This is one of the worst films I have ever seen.
I am going to spoil the film frequently, so I would recommend viewing the film (preferably without giving Disney money, if you know what I mean) then reading this hamfisted critique.
This film is garbage on a tremendous number of levels.
This is the worst plot in any Star Wars film to date. The Rebels basically get chased and picked off by the First Order (Empire) in space until they escape to a salt snow planet and re-do the Battle of Hoth from Episode 5. During this time, Rey (the protagonist, if you can believe it) does nothing of note except failing to convince Kylo Ren to turn good and for Luke to help the rebels. Not and Finn and the new, terrible Rose character bumble around doing fuck knows what proportional to their total screen time.
A lot of the plot is boring, convoluted or has mind numbingly stupid reasoning.
For the first time in the franchise, FUEL is an issue. For a majority of the movie, the Rebel fleet is running out of fuel as the Star Destroyers chase them. With the hugely advanced nature of technology shown in the series and the fact even WE on Earth have nuclear powered vehicles, why the hell is this a central problem? Why the hell is this NEVER a problem in any other of the films? Why is there no main plot? Why are there severe logical problems (vacuum of space yet open air bombers, seemingly no lost step for the First Order after the destruction of the Death Star).It’s almost like this is a
s h i t s c r i p t
I have to get the one out of the way right off the bat, this film has dialogue on par with the prequels in some areas. MY LORD it is horrendous. Johnson thought it would be a good idea to make EVERY CHARACTER sarcastic and have funny moments. This ruins the tone completely
The original’s are always remembered fondly because they were a bit campy, and there were some goofy moments sprinkled throughout (mostly from the droids). But the dialogue was not overtly funny. It was focused and each character had a tone and choice of words unique to them.
Basically, every single character in this film is awful and the decent ones are not impactful. In no part of this two and a half hour drone fest of death and visual cancer did I empathize with or see any meaningful growth in the characters. I mean it: NOBODY GROWS. EVERYONE STAYS THE SAME.
Rey: Rey is the “protagonist” of this film. I put the floating quotes around that because she does not fulfill the protagonist role fully, she is just on the front of the movie poster and acts as the merchandise hunny. She is an aimless character with no concrete who is pulled along by plot points.
Rey’s first goal in the film is to get Luke Skywalker to come help the Resistance. Her goal ends up being accomplished, yes. Luke does come back and helps the Rebels, but Rey was not the catalyst for Luke’s decision. She then bitches at Luke for not training her and decides to go convert Kylo Ren to join the good guys even though he is unredeemable from a story perspective and absolutely terrible). And after a strange sequence, she does get Kylo Ren to kill his Supreme Leader (more on that)…but that’s it. He still stays somewhat evil and continues towards his goal to try and kill the Rebels. She is pushed along by plot necessity but has no concrete goal of her own. Daisy Ridley even says that Rey just wants to “do the right thing” as if that passes off as a legit goal.
The other big problem with Rey is that she is WAY to goddamn strong in this film. She is nearly at the peak of her Jedi abilities in many aspects less than a month after she was discovered in Episode 7. To put it simply, there is nowhere for her to grow and nowhere for her to falter. So, why should I care about her?
The reason Luke was a great protagonist in the original trilogy was that he was NOT perfect. He was naive, impatient and prone to spurts of reckless emotion. Rey has none of those flaws (except maybe shit persuasion). She is perfect out of the box. Female protagonists can have flaws too Disney, that’s not sexist Johnson that’s just proper storytelling.
Finn and the Asian: These two go together, because they basically do everything together. And they are both paper thin.
Finn is the exact same as he was in 7: peppy and goofy. Now, the Asian (I think her name is Rose or something) is also peppy, but in a social justice/feminism sort of way. She gives a couple speeches about inequality and other nonsense which feel out of place in a KIDS MOVIE.
Finn attempts to do one noble act in this film. While the Rebels are on their last legs in the bunker, he attempts to ram the Battering Ram Cannon with his skiff craft, thus saving the Rebels from being blown the fuck out. BUT, his little crush decides to ram the shit of of his skiff with hers, endangering both of their lives. Her reasoning, “Do it for love” or something like that.
Poe: Poe serves as a pilot (literally) for action sequences and as a foil for the feminist “heroes” in the film. Poe is a a hothead rebel and his arc is basically “bend to blind (female) authority”.
So, I think he is less of a bad character in this film, and more of a horribly misused one. Oscar Issac is a good actor too, which makes this all the more disheartening.
Luke: Luke is lazy and unlikeable. If there was no nostalgia aspect tied to him, nobody would like him. He is a clash of terrible character traits. Bitter but sarcastic.
Everyone wanted to see Luke fight at the end. It was all leading up to a monstrous confrontation: Luke vs. an incredibly large First Order attack force + Kylo Ren. What an epic finale!
Except that doesn’t happen.
He does the “noble” thing and does not fight.
Kylo Ren and Snoke: Somehow gaining 30lbs of muscle in the minuscule gap between the two films, Ben Swolo is the Darth Vader incarnate for this generation of Star Wars. Problem is, due to a shitty script, this villain is set up to fail. He works as the brute villain, the one who does the dirty work, but he cannot work as a truly threatening force as the main villain because of his inability to kill main characters.
Above him, Snoke is kind of…there. We never learn of his backstory or anything about him, and then he gets cut in half. It is absolutely fucking baffling why Rian Johnson decided to kill the leader of the First Order midway through the trilogy. Discussed below, I explain why.
General Hux: Man alive, this is my least favorite character in the film. In TFA, he was a good third villain: shrill, passionate and despicable. But, now he has turned into a complete joke character. Squealy, incompetent and completely beta, Hux is a disgrace to the franchise. Somehow, he keeps his job as General, even after numerous failures. Unreal.
Captain Phasma: Does not count as a character but is played by a human, so I guess I have to include her. Once again, she does nothing, and she dies to that idiot Finn after a boring, lazy fight sequence. She is in the film for roughly 45 seconds.
Amilyn Holdo: Completely unlikeable purple haired anti-feminine cold hearted witch lady. She serves to stop Poe from takings risks to save the Rebels, negating him as a character and ruining a possibly cool arc. Poe asks her for a plan and she responds with a fucking metaphor then tells him to leave.
And yet, after this bitchy treatment of Poe and the decent people on the ship, she is still given a “noble” death. I put that in quotes because her plan to load the Rebels into unshielded transports was her idea, so she is responsible for mass death by stupidity.
There is a large amount of weird, shitty sequences in this film. I’m not going to go through all of them, I will just pick four (there are many more)
-Leia’s space walk
-Animal Rights planet
-The End “Battle”
For those of you that do not know, Leia gets blown to hell into the blackness of space and somehow revives herself and floats her way back onto the blown bridge to safety. It was an incredibly surreal sequence. Usually, I would have no problems with weird shit, I love Lynchian or obtuse elements. But, this doesn’t work at all, simply because Leia has never demonstrated any force related abilities throughout the entire film series, and now she can suddenly fly and survive in space.
Next, we have Finn and Rose’s Animal Planet escapade. Basically, Finn and Rose go to a planet where space trillionaires race these large cat-fox things to find a special hacker for an incredibly convoluted plan which serves as the basis for half of the film. They don’t get the right hacker, but they cross paths in jail (for a parking violation, lol) with Benicio Del Toro, another hacker, instead. Then, they run away from him (for some reason) and then free all the cat-fox things then are saved by Del Toro.
Finn and Rose save these huge cat-fox things from being used as race animals for the rich (white) arms dealers that populate the planet. They break them out of their cage, run through town and disappear into the woods. If you know who is really running the World’s Stage (Hi, Rothy!), then this could serve as a metaphor for ruining the elite. But knowing Disney, its probably a hack anti-capitalist message. Judging by other aspects of the film, however, I would lean towards the former.
Adding on to that, there are some serious logical issues with Finn and Rose’s escape. The town can go recapture all the animals after they break out, so all Finn and Rose did was just break shit. Plus, there were these child slaves which tended the animals. And they just leave them there. Not very noble.
The worst part of this sequence is that a HUGE portion of it could have been cut because it simply lacks and purpose other than “kool acshun”. The whole sub-sub plot of freeing the cat-fox things should have never been in the script. Adding a more interesting “find the hacker” sequence and a longer scene with Benecio Del Toro’s character would have been much more beneficial for the completed film.
Rian Johnson seems to have a knack for following the wrong subplots. After the escape, Del Toro shows Finn on a hologram how the arms dealers sell weapons to both the Empire AND the Rebels, shattering Finn’s worldview that the conflict is black and white, evil vs. good. What if this sets Finn on a grey path, still a good guy, but not quite fully trusting of the Rebels?
Nope, instead we cut to the next scene. Never to hear a word about that again. At least those animals are gone.
Now, the strangest scene in this film is the death of Snoke. This is less so for the sequence itself, which in isolation I thought was actually fairly well done. The problem though, is the greater effect on the story.
There are obvious, intentional parallels between Snoke/Ren and Sidious/Vader. Both apprentice’s are conflicted men of action, and both Supreme Leaders are stable, in the shadows and are implied to have massive power. Luke did not fight Vader until late in the second film of the OT, and the Emperor until late in the 3rd film. Rian Johnson’s decision to kill Snoke halfway through this middle story is going to send a ripple through Episode 9. Without the shadow presence of a higher master, a final boss in a sense, all we have left is Kylo Ren, who has shown to be wishy washy when it comes to killing main characters along with the incompetent as fuck General Hux. Thus, the First Order loses its edge.
In the originals, the Empire was competent and threatening (save for the Stormtroopers). Competent, threatening villains give the story meaning. We like to watch a flawed hero overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.
Alright, finally we have the end battle.
What the hell happens in 9?
Let’s set the stage for IX. We have the entire remaining Resistance members tucked into the Millennium Falcon. Leia is dead (Carrie Fisher died). The First Order’s leaders are both emotionally volatile under 40’s. And it seems the story has been lost. The Empire vs. Rebel conflict is stale.
Johnson could have made a decision. He could have had Rey and Kylo Ren join up after the death of Snoke. Reform the First Order into a pro-life galaxy expansion political crew and introduce a new villian. OR SOMETHING!
Why the hell did critics like it?
My answer to this is two parts: A)”diversity” and B)Star Wars Cult
The paper critics LOVE female protagonists, especially if they “stick it to the man”. They also love diversity, and there is plenty of that in this film. Plus, it’s a Disney film, so you have to like it, right?
But the more pressing point is the mirage which Star Wars seems to have on this weaponized pop culture landscape. Those who have unplugged from a majority of mainstream entertainment are always dumbfounded at the need for plugged people to look at reality through the lens of a show or film. Star Wars is too important to some people’s reality. It cannot be defiled or deconstructed. Adults acting like children!
Star Wars “condition[s] people like a political candidates” – Red Letter Media
That and Disney probably paid off a bunch of reviewers.
Things which were pleasing
While I give this film a 2 out of 10 at most, there were a few minor things I liked.
-in isolation, Rey/Kylo’s duel with the Red Guard was cool(probably because it is the only real piece of action we get)
-the scene where Benecio Del Toro blackpills Finn
-Yoda was kind of cool (although the scene was pointless)