Star Wars 7: is Kylo Ren ‘too nice’ to be a villain? – The Week UK

Adam Driver has appeared on US comedy show Saturday Night Live as his Star Wars: The Force Awakens character Kylo Ren in a new skit that fans say shows the villain at his most endearing.

The sketch sees Ren taking part in the reality TV show Undercover Boss, posing as a low-level worker to gain insight into life for ordinary staff on Starkiller Base.

Why did Ren decide to take part? “You get so caught up in restoring the galaxy to its rightful state that you miss what’s going on behind the scenes,” he tells viewers.

Disguised as “Matt”, a radar technician, the undercover boss grills the Starkiller Base employees, fishing for compliments, before struggling to complete a few simple tasks.

He also offers his sympathy to a First Order officer whose son he killed, tells people that Ren has “an eight-pack” and uses the Force to settle a cafeteria dispute.

“It’s a fun sketch,” says AV Club‘s Sam Barsanti, “mostly because Driver maintains Kylo Ren’s violent intensity even while the people around him become increasingly suspicious of ‘Matt.'”

There may even be something to be learnt about the character’s future, says Beth Ryan at the Daily Telegraph.

“By the end of the sketch, we see a softer side to the villain, who finds himself ‘connecting’ with his behind-the-scenes staff,” she notes.

Fans agree, with one commenting: “I think the sketch worked because Kylo Ren’s whiny rage is one of his most endearing qualities.” While another notes Ren seemed “less able to control his temper” and that his “dramatic tantrums” visible in the sketch are another sign of his mental instability.

In fact, the character seems significantly more unhinged in the short than he did in The Force Awakens – which painted a relatively sympathetic portrait of the black-clad baddie. The movie’s climactic scene, where Ren confronts Solo on a bridge dramatically poised over a massive ventilation shaft is in fact quite tender, and Ren’s reaction to his lightsaber duel with Rey and Finn allows the character to express great vulnerability.

Some critics have said that Kylo Ren is too likeable to really be seen as a villain. This, according to Driver, may be because Ren is not fully committed to being bad.

“I feel there’s a recklessness about him that’s maybe not normally associated with the dark side,” Driver said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

“You normally think of order, and structure, and full commitment and no hesitation…he’s just a little bit more unpolished,” he added. “It’s in his costume, in his lightsaber – how you kind of get the sense that it could just not work at any moment; that it could just blow up. That’s kind of like a big metaphor for him.” 

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Star Wars 7: has Luke turned to the dark side?

14 January

As Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens continues to shatter box office records, fans around the world are returning to cinemas to see the film again, hoping to solve some of its many riddles.

Warning: spoilers ahead

JJ Abrams’ film wraps up some loose threads from the original trilogy, but introduces a bunch of intriguing new characters, each with their own story. Here are the six most interesting questions that won’t be answered until the release of Star Wars 8 in 2017.

Has Luke turned to the dark side?

One interesting theory that has been doing the rounds is that the real reason for Luke Skywalker’s disappearance is that he turned to the dark side of the Force and subsequently took himself into hiding.

The idea gathered steam in the lead-up to the film’s release last month, but has largely dissipated since then. Nevertheless, it remains a possibility, given the Skywalkers’ struggles with the twin sides of the Force. The three prequel films follow Anakin Skywalker’s fall from good to evil while in the original trilogy, as Darth Vader, he tries to convert his son Luke to the dark side.

The father and son’s climactic lightsaber battle in Return of the Jedi sees Luke struggling to control his anger. “Let the hate flow through you”, the Emperor coaxes.

After The Force Awakens was released, most Star Wars fans were convinced Luke hadn’t disappeared because he had turned to the dark side, but rather because “he feels as if he has failed”, says Dino-Ray Ramos on Bustle.

Not everyone is so convinced. In his article titled ‘How are we suppose to feel about Luke Skywalker?’ Cinemablend‘s Dirk Libbey argues the reason for his absence may be due to either cowardice or malevolence. “The truth about what kind of man Luke Skywalker is will still come out in future episodes,” Libbey concludes.

Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?

There are many theories about the new arch-villain pulling the strings in The Force Awakens.

Some theories suggest Supreme Leader Snoke is the Emperor, or possibly Darth Plagueis, a legendary Sith Lord referred to by Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith.

Others have suggested he may in fact be Darth Vader himself, noting that the scars on Snoke’s head appears in the exact same position as the respirationally challenged baddie.

Is Rey turning to the dark side of the Force?

Unlike Luke Skywalker, who takes a long time to get in touch with the Force in the original trilogy of Star Wars films, Rey’s powers seem to arrive incredibly swiftly. At the beginning of the film Rey is little more than a scavenger on a remote planet, searching the wrecks of fallen spaceships for scrap metal, but by the end of the film she is reading people’s thoughts, controlling their actions and winning a key lightsaber duel against a powerful enemy.

Many viewers might assume that Rey is in touch with the light side of the Force – but after Disney released the script of The Force Awakens to the Writers Guild of America for awards consideration, much more was revealed about Rey’s “awakening” to the Force. The film explores Kylo Ren’s struggle with the light side, but “in fact,” says Phillip Martinez for iDigitalTimes, “the script even goes even further to show that it is Rey, not Ren, that has a harder fight with the dark side.”

During the climactic battle between Rey and Kylo Ren at the end of the movie, the script says that that the young villain feared for his life, noting that Rey nearly killed him before she realised she was standing “on a greater edge than even the cliff — the edge of the dark side”. This leads Martinez to conclude: “It seems like Episode 8 will be dealing with Rey’s fight with the dark side.”

Is Han Solo definitely dead?

Towards the end of The Force Awakens, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo confronts son Kylo Ren on a bridge above a massive air shaft. Ren stabs his father through the chest and sends him plummeting into the abyss – but not all film buffs are convinced that is the last we will see of the loveable scoundrel.

Some, such as cinema site Bustle, say he may still be alive. Others, such as MoviePilot, suggest Ford will return in flashbacks and as a ghost.

“In order to help the audience understand Ben Solo’s journey, the best way to do this would be through flashbacks, and that’s definitely a way to include Han Solo. Visions and Force ghosts are other options, though as Han never trained as a Jedi, seeing him as a ghost is pretty unlikely.”

Is Rey definitely Luke’s daughter?

Rey was abandoned on the desert planet Jakku around the same time Luke went into hiding and is unusually gifted with the Force. It doesn’t take a genius to join those dots. But not everyone is convinced the story will wrap up as neatly as that. Instead, she may turn out to be the daughter of some other Jedi master, suggests Rodney Grundmeyer on Movie Pilot. “Rey could be the daughter of Jedi Knight Caleb Dume better known as Kannan on the television series ‘Rebels'”, he says.

How did Ben Solo become Kylo Ren?

In a tender scene between Han Solo and his estranged wife General Leia, it is revealed that their son, Ben, was submitted to Luke for training in the Force, but somewhere along the way he turned to the dark side. As film site Screen Rant says “it’s not explained but Snoke gets to Ben and turns him evil, so much so that he and the Knights of Ren butcher all the students at Luke’s academy.”

But questions remain as to why the character turned against his friends, his family and his training.

“Why does he consider Snoke wise?” Screen Rant asks, “and is he ignoring the fact that his grandfather actually turned back to the light at the end of Return of the Jedi? Luke and his parents must have taught Ben that.”

In an interview with IGN, Abrams offered a little more insight into the character’s motivation, explaining that Ren sees Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker as two separate entities. “Kylo Ren idolises Darth Vader, not Anakin Skywalker,” Abrams said. “He idolises what Vader represents and what Vader was trying to do. And the idea that Vader didn’t succeed, if you look at it from Ren’s point of view, he was seduced by the enemy and failed because of that seduction. So the idea is that Ren wants to complete the thing that Vader started.” 

All will be revealed in December 2017.

Star Wars 7 breaks box office record and looks to Oscars

7 January

Speculation is growing that Star Wars : The Force Awakens will win an Oscar this year after becoming North America’s all-time top-earning movie.

The JJ Abrams-directed film has brought in $758.2m (£520m) in 20 days, overtaking previous record-holder Avatar, which earned $760.5m (£521.7m) over seven months in 2009 to 2010.

But can the sci-fi hit build on its commercial success and attract critical recognition at the Oscars? A growing number of commentators believe so.

“The Force Awakens has instantly become a serious awards player, massive. It’s the most fascinating Oscar wild-card,” Tom O’Neil, editor of the awards website, tells USA Today.

“It could come up with the most nominations of any film, including best picture. And there’s a chance it could win if the Oscar Force is with this movie.”

Awards expert Dave Karger, from film site, believes The Force Awakens is “the movie on everyone’s awards list right now”.

He says it stands a good chance in this year’s best picture category, which is considered to be wide open. “This film is so well-received, if it gets nominated you have to consider it a possible winner,” he said.

Most commentators agree Oscars for less-prestigious categories such as best visual effects could be happy hunting ground for the seventh Star Wars film.

But some go further, predicting wins for the likes of best director and best supporting actor – a category which could see a fascinating veteran face-off between Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa.

Before fans get too excited, The Guardian‘s Nigel M Smith cautions that when it comes to the Oscars, “the Force is not strong with Star Wars”.

He adds: “The Force Awakens doesn’t push cinema in any new directions. Abrams’ film, while technically accomplished and emotionally satisfying, treads familiar ground in playing to the franchise’s enduring strengths.”

It could, he concedes, earn nominations, but adds: “Just don’t expect it to pull off a Titanic-sized triumph.”

That said, the franchise has form. The original Star Wars film, released in 1977, attracted 11 Oscar nominations including best picture, best supporting actor for Alec Guinness and best director for George Lucas. It won in seven categories.

However, subsequent instalments fared less well. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi earned fewer nominations and just a handful of wins, while none of the maligned prequels won an Academy Award.