I think Spoilers are ok in comments… I just didn’t want to do it the main post. I’d certainly say “SPOILERS” first. But anyway:
1) I’m really curious as to what flaws you see…. Maybe she’s a little bit mean to Finn? A little…. But not really…. He is a stranger who just dropped out of the sky and tries to drag her around. She shouldn’t trust him at that point. And yes, she has a few abandonment issues which lead to her initial rejection of destiny. But those are nebulous.
Really, I think the thing is. JJ Abrams is a good writer. He’s dealing with something problematic and he did it in an above average way. But That still doesn’t make her a truly compelling character *in THIS film*. I think in franchise world of 2015, we are very quick to say “oh well, there’s more in the next movie that we’ll see in 2 years” but I don’t think that’s a good thing. The movie needs to stand on its own. And this really didn’t. Empire is the best of the films and it’s also the most incomplete until this one because of the cliff hanger ending, but the narrative of Empire *feels* fully formed and the characters feel real in a way Rey (and honestly, the boys too…. but she’s the main character) aren’t.
But it’s not so much about not having flaws as it is about being perfect. She’s an athlete. That I buy. But she’s also an expert pilot, she fixes the Millennium Falcon, in flight, while rolling around, she’s clearly never fired a gun, but is as good a shot as anyone else, she masters force hypnosis in 3 tries. She masters light saber combat in like five minutes. Seriously, granting that Kylo is NOT Darth Vader and an easier opponent, he’s still a Jedi/Sith and has practice. And Rey was better in that fight than Luke has ever been. Actually… so was Finn (so really, that’s a difference in film making styles between 1983 and 2015…. but still it’s an issue)
I’m not even saying it’s “bad.” It’s what we’re looking for in this film. But She is a Mary Sue. She doesn’t have the emotional depth of a more fully formed character. I don’t think that’s bad. I don’t think she’s supposed to. Remember, I liked the movie SuckerPunch too. This was better than that.. Basically, I think she was Die Hard 4&5 John McClane rather than Die Hard 1 John McClane.
2) Luke is whiny, but Luke also isn’t good at most things. Yes he’s a good pilot. And he’s OK with a blaster, but that’s about it. He has to work hard. Whiny is a big part of that. But he’s also a pretty bad Jedi. What works about the film is that it doesn’t matter if he’s bad. He’s the only one. I think over the years we sort of build him up because he’s the hero. But he isn’t GOOD at Jedi’ing. He’s a kid with 5 days of training. He struggles. Like you said, weakness to Wampas!
It’s just a different message. At the end of the day, the message of the original trilogy is really “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Luke cannot win without Obi Wan, Han, Leia, Chewie, R2, Lando and in the end even C3PO and Vader. He needs every person he meets on the journey from the beginning til the end.
Rey’s message is that “this girl kicks ass!” Finn is ultimately inconsequential and… Han, while she likes him, doesn’t really mentor her the same way Ben does with Luke (she even tells him that she can take care of herself and he agrees… Luke never could and Han was always quick to point that out). Unless I’m misremembering… she never actually shares a scene with Poe. The only person who’s help she ever ACTUALLY needs is Chewie to pick her up on the Falcon after the big battle, and I sort of feel like she might have been able to figure something out if he hadn’t.
These aren’t BAD things. It’s a different movie. It’s a movie about a kick-ass heroine rather than a putzy farm boy. But remember, we used to always call the base story of Star Wars “hapless wonder saves the world.” And this isn’t that. She’s not hapless… She got hap bursting out of her ears. Where Luke is a hero like Katniss or Harry Potter, Rey is more of a Rocky type… if you skipped all the way to Rocky III at the start. And that’s not necessarily BAD but it might not be as good.