Category Archives: The Force Awakens

How Did Han’s Death Change Chewie?

There’s a moment in the Last Jedi when Chewie breaks down Luke’s door. Luke starts to say something, then pauses. “Wait, where’s Han?”

It’s a moment with a lot of weight; Luke seeing Chewie and recognising that Han should’ve been there, too. In fact, it’s why Chewie was there.

Rey had already proven that she could fly the Falcon well and by herself. In fact her first command of the Falcon is the last high point in the ship’s history. Even Lando doesn’t get to do anything cool with it.

But to the point, Rey didn’t need Chewie to come along, and if her plan to be trained by Luke held, then Chewie would have a long wait on the planet.

So why’d he come? Because when your best friend dies, you should be the bearer of the bad news, not someone Luke’s never met before.

There’s the added layer that Chewie was Ben’s godfather, Luke was Ben’s trainer, and Ben killed his own father. Chewie had the opportunity to kill Ben, right then and there, but couldn’t do it. That too is something he’d want to tell Luke.

That little moment of realisation on Luke’s part is one of the great pay-offs of this universe. However, there are no ramifications of it, which seems to cheapen the moment.

But what of Chewie? Basically he’s done the last act he needs to for Han. He’s a free agent, his life debt paid off. Of course he chooses to stay in the fight and not just return to Kashyyyk. He cares about Princess Leia and Luke. He may even care about the struggle, having seen the empire’s impact on his homeworld.

But is Chewie changed by Han’s death?

I’d like to think that Chewie is a bit more of a risk-taker after Han dies. We have the impression that Chewie checked Han’s crazier impulses, but I think the opposite was also true, that Chewie sometimes gave in to his impulses, and Han (or Leia) reeled him in.

Think of Chewie growling at Vader or strangling Lando on the cloud city.

Without Han, Chewie got less risk-adverse, and he got caught by the First Order for it. And as an aside, his apparent death should have been his actual death. It’s not like they did anything else with his character after that moment.

Chewie was often an under-utilized character, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have feelings or never changed.

Reflecting on The Force Awakens

PosterI, as much as any fan, bought into the hype and excitement around Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I wrote a number of blog posts about it – more than any other movie, certainly. And generally, on reflection, I’m happy with what we got, mostly…

My first article, published September 14, asked if R2D2 was being demoted. Having seen the movie, I would say, we all know that the answer to that is yes.

My second article asked ‘Whither Luke?’ and posited that perhaps he wouldn?t be a big part of The Force Awakens. We now know that his cameo was a non-speaking role. It also speculated that he needed to die for his successor’s journey to be complete (ironic, that)

My third pre-release article was ‘De-Mythologizing the Lightsaber‘ because, truth be told, lightsabers aren?t that great a weapon.

Lastly, I reviewed the film after its release, The Force Awakens: Star Wars’ Greatest Hits with A Few New Numbers. I revised this article slightly after a second viewing.

I stand by each of these articles. They offered my opinion at the time and generally still hold true for me.

Now I’d like to revisit The Force Awakens from a different perspective: How to improve the version that we’ve all seen. I know, as soon as we talk about ‘improving’ Star Wars, we get ‘Special Edition’ fright. But the Phantom Edit and other unofficial works have shown that improvement isn’t necessarily bad. Besides, there are only two places that I would prefer to have seen changes, so bear with my hypothetical “improvements.”

One of the first scenes in the film that jarred me, pushed me out of the narrative, was Rey and Finn boarding the Falcon. The ramp was down, inviting entry. Why? Wouldn’t it have been cooler if it was because Han and Chewie were there, outside the Falcon. Rey and Finn run onboard, Han and Chewie scramble to get back onboard – so it’s still Rey flying, Finn on the gun.

This scenario allows us to excise the rather lame mid-film set-piece involving weird monsters and Yakuza-like gangs. The argument that the scene allowed popular Chinese actors to participate in Star Wars, and hopefully make the film popular in China, is, frankly, lame.

What, you weren’t going to make enough money off the film? And, again frankly, whatever boost you expected to get in China from that scene would only last a few days until word of mouth (and possibly a backlash) spread.

The whole side-track to Maz’s planet was silly. Maz should have been living on the same planet as the Resistance base. This would have simplified the plot a lot. The Resistance is stronger than expected, repelling the first attack (or the base is revealed to be there when the fighters quickly appear to repel Ren’s invasion).