The words “epic takedown” get thrown around a lot, but when it comes to filmmaker Matty Granger’s blistering rebuttal to the Huffington Post’s “40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,'” that normally hyperbolic phrase barely does it justice.
As Granger points out, some of Seth Abramson’s “plot holes” come from a simple failure to watch the movie closely enough. “11. Kylo Ren is the head of the Knights of Ren, but there are no other Knights of Ren in the movie”? Try watching Rey’s vision again. “4. Rey becomes nearly as effective a Force-user in a few hours as Luke Skywalker did in a few years”? Yeah, we’ve covered that one already.
But Granger gets at something more important, too. Like the “expert review” (aka “What X Gets Wrong About Y”), targeting supposed “plot holes” is a way for certain viewers to attempt to demonstrate their superiority over a movie. Most of the things Abramson cites as plot holes are just things he finds implausible or simply doesn’t like. As Granger writes, “[T]he ‘plot holes’ outlined in the Huffington Post‘s article are not plot holes at all. They’re simply things to which the reviewer willingly turned a blind eye due to the fact that he went in with a prepossessed notion of what he was going to write. His notion was so strong in fact, that he was able to completely overlook clear and obvious parts of the movie in order to back up the ‘facts’ of his dumb-shit, preconceived article.”
There are, to be sure, some lazy shortcuts in “The Force Awakens,” as well as a whole lot left dangling for future sequels to (presumably) clarify. For me, the acid test for whether a plot hole needs filling is whether doing so would add anything to the movie as a whole. No, we don’t know precisely how Finn finds his way out of the desert on Jakku, or how Kylo Ren ended up with Darth Vader’s melted helmet, but who cares? Leaving out information is as vital a part of storytelling as conveying it, and it allows the audience the pleasure of filling in some of the blanks themselves. You could fill every hole with narrative spackle, but the self-satisfied smuggos who get joy out of scanning movies for inconsistencies would just find other nits to pick.
Maybe Abramson himself agrees: 10 days after writing about the movie’s plot holes, he included among “10 Reasons Why ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Is the Best ‘Star Wars Movie Ever Made,” “8. The Force Awakens has no plot holes; it’s just in the uneviable [sic] position of having to continue telling one of the longest and most complex stories ever rendered on film, and having to do so within a two-hour runtime.” How did the movie’s “unforgivable” lapses become forgiven, and forgotten, in a week and a half? Now there’s a hole I’d like to see filled.