Last month, the latest episode on the Star Wars saga was released, and at this writing has earned just shy of a kabillion dollars (or at least better than the current Powerball jackpot).
I saw the film twice, and wanted to throw out some observations. I’ve tried to read and listen to as little commentary on it as possible until I could get this posted. And the real reason I’m writing is that i’d love to hear YOUR thoughts on the film, as well.
Obviously, the rest of the post is going to be CHOCK FULL OF SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen the film…well, it’s been almost a month, so if you get spoiled, that’s on YOU.
So, here are my (delayed) reactions:
- Let’s get this out of the way: I really enjoyed the film. It’s not a perfect movie, and I do have some minor quibbles. And yes, it is heavily-derivative of the first movie. But doggone it, if you didn’t wanna jump out of your chair when the Millenium Falcon was flying upside down and sideways through a wrecked Star Destroyer, then…well, I think you walked into the wrong movie by mistake, because you surely weren’t looking for Star Wars. On the whole, I would rate the movie as an “A-.” Not perfect, but it delivered exactly what I was looking for.
- Characters: I dug all the new characters introduced. The performances were engaging, and the actors were (for the most part) very likeable and fun to watch. I’m not sure if Adam Driver was the best choice for Kylo Ren, but I don’t think he had a whole lot to work with in this film (though hopefully, he’ll get more backstory and motivation later). And I enjoyed cheering for Poe Dameron (a.k.a. Han Solo 2.0), who is indeed the best pilot in the galaxy.
- The Villain: Actually, let’s talk about Kylo Ren / Ben Solo for a second. A lot has been said about his being a letdown as a villain. Too emo. Too millenial. And I think that’s all true. (By the way, “Emo Kylo Ren” on Twitter is hilarious, though sometimes profane, so be advised.) But here’s the thing: I see that as being consistent with Anakin’s portrayal. Kylo has less training that Anakin, and is weaker in the Force. His destructive tantrums are consistent with a character that has a great deal of power and very little self-control. And let’s not forget Grandpa’s destructive and homicidal tendencies. All that to say: the character is a bit inconsistent during the film (especially after his most-impressive introduction in the film), but in the grand scheme, he’s following the family line.
- Rey: I appreciated that the “Rey is a strong, capable woman” idea was conveyed by showing, rather than telling. The “let go of my hand” stuff on Jakku was gold. And even though Finn has a crush on her, she is not returning his affection. (At least not yet.) I’m totally okay with this. Let her be her own person.
- I had really two quibbles with the film: First quibble–The monster chase through the Millenium Falcon DRAGGED. It was bloated and pointless. Worse, it makes Han seem too bumbling. I think, if you want to show that Han has gone back to smuggling and maybe is losing his edge, that can be done more quickly and more simply than a random action sequence that really accomplishes nothing in the movie except telling the First Order that Han and BB-8 are on the Millenium Falcon.
- Quibble the Second: Rey kind of Insta-Jedi’d. Now, I KNOW, the counter-argument is that Luke did too, but I don’t think that’s true. Luke picked up on some Force abilities REALLY quickly, but he still had some training from TWO Jedi Masters. Rey wasn’t even sure the Jedi were more than legends–and yet she had enough awareness to resist Kylo’s mind-meld, pull a mind-whammy on James Bo–er, I mean, a “stormtrooper,” and wield a lightsaber like a champ. The best explanation I can think of is that somehow the knowledge downloaded into her brain when she touched the lightsaber at Maz’s place, but man, that would really diverge from the rest of the saga.
- Things I really dug: 1) Finn and Poe’s chemistry; 2) Greg Grunberg is Temmin Wexley from “Star Wars: Aftermath”; 3) BB-8 is great; 4) the battle at Maz’s place was really well-done; 5) Chewy-rage; 6) this moment; 7) the Hux-as-Hitler imagery was a bit heavy-handed, but I still appreciated it.
- The Big Death: Yes, it was telegraphed. But seriously, there were definitely a couple manly tears shed in my row. And then the roar of rage and grief from Chewy? Ugh. Killer.
- The Final Duel: Another criticism I’ve heard is how Kylo, the guy who held a laser blast in mid-air by the power of his mind (and seriously, how great was that?), actually lost his duel with Rey. But here’s the thing: Kylo had just killed his dad (emotional turmoil) and had been gut-shot by a BIG NASTY GUN (thanks, Chewy!). At the beginning of the movie, he was in control of his emotions; he was calm, cool, and collected. By the end, he was completely unsteady emotionally, unsure of himself, torn between both sides of the Force, and facing an untrained but obviously Force-adept woman with honed survival instincts. With all that on the table, the fact that they battled to a draw is not THAT surprising.
Okay, I’m going to stop there for now, though I will probably add more observations in the comments.
Your Turn: What do you think? Am I crazy? Did I miss anything cool? Sound off in the comments below!