Star Wars: The Force Awakens STILL sucks on 2ND viewing … BUT! ~Why I hate J.J.

 Thoughts of my second viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Korea.

Hello. This is Professor AKIA from Korea. On its first day of release, I went see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and it sucked. Click below to read that response.

Click Picture

Today, I went to see it a second time with my parents because it was the thing to do. They had not seen it. For me, rewatching movies with them is a common thing as they only go to the movies 2 or 3 times a year and I am me. On second viewing, the movie did not get better. However, I have to say that I was less irritated by the movie’s issues since I was more apathetic this time around. I ended up taking count of the fan service in the movie including references, name drops, scenes lifted, images and such. I lost count around 124 within the first 20 minute.

For me, this is the pattern I have with J.J. Abrams’ movies. The issues with them bother me a lot on first viewing. Then, with subsequent viewing, I still dislike his movies but I end up not caring either way. And “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” IS a J.J. Abrams’ movie. In fact, it is the epitome of a J.J. Abrams’ movie. J.J. Abrams is such a specific type of director that his movies are profoundly his. People tend to confuse “Cloverfield” (2008) as being one of his but he only produced it. It was actually directed by Matt Reeves. If you pay attention to what kind of movies J.J. Abrams directs, you can see that J.J. Abrams could not have made “Cloverfield” (2008). I’m not arguing whether the movie is great or not. I’m just saying that the movie is, on a directorial level, so not in J.J. Abrams’ wheel bag.

Once I lost count of the fan service I had going, I spent the rest of the time trying to process who J.J. Abrams is as a director while the characters act in abrupt and incoherent fashion on screen. I mean…If you just look at individual scenes, they look nice.
Yes, thing are overly flashy.
Yes, many of the characters are doing weird stuff with their mouth as they deliver dialogue. I’m calling you out Daisy Ridley!
Yes, John Boyega feels way too modern and thus sticks out like a sore thumb. You are Mila Kunis of Jupiter Ascending (2015) John Boyega!
Yes, I laugh whenever I see Adam Driver’s face on screen. My mother calls him the weird looking guy.
And what is with Oscar Isaac’s accent?
If you just cut the movie into clips without any narrative context, they all look pretty albeit very artificially pretty.

So, why is J.J. Abrams is such an offensive director to me? The answer is that he doesn’t respect the story. While this is not unique to him as a director, J.J. Abrams has his own unique approach to this. A story is basically a process of going through plot point A to Z. All the point between have to be traveled through like they are bases on a baseball diamond for the story to be properly setup, developed, and to nail its ending.   J.J. Abrams is a director that compresses all 26 points in the alphabet to basically 5 or 6 steps. He doesn’t care if doing so makes logical and narrative sense. If he can squash things together, he will do it.

At this point in my thoughts, which is about the point when the new death star comes into play in the movie, I had a revelation. It is not a totally unique revelation as it is based on what other critics have said, but I have not heard anyone say this out in full before it came to me while we see the new “vader” stand-in have a hissy fit.  J.J. Abrams is not telling a story. Rather, he is portraying how a story is stored in the memory of a fan after it is processed. With his Star Trek movies, other critics have stated that it seems like the characters are just fragmented memories/impressions of the character the fans/public have and not the actual characters. They were right! However, they were also thinking too small. You can apply this reasoning to how J.J. Abrams view STORY as a whole.

When we hear, read, or watch a story, this is processed by us and stored. However, what is stored in not actually the story itself. In our memories, a story becomes just a series of fragmented images, elements we find interesting, and links to how it made us feel. All of the subtle contextual information regarding plot points and character motivations/decisions are lost. As a director, J.J. Abrams is altogether bypassing the human processing stage of a human’s interaction with a story. For examples, if you see “Return of the Jedi,” we have Han Solo sneak on to a planet. Do you remember that his was accompanied with a large contingent of regular soldiers? While he contributed a lot, they did a lot of the work. But you really only remembering Han Solo and friends because they’re the only ones you really care about. Since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is just a remix of the original trilogy of movies, it has something similar. The difference is that J.J. Abrams sends them alone even though it makes no logical sense to do so. There is room and there are soldiers just hanging around doing nothing. He does this because why should he care when you would not remember anything but the core characters anyway.

This is why I dislike J.J. Abrams so much. He is trying to create memories of a story for me rather than just telling me a story and letting me makes my own memories.

Oh and are you wondering what my parents thought about the movie?

They said that it was fine with the caveat that they didn’t really follow the movie. Subsequently, they mentioned many of the issues I had with the movie. It was fine for them since it moved fast and they’re conceded to the fact that they really cannot follow most modern movies as senior citizens. Something to think about.

One thing good did come from our foray out to watch this movie. I and my parents spent a full hour talking about movies over diner which is not a common occurrence for us. I am the only Movie person in our clan. So, thank you “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”! It was worth the $30 I spent.

P.S.  we all agreed that the new bad guys were emo-sissies!

This was professor AKIA and have a nice day.

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  1. Good article with good analysis. I care deeply about story, about consistency, about [understanding] character motivations, about what makes sense. In these areas, JarJarAbrams TOTALLY SUCKS.

    You know what? It really did feel like the writer and director of SW7 (the force awakens) was [someone with the mindset of] Jar Jar Binks. Seriously... just as clueless and scatterbrained as JarJar, just as incapable of integrating separate elements into a comprehensible whole.

    Even before this failure of a film, it was my opinion that the modus operandi of JarJarAbrams was, "adopt, disrespect and destroy the work of others". The did that in spades to StarTrek, and now did so even more offensively in StarWars. While he tends to give good interviews before movies are released (and come across like a good, thoughtful guy), the fact is, he has to be a rotten human being for trashing the beloved works of others so completely.

    Jar Jar Abrams SUCKS.

    1. Well, I'm not a Jar Jar hater.
      He is what his is meant to be.
      But also very old fashioned like the 50s.

  2. I actually preferred the prequels to this movie. At least there you had original ideas being executed. They didn't make sense but you would think about them later, and your cultural vocabulary was expanded by them. And that's the difference between a bad star wars film and this pale imitation, a bad star wars film people will talk about decades after it came out, people are still coming up with fan theories, reviews, critical analysis, they captured the imagination. From what I saw few people where really talking about this movie 2 hours after they saw it, they just went on to speculating about the next movie.