Tuesday, December 22, 2015
This review is all spoilers!
Don't read it if you haven't seen the movie yet, it will spoil everything.
Let's start the review.
First my overall impression: I liked it, I felt good walking out of the theatre after having seen it, and part of the reason why is that I felt like I had watched half a movie with a lot of potential for the second part. A lot of the characters are still unexplained, the ending with Luke on an island in the middle of nowhere, etc., all this builds suspense for a development of the plot later that could be either very thrilling or very disappointing.
Kylo Ren is definitely the most interesting character, and I like how he started out as a Sith-like persona who turns out to be much less powerful than the first impression he gives. Which justifies needlessly using the mask quite nicely.
Watching the lightsaber battles you can see two things: 1) lightsaber proficiency has fallen to pretty much zero in this era, and obviously hit its peak during the prequels and has only gone down since then. 2) Ren has been trained more in the Force than lightsaber use. Even the lightsaber he uses looks kind of slipshod. One reason he wanted Luke's.
Poe: not a main character but I liked him, hopefully he'll come back.
The main complaint with the movie is how much of Episode 4 it rehashes, and even then in a less believable way. Making a new Death Star-like contraption alone is silly enough, but to be able to make one that much larger in a post-Empire world isn't very believable.
First Order is quite one-dimensional. A group of bad guys in a movie to be realistic needs to give the viewer at least some idea of why someone would join, and I was left without one. A minute or two more time for Snoke to talk might have fixed this.
Rey is an okay protagonist, but doesn't really have any weak points. She can use the Force, captain a ship, win fights, pretty much everything, and all without much of a story to her. Finn is somewhat better. Seems a bit too cheerful for a former Stormtrooper but his comic relief wasn't over the top so he works out well. The last battle with Ren where they both manage to overpower him with a lightsaber though still doesn't sit well with me. I do like how Ren is not that skilled in a lightsaber, but not that they were able to win against him. Even after getting hit with Chewie's blaster. Some other way to end the fight would have been better, say a shot from a blaster that he wasn't able to block due to concentrating on the lightsaber battle with Rey or Finn.
Back to the incompleteness of the movie: since this is the first Star Wars movie to end on a cliffhanger, how will the opening crawl work for the next episode? Something like this?
Imagine for example if Episode 1 had taken place everywhere but Tattoine, and then finally at the end they get information about that planet and make their way there and meet a boy who introduces himself as Anakin, and the movie ends. That's how this one felt.
Han Solo: I agree with the idea that they had his character killed off in the first movie in exchange for a lot of screen time in it. Han Solo worked very well here though, and the movie wouldn't have been the same without him. There's a lot of debate about whether his death is going to further cement Ren to the dark side or remain as a kind of expression of fatherly love that will eventually convert him back. I can see both: having a character that gets redeemed is maybe too typically Star Wars for it to happen again, but then again he did comment on what a disappointment (as a father) he was, and maybe that final moment with him changed it.
X-wing fighters and the resistance: too recycled, too spritely, too unchanged. I didn't notice anything different from the original three movies in their uniforms, mannerisms, anything.
Silver female general: another character that feels like she's going to be fleshed out some more in the next movie. Once again more anticipation than detail.
BB-8: great design, great droid.
Leia: kind of boring. If you hadn't watched the other movies you would have no idea that she is also force capable.
Snoke: as mentioned above there wasn't much of him, and so far he seems like a typical Sith-like character. Always wants to bring competent people in for training. Likes to blow up planets. He's obviously very old, so where was he in the other movies? Is he Darth Sidious? He obviously didn't just become a dark side of the Force user in the past decade or two.
So my hope for the next movie is that they will further explain all these parts they only hinted at, quit with rehashing characters and scenes from the first three movies, and make First Order and everything else that is completely new into something with two dimensions instead of one.