The headline has made it obvious but I’ll say it here again and leave a whole bunch of spaces after I do: this review is going to be FILLED with spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. SPOILERS AHEAD SPOILERS AHEAD SPOILERS AHEAD. I am going to discuss MANY surprises that occur in the movie and if you haven’t seen it, this WILL ruin it for you. SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT - and for the record, I’m doing this to see if other folks felt the same way I did about the movie.
LAST WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
OK so let’s get right into it. First of all, I would rate this movie as a solid “mediocre”, but I think that it should probably be lower than that. I think I’m giving a lot of credit based upon the fact that it’s a Star Wars movie. When the logo comes up and the overture starts, and the crowd applauds, you can’t help but get just a little bit excited...especially with all the hype that’s been out there (people calling it the best SW movie ever made etc). There’s a lot of reasons for this, and I’ll try to just focus on a few of them.
Seriously gang - last chance to click away before GIGANTIC SPOILERS come into play. I feel that I’ve given plenty of warning so if you’re still reading at this point, you are on your freakin own.
So look, we get it. Luke is distraught, he’s upset, he’s been away in solitude for a long time. Mark Hamill has also not done a Star Wars film in a really, really, REALLY long time...so I’ll try to give some credit where it’s due but...holy shit man, in all these years, some acting lessons probably wouldn’t have hurt. The fact that the character had a total lack of depth really didn’t help: he was this disconnected distraught character who didn’t really seem to care about anyone but himself. He was SO much so that by the time he tried to care about anyone but himself, nobody gave a crap.
To make matters even worse, when he ultimately saves the day while sacrificing himself, you care even less. I think I even shed a tear when Kenobi died in the original SW flick....but this? I honestly could not have cared less, which ultimately is a pretty major failing. How could a film make me NOT care about a character to whom I was so dearly devoted for so many years? Shit, I had Luke Skywalker themed birthday parties. If I was holding a broom, I was swinging it around pretending to be Luke. This is a character I WORSHIPPED throughout my childhood and, at the end, I just didn’t give a flying poo. I SOBBED when Han died in The Force Awakens. Luke? Meh, lets move on with our day.
Princess (General) Leia
Look, you HAVE to love Leia. I loved her in the original trilogy as a boyhood crush, I loved Carrie Fisher when I saw her live on stage, and I still continued to love her in The Last Jedi. Carrie Fisher was no award winning actress: her real life was a hot mess of substance abuse and horrible relationships, and her acting was mediocre at its best (arguably her best role aside from SW was her cameo in The Blues Brothers)....but even so, when you saw her cinnamon bun laden head come onto the screen back in the day you couldn’t help but smile. She brought a senior-ish charm to her role that continued to make me smile, albeit a little sadly, knowing that she had to die during the movie - you know, since she was dead in real life.
Which brings us to the single biggest goddamn fail of this movie.
Leia is on the bridge and gets blasted into space. She’s seen, floating there, in space - long tableau on her body, dramatic music etc. An appropriate end to a spectacular character. A great way to end things. A single tear rolls down my eye as they’ve done this fantastic classic character proud.
Except they didn’t.
Oh no, they didn’t. While floating in the midst of wreckage in space, Leia suddenly flies across the screen like an unconscious Superman (or, as friends have alternatively said, “Megamaid” or “Starlord”) and is miraculously saved by flying back to the ship, essentially knocking on the door, and not suffering any long term issues. So yeah, dead Carrie Fisher’s character is still alive, and kept so in an awful way that, quite frankly, pissed me off. It’s very possible that this ridiculous turn of events turned me off to the rest of the film so badly that I really couldn’t appreciate much of what was left but....yeah I mean, c’mon guys, you CAN’T fuck this part up!
Vice Admiral Holdo
I love Laura Dern. I love the character of Admiral Holdo. I seriously dug that there was no “Oh well big guy is dead, now Poe’s in charge” moment. It pleased me tremendously. Which of course led to seriously pissing me off that she died in a heroic but unnecessary way.
Look, I get it. You wanted her to go out with a bang - and flying a ship at light speed into a First Order ship is a damn fine way to go. But c’mon. You’re in a ship surrounded by fucking droids, you’re telling me none of them could have done the job instead of sacrificing one of the few resistance leaders still alive? You’re telling me C-3PO’s character couldn’t have FINALLY done something super-duper relevant? You’re telling me that they have the technology available to them to be able to monitor Maz from a gajillion miles away, through a strangely unexplained fight scene (After she inexplicably escapes an exploding city), but you didn’t think “Hey maybe we should be able to remote control these ships, just in case something happens?”
I’m pissed that there were allllllll those options to keep this character alive, and they chose none of them....allowing her to make a huge sacrifice and die heroically, albeit unnecessarily, as a resistance martyr.
I’m normally a really big Benicio del Toro fan. Not in this film. Not in any way. At no time did I believe he was going to do the right thing and at no point did I appreciate his incomprehensibly mumbling his way through his lines. Big name as an irrelevant character. His character disappears with no real completion to his arc - meaning he’ll likely appear in the next film - and I honestly was just glad to see him disappear from the screen. I couldn’t understand why he was there or what he was saying anyway. Bye Benicio. Go back to being the Collector.
Loved the new character. I didn’t read a single thing about the movie before seeing it, so I wasn’t sure if she was just going to be a bit/single scene type character or more important - but I love what she brought to the table. Emotion (much needed as compared to cardboard cutout Luke). I felt like they kind of rushed to the kiss with Finn, but I really didn’t mind it. Rose and Finn were probably the high points of the movie for me.
I fucking love this character. I did in the Force Awakens, and I still did in this movie. His “fly by the seat of your pants” attitude mixed with just the right amount of smart ass brings a really nice contrast to the whole cast of characters.
I will admit, however, that I was somewhat turned off, almost from the beginning of the movie, at how “slapstick” they chose to make him. When he pulls up on the bad guys and does his “holding for the general” routine, it felt like I had somehow slipped into some weird pre-scene featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy. Slapstick is not what Star Wars has EVER done, and while I appreciated having some chuckles slipped in, they felt forced (pardon the pun) and out of place.
Not a lot to say about him - they got him right. He’s a bad dude. They tease you with redemption but ultimately, no, he’s in fact a bad guy. They give you backstory to explain it, and it was sufficient, but I loved that there was no real “he’s a good guy now”, apart from a brief fleeting (and beautifully done) fight scene. Kylo Ren is the main bad dude now, no more Snoke, and I for one am grateful for that.
I’m not going to say much here because it’s difficult to think of something new to say about a character and actress who is literally carrying the Star Wars movies. Daisy Ridley is fantastic. She’s emotional, and powerful, and sends chills down my spine as she discovers her abilities. I love her. I love that she basically came out of nowhere and I love that she is absolutely OWNING this opportunity. An unknown actress taking this on her shoulders is incredible to watch...and seeing her put on an absolute master class on “how it’s done” has been amazing.
There were some cool things about the movie. I enjoyed seeing the return of Yoda, though honestly his inclusion was really not all that necessary. It was thrown in, as though the movie had been made and they realized that all the throw backs were part of what made The Force Awakens as popular as it was.
I thoroughly enjoyed Chewbacca, as always, and the scene where he’s about to eat the sad little bird-things while the remaining ones watch him was fucking hilarious. Luke’s hologram dance at the end was alright as well - loved seeing the pure “hate” from Kylo Ren...but again, could have done without the “Think you got him?” line that followed. The formula that worked so well for Rogue One and The Force Awakens somehow got left behind here...and honestly, the moment that I came away thinking about the most strongly was “Super-Leia”. It sucks when an individual moment REALLY trashes your feelings about an entire movie that you went in wanting to love...but Leia in space man....
Fucking. Leia. In space.
Overall Grade: B-