Well lads, buckle in, as I finally sat down to type out my thoughts now that I saw it for the third time last night. Honestly I doubt anyone cares, but I’ve loved seeing everyone else’s thoughts and reactions, so I figured I’d share mine. To be honest, almost all of my thoughts have been shared by someone or another at one point. Everyone is going to have their own truth about how good the movie is, and my thoughts definitely mirror bits and pieces from many of the members here. Main ideas all in CAPS:
REY: Loved her. I thought Daisy knocked it out of the park in terms of acting, and I liked the character a lot. On my second and third re-watches I was able to appreciate the depth and subtlety to her acting. I think the criticism that she became too good with the Force too soon is valid, to an extent. Personally, I believe she did have some Force training when she was little, as well as that when she had her little battle of the minds with Kylo, it ‘awoke’ something in her. (That second point I am nearly sure of; I just wish they showed it in the movie better).
FINN: I thought Boyega did a great job acting the character, nothing to fault there. However, I wasn’t super sold on the character himself, if that makes sense. Some of the things he said and how he acted made him seem more like someone from our world, not someone in the Star Wars universe. The ‘cute boyfriend’ line really stood out to me, for example.
KYLO REN: Fantastic. Adam Driver is an incredible actor, and one of the characters I was extremely skeptical about turned into one of the movie’s strengths. He seemed like a Darth Vader wannabe, and that’s exactly what he was, yet somehow he wasn’t a crappy character, and actually conveyed intimidation. A couple of things there: I think his effortless and effective use of the Force helped with this (I loved that). I also noticed they really always emphasized his heavy footsteps, which added to the feeling of foreboding. Lastly, I saw someone mention on Reddit once (unrelated to SW) how hard it is to act with a mask on (honestly harder than with your normal face), and Driver absolutely nailed the subtle movements and small touches.
BB-8: Another character that I was immensely skeptical of, but turned out to be one of the movie’s strengths. Honestly, everything about BB-8 was great. The subtle movements were spot-on. I had thought the character might be gimmicky, but on the whole, he was very earnest, and was a solid plus to the movie.
POE: Love Oscar Isaac, and think he did well with the time he had here. Honestly, he wasn’t in it that much so there’s not much else to say. I did like the humorous ‘who talks first’ exchange with Kylo, that was the perfect level of humor for a SW movie in my opinion.
PHASMA: Barely in it, her hype was built up too high for some reason. It definitely seems to be a Boba Fett scenario to me. Plotwise, I feel a Captain as important as her would die before taking down the shields, so that annoyed me somewhat, and if she turns out to be a thorn in the Resistance’s side in the future, I’m also going to be annoyed that they didn’t take the chance to kill her.
HAN SOLO: Harrison killed it, and as others have said, he was ‘Han Solo’ and not ‘Harrison Ford acting.’
PRINCESS LEIA: Not much to say here. I personally wish she had more to do and say, but if she wasn’t up to the acting task, so be it.
LUKE SKYWALKER: Definitely wish he was in the movie more. I still think that’s a mistake, but with that being said, I recognize this is a trilogy of movies to tell a story, so his role may simply be more geared towards the next couple of movies. In terms of him disappearing and hiding, I really don’t like that. I don’t think that is how Luke Skywalker would act. In terms of his physical appearance, I absolutely loved it. Just loved it. A great look for him.
THE MUSIC: I was really counting on Williams’ score to be a strength of the movie, and I was honestly let down. I think the lack of a ‘flagship’ song hurt (which was one thing I personally did like about the prequels). After my first viewing, I was definitely disappointed. However, after my multiple views and listening to the soundtrack on a nice sound system at home, I have softened my views. As someone else said somewhere here, it had more of a ‘serial adventure’ type of vibe, rather than an epic vibe. I like epic, so again, for me personally, I was a bit sad. I can acknowledge its effectiveness though. It did what it needed to do, but didn’t contribute much else above and beyond in my opinion. Rey’s theme was the definite strength in my eyes.
HAN SOLO’S DEATH: Sigh. There’s a lot to say here. Undeniable fact: Everyone in the movie theater knew it was coming during that scene. I feel like that is pretty objective. Now, whether that is a bad thing is up for debate (I’m torn). Now, into the subjective realm: there is a lot of talk that it was a disrespectful death or could have been handled better. I can definitely see this, but at the same time, I think my recent generation who has been exposed to Game of Thrones realizes that death in real-life isn’t glamorous. It’s sudden and brutal. So from that angle, I can understand the decision. However, Star Wars is not Game of Thrones, and it is not real life. So maybe the character did deserve better, like going out by sacrificing himself or via some other heroic, noble deed. I think my final conclusion is that it could have been done better, but I’m hard-pressed to say what exactly I wish happened.
SNOKE: A huge weakness. I’m not happy about him and honestly his existence. The look was done poorly, the CGI was unnecessary, and the fact that he was just a clone of Emperor Palpatine was blah. This is a feeling that actually got stronger on my re-watches. A large weakness in the movie.
MAZ: On my re-watches, I also realized she was a weakness. I’m actually struggling to figure it out exactly, but she was just a generally boring character. She just kind of… existed, again if that makes sense. It seemed like she was only there to usher the plot along. And her castle being a ripoff of the cantina was also blah.
PLOT: Speaking of ripoffs and the plot, I think we arrive to the main weakness: the plot. As has been well-documented, it was a straight rip-off/clone of A New Hope. I have seen people trying to argue against that, and honestly, don’t listen to them. It was. That’s all there is to it. I’m honestly fine borrowing elements from the originals, but truthfully, I think it went a bit overboard. Abandoned child, desert planet, secret in a droid, big planet destroyer, LITERALLY A TRENCH leading to the final run to destroy the weapon, etc. This one makes me sad. I expected more from JJ here.
STARKILLER BASE: And how we get to a huge part of the plot weakness, the existence of the Starkiller Base. That was pretty poor. I really don’t know how to justify that. The closest I’ve seen here, and it’s a fair point, is thinking about nukes in our world, and how much they have dominated history since they’ve been developed. I can acknowledge that, but still think it was a poor decision in terms of movie-making to include it.
POLITICS: I think they went too far the opposite direction of the prequels, by not including enough political explanations. The whole Republic and Resistance and First Order thing needed to be explained more. The explanation floating around (from the Visual Dictionary I think) is perfectly fine; they should have included that somehow.
R2-D2 and C-3PO: R2 suddenly waking up at the end was iffy, but I suspect it’s because Rey was there (first time she was at that base). The whole map as a missing puzzle piece that apparently no one knew where it was from also was iffy to me. As I saw someone mentioning here, C-3PO’s color did seem off; he wasn’t as shiny. However, his purpose in life of cockblocking Han Solo was reaffirmed, and was excellently done.
THE LIGHTSABER FIGHT: I can’t understand the criticism of this scene. It was great, honestly the best of the movie. People saying that Kylo shouldn’t have been beaten is just silly to me. He took a shot from a Wookie bowcaster. Finn was a trained soldier who knew how to fight. Rey was shown as very competent with a staff on Jakku, and was starting to get her Force feet under her. The interaction with the environment was great, and just the raw, primal instincts were captured well. And when Rey caught the lightsaber… that legitimately gave me chills.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Wow, sorry I rambled on. That was a lot. Since I was pointing out specific nitpicks, I probably came across more negatively than I actually feel. It was a good movie, don’t let any Debbie Downers tell you it was bad. In fact, it was honestly quite enjoyable. With that all being said, I drank a bit too much of the Kool-Aid, and I was expecting at least a bit more from JJ. I think the most telling facet of all of this, though, is that I’m genuinely excited for Episode VIII. I really do want to see what happens, and I care about the characters.