I know there is a large portion of the Star Wars fandom that views this movie as one of the worst films ever made, they spout that large portions of it are unneccessary, that certain characters were added as ‘diversity’ hires, male characters are pushed to the background or made to look weak, etc, etc, etc.
I’m not one of those people.
I really enjoyed this film, felt that each of the new characters from The Force Awakens showed growth, was wowed by the visuals, and loved how Leia was presented. I honestly wasn’t as happy with where we found Luke at the beginning of the film, but as the story unfolded I understood why he had gotten to that point, and enjoyed watching him become the great hero again.
The opening sequence was great. It showed the cockiness of Poe Dameron, and the rabid narcissism of Hux. The conversation between the two of them was hilarious, which made the destruction of the Resistance bombers come as a shock. This movie was literally pulling the rug out from under you every chance it got, always trying to do what was unexpected. I enjoyed that this was not a Star Wars film that I could telegraph ahead of time.
I loved Carrie Fisher as Leia. She very much embodied the pragmatic leader, taking Poe to task for his reckless actions, and trying to hold what remained of the Resistance together so they could survive to fight another day. I even enjoyed her (reflexive?) display of power with the Force. We were told how much potential she had in Return of the Jedi, but to see it in action was kind of neat, even if it did look a little hokey. Episode IX will be weaker without her in it.
Mark Hamill put in an amazing performance as Luke, who has become a shell of his former self. Based on his earlier appearances I could actually draw a parallel to this, Luke was often a defeatist, especially during his training with Yoda, so to see him actually succumb to his insecurities was hard, but I did enjoy his curmudgeonly training. I also wasn’t bothered by the fact that he’d gotten here. He may be a Jedi Master, but he’s also got severe PTSD. His final act was brilliant, and I’m hoping we see him back as a Force Ghost in Episode IX.
Kylo Ren. I felt that Ben Solo actually showed the most growth in this film. He begins conflicted, holding his fire when he has an opportunity to blow out the bridge on the Republic Capital Ship and kill his mother, and by the end he has found purpose and confidence. I also loved how he fooled and killed Snoke. Over-confidence was always the downfall of Masters of the Dark-Side, and Snoke was no exception. Kylo Ren went from being a character I felt blase about to a villain I love. Cheers to Adam Driver on his performance.
I enjoy Rey. She’s focused, determined, and is essentially everything a Jedi should be. I don’t understand how people are shocked she’s an able fighter. She grew up on a planet that required her to learn how to defend herself just to survive. Combine that with her proficiency with the Force, and she’s formidable. She also seems to possess a determination that Luke never had, as well as an ability to confront the darkness within herself(represented by her feelings of abandonment).
Finn is great. I just love John Boyega’s portrayal of the former Stormtrooper who also has some issues with being a coward. I thought he could have been utilized a bit more, but his arc with Rose tied him into the Resistance more, and gave him a reason to overcome those failings.
As I mentioned before this film is visually beautiful. Between the planetscapes, from Ach-To to Crait, to the beautiful space battles, in particular Admiral Holdo’s lightspeed gambit, to the lightsaber battle in Snoke’s throne room. Rian Johnson made a beautiful looking film.
This was a darker film, not as dark as Empire or Sith, but definitely darker than Force Awakens. This will hopefully lead to a lighter chapter to end the series, and to set the stage for where the Star Wars Universe is going to move in the future.
All told I do love the film, there was a lot that happened that I wasn’t expecting, but to say it was bad because it wasn’t what I was expecting? That’s just damn foolish. I enjoyed it for what it was, a new Star Wars film that pushed the mythos forward. Thankfully we have a great distraction in the Solo film this year while we wait for Episode IX!