There’s an old adage which says that social justice activists will take years and even decades to understand things that normal people can recognize instantly. Four years after The Force Awakens, the legacy media is now starting to see Captain Phasma for the garbage character that it was.
Bill Keveney of USA Today spends some time gushing over Gwendoline Christie’s Game Of Thrones character before laying into her Captain Phasma portrayal:
By comparison, Christie’s “Star Wars” character, Captain Phasma, is the very worst of the warrior class in the saga’s two most recent sequel trilogy films, “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi.” She’s laughably bad in “Force,” the human equivalent of the fatal design flaw built into every planet-sized Empire/First Order battle station.
How can that be? First, let’s not blame Christie for Phasma. The minds behind “Star Wars” poorly served the English actress with a character who’s equal parts mean-spirited, inept and dull. She’s the worst of the Stormtroopers, and that’s saying something, as they’re the ever-disposable Keystone Kops of intergalactic warfare.
Christie radiates dignity as Brienne, but that’s all blocked with Phasma, who is hidden behind a deadening mask. Take away an actor’s tools of expression, their face and eyes, and the character is diminished. Darth Vader is the exception that proves the rule, because of the one-of-a-kind voice of James Earl Jones, although another actor wears the costume.
As Brienne goes high, Phasma always goes low. As a “Star Wars” villain, she’s up to no good, of course, but the character is lowbrow even for a bad guy. She falls into the weak, just-following-orders camp when she passes along Kylo Ren’s instruction for the Stormtroopers to kill unarmed villagers and, overall, seems to just be punching the clock for Evil Inc.
In “Last Jedi,”Phasma, despite her superior armor, size and military training, gets sucker-sabered by Finn and falls into an inferno.
While Brienne’s mistakes don’t diminish her dignity and are tempered by triumphs, Phasma is defined by failure: Her inability to recondition Finn as a Stormtrooper or that she lets dangerous Resistance pilot Poe Dameron escape. She commits arguably the most cowardly act in “Star Wars,” too, by turning off Starkiller Base’s defensive shields under threat of death from Finn, Chewbacca and Han Solo, ensuring its destruction. In a world where so many sacrifice their lives for a cause – even a bad one – Phasma symbolizes cowardly capitulation. Fittingly, Phasma was thrown into a trash compactor at the end of “Force,” but (sadly) she was recycled in “Last Jedi.” (Her action in “Force” is so jaw-dropping that some fans surmised she was secretly part of the Resistance, a theory disproven in “Last Jedi.”)
The last time we saw Phasma, her malicious effort to kill Finn blew up in her face. With the help of an elevator lift, Finn surprised the inept captain, who appeared to plunge to her fiery death. Fans assumed Phasma was dead – which John Boyega (Finn) confirmed at last month’s Star Wars Celebration – but no one seemed to care all that much.
Now before anyone starts getting angry about sexism and/or misogyny, readers should know that Keveney was at least interested in The Last Jedi thanks to the Pikachu knock-offs known as porgs.
— Bill Keveney (@billkev) October 10, 2017
What Bill Keveney thinks of The Last Jedi as a whole is uncertain, as I haven’t been able to find a review of the film from him.
Originally published here.