Warning: This article contains 'The Force Awakens' spoilers!
For the most part, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens has been heralded the world over as a major success and a return to form for the much beloved Star Wars franchise. Fans, young and old, as well as many celebrities have all headed online to sing the praises of J.J. Abrams's Star Wars universe debut. However, is there now a disturbance in the force?
If you frequent pop culture websites as often as I do, you may have noticed that not all the reactions to Star Wars have been positive. Scattered around various forums, boards and comment sections it's not unusual to see lengthy, and often articulate, reviews which criticize The Force Awakens. Common complaints mark it as a "New Hope rehash," while others decry it as "cynical cashing-in on nostalgia." Now it seems the followers of this opinion have finally got their celebrity standard-bearer: Impractical Jokers' Brian Quinn.
Quinn headed onto the Tell-Em Steve-Dave podcast, which he co-hosts with Bryan Johnson and Walt Flanagan, and proceeded to deliver quite a passionate diatribe against Episode VII. The main crux of his argument seems to be that The Force Awakens is simply "more bleak and depressing than Fight Club" and a "slam on the characters."
The full podcast can be listened to here (the Star Wars discussion starts around 21:00), but here for your pleasure are the choicest cuts of conversation.
Of particular concern to Quinn was the fact The Force Awakens seemed to throw away the success that was gained by the rebels and the alliance at the end of Return of the Jedi — especially concerning the character of Han Solo. He explains:
"They've taken every victory at the end of Jedi and completely thrown it out the window. I was like, Han Solo has spent at least the past few years of his fucking life wandering around broke and penniless and depressed. They took the Millennium Falcon from him!"
"They were heroes and he was a general, and now he's just wandering around space as an old man. It's just so depressing."
Furthermore, his criticisms weren't limited to Han Solo; the same, he claims can also be said for Luke. In particular, he thinks The Force Awakens has retroactively ruined the end of Return of the Jedi, adding:
"Now when you watch Jedi you're gonna know that Luke's gonna fuck up and get a bunch of kids killed."
However, his opinion didn't go unchallenged. Co-host Walt Flanagan fired back:
"At the end of Return of the Jedi, they're celebrating not the end of the war, they're celebrating the end of a battle in the war. So it's Star WARS! Most people who fight a war their entire lives are not going to end up on a sunny beach with popsicles and rainbows."
But Quinn was undeterred and went into more detail about how Episode VII had essentially destroyed the importance of the original trilogy. He continued:
"I'm not even complaining that the Empire is back, with a slightly different name, and they have a Death Star and nothing they did in the first three movies matters at fucking all, at this point. Because even Darth Vader's redemption meant nothing because his fucking grandson is out there still doing fucking evil shit in his name... Nothing fucking matters. Everything they did. Every victory they won was pointless."
Although both Quinn and Flanagan accepted they liked parts of the new film, even the former defender, Flanagan, ultimately criticized The Force Awakens — but for a slightly different reason. He claims the film was so micro-managed and tailored to appeal specifically to audience nostalgia, that everything which made the original movies great was stripped away. He added:
"Everything that happened was organic in 1977. No one was told to go outside and fucking line up around a block to watch a movie... Now every fucking minute detail is micro-managed and planned to the point where nothing is legitimate... The studio is like, 'If we do this, the sheep will do this.'"
"They don't want to say they don't like it because there's just too much love for it."
Of course, at the minute, Quinn seems to be in the minority concerning The Force Awakens (when it comes to the broad opinion expressed on social media, that is). It's worth noting that most critics also positively reviewed the film, although some notable publications, such as Slant did share the complaints of Quinn, with Sam C. Mac writing, "It exists less as a meaningful extension of its world than as a fan-service deployment device."
It will be interesting to see how history judges The Force Awakens, and it might be worth remembering that fan opinion immediately following the launch of The Phantom Menace was also largely positive (see the video above, for example). However, once the initial excitement dies down and the nostalgic dust settles a bit more, I wouldn't be surprised to see more critical opinions — like those expressed above — begin to take hold.