By Cynthia Ayala
“Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn, and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.” —IMDB
I have many feelings about this film. After The Force Awakens, at first, I was so excited and happy about the film that I overlooked the massive flaws within in, those flaws being the lack of originality. That being said, it was still funny, had great direction and a straightforward story. I mean, how can you go wrong when all you do is redo Episode IV. However, considering the lack of originally and mulling over it for a year, my excitement for this film was at an all-time low. I went into this film with the lowest of expectations. Thus I enjoyed it. Then I made the fatal mistake of watching it a second time with my fiancé. I should not have done that, and here’s why: the things that bugged me, the flaws, they just became more prominent the second time around.
To be honest, I would have been happier had this movie just redone Episode V, and at this point, I wish it had. The movie fails to tell a story with precision. It is the longest Star Wars film, clocking in at 2 hours and 32 minutes, and the audience can feel that. The pace of the film just doesn’t stay strong throughout the film; it slows down way too much dragging out scenes sapping the power from them. It was excessive. Powerful moments should be kept concise to capitalize on the power of the scene and the dynamics of the cast and characters. This film, ultimately, fails to do that. There are several scenes, from the whole casino scenario which didn’t see the story at all and could have been cut completely, to the sequence when Rey is in the cave with her reflection, and when Luke faces off against Kylo Ren. Those are just a handful of examples.
Furthermore, there’s Rose. She was the most unessential character in the film, and not only that it is clear she is an inexperienced actress, and usually, I would not care, but it is the director’s job to shake that out of her or at least make it not so apparent by helping to direct her. She has no chemistry, romantic wise, with Finn, so that whole forced relationship, is bogus, It does not fit, it does not work. It is clear that Johnson had an endgame, to get Finn to face Phasma, but their plan just didn’t work out, not even a little. She was just so unessential to the plot line of the film, and her acting is slightly painful to watch, especially when you add in her lack of chemistry with Finn. Phasma herself is a sore spot for me. Once again, there is this amazing actress who knows how to sword fight given the most minimal of screen time. Understandably her schedule might be tight due to Game of Thrones, but still, she is an intimidating woman with a skill that deserves to be recognized on the big screen. To be honest, it did not serve anything and again could have been cut. The whole mini-storyline regarding Finn and Rose just should have been cut.
Also, the “Resistance,” yeah they suck. These rebels are simply the worst. The new Admiral does not share the plans that would have kept people alive? Come on, what is that? It does not make sense; it was a pointless creation of tension. They just died off and didn’t communicate with one another. That is not a team fighting for survival, that is not how the dynamics should be structured. It failed the Rebel cause. You make plans, you discuss them, and whether or not you agree, at least there is tension in those disagreements, in that communication. This film failed the Resistance; it failed the Rebels.
Also, there’s Snoke. Seriously, they just brought him in and did absolutely nothing with him whatsoever. We know nothing about this character, where he came from, how he got his hooks into Kylo, all we know is that he did. What a rip.
I think I read somewhere that there is a great 90-minute movie hidden somewhere in this film. I think I agree with that. Cut out a bunch of the fluff, cut down half of those dragged out scenes, and the film really would have had a stronger focus on the story, it would have had a stronger focus on the direction of the story. Right now, this film does not please me, not as a film critic and not as a Star Wars fan. A part of me wants to take this film and take it apart scene by scene. However, doing that would not be fair. There are some hidden gems in the film. Mark Hamill was amazing and his comedic side, his grumpy side, that guilt, it made sense for the film. I wish we had seen more of him as a Jedi using his Jedi skills and mastery, but there was some sense to his creation and development that served the purpose of the film. The aspect of the force connecting Kylo and Rey, that was interesting, and it was nice to see something new explored within the Force, something other than dodging and lifting rocks.
At the end of the day, I should not have seen this film more than once. That is my recommendation. (★☆☆☆ | C-)
Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Rian Johnson
Based on Characters by George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Billie Lourd, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern & Benicio del Toro
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures