Because of what I do, every day I am being asked what are my thoughts about the movie… it often seem like an ambush; many time I am being straight up told what I should feel about it. The beauty about an opinion is that it is personal, however one can be fiercely protective. There will always be people who love unconditionally or hate as much; and that’s fine. However I get annoyed by those who characterize their negative opinion in 2 or 3 words…borderline trolling away; constructive criticism is in short supply and I do not believe any movie ( nor this one) can be wholly hated including music, acting, storytelling, efx, real fx, directing, photography etc… So this is my OWN opinion of what I liked and disliked about the movie … and I am no longer ashamed to admit I liked it a lot.
It brings me a smile when people complained they had to drive an hour to see a movie they described in one word… I flew 12 hours in economy to catch a movie. I have been a fan for 40 years and I was not going to wait for January release in China so I flew to back to Europe to catch the premiere on Dec 14th… that alone is commitment to the SWU. Funny enough a close friend and lifetime die hard fan had watched it before me and bombarded me with messages dissing the movie … and now after 3 screening actually enjoys it. I believe Kevin Smith is right when he theorizes that some of the backlash is from people who invested 2 years of their lives in building complex theories … none of which played out at all (which I think it is brilliant). I can understand the anger, the sentiment of being cheated or the fact that no one comes out “winner” in the arguments about Snoke, Rey’s parents, Luke story… but that’s why we have books.
When I came out from my first screening I personally had a strange feeling; some parts of the movie did not feel in tune with either the classic Star Wars universe or the new trilogy introduced in TFA… I liked it and I felt guilty about it. Not everything resonated with me and there were parts I had a hard time reconcile with ( still do) but overall I genuinely liked it. The second screening was much better and I was able to say that yes I liked EP8. I justified it due to the lack of stress: I did not have to wait for every plot, I knew what was going to happen, no more surprises good or bad … I could relax and enjoy the movie.
Mirroring and Nostalgia
One argument I got over and over again was those who thought EP7 was great because it had so much of the OT embedded in it. Of course at time of the release a lot of people did not like this either. I was confronted with the nostalgia argument. I too liked EP7 for the many call backs and the mirroring of the story, it felt comfortable because I was in the known area of my fandom and had waited o long to feel “home” again. Somehow I knew this was going to come again in EP8 which worried me a bit; I would have hated a “Rey, I’m your brother” or anything remotely similar. So EP8 was refreshing because I got some call backs but I also felt a lot of novelties and in both cases it seemed to be in the right proportion to my taste. You can easily spot some ANH, ESB and ROTJ references which indicate that thanks to EP8 we are now potentially in uncharted territories and EP9 now has full potential to close a saga in totally novel ways. I like that. Interestingly the nostalgia arguments goes either as too much or not enough… I guess we are hard to please.
What’s wrong with a laugh?
Some have argued to me that Star Wars is not a comedy and that it should be taken seriously. First of, it is a space opera and that in itself is kind of a fun thing, most importantly it is meant to be enjoyed by a broad audience including kids so a dose of humor is necessary. Thirdly, the OT was filled with “funny” moments; humor has evolved over the years and may have to be a little less subtile than it was in the OT but I am ok with that and so is my daughter.I liked the humor injected in the movie, it felt fresh reminiscent to what Marvel has done and it did bring me closer to the characters.
Luke: Strength comes from weakness
Many have bombarded me with questions/statement about how Luke was misrepresented. Interestingly to back up their argument most of what I heard was “Mark said so himself”. Yes, Mark Hamill did say in interviews that he disagreed with everything about Luke in the script … and most people stopped there. He also said in the same pre-release interviews. that his personal vision of a Jedi was being challenged and that he had to work hard to re-interpret his role but that eventually he really liked what came out of it.
The second thing used to try to turn me, again from Mark Hamill interviews, was that a Jedi would never leave the world, would fight, would do its utmost to right a wrong. Of course that does not account for two things 1. We already knew about it in EP7 and it’s like like Obiwan or Yoda did not do the very same. I often find it sad that the argument stops then, the fact that Luke is portrayed as potentially one of the greatest Jedi ever is lost on people as if being able to summon the force to appear in a planet lightyears away and physically appear and interact with people and droids is just fine. Mo other Jedi or Sith has accomplish that feat in the official SW canon.
The final showdown with Kylo was also a great balance between beautiful photography, classic OT swordplay and display of amazing Jedi powers; clearly showing how much further Kylo has to achieve.
The big reveals
So Snoke is actually not that important and we know nothing more about him; he is a powerful and mighty Force user… did I really wanted to see another “Emperor” like character all along? I am not sure but I have no issue with his death. I am sure there will be plenty of books about Snoke but as a character in this saga I think his role as mentor to show that Kylo Ren has not master his gift was great but knowing he got played and slaughtered is even better. It leaves the main stage to Kylo ( Vader never had it) a broken, conflicted, impetuous, angry dude who just got dropped by a girl. Snoke’s Death was reminiscent of the Vader plot in ESB and much like back in those days when fan felt betrayed ( I was shocked then) a lot of those who invested 2 years trying to figure out what and who must have been stunned by the plot twist.
The second major reveal was about Rey’s parentage and again , shocker: everything that has been talked about for two years, all of it, down the drain into the trash compactor. Another twist that many fans may have not liked. Sadly a certain portion of people cannot admit it and already new theories are being made and discussed – we never seem to learn.
Rey’s is a natural and powerful at that.
So she is set to become a bad ass and ideally I would have love to see her undergoing a bit more training. That being said I can live with the rational that a. She is a very naturally powerful ( probably as powerful as DV) force user, more powerful than Luke was at her age and with a really deep connection to the force. She does not need battle training as evidenced in EP7 ( she fought all her life) she just need to understand her power and place which she clearly demonstrate at the end of the movie…and she has the sacred books to help her along. All in all I will wait for EP9 to make a final judgment on this.
Blast from the past
Yoda… I very much enjoyed Yoda being back in its full ESB glory. This is another example of a masterful call back. Yoda as a puppet is brilliant ( vs the CGI prequel disaster) at the same time the “young Skywalker” to an old man was reminiscent of Yoda being 900 when he died; the voice and the “crazy” talk were balanced with the same deep, thoughtful wisdom and there he laid the one about Master and Students … having been in educator myself it probably resonated much more than others… In any case I connected deeply with that sequence.
Before the release, I feared the porgs were going to be another jar-Jar / Ewok debacle; remember OT fans “hated” the Ewoks who were later rehabilitated because of Jar-Jar, but I digress. I was dead set on hating porgs before stepping in the theater. When I first saw them I was hoping for a lightsaber blast in the eyes (like in the conceptual drawing I later discovered) but I guess that was kept for better usage with the pretorian guards. I cheered when I saw Chewie roasting one and then I somehow changed my mind. They were not too distracting and actually a good “side kick” to Chewie which in turns gave him is own status as a character on it’s own, which he well deserves.
But there are still things that bothered me, some more than others… some maybe addressed in EP9 others will remain an annoyance for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I was emotional seeing her on the screen for the last time…and personally I thought the scene when she is blown into space would have been a legitimate ending for Leia and a fitting good bye. I was not expecting the next part and really I felt robbed of a strong closure. She was amazing in the rest of the movie but I really cannot reconciliation with the space flight…and somehow the visual eft felt totally off; this is a huge downer for me.
I get that connection with EP4 and the blue milk but that scene weirded me out. The way the sirens was sitting down, the nipples, the squeezing action, the sound … it was just pure weird; I’ll survive but definitely not the most visually pleasant scene.
He is the Boba Fett of this trilogy, you do not see him that often but you kinda root for him and being blown into deep space was a big shocker. But then so was it when Boba felt into the saarlac in the most “stupid” way by all bounty hunter standards. Again a tear she for a beloved character but I guess a necessary step I the direction to clean up the stage for the new act.
The only usefulness of this ark that I can think off is to introduce the code breaker masterfully played and which I am hoping to see more of in the future and press unto us that possible love story between Flyn and Rose which will presumably take the stage in EP9. Aside of that I can say that was a big waste of time, and the aliens introduced in that part of the movie were just not interesting at all and once again ( at least in one particular frame) bordered dangerous stereotypes. As far as understanding that the galaxy is filled with soul less “business” vaulters selling to whoever wants ; I had no issue with that, this is what happens today in this world so why should it be different.
Hold the Holdo
The plan was masterful but why did she feel the need to keep it so secret? There was no indication that there was a need for such secrecy amongst ranking officers; that could have avoided unnecessary waste of time and conflicts. More importantly she is staying back to keep piloting the vessel ( and die) as if there was no autopilot or droid able to do just that. Finally if you are on a suicide mission and you realize that you have been found out why taking so long before the kamikaze hyperspace jump? First ship down you realize you’ve been made …execute plan instead of waiting for half the fleet to be destroyed one by one.
The crystal creatures
As much as I did not mind the porgs, these were totally useless and brought nothing to the story, action or otherwise.
Chem Chimney Chem Chimney …Potter?
I understand the idea of the renewal and that the Force does not need lineage…but did we really have to have the poor performance of broom boy at the end? The efx for the Force pull of the broom was really iffy at best, the facial expression was off and the broom in the hand looked more like a guitar than a light saber…and that nagging feeling of young Anakin in EP1; major let down for me and a dangerous trend you see in so many movies: unnecessary multiple endings …
To conclude , there is certainly more that could be discussed but these are the main points for me.
Again this is a personal opinion with no desire to change anybody’s mind but at least they are explained not just mindlessly expressed through verbal assault.