In case you’re not totally aware, this Wednesday is May 4th, which is also known as May the Fourth, which is also known as The Day That Lots of Random Star Wars Stuff Is Announced For No Reason in Particular Other Than "May the Fourth" Sounds Like "May The Force." In what appears to be a ramp up to that most special of days, Disney has released a video of Star Wars: The Force Awakens told entirely as one big emoji-filled texting extravaganza. Of course, it’s delightful; it's Star Wars. But is Disney’s claim that this is The Force Awakens in emoji really accurate?
I know what you’re saying. Bryan, Disney just released something adorable and cute and it looks like it all takes place on iMessage and some scary Samsung tablet. It’s got music that we love and Millennium Falcon noises. Stop being an internet grump and just enjoy it. Don’t be the reason why we can’t have nice things.
And to that, I say: You are right. It does have cool music and noises, and I love little cartoon thingies that make grown-ups look like weird children as much as anyone. Hell, I used to watch Muppet Babies all the time, and I loved that crazy shit, including the intro credits when Star Wars actually appeared with the Muppet Babies. So I'm cool. I'm with it. But this is Star Wars, dammit, and if we’re going to talk about it during the week of May the Fourth, we have to take these things seriously. And I’m sad to say that there are some glaring flaws in this little emoji expedition.
Jakku is not a wireless carrier
We start with a giant, 2001-esque iPhone standing in for the opening title crawl. The time is 12:18PM — the release date for The Force Awakens. But the magic iPhone has full bars in space (-1 point for lack of realism), and its wireless carrier is listed as Jakku. As everyone knows, there is no space-based wireless carrier named Jakku in the Star Wars universe. As it has been stated from very early on, Jakku is a planet. (And if anything, Star Wars space phones would probably be on the HoloNet, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Come on, Disney. You own Lucasfilm. I’m pretty sure they’d be happy to help with some research.
Disregard that scene with the Stormtroopers killing everyone
(Doesn’t) Appear: 0:17
Storytelling 101, people
The real Force Awakens kicks off with a bunch of Stormtroopers taking out an entire village, which creates a crisis of conscious (and courage) for Finn, who then escapes the First Order with the help of ace hotshot pilot Poe Dameron. Only here, those events are nowhere to be found. Instead Finn just shows up from a TIE Fighter and starts hanging with Rey. I know there’s no Bloody First Order Helmet emoji in the official lineup, but you can’t have an emotional pay off in your emoji movie unless you set it up. Storytelling 101, people.
Takodana is also not a wireless carrier
Han takes the Falcon and the rest of the team to visit Maz, and again we see a wireless carrier name: Takodana. I don’t know who didn’t read the script, but that was the name of the planet Maz lived on, not her carrier. Didn't anybody proof this thing?
What tablet is that anyway?
We suddenly head on over to Starkiller Base, which is portrayed as a giant Samsung-esque tablet, complete with square home button. But the screen also has the modern iPhone "slide to unlock" text. Where am I — outer space, or a patent trial?
Poe ex machina
When it looks like Han and the gang are cooked, an X-wing pilot shows up to take out the extra Stormtroopers. Awesome! Except that, as noted above, the character of Poe was never established. So instead we have some random pilot showing up, shooting people, and then winking at our heroes. And let’s be real: you can’t see an X-wing pilot wink when you’re on the ground.
When is an emoji not an emoji?
After Random Pilot That Should Be Poe But Isn’t shows up, infamous First Order Stormtrooper FN-2199 gets texted into the proceedings, complete with twirling baton action. It’s a stellar addition to an emoji adventure! Except emojis don’t have cycled animations! Those are called GIFs!
Seriously, it’s like one of my parents put this thing together.
Way to miss the subtle subtext
In The Force Awakens, the moment when Han and Leia reunite is filled with longing and regret. They’re both pleased to see one another, of course; some yearnings of the heart never die. But it’s also colored by the years that have passed, their separation, and the loss of their son. In the emoji version, they just touch heads and smile. It’s classic Happy Face Emoji, but it also misses the subtle nuance that has always powered the Han-Leia dynamic. A more accurate choice would have been a one-two punch of Pensive Face followed shortly by Relieved Face.
I know, I know; it’s not cool to go all Monday morning emoji director, but I know Han and Leia when I see them.
There are no emoji in Settings
Kylo Ren takes off his mask and interrogates Rey inside the Settings app, even though emoji characters aren’t really present in the Settings app on iOS. And it’s not even close; if you told me that she somehow escaped from Emoji World into the Keyboard section of the Settings app, that would have at least made some sort of intuitive sense. But simply dropping their encounter here because it looks cool is that exact type of thing that pulls you out of an emoji movie, and something we see far too much of in modern Hollywood emoji blockbusters. I only hope Sony is paying attention to these mistakes.
Call the lightsaber continuity department
Toward the end of the film, it’s time for the climactic battle between Rey and Kylo Ren. She force-grabs the Skywalker lightsaber, turns it on, and it is… aqua.
Bryan, why should we care, you’re asking. It’s blue-ish, and that’s all that matters. Well I’m here to tell you: no, that is not all that matters, and I’ll accept your apologies now, thank you. Because the colors of the Skywalker saber have a distinct and recognized lineage, and you can’t just swap them around anymore than you could put Darth Maul’s double-bladed saber into the hands of Aayla Secura. It would be chaos!
In the original Star Wars, Luke’s saber shows up as either aqua or white, thanks to some inconsistencies in the visual effects done at the time. In The Empire Strike Back, it’s a more traditional straightforward blue. In the prequels, the blades got even more blue, and in The Force Awakens, they’re somewhere in the middle. So you see, Force Awakens Emoji Movie, when you make the lightsaber aqua you’re actually calling back to a different time, and evoking a different kind of character. And you’re not telling the story of some whiny farm kid who wants to buy power converters with his loser friends. You’re telling the story of a desert scavenger with a mysterious past who gets the Skywalker saber to fight Kylo Ren, and that lightsaber is blue.
(I am also available for freelance lightsaber color consulting. Find me on Twitter at @bcbishop.)
Watch out for the surge pricing
In the very best moment of the emoji version, Chewbacca shows up to save Rey in an Uber notification called "Chewber." This is amazing and fantastic on every level, save one: Chewie has a 4.8 rating. Nonsense. Chewbacca would either have a 5-star rating from Han, or Han would get the ratings himself — and he’d probably have pulled one or two stars, given that everybody in Star Wars except the Rebellion and Han himself all seem to think he’s a terrible, despicable pilot that never really comes through.
But Chewie is too much of a scoundrel to be on something like Uber anyway. That’s like saying Han and Leia met on Tinder. Which, now that I think about it, would actually make for a really good short film. Just make sure to get the little things right, okay?