SERIOUSLY. SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! STOP READING THIS AND GO SEE IT SO YOU CAN MAKE UP YOUR MIND FOR YOURSELF.
OK. One more time. SPOILERS
I enjoyed the film. I can't say I liked it as much as I did Force Awakens but it was good. Maybe on a second viewing some of my feelings on film will clear up in my head now that I know where it's going.
I honestly think some of my feelings, especially on tension, might have been down to how the film was marketed. I was so worried that they were about to take Luke down the dark side and ruin a beloved childhood hero that nothing in the film could do get me out of that nervous mood. I even posted on social media that I'd never been more nervous going into a film. Anyway, here are some parts that I thought were a bit....ehhhhh. I'll do good things after :p
Snoke: Well. That was kind of a let down wasn't it. We were all hoping for this immensely powerful Sith Lord and I guess we got sort of half that? immensely powerful force user but a Sith? Eeeeeeeh. Not sure. Kind of using the Sith paraphernalia as a means to an end maybe. And then of course, after showing this character with Rey and Kylo Ren too early in the saga he's killed. Like half way through the movie. What?!
Tension: The film sort of felt a bit, well, lacking. I'm not sure how to really put this into words. Too many endings? Not like the Return of the King too many endings fade to black new ending, fade to black. new ending. Just too many points that could be end of movie moments but weren't. It was like Rain Johnson was trying to edge us. Slowly building to what I thought was going to be the big dramatic show down full of tension, suddenly ending that bit before the tension had really built, then starting again. Which, for me, meant I was never to the point of 'OH MY GOD! WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?!'. In almost all lightsaber duels since Empire I felt that a hand was going to be cut off at any moment. In boils the tension inside of me. I never got that during this film.
Time: There were parts that happened too early or too late, should have been happening simultaneously or shouldn't. I guess that means 'time' was the real loser in all this. The timing didn't work. It's something that it's middle film counterpart (Empire) did so well. You have characters in different places but the amount of time spent at the different places is left up in the air. Having the countdown to fuel running out meant everything was limited. The film makes it seem like this all happened within a few days of the end of Force Awakens. That's not right.
Plot points: First off, there were SO MANY goods outs built it to say goodbye to Leia. Now, they're
going to have to fudge it in Episode IX. Reshoots are there for a purpose and Billie Lourd (who I was very pleased to see get a bigger role) and Laura Dern's characters could have filled that plot hole left by Leia's if they had chosen the early exit after the Bridge was blown up. They could have done it again with Leia staying onboard and sacrificing herself. So many ways to wrap up her story were available we a few reshot scenes and some clever editing.
The whole casino/hacker/Poe doesn't know arc was, a bit, well, dumb. And in my mind it's causes a lot of fault with the timing of the film. If they had all been told what the plan was, not escape on the smaller craft because they wouldn't be tracked they could get to the base earlier and use different means for the First Order to start the ground attack. That way you can save the Finn/Phasma big battle for the IX (WHERE IT SHOULD BE NOT GIVEN A CURSORY FEW MOMENTS IN VIII).
I know why they did the Snoke killing off in VIII rather than IX - they wanted to avoid the Return of the Jedi mirror. The more I think about it the more I see why it's there. They want Rey vs Kylo with no distractions for the finale. They want Kylo vs Hux for control of the First Order. I honestly think my dislike for it, is putting Rey in the mix then. it was too soon for her. Another showdown with Kylo would have made more sense to me. Another thing that annoyed me about that scene - were those guards the Knights of Ren? Why are they so Goddamn OP?! We saw Kylo halt a blaster round in midair in the first moments of VII. Where did all his power go?! Maybe those guards should have been the Knights of Ren and they and Kylo could have engineered a coup and taken Snoke out early on once Kylo had seen that Snoke thought him weak? Actually. I like that that. It would work nicely and then lead to a nice big climax with a Rey/Luke/Kylo showdown. Huh.
Ok. Moving on again. Things I liked.
Luke. Luke was wonderful. You saw the conflict within him. The same conflict that we saw in the cave on Dagobah. The line that comes back to me from Empire is:
LUKE "I'm not afraid."
YODA "Good. You will be. You will be."
Luke IS afraid. He's afraid of what he saw in Ben. He's afraid of what he created in Kylo Ren. He's afraid of the power he see's in Rey and what they could lead to. And as the force ghost of Yoda says "All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing". The lesson still rings true and Luke finally learns that.
The film also shows how powerful Luke must have been before he cut himself off from the Force. When he reconnects and is able to project himself across the galaxy. That's freaking powerful and I like that he used all he power to show just how badass he is one more time. Mark Hamill deserves a hell of a lot of plaudits for that performance. I hope he returns as a Force ghost in IX to help guide Rey.
I like showing how scared Rey was/is(?). Paraphrasing, but Yoda tells Luke in Empire 'Yeah. You should be scared!' Luke's own fear leads her down the path to Kylo. Fear is the path to the dark side.
The connections with Luke, Rey and Kylo are what I loved about the movie. Cleaning up the other stuff probably would have put it on a par with Force Awakens for me. It's so close, but just not quite there. But hey, I don't know what they have planned for IX. It could be, and probably will be, something I can't fathom which will turn everything I've said on it's head. Or maybe a second viewing will do that. Who can tell.
So that's it. Joe out.
P.S. sorry for the rambling nature. It's 1.30am and I'm writing as I think not pre-planning.