SPOILERS SPOILER SPOILERS
Spoilers everywhere, probably in the comments. I tried to avoid them in the tags though.
OH MY GOD I AM SO SERIOUS ABOUT THIS PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE AVOIDING SPOILERS
Welcome to the WALL OF TEXT! 😀
Below are some thoughts I needed to get down before they flittered away. I hope you enjoy them, and please share your thoughts in the comments!
- Finn is a well-developed character with a compelling backstory and plenty of agency., As a former stormtrooper, he isn’t afraid of violence per se, but more needless destruction. He is horrified by senseless slaughter, and is unafraid to run into a fight. He’s less Lando than Han, and he seems to be moving along that character arc. Which is cool, but I wonder what kinds of other conflict he could get into. I will say that although he brought some levity to the role, there were times I felt his lines were perilously close to an ‘OH HELL NAH’ and was worried the writers were about to blow it. His lines were sometimes hit-or-miss as far as breaking authenticity, but he definitely was NOT a wisecracking sidekick. I was worried when Rey left him in stasis at the end (and imagining the neckbeards crying out ‘Friendzoned!’ but they are wrong). However, I am confident the filmmakers aren’t going to take the first really compelling Person of Color in the new trilogy and fridge him – a quick check of Wikipedia says that Boyega is still starring in the next installment. Hopefully it isn’t some ‘Rey swings past the convalescence home and drops off Finn’s favorite snack before leaving him behind’ bullshit. I am thinking he’s the Han Solo of this trilogy.
- Rey is self-sufficient, VERY intelligent, and drives much of the plot with her technical expertise, piloting, and fighting abilities. She’s a COMPLETE badass but still has believable emotions – she isn’t some soulless killbot. I found her a compelling character, and can’t WAIT for the next installment to find out more of her backstory and what’s in store for her. When she settles into the Falcon‘s captain’s chair it felt so right and so natural. I am desperately trying to remember if Chewie was in the captain’s chair at the end or if it was her, and I can’t, so clearly I need to see the movie 8 more times.
- Han – Oh, HAN SOLO! God, Ford nailed it. The elderly swagger, the occasionally staggering into a run while growing ‘CHEWIE COME ON’ – I had all the feels. I think it was the right choice for Rey and Finn to find the Falcon, because otherwise why would they meet up with Solo? On his current trajectory of deadbeat dad, Solo would have continued avoiding his responsibility – the only reason he picks them up is because they’re flying the Falcon. I love when he finds out what BB-8’s carrying, when he hears the name Luke Skywalker spoken aloud – you can actually see all the old memories come flooding back, of that time in Solo’s life when he was a hero, and he did something that wasn’t just impossible, it was right. He only believed in the Force (and by extension his own good qualities) when he was around Luke. It makes sense Luke’s presence would be what draws him back to being a good, selfless person.
- Kylo Ren – Lord have mercy, Adam Driver was AMAZING. I don’t know what I expected when the helmet came off but that angelic face wasn’t it. GREAT villain, great set up and character development, and that moment when Solo calls out ‘Ben!’ – SO good. I think the role reversal is great, too – the original trilogy was about the redemption of Darth Vader but also Luke choosing not to follow the dark path of his father. I love that Episode seven is setting up a multi-generational conflict – and I wonder how much Ren knows about his Grandfather? Would Luke have told Ren about Anakin’s last act, and how selfless and noble it was? Episodes 7-9 are going to be his redemptive arc, I’m pretty sure. I am probably just figuring out what everyone else has known since like 2005, but bear with me, I’m old.
- Leia Organa – GOD that was inspired. Carrie Fisher carried every scene she was in like she was bringing water across the desert to her children, and it WORKED. She was weary, she was battle-hardened, and she knew exactly how high the price of failure would be because she’s seen it all before. The scene where Rey returns from Starkiller Base after Han’s death and Leia says nothing, just embraces her because they both lost somebody precious… so well done. For whatever reason this scene didn’t hit me as hard as I think it should have, but I’ll get to that.
- Lupita N’yongo – I loved Maz Kanata. Space pirate, sage, Resistance contact… her eyes weirded me out and I thought the crawling on the table a bit much, but I thought she lent great gravity to the cantina scenes, and to the moment after Rey’s vision.
- As I mentioned above, I think there were some emotional beats that fell flat. It could be that I was wired on caffeine, or the 4 hours I spent hanging outside the theater, but some emotional moments just didn’t hit me the way I thought they should have. The destruction of the Hosnian system felt glossed over. Likewise, Han’s death didn’t make me burst into hysterics the way I thought it should. Again, I might have been too wired to feel it. On the flip side, the first use of Starkiller’s death ray was INCREDIBLE – seeing it reflected in General Hux’s eyes was such a perfect touch. And SO MANY OTHERS were amazing – the first use of the Falcon, Rey’s vision, Finn choosing to help the Resistance, Finn yelling in Captain Phasma’s face… I could go on.
- The lightsaber battle – Luke trained hard with his saber in order to use it. Kylo Ren trained with Luke at some point, but when he left Luke’s training isn’t clear, so I can see him being proficient. I found Finn’s use of the saber more believable since storm troopers seemed to be using some kind of similar weapon that could take the strikes and used the same technology. I did not believe that Rey could just pick it up and go to work as well as she did, even if she WAS badass with that stick thing. Ren was already pretty messed up by the time she got to him though, and she did land some serious strikes. Still, YEARS of training go into handling a weapon like that, even if the person is a natural. I’m pretty sure the first two years are ‘how to NOT cut your own goddamn leg off on the backswing.’ There’s a reason Luke and Vader don’t cross sabers until the end of Empire, and Luke STILL gets his ass handed to him, even after he’s trained in both lightsaber and the Force.
- See also Finn’s lines, above. Be sure I am not criticizing his performance – the man was amazing and I loved him – but some of his lines felt odd. As I said, I will need at least 8 more viewings to really get my fingers into this.
So that are some thoughts! I might try to do an actual spoiler-free film review after the New Year, once the rest of Earth has seen the movie.
Hope you enjoyed this write-up! PLEASE share your thoughts in the comments!