Top 10 things “The Force Awakens” has that “A New Hope” didn’t


Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens is shaping up to be just about the biggest film ever released. It’s sitting pretty on a rock-solid 95% rating on RottenTomatoes, and TYF’s “fresh tomato” influenced that average; Jon Espino called the film “a complete fan-service that combines the exciting storytelling and use of practical effects from the original trilogy with the crisp, vibrant color palette and clean computer graphics of the prequels”. I happen to agree, Jon!

The force is also strong with this one at the box office. It did a staggering $247.9 million in it’s opening weekend, beating the recent domestic record set by Jurassic World by about 40 million.

All of this aside, that last 5% of negativity has been really bugging me. A particular review from the New Yorker spins such tangled sentences as:

  • “[J.J. Abrams’] direction “doesn’t shape the elements stylistically… chosen settings never rise, by means of visual composition, to symbolic significance”.
  • “The cast appears mainly as symbols of their own youth, a new generation of cinematic faces transplanted onto the revered corpus of legend”.
  • “[Abrams stands] one step down from Spielberg’s worship of a world of images to the modern worship of a world of stories. That makes Abrams just the person to plug the newest ready-made pre-fab blocks of quasi-Biblical legend into the template left by Lucas”.

First of all: what? Hyphenated adjectives never entitle a reviewer to judge a film on vague intangibles, as writer Richard Brody does here. Any Film Reviewing 101 class would teach you that. Brody claims that The Force Awakens has no symbolic images, steals archetypal characters and borrows story steps from Lucas’ A New Hope. Read some negative reviews of the film: they all reiterate the film’s lack of originality.

This list is meant to offer a counterargument about the newest Star Wars film. Without further ado, here is my list for the Top 10 ways The Force Awakens differs from A New Hope:


10. Everyone has a sense of humor.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)..Ph: David James..? 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Right Reserved.

I love Han teasing Luke’s obsession with Leia in A New Hope, but when you really start to think about it: where does most of Episode IV’s humor come from? It’s Han – being sarcastic to Chewie or arguing with Leia. This is low on my list because the original trilogy was very good about generating humor among its protagonists. That said, The Force Awakens has it beat. From the first scene, a captive Poe Dameron quietly asks Kylo Ren, “Who talks first? You talk first, I talk first?”. It was a dramatic scene (including a bloody massacre), but it takes time to make you love Poe’s carefree attitude!

John Boyega brings a great sense of modern, awkward timing to Finn. Rey is funny in her stubbornness. Han and Chewie are back (bringing the sarcasm and charm). But the real standout: Kylo Ren! Our villain is given several comedic moments where he explodes with violence and rage at his Stormtroopers. One time he rages, then calmly asks, “Anything else?”. Very funny, and very Star Wars.

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At the arguably-too-young age of three, Jordan saw Star Wars—with all its famous dismemberment—for the first time. From that day on he rejected his Jewish roots to be a full-time Force believer. Jordan, now 20, enjoys playing guitar, singing and recording music (like John Mayer, minus the ego). When he isn’t covering James Taylor songs, he likes seeing and reviewing movies in a non-pretentious fashion. His personal critic-heroes are JeremyJahns and Chris Stuckmann of YouTube fame. He currently attends Chapman University working towards a Film Studies degree, and can’t wait to see where it takes him!
  • jennwashburn

    Thanks Jordan. These are great arguments to bring up in my next discussion (argument) about Episode 7, when someone complains that is was not “original”.

  • Grave,Regis

    Rey being a sleeper agent would basically be the only possible redemption for the film. Otherwise nothing listed here has me convinced that this was significantly more than a rehash of the original trilogy minus Ep V and a conclusion.

    But I don’t think there’s much evidence Kylo Ren recognizes her, besides his acting like a deer in the headlights around her—though this is more likely because he’s just a milquetoast, mouth-breathing simpleton by default. I still don’t like him as a bad guy. Generally has the reflexes, situational awareness and emotional discipline of Jabba the Hutt. Also why is he dedicating his mission to his grandfather whom he must surely know betrayed the dark side? Why would he petition Anakin’s spirit to steer him AWAY from the light? Didn’t Han or Luke or Leia or ANYONE teach him ANYTHING about the guy?

    Everything points to the Strong Female Protagonist with no apparent flaws or need for real character development, being just that. Just a feminist wet dream obnoxiously reminiscent, as always, of the deific medieval princess (the object of literal chivalric adoration). Meanwhile the token black dude (shall we call him a knight?) is a hyperactive Br’er Rabbit trickster/Eddie Murphy sidekick with a stultefying schoolboy crush on this object of everyone’s admiration—beginning when the bitch righteously assaults him with a staff. (“My kinda woman!” I hear the audience being asked to think to themselves.)

    Oh and she DID need to be rescued as a matter of fact. What’s with this obsession with making female characters out to be IMPOSSIBLY, ABSURDLY unreliant on male characters? God forbid any male creature should help an Empowered Female Human in the 21st century! No, clearly she didn’t need any rebels to get her off Death Star 2.0. I must’ve dreamed that.

    One last remark: I totally agree with the characterization of this film as the “white knight” of the series.