Ok. Allow me to start this article off by saying—I LOVED THE FORCE AWAKENS.
I thought it was fun, fresh and a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon.
I think it pays respect to the established world and characters while introducing and effortlessly handing over the franchise reigns to new characters.
The things that work REALLY well in the Force Awakens are the characters- their arcs, their development their interactions with each other, it’s all really really good cinema. You believe their comradery, you root for their causes and want to see them succeed.
So, Let’s get into the Fixing.
To be honest– I think most of the problems come from the third act.
First let me say that- I would’ve set Fin up to be a little more of a red herring. I would’ve really played more on the “He was able to overcome his programming” and hint a little more that maybe it was a Force thing. Couple that with Maz Kanada really studying him in that scene at her cantina, and maybe she can even say that she REALLY senses the Force strong in him (although in reality she’s sensing Rey).
So let’s jump to the Starkiller Base destroying Coruscant. Yes, Coruscant. Make that clear. Coruscant should still be the Republic’s capital– it makes no sense to change it. Perhaps even have a scene set in Coruscant earlier in the movie where we’re introduced to a character who lives on the planet and helps our heroes. Creating even a small amount of personal investment will make the destruction of Coruscant have that much more impact.
Anyway, The blast from the Starkiller base is fast approaching. Cut to the perspective of the Coruscantians seeing their doom light up the night sky. Oh hey, it’s that character we met earlier in the movie who helped our heroes… oh crap. BOOM.
Coruscant is obliterated.
In the meantime the First Order attacks Takodana, where Han, Chewie and Fin are saved by the Resistance X-wing fighters. This all plays out the same way we got it in the theatrical release. Poe has his valiant return and Rey is captured by Kylo Ren.
But here’s what I WOULD change in that sequence. One of 2 things- EITHER, make Phasma the trooper who yells “TRAITOR” and uses the anti-lightsaber weapon against Fin. Or get rid of Phasma all together and make TR-8R someone who Fin interacts with before he defects.
But other than that, Things play out as we’ve seen. They fend off the First Order, Leia shows up and they go back to the Resistance base on D’Qar.
Kylo Ren interrogates Rey as the First Order prepares to fire on D’Qar, while the Resistance devises a plan to destroy the Starkiller base.
Here’s where things start to change a little more.
Fin says he knows how to take down the shields on the base, so Chewie, Han and him take off to infiltrate the base. But after they get there, and Fin reveals that he in fact DOESN’T know how to turn off the shields, he lied only to save Rey… There will be consequences for that later.
There are too many coincidences that help our heroes along. Coincidences should never work in favor for your heroes. It’s lazy writing. All of the protagonists successes should be earned.
I like the scene where Rey tries to mind trick the Stormtrooper, but for the sake of Fin as a bit of a red herring, I’d cut it a little short. Rey tries to mind trick him and he comes in and says the line about “tightening her restraints”, and then she tries again and we show the trooper looking at her for a moment and then.. just cut. Leave it vague.
Meanwhile Han, Chewie and Fin are searching for Rey and perhaps they run into Phasma (or TR-8R if that’s the route we went), but instead of it being convenient (and instead of Phasma being a freaking PUSHOVER), we get some conflict between her and Fin. Maybe they have a fight.
Fin gets the upper hand and you think that perhaps Phasma is going to comply and help them lower the shields. Fin has a blaster to her head… finger on the trigger. But she calls his bluff. She’s seen him in combat… she tells him that he doesn’t have what it takes to pull that trigger. Phasma reaches up and hits a different button. An alarm. Han doesn’t hesitate- he blasts Phasma, and they run.
Now the base is alerted to intruders- the stakes are raised.
Kylo Ren hears the alert and goes back to find Rey has escaped. He’s pissed.
Fin, Han and Chewie find Rey just like they do in the theatrical release, but meanwhile we see that Phasma is not dead. Hurt, but not dead. She reports back that Han Solo and Fin are on the base and the Resistance fighters are on their way.
As Han and the rest are trying to make their way off the base and back to the Falcon so they can radio and warn everyone at the Resistance Base on D’Qar that they need to evacuate, Han see Kylo.
This plays out the same as the theatrical release. Kylo kills Han. Rey and Fin run.
As the Resistance X-wing fighters approach the Starkiller base, they’re ambushed by a fleet of TIE fighters. In the midst of the battle, Poe radios back to the Resistance and tells them that the empire was ready for them, and the shields are not disabled– He tells them to evacuate.
As the Resistance X-Wing fighters battle the First Order, Kylo Ren catches up with Fin and Rey.
Kylo is injured both physically and mentally but he easily force throws Rey and then battles Fin.
It’s all been leading up to this- Kylo vs. Finn. But at the pinnacle moment- Kylo overpowers Finn, delivering a devastating blow. Badly wounded, Fin is unconscious. Kylo reaches for Luke’s Saber through the force
The light saber wiggles and breaks free of the snow, flying past Kylo and into REY’S hands.
Right, just like in the theatrical release– except instead of them having a big battle (that is much better saved for the second film AFTER Rey has had a bit of Jedi training), Kylo is caught off guard, Rey goes on the offensive immediately and gets a lucky shot in across Kylo’s face… but before he can unleash his rage all over little Rey, Kylo is shot by Chewbacca- again.
Chewie helps Rey get Fin to the Falcon which he landed nearby.
They escape just as the Starkiller shoots its beam toward D’Qar.
Leia and a few others from the Resistance narrowly escape the destruction of the planet.
Poe and what’s left of the Resistance fighters along with Chewie, Rey and Fin meet at a secondary back up base. Leia and those who escaped D’Qar are there as well. It’s here where R2 finally wakes up and the location of Luke is revealed.
So Rey, Chewie and R2 go to find Luke and the movie ends the same way the Theatrical release did.
But it’s a little more bittersweet and differentiates itself from A New Hope.
Rey has discovered the Force and they’ve found Luke, but the Resistance have failed their mission and are now much more vulnerable.
Their only hope truly now rests in this girl… Rey.