Samuel L. Jackson's Big Issue With Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Although it’s breaking box office records left and right, inspiring fans to see it multiple times, and has earned almost entirely positive reviews, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a movie with its fair share of flaws and problems. Now that the initial hype has subsided to a degree, people are starting to talk about their issues with Episode VII, including members of the Star Wars family like Samuel L. Jackson.

Jackson played Jedi master Mace Windu in three Star Wars movies—The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith—and when he sat down with Peter Travers to talk about his new movie, Quentin Tarantino’s western The Hateful Eight, the subject of Star Wars: The Force Awakens understandably came up. When asked about his thoughts on the new chapter, Jackson was diplomatic, but said:

I think the kids need to go to lightsaber fight school, but… that’s just me thinking out. They got time to get better.

This is an issue that has been brought up by a number of people, that the lightsaber duels in George Lucas’ prequels were much more refined affairs that featured more technique and skill. While Jackson does have a point, there is a very good reason for this discrepancy.

During the time of the prequels, Jedi were plentiful and they trained in the ways of the Force, and in the use of the preferred weapon of the ancient order, since a very young age. By the time we saw any of them throwing down in any capacity, even the Padawans, they already had years of teaching and practice under their belts, so it makes sense they will have a more developed skill set.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, on the other hand, though Rey obviously has some combat skill of her own, as she shows off bludgeoning dudes unconscious with her staff on Jakku, she’s never handled a lightsaber before. She’s running off of pure emotion and desperation and rage, which shows in her approach. And though her opponent, Kylo Ren, has a fair amount of training of his own, by the time the clash, he’s wounded, emotional from just murdering his own father, and is kind of a wreck.

Even before The Force Awakens hit theaters, director J.J. Abrams told us to expect something more along the lines of what we saw rather than highly skilled duels. He called them "primitive" and "aggressive and rougher" than their predecessors, less about skill and more about emotion.

While we don’t know exactly what to expect from Star Wars moving forward, now that Rey has found Luke Skywalker, many assume that she’ll wind up getting some additional training with a lightsaber, among other things. So she most likely will essentially go back to lightsaber school.

Brent McKnight