I am more excited for Star Wars The Force Awakens than I have been for any movie since The Return of the King—no probably more. I greedily devour every bit of legit news that I’ve read, snack on the rumors, and watch the trailers over and over again—my wife has accused me of being obsessed. Like most fans, the prequels really let me down. Not so much for the bad writing, the unfocused, confusing plot, or even the unintentionally racist slave parody called Jar Jar Binks.
The real reason I felt let down is because there was SO much potential to the story that I felt was wasted.
The Star Wars universe is easily the greatest world-build since Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The plot and character arc possibilities are as endless as the stars in that galaxy far far away. Now, I could write pages about all of Lucas’s missed opportunities for story depth and development, but I won’t. My focus in this rant is the Force, and what it can really do!
We heard over and over again in the movies (especially the prequels) about how “strong” or how “powerful” Anakin was. In fact, he was so powerful that the Jedi Council initially forbade his training.
But as my editors always tell me when they’re tearing apart my manuscripts, “SHOW DON’T TELL!” Lucas didn’t do that with Anakin or really any of the other Jedi or Sith. For the original trilogy I always assumed this was due to special effect limitations, but the problem was even worse in the prequel trilogy even with all of its CG wizardry.
So let’s break it down. Taking only the movies, let’s list what powers a Force user can manifest:
- It can let a person move things with their thoughts, but it takes nearly all of a person’s concentration. Not too useful in a battle if you have to stop, close your eyes, and adopt a look of painful constipation to move something. In fact, the greatest display of Force telekinesis is Yoda lifting Luke’s X-Wing out of the Dagobah swamp. This fact is demonstrated in Luke’s battle with the Rancor and his having to resort to throwing a skull to hit the button that dropped the gate on the monster’s head. Why couldn’t he have just “used the Force?”
- It can let someone sense people’s thoughts and emotions, even at great distances.
- With it, you can compel the weak minded to believe or obey you.
- If you’re bad, you can shoot electricity out of your fingertips.
- You can choke people (which is really just a variation on power number one).
That’s pretty much it, although it’s heavily implied that the Jedi and Sith use the Force to be faster and stronger than a normal person. I always assumed that’s why they didn’t slice off their own limbs with a poorly timed light saber swing.
So how do I think Lucas should’ve depicted the true power of the Force? That’s a tough question, because you don’t want it to be so flashy and absurdly powerful that it turns into a ridiculous Dragon Ball Z fight. Nor do you want the display of Force to be a serendipitous “get-out-of-jail-free-card” without rules or limitations. After carefully considering this matter, I propose the answer can be found in the 2008 hit game, “The Force Unleashed.” In that game, the protagonist, Starkiller, uses the Force in a variety of effective and creative ways: A repelling outward explosion, a blast of power from the hand, a lightning shield, ability to quickly levitate and throw large objects (like Stormtroopers), the ability to heal himself, superhero level strength and speed. If you haven’t played the game, this video will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Now THAT is what a powerful Jedi looks like.
So do I think J.J. Abrams will give us some Starkiller-style Force action in the new movie? Probably not. Videogame powers don’t always translate well to the big screen. But I am hoping, with the title “The Force Awakens,” we’ll get to see a better representation of what the Force really can do, especially in battle. So, I now end my rant with this profound thought: 15 MORE DAYS!