The plotting and exposition are a little sloppy at times (the climax with Palpatine is a tad puzzling) and the bevy of twists and fake-outs are a bit much, but overall this is a fun and technically-excellent starry sci-fi war/adventure movie carried by a refreshingly diverse cast of characters (men, women, humans, non-humans, old, young, past, new) and sprinkled with great bits of deeper character work (see the cool Rey-Kylo dynamic, along with their individual arc-defining moments) and humour.
Dare I say it starts off with almost cool neo-noir vibes? It ain’t no Blade Runner but the mystery plot, dark city setting, and moody Anakin make for a compelling first act (dated SFX aside, that city chase was great–and the Jedi duo generate surprising humour). The rest is solid as it sticks with a straight forward dual-narrative following Obi’s investigation and angsty Annie’s relational drama. Gets cheesy as it goes on (and on–it’s too long) but it’s fun (see C3P0’s head gag).
The core here is solid: one part engaging political power-games plot, one part planet-hopping adventure (loved the journey underwater: “There’s always a bigger fish”) with some moments of intrigue on the side (see the princess twist, Jedi council debate on the kid, the mysterious menace). Its often distasteful decoration (sorry Jar-Jar, you’re just a bit much; annoying Anakin isn’t helped by the script: “I’ll try spinning, that’s a good trick!”) weakens it but overall it’s still enjoyable.
Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order. (IMDb)
It was the cons I was thinking about when I left the theatre–the jumble of rollercoaster plot threads and tones, the bloated run-time, the sometimes cheesy dialogue (“Every word in that sentence was wrong”)–but it’s the pros that have been popping up for me ever since: The fantastic female representation, the fascinating relationship between pro- and an-tagonist, and the bold (often fourth-wall) subversions of tradition and expectations (see Yoda’s lightning, Poe’s humbling, Rose’s save).
Three decades after the Empire’s defeat, a new threat arises in the militant First Order. Stormtrooper defector Finn and the scavenger Rey are caught up in the Resistance’s search for the missing Luke Skywalker. (IMDb)
Self-sufficient Rey (“I know how to run without you holding my hand!”), nervous and naive Finn (“Stay calm” “I am calm” “I’m talking to myself”), and moody Kylo Ren (“I’m being torn apart”) make up a fresh and engaging trio of central characters (Poe was excellent too, just needed more screen time) that carry the film in spite of the weak plot and sometimes wooden returning characters. Great action, good pace, and surprisingly funny (“How do we blow it up? There’s always a way to do that”).
After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader return from the dark side of the Force. (IMDb)
A rambunctiously fun reunion and escape sequence starts things off well, but the fresh forest setting of Endor to follow brings with it some bad green-screened flying scenes (but a decent battle later), a campy captured-by-natives tangent (the Ewoks do have their charm though), and consistently wooden dialogue. Luke’s climactic confrontation with Vader and the Emperor, meanwhile, is overly simplistic and repetitive (“Join the dark side, feel the hate”; “No, I won’t fight”; fight, stop, etc.).
After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke. (IMDb)
Though there are more and better action sequences this time around (and a complimentary slow-paced storyline with the odd couple of Yoda and Luke), most of the characters start to feel a little stale (Han and Leia’s budding romance doesn’t do much to spice things up), Luke and Vader aside, as their passionate natures emerge and converge in their surprisingly personal climactic clash. An early contrivance (see Ben’s ethereal directive to Luke) is made up for by the intriguingly uncertain ending.
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. (IMDb)
Dated special effects, occasional over-acting (see Hamill and Fisher), and a cheesy ending are overcome by a classically engaging good vs. evil story set in an imaginative universe that smartly starts in media res and is filled with a colourful and complimentary cast of characters: The angsty young Luke and wise old Obi-Wan; the cocky Han Solo and equally headstrong Leia; the uptight C3PO and brave R2D2 (who, along with the charming Chewbacca are remarkably relatable for being unintelligible).