Do. Or do not. There is no try.
Star Wards TLJ did not. It did not try. While it has the visuals, the music and the tone, it did not try where it matters. The STORY.
Star Wars has always been a fairytale. A young boy goes on a journey to save the princess and overthrow the evil emperor. The boy discovers his special strength, an old master teaches him ancient mysteries, the brash scoundrel becomes a freedom fighter and returns in time to save the day, huge monsters roar and there is a princess. Her father is an ambassador, but she’s a princess because every fairytale must have a princess!
A fairytale is first and foremost a story. This is where director/writer Rian Johnson got it wrong.
I read many rave reviews, seen many “you don’t get it” or “ Johnson rebooted the series” responses as well. The way I see it, Johnson delivered a screen play disrespectful of the Star Wars legacy.
The story is inconsistent with the saga, most characters are dull, and there are whole plot lines that are completely redundant. It is as if the TLJ story is just the vehicle to pass from one action scene to another, and the whole and only purpose is to destroy what Lucas has been building for decades.
While it’s true that some of these points are also relevant for The Force Awakens, they can be partially excused by the presence of Harrison Ford, the mystery surrounding Rey’s origins, nice additions such as BB-8 and a more formidable Kylo Ren.
However, just about everything is wrong about TLJ. Here is a partial list of flaws in characters, scenes and plotlines:
Luke has been living in isolation in Anch-To, a remote planet on an isolated island to which he ran away from his Padawan-turned-evil.
Really? Read that again. Is that something Luke would have done? Would Luke have tried, even thought, of killing Ben Solo when he sensed the dark side within him? We’re talking about the child who turned Darth Vader, the bad ass Lord of the Sith back into the light.
Not showing up for the final battle? Even if I would accept the whole recluse thing of Luke, and the reasoning behind that is shaky at best, I would expect him to have lifted the x-wing off the water and come blazing to meet Kylo on the field.
This is just plain unlike the character. Rian Johnson got this one dead wrong.
We had enough of the teenage rage part on the previous movie. “Oh, I want to be as bad as my grandpa, but I can’t bring myself to shoot because mommy is on that ship”. Cut the crap! You can’t be like your grandfather behaving like that. I thought Snoke took him to “complete his training” in between the movies. Kylo should have been a cold dark hearted bad guy by now. His inner struggle isn’t that interesting, and makes it hard for him to pass as a formidable evil figure.
Snoke tells Kylo to throw the stupid helmet away, so he breaks the walls around him.
He throws people away in a display of total lack of self-control.
Darth Vader would have just walked away slowly while people collapse behind him without giving them a second look.
We see him without a shirt. In his pajamas. Totally undignified for such a character.
30 years after the fall of the empire, and we have a larger, stronger first order controlled the galaxy. And its leader is Snoke.
Snoke? What is that? A mix of Smug and Snape? Darth Sidious is a name. Darth Tyranus. Darth Maul. Darth Plageuis. The Sith have been undermining the galactic empire for 1000 years, a master and an apprentice, before the culmination of their plan with Darth Sidious taking over and establishing the empire. Now, 30 years after his downfall there is a Snoke appeared out of nowhere, and he’s controlling the galaxy with the largest military force the galaxy has even seen?
And what a stupid way to die. The apprentice just turns the lightsaber and cuts him in half at the pinnacle of his evil plan to bring over Rey. Emperor Palpatine would not have fallen for that trick. Impossible the all-powerful Snoke would have been taken in.
This plot line is disrespectful of the old villains and totally diminishes their power and efforts.
Daisey Ridley is enchanting, and her accent is perfect. She’s the only good thing happening in the movie, and has a basic appeal that just works (for both actor and character).
However, Johnson missed an opportunity to make something great out of her role. For the most part, she’s in Anch-To trying to get Luke to train her and help the Resistance. He rejects her, she persists. Then there is the pit of blackness. Bah. Nothing’s there. And the weird communication with teenage Kylo who wants to be a bad boy.
Instead, he could have made something out of her training, make her useful in the last battle.
Finally, her parentage? What is the point of this anticlimax? Johnson builds a mystery, and then just, oh well, meh.
At least we got the battle scene with the red guards to help us through the disappointment.
Canto Bight and other characters
The new characters just don’t shine. We already mentioned about Kylo, Snoke and Rey, but the rest are inconsistent and uninteresting as well. Finn had nothing to do in this movie. They invented Rose just to create something for him, but this whole cannon attack scene is redundant. It simply doesn’t serve the story.
Poe has some Han-like charm with his swashbuckler vibe, but the whole trip to get the “code breaker” — as if anyone has used something that is not a droid to break codes in the last 25,000 years — just serves as something for Finn and Poe to do. Going through all that trouble just to find a guy that later betrays them? They could just as easily decide that Rose is the code breaker or BB-8 can do it, and spare us ½ an hour of horse races in the dark. Artificially pushing scenes into the story to fill time, or make political statements about the World’s war machine is just bad story writing. Nothing else to say here.
Admiral Holdo? What purpose does her character have? Had she just told Poe she had a plan we would have been spared of the whole Canto Bight plot line.
All these things are just feeler. They serve no purpose propelling the story forward, don’t reveal anything interesting about any of the characters, and are in general just poor story telling.
Captain Phasma? Well, she’s more bad ass that Kylo or his boss, I’ll give her that, but again, it just feels like a distraction and serves no real plot function except a cool fighting scene.
The new Republic
What happened with the new republic is a shame. For 25,000 years the old republic existed, with ups and downs, only to be destroyed by Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader thus provoking the rebellion and the whole Star Wars series.
And the rebels won. So now, merely 30 years later, the new republic doesn’t exist and a more sinister empire controls the galaxy.
Why did we bother with the original movies? Was the rebellion for nothing? How was the rebellion defeated in 30 years?
The story line completely downplays the historic role of the original series, and that is just plain disrespectful, if not sacrilege.
We’ll have to see if JJ Abrams succeeds bringing the story back to a meaningful finale, but at this point in time, I couldn’t be more disappointed in Johnson’s abomination of a film.
This is my first post at medium. I have never written a film review before, and might never do so again. But this film compelled me to so because I am a die hard Star Wars fan, and have been for almost 40 years now. However, as you probably understand, this is my least favorite movie in the series.
Thoughts or opinions? I’d love to hear what you thought of the film.
If you agree — or strongly disagree, give the post a clap.
Thanks for reading!