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What you consider lazy, I consider meticulous. They clearly chose to reference the original trilogy and they did so with some interesting twists on concepts and set pieces from those films. The fact is, this film had to pass the torch to the new characters in some way and you are going to have a really hard time doing that with a franchise this revered without referencing the original in some way. I think it gave the new characters a sense of belonging in this universe. They fit the mold that we have come to expect.
The lightsaber skills of Finn are certainly questionable, but I also think that Kylo Ren is clearly not as well trained as some people may think. He is obviously very strong with the Force, but I doubt that he has had serious experience in actual combat. He is reckless and makes mistakes constantly. He is certainly not as experienced as Vader in the OT, but I think that's what the people who find issues with the film are attempting to compare him to, which is pretty short-sighted in my opinion.
Actually, when I said "lazy," I wasn't referring to the recycling of the plot w.r.t the original trilogy. I was mostly referring to the fact that we've got all these characters that aren't really presented in a great context. In addition, "finding Luke Skywalker" just wasn't a compelling overall plot.
Questions that are probably going to be explored in future films, but really bothered me to be completely left hanging: Who is Rey's family? Why does Finn decide to desert now? How is Kylo Ren in such a position of power, when he can't even fight off a couple of newbie lightsaber users? Kylo Ren can manage to use the force to search peoples' minds, but anytime he doesn't get his way he throws a temper tantrum? It doesn't seem like someone that reckless would be able to rise to such a position of power and at such a young age. If he were a CEO, it'd be at a shitty startup he funded himself. The First Order seems a little more sophisticated than that, since they're able to exterminate several planets at a time and all.
The pacing felt very bouncy without enough meaning behind it. It was also incredibly predictable (oh, Han follows his now evil son out onto an incredibly narrow bridge, looks like they're killing him off...oh, Rey is now on a mission, guess she's going to locate Luke...) It was lazily written, and they simply relied on Star Wars fandom to carry it out. And not in the good way, which I expected. Of course I love the nostalgic references and jokes, but there wasn't enough substance beyond that to make it a great film.
You make some good points, but I think you didn't pay close enough attention.
To answer your questions:
Luke is Rey's father ("I know those eyes... You were destined to wield this...") . That was Finn's first field mission. Kylo Ren was wounded, and he lacked faith; Rey didn't, and let the force flow through her (up until that point, she she was losing badly). Kylo is pretty insane, and personally I don't think he can read peoples minds – more of a mix of force aided intuition and whatever the force shows him (like Anakin's dreams). Just like Vader, he's not in charge: he's an enforcer, and he never finished his training... but he is powerful and scary enough to be effective at his job. The First Order seems to have inherited a lot of tech and processes from the empire, which might be more attributable to Phasma than Ren.
If it felt bouncy, it's because you missed Endor's Moon for the Ewoks.
My husband and I got a good laugh out of your comment, thanks.
I disagree that Luke is Rey's father - but I agree she is a Skywalker (the Skywalker theme played during her scenes). I think they threw out most of the Expanded Universe, but kept a few things: Han and Leia had two kids (but possibly not twins). She is Kylo's sister and was at the new Jedi school whenever shit went down and he went crazy. Luke dropped her off on Jakku and let everyone (including Han, Leia, and Kylo) think she died to keep her safe (reminiscent of Obi-Wan splitting up the twins and dropping Luke off on Tatooine).
Ah. Now this theory, I can get behind.
Kylo Ren wasn't in any position of power really. He's a "rogue" agent on his own mission from Emperor Snoke. That's why General Hux and him are at odds with one another because Hux is in charge of the First Order, not Ren. Also, there are theories about Finn learning and growing in the Force which would support some ideas of him using the lightsaber at all.
Rey is trained, as shown in the beginning, and her force sensitivity was growing fast. It's much better than Anakin's "accident" in the skies above Naboo.
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