I’ve been pretty vocal about my issues with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and even now, three weeks, one day, eighteen hours and fifty-five minutes after sitting down to watch it upon its release, it’s still on my mind.
Yesterday, I was looking at the IMDb page for the movie, and having a look at some of the reviews. I found them somewhat comforting, as the [categorized: best] user-reviews you come across assured me that I’m not alone in my opinions, despite the overwhelmingly positive response the film garnered (it’s now the highest grossing US movie of all time).
One review, in particular, summed up my sentiments pretty dead on, explaining that the main problem is that the film lacks progress from the original trilogy, and instead is basically just a soft reboot of the franchise.
This, coupled with my appreciation of YouTuber Michael from Belated Media‘s videos, wherein he edits the stories of the Prequel trilogy (minor edits of The Phantom Menace and then pretty much complete rewrites of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith to follow this new story-line he has created) inspired me to do the same for The Force Awakens.
I figured it could be a bit of fun, and perhaps an interesting read for you all. A What if? Because I’m not being obsessive. Honestly.
Seriously, stop judging and listen to me on this.
Anyway, some rules and restraints, because without restraints we’re no better than Tusken Raiders, are we?
I’m not going to out-and-out rewrite the film. That would be silly. Or sillier than what I’m doing, anyway. Instead, I’m just going to change some things, which in my opinion would rework the film into something more complete, whilst still leaving room for the next to films to build from. In italics are my reasoning and background information on the film.
I’ll be using the basic plot outline from the film’s Wikipedia page, and going from there. I’m also assuming you’ve all seen The Force Awakens by now. But if not, obviously SPOILERS!
Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker has disappeared after one of his students turned against him and tried to destroy his new Jedi. In response, Luke has taken a batch of new students and retreated to an unknown destination.
Meanwhile, the First Order has risen from the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate both Luke and the New Republic.
Learning that the First Order have learnt of the map to Luke’s location, and are planning to make a move, New Republic pilot Poe Dameron meets Lor San Tekka, Luke’s eldest student, on the planet Jakku.
Stormtroopers under the command of Kylo Ren destroy the village and capture Poe, whilst Lor San Tekka is killed in the ensuing firefight. Poe‘s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and locates scavenger Rey Solo, at a junkyard settlement under the protection of Chewbacca.
Rey has been left on Jakku to avoid the gaze of the First Order, who are aware that the map to Skywalker requires a relative adept in the light side of the force, and to protect her from the same fate as her brother, Kylo Ren.
Having Chewbacca stay with her for however long also demonstrates his loyalty to Han Solo, and would make sense for them to be living within proximity to the only person who knows where Luke actually is.
Also, considering the title is THE FORCE AWAKENS, having a jedi show up early on shows that Luke has actually had some success in the past thirty years.
Ren tortures Poe and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187, unable to kill for the First Order, frees Poe and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter and Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku, and Finn appears to be the only survivor. He searches for Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. The four flee the planet in the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Chewbacca.
The Falcon breaks down, but is saved from the First Order by a much larger ship, piloted by Han Solo who reclaims his former vessel and is reunited with his daughter and best friend. Han explains that Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order but went into exile after a student turned to the dark side and destroyed all that Luke had built.
With Han having an emotional connection to Rey and Chewie, it makes more sense for him to arrive to pick the Falcon up as quickly as he does. It gives us a reason for the Falcon to be on Jakku specifically, and also removes the nonsense of him having it stolen from him and returning to the smuggling game, throwing all his development and relationship with Leia to the Sarlacc Pit.
I’ve decided to skip the whole part with Maz Khanata; as frankly, it annoyed me, and ‘finding answers in a den of criminals’ has already been done four times in the saga already (Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, A New Hope, Return of the Jedi).
Likewise, the Starkiller base, if it makes it into my trilogy, has not yet been built. Like the den of criminals, we don’t need a third death star straight away. To make it a greater threat, it should be built up over the trilogy (as Lucas intended in his original films, might I add) and not just destroyed straight away.
Plus, destroying the New Republic in the first film ruins all the progress made after Return of the Jedi. We need progress, not a reboot.
And so, this is where my film deviates from Abrams’ version for a bit.
Having saved Chewbacca, Rey, Finn and BB-8, Han returns the group to Coruscant, where Leia and C-3PO are waiting for them. The family share a reunion, and Rey is shown what she is heir to. As she gets reacquainted with her mother, Han does some bonding with Chewbacca, and reveals that although he is glad the war is over, he does somewhat miss his more rebellious life. Meanwhile, Finn struggles with being on the main planet of the New Republic, a place he has spent his whole life being trained to hate; he feels guilty and awkward around them, but his choice to leave the First Order has now truly begun to seem right.
Having these scenes allows for more character development. This isn’t to say I didn’t think J.J. Abrams’ version had it, but what with some of the ‘creative missteps’, shall we say, they weren’t the developments that the characters deserved.
Han, for instance, still longs for a life of adventure, but due to his commitment to Leia and her efforts in building the New Republic, he has put that part of his life to rest and not just run away. He is still the same character, but he has grown. It also gets rid of that nonsense with the CGI tentacle monsters.
Having settled in, Leia explains the reason that the First Order are hunting them, and begins revealing Rey’s heritage that is the Force. As Leia exposits what has happened since the fall of the Empire, Imperial Loyalists learn of Rey’s identity and contact the First Order. As Leia reveals that she has been collecting links to Luke (such as his old lightsaber, a gift from Lando), the loyalists stage an attack on the Solo/Organa homestead and kidnap Rey. They also attempt to take BB-8, but the heroes manage to keep him safe.
Up until now, Leia has been trying to respect Luke’s wishes by not seeking him out. This is the turning point where she realizes there is a clear and present danger, and that the Jedi are needed.
On the First Order base, Rey is confronted by Kylo Ren, who reveals himself to be her brother. He in turn presents her to his Master, Supreme Leader Snoke via hologram, who is actually the old Sith Lord, Darth Plagueis, in disguise. Plagueis reveals that by rights, the two siblings belong to him, as he has orchestrated the whole Star Wars saga, manipulating the midichlorians in Shimi Skywalker to create Anakin Skywalker. Plagueis orders Kylo Ren to return to Korriban with his sister, before disconnecting.
Although I’m not entirely sure of the whole Plagueis/Snoke theory, which has apparently been denied by Andy Serkis, this, I feel, is a way to unite the whole nine films, once they’re complete. Because although people didn’t like the prequels, they did happen, and it’s time to face that fact.
This also gives the chance for more Force Ghosts when Plagueis is seen in person. Palpatine could be watching as a ghost from his side, arguing about how things should be done, and also providing exposition on how Plagueis survived in Episode XIII. Is this too much for new fans to take in? Perhaps, but it is entry number seven in the franchise, so really, its not that big a deal.
Back on Coruscant, the group come to terms with the fact that the First Order is more powerful than they realized, and that if they take Rey, she too could fall to the Dark Side of the Force. Leia begs for the full backing of the New Republic’s forces to retrieve her daughter, but they argue that they have already wasted enough resources endeavoring to retrieve the map she originally stressed they needed, which still remains in their possession. Furious, Leia begs Han to save their daughter, and urges him to return their son, Kylo Ren alive.
Using the Falcon, Han, Chewbacca, Poe and Finn infiltrate the base with a small group of soldiers loyal to Poe. They find Rey whilst setting explosives around the base (like in the film, she uses the force to escape captivity, allowing us to still see Kylo Ren go beserk), before being confronted by Ren.
Having Poe here makes the fact that a Stormtrooper and someone who has just learnt of the Force beating Kylo Ren by themselves more believable in their upcoming fight. It also gives viewers more chance to see what has become a fan-favorite character.
The two factions engage in a gunfight, as the base is put on high alert. Hoping to give his friends a chance to escape, Han confronts Ren, calling him by his birth name, Ben, and implores him to abandon the dark side. The pair find themselves conflicted, and Han starts to ponder if Ren is in fact still the son he once loved. Determined to prove himself to Plagueis, Ren kills Han. Enraged, Chewbacca shoots Ren in the side and sets off the explosives.
Now that Kylo Ren and Rey are brother and sister, the upcoming battle between them is more emotionally fueled than in the actual film, where Rey’s logic is more ‘this guys a jerk and he killed that other guy I barely knew but offered me a job’.
The group begins their escape, and an injured Ren pursues them outside. Finn retrieves the lightsaber Leia gave him to pass on to Rey and engages Ren with Poe’s help, hoping to spare Rey the pain of fighting her sibling, but is overpowered and badly wounded. Rey takes the lightsaber and fights Ren, overpowering him with the Force and again, Poe’s help.
However, before she can strike the killing blow, Rey halts, stopping Poe from doing the same, and restrains her brother, taking him aboard the Millennium Falcon, which Chewbacca has recovered. Desperate to kill Ren, Chewbacca is forced to stand down out of respect for Rey, whom he has spent the past nineteen years with.
Back on Coruscant, Leia, Chewbacca, and Rey mourn Han‘s death.
There’s also a funeral/memorial scene or something, because if Qui-Gon, Padme and Darth Vader got one, so should fucking Han Solo, body or no!
With Kylo Ren under watch, Leia asks Rey, Chewbacca and Finn to take C-3PO and find her brother. The group fly off to an uncharted system, where they find Luke surrounded by his new pupils, with R2-D2 at his side.
I think the actual ending for The Force Awakens frankly looks a bit stupid/awkward.
I think by showing the progress Luke has made instead of him just being a whiny bitch, the film gets a more fulfilling ending: Luke has clearly succeeded in some form, furthering his journey from Return of the Jedi and Ren HAS been brought home alive, like Leia requested, but at a cost. When the gang is reunited, with Ren in the picture, there will be more conflict to start within the next film, as although he is their relative, they all resent him for killing Han.
This way, the film has obvious ties to the rest of its trilogy, but works even better as a standalone, because it ties off the majority of loose ends, and unites the whole Saga, keeping it focused, like Lucas intended, as a family drama.
Furthermore, you could get a whole side-plot going about how, in spite of Luke’s efforts to defeat Vader, if him and Leia are reunited, they do essentially rule the Galaxy like Vader wanted all along… Something to think about.