutting-his-points vibe, so if you’re not into that and just want to know what I think about the characters and other elements, it’ll be clear where my arguments against Seth’s points end and my own assertions begin. You are encouraged to take me to task if I’m wrong-headed about things.
Rather than have a monolothic post of 40 counter-points and then a long treatise on my thoughts on the movie, I’ve broken up Abramson’s criticisms into 5 categories, each having their own post:
- Finding Fault with Rey: the young Force-sensitive desert dweller (5 alleged plot holes)
- Finding Fault with Finn: the First Order defector (6 alleged plot holes)
- Finding Fault with Kylo Ren: the grandson of Darth Vader (10 alleged plot holes)
- Finding Fault with the First Order: the militaristic remnants of the Galactic Empire (9 alleged plot holes)
- Finding Fault with Rebels and Smugglers: a catch-all dealing mostly with the legacy characters from the original trilogy (10 alleged plot holes)
Professor Abramson (I’m not being snarky, like I said, he’s an assistant professor of English at UNH) has already taken a lot of heat for his article. He’s since written a follow-up article clarifying what he meant by “plot hole”, defending his original work while admitting to a handful of errors in his list of 40.
I still think he’s wrong in nearly every case, but I respect the difficult position he put himself into by inviting Star Wars fandom to open fire. That does take Han Solo-levels of moxie. My view of his work though, is that he exposed Death Star levels of vulnerability when he set the groundwork for his use of the term “unforgivable.”
I loved the film. Seriously, I did. And yet it also has more plot holes than any film I’ve ever seen, which makes the reviews it’s getting pretty irksome. Why can’t we just admit that BB-8 is adorable, Finn is hilarious, Rey is badass, seeing Han and Chewie again was awesome, the special effects were tremendous, Poe is Soloesque, Kylo Ren is intriguing, and this movie makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?
Below are 40 plot holes in The Force Awakens. A few are trifling, but most are pretty damning. All of them were entirely unnecessary — given the amount of time put into this film, the number of people who worked on it, and the amount of money everyone involved in it knew it stood to make — and in this respect can be deemed unforgivable.
I’m fine with admitting all those things about BB-8, Finn, Rey, etc. They’re all great. But the movie does make sense. It’s pretty coherent. (Particularly because we’ve seen so much of it before. Which is a different type of problem.)
He sets a standard of accountability for the movie-creators which seems rather harsh. Anything that he considers a plot hole is UNFORGIVABLE.
I don’t think it’s wrong to hold someone’s criticisms to the same standards that they’re holding a movie to. It’s far easier for a critic writing about a film to get his research correct, not make wild assumptions, justify assumptions when they do make them, and not be… willfully ignorant… of what’s happening in the movie, than it is to actually make a movie that is flawless. Flawless being the only way to avoid being unforgivable, if I’m reading the gist of his second paragraph I list above.
Unforgivable is a pretty strong word, and the hyperbole of the title is a bit too much like click-bait for my liking. I assume that saying 40 questions I have about The Force Awakens, or 40 head-scratching moments in The Force Awakens doesn’t have the same grab for readers.
Anyone who’s read some of my 100+ Game of Thrones posts might have noticed that I not only enjoy talking about the source material (both book and show), but also about audience reactions and analyses of that content. So I owe Seth Abramson a heartfelt thanks for providing me something to use as a framing device to express my thoughts on The Force Awakens.
Please check out his original article, his follow up article, make comments (or not, I’m not the boss of you.) I’ll be referencing his points from the Huffington Post article directly, which I hope falls into reasonable Fair Use. I’ve certainly provided attribution.
Okay, next post: Talking About Rey (my daughter’s favorite character.)
Comments are welcome. Super welcome!
Images from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, although the picture of the lightsaber is not in the movie, only in the trailers. The picture of the Starkiller Base weapon appears to be promotional artwork.
I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text. So there. (Although not the quote from Seth Abramson, that’s from his HuffPo article. Obviously.)
© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved