The grand finale for the Star Wars trilogy of trilogies is here. Or not so grand, because I went to see it in Oradea on the second day after it was released, and the cinema had at least a third of the seats empty.
I didn’t enjoy TLJ [LINK] and I didn’t enjoy this one either, but for different reasons. The first one is the iconic scroller and the next five minutes: in the scroller we are told Palpatine’s back (sorry, but this was known before the movie came out) and then Kylo Ren goes to meet him. Palpatine gives Kylo a mission in exchange for a fleet of ships and buh bye. That’s it. No explanation, no nothing. Except a remark that Palpatine created Snoke. By doing this, they cheapen the ending of the Return of the Jedi. Vader’s sacrifice means a lot less, because he failed at getting rid of Palpatine.
The movie is very action packed. Almost all the time someone, usually Rey or Kylo (or both), are running around. In one sense, this is a good thing, because we see a lot of lightsaber fights between the two of them. On the other hand, Star Wars, with it’s grand ideas about light versus dark, about freedom versus tyranny and so on, would normally need to give some breathing space for viewers to process and understand what is going on.
The visuals of the movie are absolutely gorgeous. They didn’t skimp at all on visual effects, neither for rendering exotic planets, nor for showing all kinds of alien species.
The movie is also full of throwbacks to previous movies, such as Lando Calrissian showing up again. It’s amazing how they still managed to get Leia in the movie, even though Carrie Fisher passed away before filming started, so they had to use scrap footage they had from before. We get some explanations for things that left us puzzled in the TLJ, such as the fact that Leia had Jedi training, but she didn’t finish it.
There are several new characters, including two really cute ones: a new robot “D-0”, who seems to be the dumbest one so far, but makes for a couple funny jokes, and Babu Frik, the really cute robot repairer who messes around with C3POs memory.
Unfortunately, most of the film is not very memorable. I watched it 4 days ago, and I already can’t describe most of the middle of the movie. It involves a chase for some sort of a MacGuffin device, going from planet to planet following clues. Beautiful planets, some new characters, but the why and the what is forgettable.
The beginning is memorable, when Palpatine shows up. The end is memorable, but mostly in a facepalm way, when Palpatine is killed by Rey. Kylo/Ben Solo is also thrown off a cliff by Palpatine, but he survives, climbs back up, saves Rey from death, they kiss and then he poofs away into the Force.
One of the other reasons I’m quite so upset is how easily characters change heart. Kylo Ren for two and a half movies has been the bad guy, but now suddenly his mom whispers to him across the galaxy and he becomes a good guy? Or similarly, Rey is intent on destroying her grandfather, Palpatine, but then he reveals that due to new, out of the blue, Force shenanigans, if she kills him with a lightsaber, he will “move” into her. She still plans to proceed, gets ready to strike him down, when she suddenly has a change of heart. Gimme a break.
Also, in TLJ, nobody came when the Resistance asked for help. Now, the sky is filled with ships when they called for help. I get that Lando might have a lot of friends, but not that many friends.
All in all, I was disappointed by this movie. I know it’s a sci-fi movie, but I still expect better from it. I expect more logic and consistency in what can happen in universe. I think it was a mistake letting Ryan Johnson direct TLJ, so now J.J. Abrams had to correct the many mistakes he made, so he didn’t have time to make the cool Star Wars stuff.