It's been a month, and I've seen The Force Awakens 6 times now, so I have a couple suggestions for when they Lucas-ize and re-edit the movie:
- Leia should have hugged Chewie at the end. Rey cares about the well-being of Finn, and should be caring for him instead. Chewie and Leia are the ones who just lost someone they loved.
- It should have been Hux instead of Phasma who was captured and lowered the shields. Hux seems much more like the foppish technocrat, who would lower the shields out of cowardice, and then justify to himself by saying that the hero's plan is stupid and won't work.
- It should have been Phasma instead of some random stormtrooper who fought Finn. And the fight should have ended the same way - Phasma being shot by the bowcaster, and thrown from the fight, apparently dead. Except she doesn't die because a) it establishes that her armor is special and better than standard trooper armor b) establishes that it's possible to survive the bowcaster, albeit grievously injured c) establishes that she's a badass. It also sets up a rivalry between Finn and Phasma for future movies.
- When Hux first suggests that they use Starkiller Base, it should have been more explicit that he intended to kick-start the war between the First Order and the Republic with a decapitation strike. If it had been suggested that the First Order had been building up for this confrontation, then it would have been a bit less random.
- Snoke should not have explicitly mentioned that Han Solo was Kylo's father during their bit of dialogue, since the two of them already know that. Let the dialogue naturaly suggest the connection between the two, leaving the audience wondering until...
- ....Kylo Ren should have briefly looked back at Han before boarding his shuttle. This should have been followed up by basically the same bit of dialogue with Leia, which would have been the parenthood reveal. This seems like a small change, but I think it would have been a great way to visually demonstrate the gulf that had developed between Han and his son.
- They needed like a 30 second dialogue between Leia and her liaison on Hosni Prime, to establish that a) the Resistance is *not* the republic army, but only a tolerated paramilitary group b) that the Republic fleet is anchored there, and c) that it's Hosni Prime that gets blown up, not Coruscant. It also would have made the planet destruction scene have a little more impact, because the character who dies there would have been something established instead of some random person. and finally...
- JJ Abrams doesn't know how big space is. Now, I can buy the explanation that Starkiller base shoots it's superlaser through hyperspace - there's even a throwaway bit of dialogue from Snap Wexley about that. Honestly, I can't get too hung up on the technical minutia of Star Wars superweapons. But what I cannot abide... is why the hell they can see the Hosni system being destroyed from Maz's castle (even with the bullshit "hyperspace echo" explanation). Because the REAL explanation is that JJ thinks the audience is stupid. All they would have to do is have everyone in Maz's castle suddenly start recieving desperate communications about the Republic capital being destroyed, and then a quick "breaking news" from the central hologram in Maz's tavern that everyone can crowd around and act all shocked (with our heroes on the perhipery, Finn being all like "omg, they did it"). Holy hell, does this bother me... not only in this movie, but in the Star Trek reboot where Spock can inexplicably see Vulcan from this random planet he's marooned on.
Other than that... after 6 viewings, I have a very positive opinion of The Force Awakens. I think people are forgetting a lot of the stilted dialogue, bad acting, and weird plot choices of the original trilogy - seriously, the plot of RotJ is such a fragmented mess, Billy Dee Williams is a shit actor, Alec Guiness has terrible dialogue. The new movie basically has all the strengths of the original trilogy, plus decent writing, and good actors. A lot is going to depend on where they go with episode 8 and 9, but if those movie maintain a similar level of quality, they will enhance the Force Awakens. If they suck, then a lot of the weaknesses of Ep7 will be exacerbated. I'm more optimistic than ever that the New Trilogy will be the best of the three, but we're not out of the woods yet...