What many fans saw as a copy cat of Star Wars New Hope, I actually took was part of a long history of Star Wars formula.
George Lucas used a similar formula with the Prequel Trilogy thus seeing something similar in the Sequel Trilogy wasn’t that surprising. If you compare The Phantom Menace to A New Hope you see several formulaic concepts: the discovery of a threat to peace, an rescue mission, a introduction of a main character through accident, an old mentor dies, a big battle to help liberate the galaxy (or planet) and a big celebration ceremony. See, those two movies were very similar. Yet, I will admit that formula went a little bit too far with The Force Awakens and did appear to be a remake of A New Hope. The first strike.
The movie opened with a problem. Luke is missing. The First Order has risen and taken advantage of the disappearance of Luke. Yet, I think the movie wasn’t clear on what it was meant to do. Why’s Luke missing? And how did the First Order become so powerful just because Luke disappeared? Why isn’t there a new Jedi Order helping protect the Galaxy?
The Star Killer Base, this trilogy’s version of the Death Star, is literally thrown in with no real reason to the story elements we were introduced to in the opening crawl. It felt like JJ Abrams was like “oh yeah, I need a Death Star-like thing to be the threat to everyone.” If the First Order arose and became a galactic threat since Luke disappeared, how long has Luke been gone? Was it weeks? Years? Decades? We never know. We have to know its been a while because the First Order has had time to raise massive amounts of capital, built a fleet of Star Destroyers, and had time to convert a planet into a gigantic laser gun. This can’t just be done in a few short years.
With oblivious plot holes, I never really believed the First Order as a real threat to our characters. Nor did I understand how they got so powerful when the Republic was still governing the galaxy. Was this something like Cobra was to G.I. Joe? I believe this is why fans critiqued the First Order so much. In 1977, we didn’t know the specifics how the Empire was born, and we didn’t need to know actually. But when we know how the characters defeated the Empire, to see a new clone of the Empire arise, the audience needs a bit of back story. Thus, I think the film’s villain (i.e. the Empire in OT and now the First Order in TFA) is cliche trope. There were so many other threats our old and new characters could have faced.
So, where else did The Force Awakens stray? …..