WARNING: The following review contains obnoxious opinions and strong language
The year was 1999. Star Wars was back in a big way. George Lucas had full creative control, and a cornucopia of new cinematic technology at his disposal. Fans’ minds were blown by the concept of 3 prequel movies setting up the movies they grew up with. Completely uncharted territory, a history and backstory for many of our favorite characters. The stage was set, and it was their game to lose.
And they lost. Lucas was convinced that the film needed a living cartoon character to get kids into Star Wars, despite the fact that for the last 22 years, kids found their way to Star Wars without the limitless stupidity that is Jar-Jar Binks. The mysticism and wonder that the Force brought to us was turned into a biological imperative. “The Living Force”, the prize at the end of a DNA lottery. Cells so powerful they could create life in people randomly (Lucas’s excuse for turning Anakin Skywalker into a Jesus birth).
I could go on and on AND ON about this film and the 2 that follow it, but that’s not why we’re here. Basically they attempted to take the franchise in a new direction and it completely backfired. Fans were almost completely united on this front, with the exception of a delusional few who will try and tell you that these films aren’t so bad. That's where it was left, until Disney brought Star Wars back. Fans were a bit divided with Episode 7, because some felt it was not very original. Disney took that criticism to heart when they made Episode 8, but somehow 8 has left fans EVEN MORE divided, this time for being too original apparently. So let’s break this down.
SPOILERS AHEAD PEOPLE
-The story is their own, and that is good! There are no prophecies, nobody has a destiny and the Force is just the Force. In fact, the line between light and dark is blurred like never before. The Force is back to being mystical and mysterious, but at the same time, any Jpe Nobody on the street could find themselves tapping into it and gaining abilities. Thanks to that, Rey’s parents don't have to be important. She doesn’t have to be a Kenobi or a Skywalker or a Palpatine (That would have been stupid.). Snoke doesn’t require a 30 minute backstory tacked on to this film where you find out he has some bullshit connection to Palpatine or Vader or some shit. They can just take the characters and run with them. It works better that way, because we can now move this story into the unknown and not get anymore Jar-Jars. I don’t know why fans are so buthurt about this.
-Luke Skywalker is back!!! He is completely demoralized and has disconnected himself from the Force because of his failures with Ben Solo. He’s sarcastic and grumpy and extremely powerful and its excellent. A character that lacked any and all depth in the original trilogy returned with more character depth than we ever could’ve hoped for. Some fans complain that the film is not as action-packed as its predecessors because of this. Personally, I I’m fine with it. I don’t need to see a stunutdouble/CG Luke doing backflips across the battlefield, waving a lightsaber and pretending he’s not old.
-John Williams returns and gives us even more of his textbook soundtrack perfection. Not a lot of new themes here, but the return of some old favorites and them being blended into the new and it's perfect and I’ve already bought the soundtrack because John Williams.
-Character depth all around! Not just Luke, but Leia, Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe and Chewbacca all find some great new strides in their stories. There’s tensions surrounding Rey and Kylo as they communicate through the Force. You feel like at any moment, either of them could switch sides or they could try to kill each other. It's absolutely fantastic.
-YODA WAS IN IT AND I CRIED, I HAVE NO SHAME!!! Frank Oz returned to voice the character and instead of using CGI, they used the original and fully restored puppet from Empire Strikes Back. Way to go Disney!!!
-The Millennium Falcon was in it and it flew around and shot a bunch of stuff. I will NEVER get tired of seeing sequences like that. If there’s one thing Disney has done wonderfully, it’s letting that ship be cool.
-THAT HYPERSPACE KAMIKAZE MANEUVER BY THE ADMIRAL IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OUTER SPACE SEQUENCE OF ALL TIME!!!!!
-Rey and her struggle to find her place in this conflict continues to be riveting and awesome. Her character continues to grow more powerful and more interesting with each film, and I cannot wait to see what happens to her in the next film.
-Carrie Fisher brings us one final performance as our princess-turned-general we all love and it is just as wonderful and charming as you would expect. Since her first scenes ever as Leia, she broke down walls and set new standards on how such characters could be portrayed in film, and its kept alive in this film with all the backsass that comes with it. She also demonstrated she has a connection to the Force in this film, which had me completely losing it. It is truly a tragedy that we have to carry on without her now. Her love of these films and her fans matched her performances and made her a one-of-a-kind hollywood personality. She will no doubt remembered as a remarkable and wonderful woman.
-Merchandising will one day be what kills the overall quality of these movies. How the hell do you spend 5 months hyping up an evil BB droid in countless interviews and videos and then put him in the movie for 2 minutes?! TWO MINUTES IN A 152 MINUTE FILM!!! We don’t even get a crazy hilarious BB8 fight (Which any scriptwriter with half a brain should know is exactly what people are going to want), but you can buy his toys! Sadly, it wasn’t just BB-9E...yes he has a name, despite them not saying it in the movie. Captain Phasma was in this film EVEN LESS than Episode 7 and got completely railroaded AGAIN even though Disney has told us on multiple occasions that she is some kind of amazing badass. And how are you supposed to find out more? Two novels and a comic book series apparently! Disney is intentionally half-assing their subplots because they know they can get people to buy all this shit. For once, I am not one of them. Disney needs to chill out, focus on the characters properly, and stop introducing new people at the expense of the people we want to see more of. Nerds will buy the stuff regardless! THAT’S WHAT WE DO!!!
-Canto Bight; A planet that sounds like the name of an STD, and in this film, virtually every scene that took place there felt like one. Basically a wealthy planet designed to introduce wealth and corruption, but was handled in such a way that you felt no emotion towards that corruption. There’s also this whole thing about these racing camel things at a big cansino and they are abused and we have to save them and bla bla bla PETA stuff. What follows is a chase/stampede scene with some of the most awful CGI ever. Every scene on this planet felt forced and empty and boring. I’m 90% sure it was only there so Disney could hire an author to write a random and extremely overpriced novel about the place, featuring characters that are probably in the movie somewhere for a whole 3 seconds. Also pretty sure it’s only there to introduce a kid that sweeps the stables, who you see use the Force for half a second to lift his broom. Shoulda been an epic scene, but it wasn’t, and nothing on Canto Bight was.
-Finn’s character is completely wasted in this film. All of the effort that set him up to be a total game changer in Episode 7 has been pissed away so that he could wander through the story like a lost puppy, traveling across the galaxy with a bizarre woman whose name you will forget 5 minutes after you walk out of the movie. He went from brave and inspiring, to dumb comic relief. His only redeeming moment is his standoff with Phasma, which admittedly was pretty good, albeit a little too short. Even his reunion with Rey felt weak and hammy. The space they could’ve used to keep making him awesome was used to introduced new and fairly uninteresting characters. Hopefully they’ll learn from this and not do it again in Episode 9.
-The BB-8 stuff officially has run its course in this film. He has gone from humorous and lovable to pulling some stunts so stupid, you’d usually see them in Looney Tunes skits. There’s scene where he hijacks a walker, which would be really cool if he just fired the gun a few times or something, but instead the walkers head fall off and we watch this giant thing tap-dance around a shuttle bay blasting people in a completely ludacris spectacle. This right here Disney, is the moment, you guys need to dial it back. Your at like an 11 with BB-8, bring it down to a 6…
-Gonna keep this one short. Luke Skywalker milked a weird whale-cow thing with boobs and it was really fucking weird and awkward. Somebody needs to cut that scene out.
-Porgs. Stupid little penguin things designed to be funny and sell toys. Started out funny but ended up spreading through this movie like an illness. Action sequences, somber moments and drama all interrupted by one of these things making a face or screaming in your face. The movie didn’t even need them.
I’m super biased here because I love Star Wars and despite the ranting and raving above, I absolutely love this movie too. I think they are taking the story in the right direction and I’m already chomping at the bit for the next chapter.
The action sequences are on point, the character development is on point, the music is on point but the plot isn’t. This movie is another victim of Too Much Shit Going On. There’s so many subplots and new characters that the main story really takes a hit for it. The entire struggle that the Rebels face in this film is really badly designed and the bad guys could just end it in 30 seconds if not for the script and its nonsense. There’s a lot that could be cut, and replaced with simpler and more concrete plot lines. A huge chunk of this movie is just there to sell merchandise and that hurts. As a fan, that really hurts. That’s not what the focus should be. It doesn’t need to be, because there will always be a market for Star Wars books and toys and comics, and just like before, the best stuff will have nothing to do with the movies. Besides, this movie has made a billion dollars so far, even with the fan backlash, and that had nothing to do with toy sales. Disney needs to expand this franchise outward not upward.
Despite this, the movie hits all the right nostalgia buttons. There’s moments where you will laugh and others where you’ll cheer and some scenes where you’ll cry and it will be super embarrassing if you are a 31-year-old man named Zack. No matter what kind of fan you are of this franchise, there’s something somewhere in this film for you. That something that makes you remember your childhood and smile, even if you weren’t crazy about Star Wars like that. It's what Disney does best in almost every one of their films; it reconnects you with your youth and it's what keeps you coming back.
4 out of 5