Now that it’s out and about, and most of over-eager website editors have seen it three times (you know who you are), the muzzle has been removed from JJ Abrams’ phizog and he’s now free to talk up anything and everything “The Force Awakens”.
The movie, which has now officially overtaken “Jurassic Park” as the biggest money maker this side of a Vegas nude revue that free wireless, has been both a critical and commercial hit – but still, that hasn’t stopped a few naysayers from drumming up it’s flaws (“it’s just A New Hope all over again” and “That bit made no sense” are popular on the IMDB forums) and claiming it to be lesser than the sum of it’s parts. But seems what many are suggesting as flaws, such as plot holes, may be intentionally dangling questions reserved for answering in the next film.
Oh, and beware **SPOILERS **
A big finger point has been the moment where R2-D2 conveniently comes out of his coma just in time to help the resistance save the day.
Abrams, speaking with EW, says he gets the criticism but thinks the moment works for the movie.
“BB-8 comes up and says something to him, which is basically, ‘I’ve got this piece of a map, do you happen to have the rest?’. The idea was, R2 who has been all over the galaxy, is still in his coma, but he hears this. And it triggers something that would ultimately wake him up. While it may seem, you know, completely lucky and an easy way out, at that point in the movie, when you’ve lost a person, desperately, and somebody you hopefully care about is unconscious, you want someone to return.”
Also, how did R2 even have all that info inside him? Apparently you can blame the OT.
“..the idea was that in that scene where R2 plugged in, he downloaded the archives of the Empire, which was referenced by Kylo Ren,” Abrams said.
Also, Abrams has confirmed that both Sir Alec Guinness, Frank Oz and Ewan McGregor can be heard in the ‘vision’ sequence within the movie. The two from that list that are still alive came in and recorded a bit specifically for the new film.
“The idea of the voices was, we wanted the audience to feel – but not necessarily be presented right in your face – this idea that familiar, Force-strong voices were connecting with her. At least as well as they could. You do hear a little bit of Yoda. You hear Luke yelling out, ‘Nooo!’ from that moment in ‘Empire.’ And you hear Obi-Wan at the end say, ‘Rey … these are your first steps.’ Here’s the cool part: We asked Ewan McGregor to come in and do the line. And he was awesome and we were very grateful. He was incredibly sweet and handsome, and all that stuff. Then he rode off on his motorcycle. Literally the coolest voice over actor ever.”
One of Guinness’s old lines (from the original) was also used; where he said ‘Afraid’ originally, Bryan Burk tweaked it to sound like ‘Rey’. Very cool.
While it’s gutting for fans to see the beloved Han Solo meet his maker in the movie, Abrams also explained why that had to happen.
“Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain. And not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process.
Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing. We knew we needed to do something f–king bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters.
[Han Solo’s death is] this massive tradeoff. How can we possible do that!? But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”
Luke Skywalker doesn’t appear until the film’s final few moments. Co-writer Michael Arndt said that they thought about introducing the character earlier – but it would’ve taken the spotlight away from Rey, and they didn’t want that.
“Early on I tried to write versions of the story where [Rey] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke,” Arndt told EW. “And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass. It just never worked. It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over. Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, ‘Oh, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.’”
Like Skywalker, R2-D2 was always going to feature in the film a lot more – but Lawrence Kasdan came up with a better use for the legendary droid.
“I had originally written R2 and C-3PO showing up together, and Larry very intelligently said, ‘You want to keep them separate from each other. And of course I’m like, ‘No, no, no, Larry. You don’t get it at all!’” Arndt joked.
In the trailer, there’s a shot where Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyongo’o) hands over Luke’s lightsaber to his sister, General Leia (Carrie Fisher). But in the movie, Maz actually hands the thing to Rey (Daisy Ridley).
Abrams explains why and how the change came about :
“That was a scene actually filmed, but we took out. At one point, Maz used to continue along with the characters back to the Resistance base, but we realized that she really had nothing to do there of value, except to have her sitting around… Lupita did film scenes on set for that sequence, but it felt like going right just to go left, and it was unnecessary. So we ended up leaving those things out. Sometimes you discover that things you would have cut off a limb to shoot on the day are absolutely inconsequential, and in fact less impactful than if you were to remove it… As much as you try to kick the tires and write and shoot only what is necessary — no one wants to waste anyone’s time — when you’re in the editing room you realize, for instance, that introducing the character there actually diminishes their power. Or, giving that information actually distracts you from what you should be concentrating on. Or, having that moment happen concurrent with that moment actually gets in the way of both — things like that.”
And here’s some fun stuff : Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg and all cameo in the movie.
007 himself plays the stormtrooper that Rey Jedi mind-tricks into helping her escape.
“You will remove these restraints and leave this cell with the door open,” Rey tells the stormtrooper, played by the “Spectre” star.
“I’ll tighten those restraints, scavenger scum,” Craig’s character responds.
“Star Trek” star Pegg played the the Jakkku junk merchant Unkar Plutt. So no wonder we didn’t notice him!
Music man Michael Giacchino, who usually scores Abrams’ movies (but didn’t this time, obviously, because John Williams is the only man who can score a “Star Wars” movie), makes a cameo in the film as stormtrooper FN-3181.
So there you have it, likely there’ll be more “Force Awakens” tidbits as the days tick on, but for the moment, there’s enough fun things to look out for when you return to see the movie a third or fourth time.