Star Wars: The Force Awakens will go down as one of the most eagerly anticipated films of all time. In this respect it may only be bested by 1999’s The Phantom Menace, a movie that turned out to be such a colossal misstep that it set the franchise back greatly, leaving fans scratching their heads at the labyrinthine narrative, bizarre dialogue and one-dimensional characters.
That film — and the sequels that followed — showed many of the things that don’t work in a Star Wars movie. They were generally panned by critics, with audiences lamenting as well. Add to it George Lucas's tendency to rerelease the original trilogy with newer, often jarring special effects, and you are left with many fans feeling vexed and despondent.
A lot of people are looking forward to The Force Awakens with careful enthusiasm, but thankfully, with all of the factors we’re aware of — and the precious few movie trailers — this newest film in the Star Wars canon looks to be a more intense, more grounded take on the Star Wars universe. Perhaps you can thank Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan for the movement toward realism in action movies in the last few years. Maybe it’s the new franchise-owner Disney, or director JJ Abrams, knowing what not to do this time around. Perhaps it’s the diminished control of Lucas, who is only involved as a creative consultant. Or, it could be the addition of Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan.
Here’s to hoping that the franchise doesn’t fall into its old bad habits, nor create new ones. Regardless, here's Screen Rant's list of 10 Things We're Hoping NOT to See from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
10 Too Many Lens Flares
No one can say JJ Abrams doesn’t know how to entertain his fans. He’s a triple-threat, adept at writing, producing, and directing. Perhaps best known for his fun and flashy revamp of the Star Trek franchise, Abrams was also the creator of multiple hit TV series, like Felicity, Alias, and Lost. So when news broke in 2013 that Abrams would be the director of The Force Awakens, the world let out a collective sigh of relief. His addition to the project was mostly welcomed by a great deal of enthusiasm, but there was also some skepticism.
Like any great director, Abrams brings confidence and flair to all of his projects. Unfortunately, though, he also tends to bring a lot of lens flare. In particular, 2009’s Star Trek featured a great deal of blinding flash effects that audiences found distracting. The crew achieved the special effect in a surprisingly simple way: They waved a powerful flashlight towards the camera lens.
In Star Trek, the flares were a distraction, but that didn’t stop the film from being a fun remake. With Star Wars though, where many fans will be looking over every frame from their theater seats with a mix of expectation and wonderment, it would be a cheap trick to have waited so long for this moment only to for it to be visually impaired.
9 Boba Fett
Along with Lando Calrissian and Han Solo, Boba Fett is in the upper echelons of cool when it comes to the Star Wars universe. Vader and the Empire venerated Fett as being one of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy, and he gained a great deal of respect when he captured Han Solo and delivered him to Jabba the Hutt.
Fett was decked out in battle-tested gear like Mandalorian armor and a jet-pack, and employed a small ship called Slave I to pursue bounties. We liked Fett because he rarely spoke and yet was one of the most physically effective enemies the rebels had to deal with. His gear was minimal and whenever he was on screen, we knew he meant business.
And so as much as the makers of future Star Wars films may want to capitalize on Boba Fett’s unreasonable coolness by bringing him back, it can’t happen. In Jedi during the Battle of Carkoon (when the rebels stole back Han Solo from Jabba), Han knocked him into the mouth of a Sarlacc. So we really hope Fett doesn’t have to deal with the further indignity of being miraculously dredged up.
8 Luke Gone to The Dark Side
In the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker served the important purpose of being a vehicle by which the audience could discover the Star Wars universe. He was relatable, ambivalent and more than a little naive; a young man who just wanted to move away from home and find excitement and a life of his own. He ended up becoming an elite Jedi Master and, after blowing up the Death Star, a hero to the masses. And that’s where we left Luke, as the sudden moral leader of the Jedi Order.
The Force Awakens takes place roughly thirty years after the conclusion of Jedi, firmly placing Luke, Leia, and Han into later adulthood. So an obvious question is: What has happened in that time? With Han and Leia, we know they haven’t gone to the dark side of the Force, because their characters were always too opinionated and rebellious. Luke, on the other hand, was a conduit for us, learning just as we did as events took shape around him.
Combine this with the well-known good-to-evil trajectory of his old man, and it seems fair that we could see Luke change yet again, becoming an edgier and admittedly more enigmatic (and marketable?) figure.
But we hope that doesn’t happen. It would be an obvious rehash of a tale we don’t need told a second time. And what a shame it’d be to lose or have diluted the idealistic faith in the Force that only Luke brought to the narrative.
7 Senates and Senate Meetings
Senate meetings are boring affairs, here on Earth or anywhere else. The meetings of the Galactic Senate could have been neat, but they ended up being some of the least interesting parts of the prequels.
The Galactic Senate is an enormous room with stadium seating for all of the members of the senate, with a raised platform in the center where the Supreme Chancellor would stand and hold court. It is visually imposing, but like so many of the other out-sized events in the prequels — pod-racing, the coliseum battle in Attack of the Clones, the Gungan-Naboo War scenes — the enormity of the spectacle combined with a lack of real plot progression left audiences just wanting such fare to end.
The Force Awakens would do well to holster big events until the plot calls for them, and not the other way around. Remember in Empire, when rebels held out on the frozen planet of Hoth, protecting shield generators from the Empire’s battalions and AT-ATs. What made it such a great scene was how behind the visual dazzle, there were actual stakes. We were invested in seeing the rebels defend themselves against the overwhelming power of the Empire. Hopefully Episode VII will proceed with such discretion.
6 Stormtroopers who are Terrible Shots
Stormtroopers are the grunts of the Empire, taking orders from Vader and other dark higher-ups to invade cities, patrol spaceships, and just generally look menacing. And in formation, with hundreds standing at attention in pristine white and black ballistic suits with assault weapons, they were successful at this.
But when it came time for troopers to actually fight, they never seemed to hit their mark. Sure, they hit their targets sometimes, zapping a rebel here or there. But for the most part they weren’t much of a threat. For example, in A New Hope, Han, Chewy, Luke, and Leia were cornered in a hallway on the Death Star when they decided their only way out was to run across the hall through a small doorway (that ended up leading to a great trash compactor scene featuring a dangerous dianoga, but that’s another story). As each character ran from one side of the hall to the other, no one was hit. This was a glaring example of how even in the most confined of spaces stormtroopers couldn’t hit anything.
And while we of course don’t want to see our heroes getting hurt, it would be nice if there were some stakes. There needs to be a threat that comes with seeing stormtroopers and not being sure what will happen.
5 Anakin Skywalker
The Force Awakens has seduced millions of fans, leading them to fantasize about what the next chapter holds in the story of Luke, Leia, and Han, and new characters like Rey (Daisy Ridley). The possibilities seem endless regarding the kinds of enemies and scenarios that could be confronted and how they’d be dealt with.
What new environments, ships and technology will be introduced? Who are the other new characters for us to learn about and observe as they deal with danger? There are many unanswered questions.
But to rehash Anakin Skywalker — whether as the young shaggy-haired Jedi or as his later, more conflicted self — for Luke or Leia to look to as a sort of guide would be enormously lazy on the filmmakers’ parts. There have already been three films chronicling the rise and fall of Anakin, along with three others that showed him as his ultimate iteration, Darth Vader. We have seen enough of this character, and hopefully the filmmakers know this.
4 The Demise of Han Solo
The loss of Han Solo in The Force Awakens would be a step too far for audiences. In many ways, the captain of the Millennium Falcon symbolizes the logical counterpoint to the conformity and hierarchy of the Empire. He personifies the unwavering confidence that has helped the rebels to succeed despite enormous odds.
As with turning Luke to the dark side, to kill off Han would be a move that would disrupt the whole past chronology of that character, leaving us with a sour taste. We don’t want to see Han die; it would be a cheap hand of emotional manipulation, and would rob us of one of the coolest characters in the galaxy.
3 Unnecessary CGI
In the realm of movie visuals, there may not be a greater double-edged sword than digital effects. CGI enables filmmakers to do incredible things that otherwise would be impossible. Whereas practical effects rely the handmade and so are still very reliant on expert camera work, digital effects can be added to any shot afterwards and are infinitely malleable. But with all that computing power comes great responsibility, because too much CGI, or effects that don’t blend well enough with the scenery, can break the suspension of disbelief in the audience.
The original Star Wars trilogy relied greatly on practical effects, as those were the tools of the trade. Conversely, in the prequels nearly every scene of the three films included digital effects. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but the implementation of the CGI was sometimes shoddy. We were left with fake-looking backgrounds, computer-generated drones and Jar Jar Binks. A treasure trove of technological resources were used in service of making questionable cinematic decisions.
Hopefully The Force Awakens is able to sidestep this common pitfall of modern blockbusters, using its CGI to further the plot, and not the other way around.
2 Over-Lucased Dialogue
George Lucas wrote the screenplay for A New Hope, bringing us endearing characters delivering memorable lines. Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, and Lucas and Kasdan penned Return of The Jedi. The Phantom Menace, however, was a return to Lucas as sole screenwriter.
But something happened in the years between Jedi and Menace, because the dialogue changed dramatically. Like so many other aspects of production when it came to the prequels, the writing rang flat. There’s the strong theory that Lucas didn’t have anyone challenging him, no one to test his creative choices before they were set to screen. And so with each prequel we were treated to stiff dialogue, uninspired plot, and characters like Anakin and Padme, who just didn’t have the spark of Han Solo or Leia.
For The Force Awakens, Disney tapped Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) as the writer, who was later replaced by Lawrence Kasdan. Here’s to Force being another great bit of Kasdan who, along with his Star Wars credentials, wrote classic flicks like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Body Heat, and Wyatt Earp.
1 Hollow Throwback Lines
Remember how effective it was when Leia finally expressed her love for Han as he was being lowered in chains to be encased in carbonite. “I love you!” she yelled to him. Han just looked at her with a sullen pout, and said, “I know.”
There are so many great lines from the Star Wars films. Mutter the line, “Do or do not, there is no try” to almost anyone, and they’ll know you’re quoting Yoda. People can pick out the style and substance of what’s said by a broad array of characters, from Han Solo (“Don’t get cocky, kid”), to Obi-Wan (“Use the force, Luke”), to many others.
As warm and wonderful as all of these old tropes are, nothing would be a greater cop-out for the new Star Wars films than if they were to recycle classic lines in attempts to trigger our brains’ nostalgia response. We hope not to see any of this emotional artifice, but instead more of what we love: original, charming banter.
These were just some of the possible pitfalls we could come up with. Did we miss any? Let us know what you think in the comments.