Two years we have been waiting, but it is finally here. The new episode in the new Star Wars trilogy is here. This is by far one of the most controversial and polarizing movies in the series. I will say it right now, I love this movie. There are perfectly solid reasons to hate it, but I will go into what felt right to me. No matter what, if you are a fan of Star Wars then you must see it. Have your expectations low and go in knowing as little as possible. That is the best bet to gain your full enjoyment out of it.
Just to say before going forward that I will not have any spoilers here. Somethings need to be said but will be kept vague as possible. If you are a fan, then go see it no matter what.
Ever since Rian Johnson was announced to direct and write this movie, I was so exciting. Looper is a really solid sci-fi movie and one of Bruce Willis’s best in a long time. Also, Rian is from my hometown, so it is hard to not be proud and excited. No matter how people feel about this movie, his vision was clear and he made the movie that he wanted. There needs to be respected whether you hated or loved it. He has been able to make some of the best choices in any Star Wars movie ever. Some decisions did not pan out, but for a two and a half hour movie, this is not a huge surprise. I loved Force Awakens for the same reason that J.J. Abrams accomplished with his own vision, despite some flaws.
The story is somewhat typical and a continuation of the last movie. Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her power from Luke (Mark Hamill). Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and a new character Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) find a hacker who can help them on their mission to escape from the First Order who are hunting them down. Meanwhile, the Resistance is preparing for battle against the First Order. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) continue their mission for Snoke (Andy Serkis) to destroy the Resistance.
The pacing of the story is quite slow. A lot is going on and is packed into the timeline. There is enough action, humor, and big moments that take that weight off. No matter how you go about it, the length will still feel long no matter how much you love it. Most of which felt necessary, but somethings could have been done differently for the sake of time. There are enough side stories to keep everything afloat. Rey’s story goes a little slower, but some others go faster to keep the audience interest.
As it has been teased before the movie’s release, there is the biggest twist in any Star Wars movie and by the trailers, some big moments were going to happen. Without spoilers, just know that these are not what you think. Go to open-minded and clear-headed, you will be fine with what the movie throws at you. Personally, the twists and turns felt great to character arc, story, and the lore of this universe. Some questionable moves were made that I had to google and do some research afterward. Some elements from the extended universe are in this movie. Since it has never been seen in the big picture, some audience members like myself might be confused. Out of my research, everything is canon and has happened in some capacity in the extended universe or hinted in the original trilogy. Everything stays true to how people in the universe are and how everything works in terms of the force and technology.
Some plot points are not huge. They fall flat, but that does not mean in a bad way. Yes, some do fall flat in negative ways. That is mostly with characters, but we will get to that shortly. Big reveals, twists, and plot points are usually made to be giant, but this movie makes something small. I like it because that is a bit of a risk. Takes expectations people have and downsize it. This works with how certain characters are and their overall arc.
Characters both new and old are all here. Kylo is expanded and a lot more likable as a villain. Still an emotional character, but Rian Johnson made this feel a lot more right. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan who wrote episode seven had a particular vision that did not sit well with a lot of people, myself included. Kylo felt too whiny and weak. This builds him with a lot better development that makes more sense. Adding more complexity to him and other characters. I love Rey more than before. Her growth is just as immense as expected. There is more added to the legendary Luke Skywalker. I felt Rose was a good addition, but she might need another movie to fully develop her into someone more likable. Plenty of new alien animals were shown like the popular porgs were great. I can’t remember a Star Wars movie having so many cute animals than this one. Several others are shown that are cute and have a great design for them. I was not excited about the porgs like everyone else, but they are really funny and cute. Those little creatures won me over big time!
Not every character felt right. There was a lot of hype for a new character known as DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who could have been a lot better. I am trying to be vague, but I was not a fan of what they did. It felt a lot less important than what I was hoping for. Still, Benicio did a good job like he always does. I can never be too mad at him in a role because he is just that good. More happens with Snoke who is not what I was hoping for. Personally, he did not bring what I had hoped for to the story. His scenes were great, but with how things play out, I was not a fan.
Visually this is one of the best out of any of the movies. Of course, it will be beautiful since almost all of the Star Wars movies are beautiful, except the prequels and their awful CGI. In the trailer, there is a planet in some substance on the ground that is white, but right under it is some red dust. This salty and dusty world makes for some simple, but beautiful shots. Some other interesting and pretty planets are shown, but I just wish we had more. I love being in space but seeing beautiful and unique worlds are always the best to experience.
The tone of the movie is typical, a bit darker as we move forward in this new trilogy with some humor in place. Just like The Force Awakens, a lot of humor is put in that does not always sit well. Some unexpected comedy is thrown in but honestly work. Some of the funniest moments in the whole franchise happen in this movie. I wished things were kept even darker and placement for humor was distributed differently. A funny scene occurs early on, which is great but gives a weird tone and expectation for the rest of the movie. Starting lighthearted is great, but you need some space between drama and comedy or it can bring either one down if placed too close. Something funny can happen, but right away there is something dramatic.
As everyone is saying, this movie takes some big risks. To defend it, people were made at episode seven for playing it safe, but mad at eight for playing it too risky. You are not going to make everyone happy. Most of these big risks I liked. One or two do not sit well with me, but overall, I am quite happy that Rian Johnson took his vision and ran with it. There is a clear vision that mostly works throughout the film. Despite some flat characters and plot points that do not go down like I had hoped, it is still one of the best Star Wars movies. Big franchises need to take bigger risks. Better to have people loving or hating it than having people being neutral. Having these big reactions has caused interesting discussion and has riled up the fan base. New territories for characters, the force, and the entire universe are explored here. Risky, but works out so well to give a unique Star Wars experience that we needed. I am beyond excited that Rian Johnson gets his own trilogy that will certainly continue being risky and exploring what has not been touched in one of the movies.
Image via Lucas Film and Disney