The Fix Awakens, or, How To Respect First-Time Moments In Storytelling

Early next year, I will be taking a class called Digital Video Editing, to learn how to use Adobe Premiere, and since today is the third anniversary of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I figured it would be cool to imagine what changes I would make to the film. This is a movie that has a lot going for it, but there are some not-so-good elements that weigh it down.

For example – and this is the biggest change – I would remove every instance of, what I call, Rey’s Mary-Sueness. In the film, Rey knows everything about everything and can do anything. This is why she’s an uncompelling character: She doesn’t learn and grow as the film progresses; she’s just perfect to the point of having the ability to use the Force without training. So, what I would do is ground her and make her into someone who doesn’t know everything and can struggle because of that. One scene in which this can be done is the scene in which Rey, using a blaster for the first time ever, misses one shot at a Stormtrooper then never misses ever again when firing at other Stormtroopers. I would have Rey taking that first shot, missing, then running away into the forest as the Stormtrooper continues firing on her. She wouldn’t shoot any Stormtroopers. With this alteration, rather than a Mary Sue who can do anything, Rey instantly becomes someone who can struggle. In addition, when she’s running for her life, there would be a genuine fear for her safety since Stormtroopers are firing at her, and she can’t shoot worth a damn. She can’t fight back. All she can do is run and hope to get away.

Don’t think I’m just picking on the ladies, though. There’s a definite Gary Stu moment Poe has in the film. During the First Order attack near Maz’s place, on Takodana, Poe shoots down six TIE fighters, a group of Stormtroopers on the ground, then another four TIE fighters within a whopping sixteen seconds! That’s just way too unrealistic for me to stomach. That feat of Gary-Stuness would have to go.

Another change to make to The Force Awakens has to do with the character of Kylo Ren. In short, I want him to wield an intimidating tone throughout the film. He can’t do that if Poe is comically asking him, “So, who talks first? Do you talk first? Do I talk first?” He can’t do that if he’s throwing temper tantrums. He can’t do that if he’s taking off his helmet for Rey while he has her held prisoner, which leads me to other major errors made in The Force Awakens: first-time moments.

The first time Kylo takes off his helmet should not be for Rey; it should be for his father, Han Solo. They have that moment between them in which Han is trying to convince him to come back to the good side. There’s plenty of history there between Kylo and Han, so there’s plenty of reason for Kylo to take off his helmet for Han. On the other hand, there’s no history between Kylo and Rey. She’s just another prisoner he wants to intimidate and extract information from. He shouldn’t remove his mask for her. How much more weight would that moment of removing his mask have had if the first time we saw it was with his father who was trying to save him?

Also, the first time Finn ignites Anakin’s lightsaber should not be against some random Stormtrooper who calls him a traitor. This is a legendary lightsaber with tons of history behind it. The first time we should see this lightsaber ignited is when Finn stands against Kylo Ren. That would be more symbolic since Kylo Ren is from the Skywalker bloodline, and Kylo, like Anakin, turned to the Dark Side. How much more weight would that ignition of Anakin’s lightsaber have had if the first time we saw it was when Finn faced off against Kylo Ren, someone with a lightsaber of his own?

Not to mention, the first time Rey uses the Force should be when she Force pulls that lightsaber away from Kylo. She shouldn’t be using the Force throughout the movie, especially in instances in which she overpowers others – such as Kylo as he’s mind-probing her or the Stormtrooper she Jedi Mind Tricks into releasing her – especially since she’s untrained (which directly connects to Rey’s Mary-Sueness). I feel it’s okay for her to use the Force with that Force pull because a) It’s only a Force pull, and Luke can do one without much training at the start of The Empire Strikes Back and b) Rey seems shocked that she accomplished the Force pull. In the context of the original film, though, her surprise seems unwarranted since she was able to use the Force previously to perform much greater feats. How much more weight would Rey using the Force have had if the first time we saw it was in a critical moment when she needed it most?

Speaking of Rey’s first moments, I feel that a wonderful first moment for her was completely messed up. When the Millennium Falcon lands on the grassy, water-filled planet Takodana, we get a nice shot of Rey jogging out and standing there to admire the beauty, but the film cuts away from this almost immediately to give us an unnecessary scene between Han and Finn. I would love to have seen Rey just smiling and playing in the grass and feeling the plants and running her fingers through the water, whipping her hand back-and-forth to make ripples that run across the stretch of the lake, before Han interrupts her to get her mind back on the mission. This is a girl who has lived, all her life, on a desert planet, and she doesn’t act like it.

Anyway, that’s what I’m looking to do now: video editing, and it’s fun to think about the changes I would make to films that I feel could’ve been better. Are there any films you enjoy but still have an urge to change, if you could? What films would those be, and how would you alter them?

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