Following the midnight screening of The Force Awakens on Thursday, Pelican approached a group of moderate to Sebulba shirt-wearing Star Wars fans to participate in a roundtable discussion on their various thoughts, opinions and analyses regarding JJ Abrams latest franchise instalment.
The next day, the group handed over 30 pages of text from a reported 6-hour long Facebook conversation.
We read it all. It was grand. And we’re sorry you’ll never know the full glory of what went down that night (though neither will some of the writers, who apparently took turns napping throughout). But thirty pages really is a bit much, so we’re bringing you the “Best Bits” cut instead.
We did debate cleaning it up, grammar-wise. But we just found all those lower-case sentence-starters and full-stop indifferences too semantically freighted, and otherwise too charming to get all “I’m an Editor, see me do something with an apostrophe” about. The content below is thus brought to you in unadulterated form: rough, raw, and pure.
The group of six is made of up Samuel Montgomery, Wade McCagh, Ben Johnston, Patrick Marlborough, Isabel Norrie and Tom Rossiter.
Here is a 16-section glimpse into their Friday night.
*SPOILERS ALERT! duh.
1. ON SAM’S CAT
Samuel: my cats name is yoda if that helps
2. ON THE FRANCHISE
Wade: It’s basically IV with bits of Empire and a little Jedi mixed in. And again, it does make sense to do it like that and to do it in the first one so I’m not mad about it. It’s just hard to view it as anything more than a really solid foundation to build this new generation of films on, and retrospectively it will depend a lot on what comes next.
And I guess that’s what makes me slightly wary, how it’s already feeling very predictable and that we’re getting set up for a Marvel style linear progression that’s going to hit and miss along the way.
Ben: Yeah, i think it’s a broader problem with “franchise” film-making now. People used to complain about sequel-baiting, but now you watch a movie and it’s hard not to see the rest of a Five Year Plan unspooling forwards from it. But even more so than Marvel, Star Wars is a cultural institution and it carries so much weight. Making a movie for a fanbase with very specific wants would be very constraining.
3. ON HOW ABRAMS SET US UP (GOOD)
Samuel: i’ve seen a lot of discussion centred around the ‘it’s just the original trilogy in 1 film’, as if the return of Star Wars would be much more than fan service/nostalgia. It set up the next two films really well i think. It’s one of those movies that literally exists as a set-up for a sequel, but somehow didn’t leave me disappointed
Wade: Fact is, it’s really really fucking hard to do this and JJ Abrams is the ultimate safe set up man, and he’s done his part. Now it’s up to the youth to make or break it.
4. ON THE CAST
Patrick: All the new characters were great. Glad they didn’t lean too hard on the oldies to draw you in
Ben: i thought daisy ridley was probably the weakest performance of the main four, she was a little stiff but i also think she was given the least interesting role in some ways. john boyega was just fantastic, and the scenes with him and oscar isaacs were sooo good, they really had a great camaraderie together that felt a lot like the original trilogy
Samuel: Plus Daisy had almost only played a corpse beforehand so i think she did pretty well, if only a little wooden at times
Patrick: I think she was wooden in the star wars sense, like Luke was wooden. It’s almost a part of the Flash Gordon lite style
Wade: Yeah, nailed it. Luke-like in her sincerity.
Isabel: I’m surprised they didn’t cast bardoongle cumberbund because he apparently has to be every single weird looking villain now
Tom: Driver and the Batch in the same room would look too confusing
Wade: So much confusion about if they’re actually hot or not
5. ON HOW MUCH WAS FEM IN LOVE AND S’WARS
Isabel: I feel Rey is gonna be hella important in getting more young girls into Star Wars cause she’s the character I needed as a kid but didn’t get in the sense that I really wanted to be a girl Jedi
Tom: mm, I was constantly expecting her to be sidelined in the action scenes, but instead she carried them, and finn was left out
Isabel: Yeah that was what was super exciting and refreshing to me I kept expecting her to be relegated to a love interest but she GOT a love interest like Finn was her love interest
Ben: i loved when finn was trying to lead her and she yelled at him that she knew how to run without him holding her hand
Isabel: To be honest, I just get giddy every time a female character is allowed to be complex. I love that she kissed him and left him all sleeping beauty like to continue on her QUEST.
Ben: They also did a good job of making her competent but without making Finn an idiot. So often instead of making the smart character smart they just make everyone else dumb.
Wade: 100%, not a bumbling caricature.
6. ON SNAPEY FEELS
Samuel: Adam Driver was teenage snape. Played the angsty/angry and inexperienced bad guy very well
Patrick: Gonna be so much tumblr porn guys.
Wade: Yeah, I think Driver did really well with what he was given, but did we need more than one lightsaber rage quit?
Ben: i liked the tantrums and his vulnerability
Samuel: the one in the torture chamber was literally just for comedic effect. this was a much more ‘comedic’ star wars film. i should clarify that i mean intentionally comedic, not unintentionally comedic ala phantom menace
Ben: chewbacca has never been funnier
7. ON SAMURAI EMO SONS
Wade: Fights were amazing but I’m still not 100% sold on the saber hilt thing… even when it legit got used realistically. I don’t know, maybe I’ll come around
Tom: actually, before the film, I, along with everyone I know thought that Driver’s Red sabre with ‘crosshilt’ was the dumbest thing imaginable. But it kinda grew on me.
Isabel: He listens to my chemical romance for sure
Ben: I WEAR BLACK BECAUSE IT’S THE COLOUR OF MY HEART
Isabel: His whole vibe was ‘THIS ISN’T A PHASE DAD THIS IS WHO I AM’
Patrick: boy did he ram that point home
8. ON WHETHER ANYONE ELSE INITIALLY THOUGHT SUPREME COMMANDER SNOKE WAS A GIANT DUDE
Ben: did anyone else initially think supreme commander snoke was a giant dude?
9. ON AMBIGUOUS RUBBISH CHUTE FATALITIES
Wade: So, uhh, is gwendoline christie silver stormtrooper dead now or what?
Samuel: yeah that was hella strange
Wade: That character seems to really exist to look cool in a few scenes
Samuel: she just off-screen disappeared, no way she’s only in like 3 scenes in the entire series
Wade: Well, if they did put her in a trash compactor…
Samuel: we know how easy they are to escape wade
10. ON WIPES
Isabel: Ok I’m so glad the wipes were kept in
11. ON FIRST ORDER FASCIST RAGING
Isabel: Omg on that note how nazi was that address, with the literal nazi salute thing at the end? Like no going back from that, storm troopers confirmed nazis
Wade: Yeah, was going to bring that up. He really screamed that out
Ben: yeah, they really went full nuremberg on that one. i thought that speech was a bit too passionate for the way the character was otherwise set up
Tom: eh, I thought they were just overstretching the hitler comparisons, passion in aid of that
Isabel: Yeah obviously trying to do the hitler speech vibe so I just viewed it as part of that
Ben: yeah i get that, it just didn’t fit with how he acted the rest of the time
Isabel: Oh for sure. And do storm troopers really need riling up? Like their only purpose in life is killing etc so do they need a pep talk?
Wade: I like to think he was just so fucking hype after waiting to blow up some planets after all this building. He lost control a bit. Kind of a recurring theme amongst the First Order characters, a lack of emotional control
12. ON DARK SIDE FLOW (NOWHERE TO GO)
Ben: yeah, i think it’s important for the dark jedi guy to have someone around he can’t just strangle if they upset him. Vader was more interesting in a new hope, when tarkin was around. it really limits dramatic potential if every time a character gets upset instead of actually arguing they just choke the person who is bothering them to death
Wade: Yeah, plus now we get to see more lightsabers cutting shit up instead. Gotta vent that rage, dark side flow etc
Isabel: Is there some kind of evil quota that you have to fulfill in order to stay on the dark side? Like one choking per day minimum or your status is revoked ?
Wade: I think once you’ve been physically mutilated enough you get membership
13. ON HAN KNOWS WHEN THAT HOTLINE BEN
Wade: I was just glad they had the balls to do it. No going back
Sam: i guess leia really is leia solo now
Tom: it’s also a pretty good financial decision, I can’t imagine Harrison Ford is coming cheaply.
Ben: the way he reached out and touched kylo’s face after he got shanked : ‘ (
Isabel: Idk I just really felt the betrayal in the moment. Especially because I felt pretty emotional with leia and Han being upset
Ben: nooo it was a last moment of compassion. also i now will forever have access to han solo calling out my name
Tom: new text tone?
Wade: Every message, right in the heart
14. ON HAN’S RETURN
Isabel: I was waiting for Han resurrection in the last scene tbh
Tom: I honestly think it’s coming, film 3. Or right at the end of film 2. Han’s gonna come down some stairs and eat an apple
Ben: han is dead and he’s not coming back guys. it’s hard but we have to accept it
Tom: I choose to live in denial
Ben: did anyone cry at any point?
15. ON TEARS
Patrick: i cried at that picture of bb8 on the red carpet!
16. ON CINEMA VIBE
Ben: what was the vibe like at everyone’s screening?
Isabel: People clapped at the end of the film. Like, wow
Samuel: we had no clapping, but some spectacularly shitty cosplay
Tom: people clapped like several times in my screening
Isabel: People also cheered some Han jokes/when Han and chewie appeared
Wade: People clapped when Han appeared
Isabel: Lots of people were dressed up
Ben: we had a bit of cheering when the lucasfilm logo came up, that was about it i think
Patrick: ben our screening was weird, it was all men and teenage boys and we all like went into this stunned silence from the 5 minute mark
Ben: yeah, it was very much a case of being overwhelmed
Isabel: Such awe much wow
Wade: They clapped the “Long time ago” AND the titles
Tom: our screening tried to get a mexican wave going several times before the start. I was one of the only non-standers, there were about three hold-outs in a corner
Wade: Get the fuck out. We don’t serve your kind in here