Source: Matty Granger Facebook | The Huffington Post | Posted By: Dan Geer


So it has been a few weeks since J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters and broke just about every box office record known to mankind. Reviews have been very positive overall. However, the pendulum has started to sway the other way a little bit, with some reviews even pointing out supposed plot holes or flaws in the film. One such article from The Huffington Post, titled “40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” attempts to lay out extensively just how flawed the film allegedly is, and many people have re-posted this article time and time again, commenting on how they actually agree with the article.

I was going to write a rebuttal on this, but a man by the name of Matty Granger (The Granger Brothers) beat me to the punch and posted one himself, addressing (in “colorful” language, mind you) each and every point laid out by The Huffington Post’s . The article not only easily refutes these “plot holes” for the most part, but also agrees very much with the reason was started in the first place, which is to get people to think twice when it comes to film. To quote Granger, “…sadly all it takes is a bold, contrarian statement to convince people who aren’t interested in doing research for themselves that something wildly incorrect is truth.”

Click here for the Huffington Post article, then read Granger’s amusing rebuttal here. When you’re done, read below for a few more points that I personally address about the film that aren’t brought up in either article, but have been also debated at length in various fanboy circles. Just my lengthy attempt to help people enjoy the film as much as I do (possible spoilers ahead)…

1. How could Rey and Finn use a lightsaber and fight Kylo Ren?

This is partially addressed in Granger’s article, but I feel the need to elaborate a little more. First off all, YOU DO NOT NEED THE FORCE TO WIELD A LIGHTSABER. Secondly, like the article states, Finn doesn’t just work in sanitation. He’s a STORMTROOPER, trained for combat like every other Stormtrooper. Every trooper has other duties while they’re not in battle. We even saw Finn on his first mission at the beginning of the film, so we know he doesn’t just clean toilets. In addition, he’s not swinging around Luke’s lightsaber as if he’s a trained Jedi from the old Republic, doing various flips and other acrobatics. He’s using it like how someone trained in combat would use it. His moves are very basic here. And lastly, he gets owned by Kylo Ren, barely surviving the battle after only a minute or two.

With Rey, we have to remember a few things. First of all, she’s learned to live as a scavenger on Jakku, and picked up various skills along the way while growing up there. Not only did she obtain piloting skills, but BOW fighting skills as well to help defend herself from shady characters. As the article points out, when you’re alone in an unfriendly environment, you learn things in order to survive. And really, she’s not much better with a saber than Finn was.

We also have to keep in mind that Kylo Ren was wounded by Chewbacca’s bowcaster. That weapon was able to blast the crap out of stormtroopers earlier in the film, causing some to fly back upon impact. So Kylo was injured badly, pounding at the wound to try and suck it up in order to fight at all. He was not at the top of his game.

But here’s the other thing. The Force has awakened. It’s in the title of the film. Supreme Leader Snoke discusses it with Kylo Ren. “She’s strong with the Force – untrained, but stronger than she knows!” Kylo says. Something is happening in the Force than we haven’t seen before, and this explains why Rey is having visions (of what seems to be Luke’s hidden location we see at the end of the film), and why she is picking up Force skills faster than we’ve ever seen before. She also may be related to Skywalker, although we don’t know that yet.

Whatever the case, the Force seems to have chosen her as its ambassador, and is proactively channeling her for its purposes to bring balance. Perhaps it needs to act more quickly this time around. We just don’t know at this point (frankly, when the Force wants to do its thing, we don’t really need to question it much – although I have the feeling we’ll get more answers in Episodes VIII or IX). But this is reasonable speculation based on what we’ve already seen and heard that helps clarify things. And who knows, maybe she’s just stronger in the Force than Luke ever was? It may be that simple.

Lastly – and this may be the biggest answer to the question – it is for this very reason Snoke commands Kylo to bring Rey back to him. So Kylo’s intentions in his duel with Rey were not to take her down and kill her, but rather to disarm her and bring her back to his master. Also, during the battle, Kylo states that Rey needs a teacher, and that he can show her the ways of the Force. So there are a couple of reasons why Rey was always going to survive. She can be of use to the dark side, and both Snoke and Kylo realize this.

2. How did Starkiller Base go undetected by the Republic and the Resistance, and why were troops sent to the Resistance headquarters (D’Qar) when the Base could’ve taken out the planet?

This is something that wasn’t addressed in either article, and could’ve used a bit more exposition in the film. But is pretty clear when you know the geography of where Starkiller Base is located, and you know what the novelization (canon, by the way) of the film had to say about it:

In the novel, it states the following:

“In the main conference room of the base on D’Qar, an ongoing strategy session had brought together the leaders of the Resistance. Leia, Poe, C-3PO, Han, and an assortment of senior officers including Statura and Ackbar were assembled around a three-dimensional map of an isolated, frozen planet that up until now had not been worth a hopeful visit from a minor trading ship. Finn was present, too, since it was his information about the world in question that had prompted the gathering.

“The scan data from Captain Snap Wexley’s reconnaissance flight confirms everything Finn has told us,” Poe announced to the group. Wexley spoke up. “They’ve built a new kind of hyperspace weapon within the planet itself. Something that can fire across interstellar distances in the equivalent of real time.” His expression showed his incredulity. “I’ve had my share of technical training, but I can’t even imagine how that’s possible.”

So it’s clear that Starkiller Base is located on a planet of no significance to the Republic. They had no apparent reason to scout the area. In addition, here’s a screen cap from the Visual Dictionary:

Image via Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange

Now, I’m not sure if the planet Starkiller Base was on is considered “Outer Rim” in terms of the Star Wars universe, but it’s definitely in the “unknown region” area. Plus, we have to remember that we’re dealing with many planets in the vast Star Wars universe, and ships require hyperspace to travel from one planet to the next. Not every planet is right next to each other. Here, we can see that the Base is directly on the opposite side of the galaxy from the Resistance’s center on D’Qar.

Also, the film kind of shows that Starkiller Base is nowhere near the planets it blows up. So even without the above external references, we can infer that this planet must have not been among any trajectory frequent traveled, and a planet of that environment would simply not be of any value to the Republic. We know it can fire its laser beams across the vast distances of space and blow up planets that are not even close to it. Also keep in mind that the Republic wouldn’t be thinking a super weapon of this magnitude would be on a planet. They would still be thinking of completely artificial designs like the original Death Stars. And even if there was a scout ship that happened to fly by Starkiller Base, would they even know what they were looking at?

As far as for them not taking out D’Qar as well, sources state that they apparently intended to, but that the Resistance got to them first. The film also states that their system was the next target of the First Order. This still doesn’t explain why the troops were sent there during the execution of the first few planets we saw explode. But is it really so much of a stretch to maybe say that perhaps the Base was limited to a certain amount of planets it could blow up at one time, and that it would’ve been their desire to destroy the center of the Republic first? Also, wouldn’t Kylo Ren, if not the entire First Order, suspect that maybe the droid they’re looking for may have made it to D’Qar? Why would they blow that planet up when they need the droid? Whatever the case, we can piece together this information with what’s already made apparent on screen.

3. The Force Awakens is just a remake of A New Hope.

This statement is one of the most ignorant statements I’ve heard regarding the film. Sure, while this argument technically may hold a drop of water, it does not fill the entire barrel. The film indeed has a few callbacks to the original trilogy, but these callbacks make sense within the context of the film:

  • Droids like BB-8 or R2-D2 are built to carry information from point A to point B. This would probably be used repeatedly in times of war to hide secret information and perhaps to avoid human casualties. So of course the resistance will utilize this method just like any other time of war in the Star Wars universe. Plus, isn’t it very feasible that General Leia, who entrusted Poe Dameron with this mission, would’ve suggested that Poe use this method to transport secret information to the Resistance? It worked for her, right? In her mind, this would be the most effective and safe way to accomplish the task at hand.
  • History always repeats itself, with warfare bringing about the next big WMD (and this time it’s actually different), and new, young recruits would be the first offenders of bad history repeated. Naturally, the resistance will attempt to destroy it.
  • It’s not out of the realm of possibility that a new young person would go on “the hero’s journey” (a concept first identified by scholar Joseph Campbell) similar to Luke 30 years later – especially if Rey is actually related to Luke. It just makes sense that the story needs a new young Force user to lead the charge, and it’d be awfully boring if we didn’t see her develop her abilities over the course of the trilogy. Every trilogy in the saga has honed in on the hero’s journey, and the hero (or anti-hero, as Anakin ended up to be) is always a Force user in these films.
  • Are you really going to complain about there being another Cantina scene? News Flash: There’s more than one pub in the Star Wars universe, and Star Wars Cantinas are awesome. I think every Star Wars trilogy should have a Cantina/bar scene, and so far, every trilogy has. Lighten up, and have some fun with it.

Probably the only criticism I have that I agree with regarding evoking the originals is that the film takes us to “new” planets that look just like Tatooine, Hoth, Endor, etc., and that’s really just minor because it’s a matter of creative preference. Plus, these new locales mirror planets from the entire original trilogy, not just A New Hope.

In the end, the actual story being told here is not the same as any of the previous films, with plenty of new ideas and concepts introduced:

  • The story is about the search for Luke Skywalker. In A New Hope we knew where Luke was, and he was present during most of the film. In The Force Awakens, he’s literally in one scene. And while this is primarily Rey’s journey, which admittedly is simliar to Luke’s – the entire story revolves around finding Luke. That’s a story element that was never introduced in the entire original trilogy, and the ending of The Force Awakens is entirely different than A New Hope for this very reason.
  • “There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?” we hear Snoke say to Kylo. This film is about an awakening in the Force. While we can suggest the Force did indeed “awaken” in Luke in A New Hopby the end (sort of), it is abundantly clear that what’s happening with both Rey and Kylo is on a whole other level that we’ve never seen before, especially with the swiftness Rey begins to develop her abilities in the Force. She’s already beyond the level Luke was in A New Hope. Believe me, there’s probably a good reason behind this that we’ve just not been made fully aware of yet.
  • There’s also a personal journey told through the eyes of a Stormtooper that has defected from the enemy. Never before have we dived into the POV of a Stormtrooper in any of the films, let alone so deeply.
  • Original trilogy characters have become myth in the eyes of many, as Rey indicated in the film. Finn wasn’t so sure the stories of Luke, Han and Leia were true either. We’ve never had history being interpreted as myth by any character before in the Star Wars films. The stories are truly legendary, and for people who were not a part of those events from the original trilogy era would find them hard to believe. It’s a great and new concept for Star Wars, to find that something one thought was myth is actually true. All of it.
  • We even have an entirely new villain in Kylo Ren, in that he’s conflicted, and struggles with “the pull to the light.” No matter what, the new villian was never going to live up to Vader, so the writers actually embraced that – literally making him a wannabe Vader. Of course, we also saw he was still quite powerful, and showed us things we’ve never seen in a Star Wars film, like stopping a laser blast in mid air, or sucking the truth out of people with the Force. He was a wonderful and original addition to the Star Wars saga.
  • Spoiler Alert: Han Solo dies. Granted, a main character dies in A New Hope, so there’s a simliarity there with Obi-Wan. But come on – Han’s death was a much more meaningful and bigger event than that. When we all saw A New Hope for the first time, we were with Old Ben for not even half the film. With Han Solo, we’ve had three other films with him, and grew up with him for over 30 years being alive in our hearts and minds – and now he’s been taken away. Sorry, MUCH more significant death of a lead character. I’m willing to bet the impact of Han’s death will affect this sequel trilogy much more than Obi-Wan’s death affected the original trilogy. Even after watching the prequels, Old Ben’s death still does not carry as much weight as the death of Han – probably because Han won’t live on like Obi-Wan did, in the form of a Force ghost. We’re never going to see Han Solo played by Harrison Ford ever again (except maybe in a Force vision).
  • And lastly, while the rebels do midly celebrate their victory against Starkiller base on screen for about two seconds –  by no means does this film end on a high note like A New Hope. When they get back to the rebel base, it’s not cheerful (for obvious reasons), and no one’s getting a medal here.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but we’ve never seen any of this before in a Star Wars film. This movie introduces so many new and compelling story elements that heavily outweigh the aspects that have been used before, and even those things had an original spin put on them. A New Hope was simply an outline of inspiration for The Force Awakens, but this film is not a carbon copy of A New Hope by any means.

For more, read THR’s article where director J.J. Abrams addresses this very complaint very adequately. Also, check out the Star Wars ring theory for more details on how the trilogies are meant to mirror one another to some extent.

Yes, the film’s not technically perfect. But the majority of the criticisms lashed out at this film can be easily addressed if one actually pays attention, as Matty Granger’s article points out. Sadly, for the most part, critics go and see a film once, and don’t necessarily pick up on all the details. And what questions they still have afterwards can be filled in by what we do know, and don’t necessarily have to be handed to us in the film itself. What’s great about Star Wars is that the fans can have fun speculating. That’s not to say the film couldn’t have used some more exposition or visual cues to help out the audience. Sometimes things aren’t as clear as they should be. But I think with The Force Awakens, the audience just needs to awaken as well. It’s not that hard to figure out the answers if you care enough to actually think about it.

It all comes down to people almost never giving the film maker or writers the benefit of the doubt, poking holes in something that doesn’t really have holes, and then claiming that those holes were already there before they started poking. The sheer arrogance of these people who always assume they know better than the writers or director (who, by the way, have spent way more time thinking about this stuff than anybody else) just drives me insane. Some times all it takes is a second viewing of a film to provide clarity, as it is easy to miss details the first time around. Sometimes, even if a film doesn’t outright explain something, there still is a reasonable explanation based on what we’ve seen. But instead, people choose the high horse. In the end, they like feeling smug. But of course, it’s just a feeling, and the reality is that they’re just full of themselves. Smugness does not equal intelligence.

Again, you can find Matty’s rebuttal here and the original Huffington Post article here. For more, check out my spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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