Alright, right off the bat JJ Abrams did a substantial job with the Force Awakens. It could have been worst for fans, remember the prequels? For most of us, like me, I would not recommend starting a noob Star Wars fan onto those films.
So Why do hardcore Lucas film followers dislike the Force Awakens? Well for starters, as a hardcore Star Wars fanboy and in my childhood since 1982 I locked myself in my room after school watched the VHS versions on High Fidelity/High -FI! Well, to answer my own question is simple. JJ Abrams has a keen eye and strategy to take what has already been done, recreate the same scenes but putting a modern touch to it. Sounds simple? Well yes, it is that simple. When taking my mother to watch Force Awakens, whom she is Harrison Ford's generation, her response at the end of the movie was "damn, Han Solo is dead? this movie is just like the first one!"
My mother is not a hardcore Star Wars fan but like any good mother follows the movie story lines because her son watched it during his childhood. For someone that is not a hardcore fan and to identify that the Force Awakens is eerily similar to the New Hope, which in my mothers case IS the first Star Wars film, is astonishing. Here is a brief point out of some of the iconic New Hope and in some cased Empire Strikes back elements into the Force Awakens:
1. We all know opening scenes in Star Wars always have starships...but the planet..
Jakku-Desolate Desert Planet with a humble beginning lead character (Rey)
Tattooine- Desolate Desert Planet with a humble begnning lead character (Luke)
2. Escaping from corridor filled Storm Troopers
3. Cantina scenes are definately iconic
Old man Obi-Wan leads Luke into Cantina (1977)
Old man Han Solo leads new actors into similar scene with camera panning to despots with music and Cantina scene.
4. Ice planet with contingent with Super Weapon
Ice Planet- Episode V Empire Strikes Back
In addition an X-Wing Fighter squadron defending Resistance Base and attacking Super
Alright, you get the picture, there are a lot of scenes that JJ Abrams copied from the older movies. I hate to say "copy" but it HAD to be done. In order to make this movie successful the strategy in film making must create and recreate the themes and feelings of the first trilogy. In my opinion, this had to be done to not so much erase the distaste of the prequels fumbled by George Lucas but to capture that feeling of what Star Wars fans have been wanting and to recapture those older generation of Star Wars (like myself) back into a new generation of cast and villains.
Speaking of villains, the death of Han Solo had to be done.
“[Han Solo’s death is] this massive tradeoff. How can we possible do that!? But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”
Q&A JJ Abrams
The killing of Han Solo acts as the full birth of Kylo Ren, with the character proving to himself that he’s destined for the Dark Side. And yet it’s followed by this tender moment with a father touching his son’s face in his final moments. It’s this and Driver’s brilliantly complex performance that gives us hope that Kylo Ren could be one of (if not the) all-time great Star Wars villains, and his patricide only complicates his story/emotions further. In this way, the return of Han Solo is fully justified and sets the stage for a fantastic trajectory in the next two sequels. JJ Abrams had to villain-nize Kylo Ren from spoiled brat boy to super villain by doing the unthinkable by killing off his own father and one of Sci-Fi's most loved and iconic character.
I admit, my childhood memories of Han Solo were shot in the heart witnessing the fall of Han Solo. It is known that Harrison Ford did not want to be part of the Star Wars franchise anymore and what better ending for his character to be released than being killed off by his own son. It is a fitting Skywalker family scenario. In Han Solo's defense one can argue it was Leia that sent Han to his own death when she told him "Luke is a Jedi, your his father." Yah... O-k Leia way to make women more appealing by getting your man killed. However, one can argue that Han Solo's removal from the new trilogy is in question. His character and that unique acting quality of Harrison Ford, will be missing that comical scoundrel that actually made the original trilogy so special. This is why, in my opinion, Kylo Ren is still a little-bitch with parent issues. Unlike Anakin whom came from humble beginnings, trained as a Jedi, lost his forearm to Count Dooku, battled droids in the Clone Wars, was a General, and even killing off the Emperor to save his own son...YES Kylo your a bitch.
Regardless, JJ Abrams had to recapture everything in one film. He did, it could have been worst in some other despots hands, but definitely, the larger task and strategy facing JJ Abrams is to reestablish the most successful sequel in a trilogy of all time...The Empire Strikes Back. Episode 8 will have to be larger in screen play than the Force Awakens...a magnitude of stress and responsibility that Abrams has and I do hope the force is with him to nail Episode 8.