Fixing Star Wars The Force Awakens
Having just seen Star Wars The Force Awakens, I would have to agree with people that say the movie "just happens." With that said and in the interest of not wasting everyone's time, I just want to make a few recommendations to turn the movie into a spectacular movie on the order of Empire Strikes Back.
1) Cut the early dialog about Kylo Ren being Han Solo and Leia's son. It takes away from the mystique and it feels like a truly forced two-handed spoon-feeding to the audience, with shovel.
2) Cut the scenes with the supreme leader. They are unnecessary. Like those that were later added by Lucas to the remade originals, it detracts from the power of Kylo Ren and again subjugates men to a half-dead emperor. It is intriguing to have an emperor pulling the strings behind the scenes, but there is no intrigue if he is shown instructing people directly at every step rather than spinning the web.
3) Change the scene where Kylo Ren interrogates Rey. Kylo Ren keeps his helmet on and is cut off in his interrogation by some other event, perhaps feeling the rebels on the planet. The original scene weakens Ren. Imagine having Darth Vader remove his helmet every three scenes in the original Star Wars or in Empire, what a let down that would have been. Also showing Rey strong enough to resist Ren at this point it like jumping Luke from Tatooine to the end of Jedi in one scene.
4) Rey does not show her powers early. Cut her escape from the shackles and instead have Finn save her. This scene takes away from the big reveal of the force in Rey. Instead, in this case Finn could use his knowledge of the sanitation system to get to her and to lead her to safety.
5) Cut the Rey lightsaber dream crap and instead have Finn pick it up as the only weapon he finds while searching for a blaster again, this time in Maz Kanata's basement, when the stormtroopers arrive.
6) Change the Han Solo death scene into an event where Han Solo has to cross the bridge to get out of the Planet Death Star and he is blocked by Kylo Ren. Han gets stabbed and then removes the helmet of Kylo Ren and says "I'm sorry. My Son." Then Han drops into the abyss and pushes the detonator on the way down. Chewie, Rey and Finn witness the death from a distance and beat feat. (This is the only time when Ren has his helmet removed, only for an instant, and he never ever talks without it on.)
7) Change the Kylo Ren scene in the snow with Rey. Instead of Rey, Finn has an epic lightsaber battle with Ren, Jedi versus the former storm trooper, where Finn holds his own until Ren uses his power or just bests Finn, cutting him down the back. - This is important - Then when Ren reaches out his hand to pull the light saber, it flies past to Rey's hand. (Holding off with any show of the force by Rey until then.) The ground then separates from the planet falling apart with Ren separated from Rey and Finn. Chewie then flies in the Falcon to whisk the pair to safety.
8) Cut the final reveal of Skywalker, and end it with the man in a cloak or just with Rey leaving with Chewie on her way.
9) Shorten the talking to grandpa scene and just show Darth Vaders mask in Ren's place and Ren saying "I will finish what you started."
Kylo Ren as a Darth Vader type entity has been ruined completely, turning what could have been an powerful, menacing and mysterious character, into a whiner.
The big reveal of Rey's use of the force should be the the lightsaber flying past Ren and into her hand. Using this as Rey's only use of the force would be a truly dynamic and emotional relief scene that would have the audience on their feet.
Finn as an everyman who can handle a lightsaber who nearly holds his own with the powerful Ren would cement him as the bad ass Han Solo replacement that he should be. The parallel would be Luke Skywalker seeing Obi Wan Kenobi killed, but in this case it is the everyman and not the Jedi that carries the day.
This is just my two cents.
I would like to say that the CGI in this movie is incredibly well done. Also I could not imagine the incredible trial by committee that J.J. Abrams had to endure to reboot such an iconic movie series.