You could say that I caved in or sold out, due to the fact that I actually watched this movie after multiple times going on small tirades about how I had no interest what so ever to see it. But in my defense I was trapped on a plane, there were still about four hour left to kill out of the ten hour non-stop direct flight that I was on and there was not much choice left to choose from on the in-flight entertainment library. Plus all the previous three movie that I had already watched before this had been pretty awful and disappointing. So when the choice was between either this or Tom Hardy’s Legend, I chose this because at least I knew going in that I was not going to like it, so there was at least no real chance of disappointment involved.
Now, there’s basically two ways to treat and look at this movie: you’re either an old fan of the franchise, with all the baggage that comes with it, or you’re an entirely new person coming into the lunacy that is Star Wars. I’m very much in the former category, and that is where the problem with me starts, because while I am an old person who still remembers the time when there were only the original trilogy, I am not a hardcore fan, nor even a particularly devoted fan in general who thought the new Disney backed movies being made were the Second Coming of nerd culture.
If you hadn’t guessed already, I pretty much hated everything about this movie. At the first hour mark I was already counting down the minutes to the moment when it would be over. My problem largely with this movie is the fact that it turned out to be such a blatant nostalgia bait with very little originality added into it. I can understand the logic behind wanting to cater to the fans by not straying too far from what worked before, but when your movie is almost nothing but a shallow recycle of A New Hope with new set of characters, it just feels incredibly lazy. Even a bit obnoxious. There’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way when everything about this movie feels so blatantly calculative in how blatantly it is milking money out of people via the massive cultural nostalgia that people have towards the original movies. So yeah, I found very little positive to say about this movie. The visuals were good, certainly. No grudges there. It does feel like Star Wars so it manages to capture the general feel of the previous movies at least. The acting was entirely okay, nothing particularly awful.
I’m slightly split when it comes to the character of Kylo Ren, the main antagonist of the story. On one hand, the design is pretty nice. And who doesn’t like an evil Sith Lord in Star Wars? But the fact remains that deep down, he’s nothing but a pathetic wannabe Darth Vader, which in itself is already kinda annoying on a couple of levels. For someone who’s meant to be the main antagonist of the story, he does a very poor job at being intimidating villain due to how childish and incompetent he is portrayed. To be fair, him being a loser is kinda the point and admittedly I did like his temper tantrums as isolated scenes removed from the rest of the movie, but honestly, if he’s suppose to be the physical embodiment of the evil and represent the physical embodiment of the threat that the First Order poses, making him be such hapless tool wrecks all the minimal tension that the story had managed to create. There should be a way to keep him as a threat to the main cast even if he is as an individual, after stripped away from his scary costume, is far from being the same type of an unstoppable force as Vader was.
While I’m not really sure if I would go as far as call whatshername, Rey, a mary sue, I am very much in the dislike camp when it comes to her as a character. I don’t hate her because she’s a female protagonist, I could care less about that. To me she was just utterly boring main cast member, whose competence levels felt way too plot convenient. There’s never any real sense of danger or excitement to anything she is involved with when she seems to whip out a solution to save herself from the danger with minimal effort. Even Luke started out as a bit of a country bumpkin and a pushover, completely out of his depth in the first movie and managed to mostly survive due to sheer dumb luck. He had to have some very hastely done training by Obi-Wan Kenobi before he even started to resemble vaguely a stereotypical sci-fi hero protagonist and him destroying the Death Star the way he did was a bit eye-rolling. With Rey, she’s just so bland and unattractive as a main lead character. Everything about her is just so dull and monotone from day one that it doesn’t help to make her likable enough to ignore her mary sue-ish flaws. Even her tragic family backstory feels entirely weak and one dimensional. It appears to be there only to force some pointless drama in the middle of the story when she runs away from Finn and crew, it never manages to form a real connection to you as a viewer, well, at least not to me. And then there’s her prowess in using the Force so easily. It irks me how quickly she just happens to master some basic mind control techniques and then went on to be able to defeat Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel. Granted, there was a large injury handicap involved but still. Finn using the lightsaber effectively in a fight was annoying enough on its own, but the duel between Rey and Kylo Ren really took the cake as being ridiculous.
If you had to boil it down, it’s really the constant references and calls backs to A New Hope and lack of originality that annoys the hell out of me and makes me dislike this movie. I usually don’t get this hot and bothered over pandering, but this felt so much like J.J. Abrams’ own personal, teenage fan fiction that somehow got made into a feature film, rather than a proper new installment into the franchise. It didn’t tell an interesting, let alone engaging, sci-fi story. It was too preoccupied to cater to the fans and going “hey remember this? Wink, wink.” and that is the absolutely worst way to make a movie. Once you got to the point where they did a reference to the hologram alien chess board on the Millenium Falcon, that was the point I simply stopped caring. It had become entirely obnoxious with the fanservice. The story is thing as a strand of rice noodle and about as limp.
Suffice to say, I’m not going watch the second installment of this new series of Star Wars movies any time soon. I recently watched the Rogue One trailer, and beyond nice aesthetics, I am not planning to go see that one either. I suppose you could say I am pretty much done with the franchise as far as live action movies go.