Ian (lovingboth) wrote,

The Force Awakens (longer)

It's vastly better than the prequels, and approaches the level of the original trilogy... which is to say that as a 'World War Two movies in spaaace' film, it works and has some nice touches, but the moment you think about most of it, it goes 'never mind that, look at that explosion!!' and you are - well, I am - suddenly jerked out of immersion.

Beep beep

Getting machines to talk English (or whatever) is much, much, much easier than having them understand spoken language.

But here you've got robots ('(an)droids', although most of them are not humanoid) with sentience, emotions etc - clearly there is far too much CPU power around in this regard, if not most others - and half of them speak in beeps. Even though they understand English (or whatever). Even the droid that's supposed to speak a huge number of languages doesn't communicate with the other ones in the language they use.

Bang bang

One of the problems I always had with the original film is that for a film with a significant military force, it was so problematic on those aspects. You've got a bunch of soldiers in armour because, erm, erm, why? It's no use against the weapons everyone uses, it restricts their movement and clearly does nothing for their vision while simultaneously making it easier for them to be spotted.

And look at the weapons: blasters, what are they then? (Apart from a tribute to the 'scratch the negative' guns of the Flash Gordon serials!) The 'stuff' doesn't move very quickly, goes through armour to kill the person inside without a problem, but not through spacecraft hulls.

Had the imperials troops had any hand grenades, the first film would have ended very differently in a lot shorter time. Explosives are in use, but has no-one thought that having some small ones you could chuck at people you couldn't see would be a good idea?

In this one, it's the troop carriers that did it. If you're landing from the sea, you have the doors at the front, because the water's deeper further back. For everything else, you have the doors at the back (preferably) or the sides, so that when you turn up somewhere, the troops are protected against incoming fire by the vehicle / its doors. Oh look, along come the carriers, open at the front so that the troops can be shot at before they leave. In real ones, they're not standing up facing forward in transit either, and the vehicle itself can give some fire support...

What they've clearly copied are WWII landing craft, when it should have been helicopters.

Despite having huge amounts of CPU power, the weapons are as dumb as they come. Look, for example, at the targeting systems: they're like that only because the state of the art of CGI in 1977. In contrast, the stormtroopers' costumes have changed because of the arguments over the copyright of the originals with the person who made them and has been selling replicas, created from the original moulds.

Let's clunk again, like we did three decades ago

Around forty years ago, George Lucas heard of a parsec being a number of light years (about three and a quarter...) and thought 'That's a neat unit of time' and wrote a line about doing a route in twelve parsecs with the implication that it was fast. That it's a unit of distance escaped him, and even if generations of fans are right in their attempts to pretend he correctly meant it as a distance, it's still an incredibly Earth-centric one (it's based on the size of Earth's orbit).

In a civilization spanning lots of planets, privileging one's orbit for the galactic distances might happen - if/when humans start colonising other planets, they probably will still use metres, originally based on a fraction of the Earth's circumference - but it's not terribly likely when it's much more useful to use something that is constant everywhere, i.e. the speed of light.

Speaking of c

Light moves really quickly, around 300,000 km a second. As space is really, really big (thank you, Douglas Adams) having stuff move faster than light is useful in SF even if the 'how' is either totally ignored (Star Wars) or hand-waved away (Star Trek).

But light still moves at, you know, the speed of light. So how does Leia et al see several planets being blown up by this one's super weapon as it happens? Either the planets are in the same solar system (when there'd still be a delay of minutes / hours* but the bigger issue is why is the Empire bad guy having a problem finding the planet they're on) or in another system (when you'd be looking at a delay of years before you'd see the explosions).

Perhaps it's a very small galaxy: look at the size of the map in terms of the numbers of stars.

In another scene, someone 'has' to go faster than light to get past something, then stop in - let's be generous - 5,000 km before being crashing into something else. They stop at the right point by going 'now' and, gasp, just miss crashing. Firstly, nah, we're talking precision of less than 0.017 of a second, secondly the deceleration would be immense: they'd end up smeared very thinly across the window.

Perhaps the speed of light is variable...

When the final scene, and others, have the spaceships going into faster than light speed, the trails stay the same colour. Like any object moving really quickly away from you, there should be a red shift. Easy to do, missed opportunity.

The force is equal and opposite

We know it's 'a long time ago', because clearly Newton has not been born yet and written the rules for motion for everyone to follow :) Star Wars is far from unique in this sin, but these are plane fights, not space craft fights. Without air, how do they manoeuvre in space like that? And why don't they keep accelerating, given their engines are always pushing them forward?

Not having Newton also makes the super weapon possible: the idea that you can take a sun and stick it inside a planet without any effect is 'don't open the door, you'll let the space in!' time on so many levels.

Credit, credit, credit in a rich humanoid's galaxy

I know few other people will ever care about this one, but the economics of the Star Wars universe are almost as bad as the physics. In a civilization where even small spacecraft can do faster than light travel and take off / land on planets more or less at will, energy is clearly incredibly cheap. So why don't we see this reflected anywhere else? Incredibly cheap energy = incredibly cheap other stuff.

Hans... are we the baddies?

Having a stormtrooper character be - for the want of a better word - human, with a conscience, is probably the most interesting thing that's happened in the series. (It's a pity that, in a galaxy where everyone is happy to talk about R2-D2, C-3PO, BB-whatever the new toy range is called, a white guy decides to rename a black guy called FN-2187 without, you know, asking what he'd like to be called.)

Unfortunately, that's almost the only interesting thing. Most of the rest is comes from putting the scripts of IV and, to a lesser extent, V through a search and replace function of a word processor, then doing some cut and paste. Clearly, and sadly, that's what the fan base really wants, especially after the pain of I, II and III.

* Yes, I know those are Earth-centric too.

This entry was originally posted at http://lovingboth.dreamwidth.org/556911.html, because despite having a permanent account, I have had enough of LJ's current owners trying to be evil. Please comment there using OpenID - comment count unavailable have and if you have an LJ account, you can use it for your OpenID account. Or just join Dreamwidth! It only took a couple of minutes to copy all my entries here to there.

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