I will admit that my judgement of Kylo Ren may have been tainted by my intense dislike of the post-NJO EU. Basically, his character was such a dead ringer for Jacen / Darth Caedus that it more or less threw in some dissonance about who he really was.Channel72 wrote:I thought Kylo Ren was actually very well done. Basically, there's simply no way you can possibly top Darth Vader as a villain, so why even try? Any attempt to do so will simply result in ridicule from the audicence. So instead, the writers wisely tried to depict a lesser villain, who is scary not because of his cold, ruthless competence like Vader, but because he is literally a fanatical psychopath who is calm at one moment and then brutally, ragefully violent the next. In some ways he is even scarier than Vader, because at least with Vader you know you are dealing with someone rational. This guy is more like a violent fanatic with major insecurity problems who is prone to lash out in anger at any second. I think that aspect was very well done. And he wasn't "whiny" in any sense, like Anakin - for the most part he was very calm and collected, until he starts fucking up and then he just loses it.
And he clearly is supposed to have some redeeming qualities at first - unlike Vader who is fully comfortable in his evil - Kylo Ren clearly struggles with feelings of compassion and kindness, which he hates because he feels they make him weak. He is in fact so conflicted by these feelings that he feels the need to commit patricide in order to psychologically secure himself as a true student of the Dark Side.
Ignoring the similarities, in retrospect he does work as a villain. I'm not sure I'd rank him as a tragic character on the level of Oedipus or Hamlet, however. His backstory happens offscreen, with a presumably normal (as far as such things go in SW) childhood, then an abortive Jedi training with his uncle during which point he turned to the Dark Side and everything went downhill. Leia is (mistakenly?) convinced he can be redeemed, leading her to send Han off on a suicide mission to try and talk some sense into him.
The scene where they meet was well-written, the dialogue didn't feel forced, and the emotion (from Han anyway) felt real. At the same time, his prior behavior was, frankly, psychopathic. Sudden bursts of rage, the outward appearance of emotions, and the like all pointed to Han walking into a trap. It was obvious that whatever emotions he was showing were simply faked to bring Han closer so he could snap the trap shut. It's hard for me to say whether he was in fact struggling with any true feelings of compassion or kindness--his insecurity seemed to trace more to his own lack of finesse in the Force and his constant underestimation of his enemies.
So from that perspective, he definitely works. I don't think we've ever had a true psychopath shown in Star Wars. Kylo Ren is pretty much like Norman Bates inserted into Star Wars, with his obsession with his dead mother replaced with an obsession over his dead grandfather.
But that still doesn't make him a tragic character. Something must have happened in his childhood to damage his psyche to such an extent - you don't just flip a switch and become a psychopath overnight. He's about as unredeemable as you can get; I'm not sure how Leia could still sense the light in him if she hasn't seen him for years, and most likely that's just her feelings as a mother clouding her perceptions.
You're right, and I realized after posting that it was Maz Kanata's planet. Since the new EU basically follows the same hierarchy as the old EU (with the old EU simply being relegated to the dustbin) I'm going to say that the Visual Dictionary is flat-out wrong, and Maz Kanata's planet has to be in the Hosnian system. Never mind how strange it is that an undeveloped garden world would be in the same system as an ecumenopolis with multiple moons/space stations, unless it was consciously preserved for nature reasons/etc.Channel72 wrote:It wasn't visible from the Resistance base - it was visible from Maz Kanata's planet. But I can see how that would be confusing because both planets look like generic forest planets, and they quickly transition from the action on Maz Kanata's planet to the Resistance base planet. The only visually distinctive thing about the Resistance base planet is that it is shown to have large rings. (In an earlier draft of the script, apparently both were the same planet - and the planet was Yavin IV. Glad they changed that, at least.)
So it's not as absurd as you think - but still pretty absurd - that they're able to see the destruction of Hoznian Prime from the ground. I guess Maz Kanata's planet is in the Hoznian system for some reason, or at least, that's basically what we have to accept since JJ couldn't think of any other way to have the news about the Starkiller weapon firing spread to our main characters without having it visible in the sky. (Don't they have some kind of Galactic Internet that could inform them about major events or something?)
(Edit: That also gives a good reason why it wasn't targeted by Starkiller Base despite being in the same system: because Kylo Ren discovered BB-8 & the fugitives were on it and was en route to hunt them down.)
I am glad that they changed it from Yavin IV; even in the prequels it was irritating how things kept going back to Tatooine, a dustball farthest from the bright center of the universe. It's a bloody galaxy folks, there's plenty of room for variety (as we caught a glimpse of in ESB between Hoth, Bespin and Dagobah).