My overall impression was that this was an OK film, but there was far too much repetition of the old trilogy. I got a heavy Hobbit vibe from this trilogy. Peter Jackson wanted to repeat the success of the Lord of the Rings but now with MORE of the same scenes and MORE computer-generated creatures, and so made a story that was heavy on visuals but weak on story and power. These new Star Wars episodes are exactly like that, and I’ll try to explain why I think about them this way.
This movie suffers a lot from sacrificing common sense for dramatic purposes. You can’t tell me that Snoke’s big ship cannot launch another ship to take out the fleeing rebels. You can’t tell me that both of the First Order leaders need to be present on the ground during the final assault. You can’t tell me that Finn needs to fly right into a laser beam to shoot into it. You can’t tell me that a whole hangar bay of storm troopers gets blasted to bits while Finn and that one woman don’t even have a scratch on their clothing. Or that a bomber ship needs to drift to the right position so that gravity (in space?) will make bombs drop on a ship. Or that you can destroy stuff with hyperdrive jumps but this was never utilized before. Why not make missiles with hyperdrives on them? And so on and so forth.
The entire plot of the movie of Snoke’s ship crawling after the rebels while Finn and some woman take a side trip doesn’t make any sense in all of these ways. They have time to do this? They just leave the rebel ship that is being chased and tramp across the galaxy on some quest and then return to the pursued ship? And on their quest, couldn’t they have brought a refuel ship back with them?
This might sound like a lot of nitpicking, but these questions genuinely took me out of the movie while watching it. Star Wars may be some space fantasy series, but that doesn’t mean that you should disregard common logic. Besides all this, there are some moments of greatness in this film. There are some very satisfying dramatic moments and visually stunning shots. The film has the dramatic down and some of the humor worked well.
I am really glad that the climax of this film didn’t involve another Death Star. That got old fast. Instead, they copied the opening act of The Empire Strikes Back as the climax. In general, this movie feels as if the screenwriters took The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and copied and pasted some of the highlights into this one. So, Rey got her training scene and her descend into a dark pit to confront herself (although that didn’t lead anywhere). But we also got the throne room showdown from Return of the Jedi somewhere in the middle of the story, complete with a torn Kylo Ren and a gloating Emperor.
Speaking of Snoke and other assorted bad guys, such as Phasma, what was up with these characters anyway? Snoke got a quick introduction in The Force Awakens and now he is gone in a showdown that seemed to happen way too early into the story. Was that it? Who was this guy? Was he connected with Palpatine? The Emperor’s theme music from Return of the Jedi was playing during Snoke’s scenes, but what does that mean? And Phasma was probably meant as some sort of devil from the past for Finn, but that storyline didn’t add much emotional power to these films. They might as well have cut that out. Bunch of useless characters, really.
Speaking of characters, Rey and Kylo are the only remotely interesting ones so far. Chewy and R2D2 are still around but don’t amount to anything (but then again, this is not their story anymore). But Finn and Poe and that one Asian woman whom I can’t remember the name of, they don’t do anything for me. Finn’s little adventure in space-Monaco was a strange little side-quest and its only purpose seemed to be to throw more CGI creatures at the screen.
The movie did handle Luke Skywalker very well, just like The Force Awakens handled Han Solo very well. He got a good, believable arc, and his particular ending had a poetry to it that reached back all the way to the young Luke Skywalker as a farmer, watching a binary sunset. The circle was complete for him. As far as Luke is concerned, this film is a fine addition to the old story. Rey and Kylo were also very consistent characters and Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver both do an excellent job here.
So, some of this film works quite well. Some of the characters and their arcs are fine. It handles Luke’s legacy well and visually it is stunning to look at. But the story is a cut-and-paste mashup of the old trilogy with a thousand frilly edges that don’t make any sense to me. If you were to remove everything that was copied from older material and everything that didn’t make sense, there would be almost nothing left.