-The Holiday Special
-The Empire Strikes Back
-Return of the Jedi
-The Phantom Menace
-Attack of the Clones
-Revenge of the Sith
There are two cardinal rules for making a sequel. The first is that you cannot undo or cancel out the previous film. The second is that you cannot simply repeat the previous film. This movie does both.
We open with the word the Luke Skywalker has vanished and that the ‘First Order’ has arisen from the ashes of the Empire. Now Max Von Sydow has found a map that could show the way to Luke’s location. He passes it off to a pilot named Poe, who puts it in his droid, BB-8, which he sends off into the desert when the First Order attacks. BB-8 ends up in the hands of a scavenger named Rey, while Poe meets a defecting Stormtooper named Finn who breaks him out of the First Order, only for them to be separated on the desert world. Finn bumps into Rey, they escape onboard the Millenium Falcon (which was sitting in the junkyard), then meet up with Han Solo. Turns out the First Order has a planet-sized Death Star, which they use to destroy the Republic, then the race is on to destroy the weapon before it can wipe out the Resistance (which is not the Republic, but is supported by them).
So…I hate this movie.
Let’s start with the story. Just from that description you might be able to see part of the problem; it’s a jumbled mess. There’s the plot of looking for Luke, who presumably can stop the First Order. That depends on getting BB-8 to Leia and out of the hands of the First Order. But then there’s the super weapon plot, which comes completely out of nowhere about a third of the way in. Nothing thus far hints that the First Order has this thing, there’s no foreshadowing whatsoever; we just cut to it, then we see it wipe out a solar system in one shot from across the galaxy. The two plots are pretty much unconnected, except that the same characters end up involved in both. Mixed up in that is a subplot of Han Solo trying to reach his son, who has gone over to the Dark Side and become the villainous Kylo Ren. This doesn’t start to come into play until the final third (but more on Han later). There’s also sort of a subplot where Rey wants to find her parents, but then maybe wants to become a Jedi.
In the original film, everything revolved around the Death Star: we are told about it in the opening crawl. The plans to the weapon are the MacGuffin. Luke Skywalker yearns for adventure, which he finds aboard the Death Star in rescuing Leia from its dungeon. Han Solo is chartered to take them to Alderan, which is destroyed by the Death Star, requiring him to find a way to get his ship off the station. Obi-Wan’s teachings of the Force are ultimately what allow Luke to destroy the Death Star, which is foreshadowed when Vader warns the Imperial officers that the Force is a power beyond even this “technological terror.”
Even the prequels did this; in Phantom Menace everything revolved around the invasion of Naboo: it began in the opening and was defeated in the climax. In Attack of the Clones, everything revolved around a plot to assassinate Amidala, and while that sort of petered out, the ending still tied into the beginning. They were badly done, but they were more or less contained stories. Here it’s two or three unrelated plots awkwardly stitched together. The Luke Skywalker plot doesn’t tie into the super-Death Star, which isn’t really connected to Kylo Ren’s relation to his father, which isn’t at all linked to Rey waiting for her parents.
On top of that, the world building is horrendous in this film. We’re told the First Order ‘rose from the ashes of the Empire’ Okay, what does that mean? Are they left over officers and men from the Empire? Didn’t the Republic do anything to try to stop their rise? How much of the Galaxy do they control relative to the Republic? When did they arise: only after Luke left, as implied in the opening crawl, or right after the Empire’s fall? Where are they getting the kind of vast resources to build their armies? And what of the Republic: what’s their presence in the Galaxy? What the Hell is the ‘Resistance’ and why is it, Order instead of the Republic? Oh, but the Republic is ‘supporting them.’ Why isn’t the Republic just fighting the First Order if they’re the resurgent Empire? Why this convoluted nonsense about a Resistance?
The filmmakers put absolutely no effort into establishing this scenario: they simply declared that it was so because they wanted to recreate the ‘Rebel-Empire’ dynamic and didn’t care that it essentially violates the ending of Return of the Jedi. Now, you could get to that point again, or recreate the dynamic without gutting the established canon, but that would have required a modicum of imagination, so instead they arbitrarily declare that there’s a new Empire and new Rebellion, only this time they’re called ‘the First Order’ (that’s a stupid name, by the way) and the ‘Resistance,’ and oh, yeah, the Republic is in there too somewhere, at least until we get the chance to take it out so we don’t have to deal with it.
Also, how the heck does the First Order have the resources and power necessary to build a planet-sized Death Star? How could they possibly have constructed this thing under the nose of the Republic without anyone noticing? How is it that not one person ever got the word out that this thing was under construction? The First Order, whatever it might be and however much of the Galaxy it controls, is not the Empire: it isn’t an all-powerful governing body with a grip on military, economic, and legal matters. It is supposedly a relatively small, covert operation, yet it is able to construct this monstrosity without anyone being the wiser?
Not only that, we learn they’ve been poaching children to serve as stormtroopers for upwards of twenty years: no one noticed that? The Republic didn’t do anything about it? What is the Republic at this point? Why are they so useless? The Republic is supposed to be composed of tens of thousands of worlds; even if it’s a shrunken shell of its former self they ought to be able to do something: the rebellion defeated the Empire a mere thirty years before. Why is the government they established so pathetic by comparison?
Speaking of which, the Republic gets wiped out in one shot from this weapon. Now, a super-Death Star that blows up five planets at once is a bad idea to begin with (making a second Death Star in Return of the Jedi was already pushing it; this is just insulting), but are we really supposed to believe that the Republic’s entire presence in the Galaxy, its entire fleet, all its administrative and military capacities are contained in these five planets? If so, then why bother blowing them up? By the standards of this world, that’s puny! It would be as if ISIS got hold a nuke and dropped it on Liechtenstein. Yes, that would be horrible, but if it wouldn’t really affect their military position one way or another, except to infuriate the rest of the world. But assuming the Republic is more than just these five planets and they were simply the capital, then this would be like nuking Washington D.C. Again, that would be bad, but it wouldn’t immediately destroy America’s power or presence in the world. Again, it would only infuriate the rest of the world and direct all their anger and might upon the perpetrators.
So, why doesn’t that happen here? Where is the rest of the Republic, the rest of the Galaxy? Where are their allies, or even just other civilized societies that would be outraged by this mass slaughter? Where are Naboo, Kashyyyk, Bespin, and all the other worlds we’ve seen over the course of the series? Not here. The film acts as if the galaxy consists of a tiny handful of planets and just these three factions, one of which was just knocked out in one blow.
There was absolutely no thought put into this development. They wanted a way to reset to the original film (a terrible idea to begin with) and just took the first chance they could to get the Republic out of the way without any logical set up or consequences. It happens because the script says it happens, just like the First Order exists and is galactically powerful because the script says so.
On the subject of world building, there is something off about these environments. In the first place, the new planets are boring as heck (with the exception of the island world Luke is found on at the very end). They are literally just the same environments from previous Star Wars films, only with different names so that we have no sense of association with them. There’s a desert planet, but it’s called ‘Jakku’ instead of Tatooine. Why? What was the point of that? There’s a forested world with an ancient temple, but it’s not Yavin IV. There’s another forested world where the Resistance has its base, which looks so similar to the last one I think they filmed in same location, so what was the point? Then there’s a winter planet that functions as the Super-Death Star. At least that one isn’t exactly like Hoth, as it has forests. But still, what a pathetic lack of imagination!
Say what you will about the prequels and their over computer generated environments, but they at least tried to show something new. There was nothing in the original films that looked like Naboo, or Coruscant, or Kamino, and the prequels didn’t just recycle Hoth, or Deggobah, or Bespin.
(Some have even claimed that the city planet that gets blown up isn’t actually Coruscant, but “Hasnean Prime.” If so, then one, that’s another example of just recycling planets, and two, if Coruscant is still around than that just reinforces the question of where the rest of the Republic is during all this. But if not, then blowing up such an important setting in one scene is only one more example of this film’s contempt for its source material).
About the only interesting thing about the environments here are the downed ships on Jakku, which are cool and create a great sense of scale, but since we see the First Order using this exact same tech, and apparently the war never ended (but how would we know?), the impact of seeing the weapons that fought the last war lying silent in the sands is completely ruined. It’s just another one of the film trying to evoke a Captain America-like ‘I understood that reference’ response.
Also, the worlds are oddly empty. Jakku just has one village that gets slaughtered in the opening, then a tiny outpost of a few scavenges. The forest world just has this ancient temple that doubles as a bar just sitting in the middle of a forest; nothing around it, it’s just there. We go in and there’s a re-creation of the legendary cantina scene in the original Star Wars, but why are all these creatures here? It made sense in the original because Mos Esley was a spaceport: this is just a big temple in the middle of nowhere. There’s no sense of a living, breathing world around the characters; it all feels very constrained. I was reminded of Dungeons and Dragons: the Movie, where you would occasionally have these fantastical matte paintings, then cut to a tiny, obvious set (no film should remind you of Dungeons and Dragons: the Movie). There’s a similar sense of phoniness here. Again, say what you will of the cluttered landscapes of the prequels; at least they seemed alive. Whatever conceptual problems they had, they were living, breathing worlds that seemed to be going on independent of the story and cast.
There’s a bit where Rey is sitting at her camp in the middle of the desert, and this guy just happens to be riding past on a thing with BB-8 in a net. As far as we can tell they are literally the only living things for miles, in a trackless desert, and he just happens to be passing by. It doesn’t feel natural: it feels as though the film just spawned him there so that she could get involved in the plot.
As this indicates, part of the sense of restraint comes in the way the characters all just sort of bump into each other. Rey runs into BB-8 being dragged past her camp. Finn decides to defect just as Poe is being brought on board the star destroyer and just happens to be the guard assigned to escort him to his cell (more on that later). They crash land in the desert and Finn just happens to run into Rey, who has BB-8, and the Millennium Falcon just happens to be sitting right there, then almost as soon as they take off they just happen to run into Han Solo, who just happens to have some unhappy clients show up minutes later. This is about the laziest writing possible: there was no effort put into trying to make any of this a coherent story. Characters just bump into each other when the script says they should and they stumble from one plot point and bit of fan service to the next with no rhyme or reason.
The cumulative effect of all this – the empty planets, the endless coincidences, the total lack of consequence – is that the film operates as if nothing exists in this world that isn’t directly connected to the main characters. It’s like a badly designed video game: set pieces and characters just spawn in when the developers want them to for the sake of creating a reaction in the audience and then cease to exist once they’re over. There is nothing outside of the narrow path that you’re ordered to follow, and everything is there for your benefit.
On top of all that, there are a lot of plot holes, things that don’t make sense, and just bad writing in general. How the heck does Poe survive that crash in the desert, then end up on the forest planet just in time to save the others? If Finn knew about the super-Death Star, why didn’t he mention it to anyone before it nukes the Republic, and why doesn’t anyone bring this up? How is it that Finn is the only Stormtrooper to break his programming? If he isn’t, why doesn’t the First Order have means in place to deal with this sort of thing? Captain Phasma walks in on him having a panic attack and barely reacts. Kylo Ren sees him freeze during the attack on the village, yet of the thousands of Stormtroopers available they assign this guy to guard the most important prisoner they have? The Millennium Falcon leaves Jakku with the First Order parked right outside the planet, and yet the bad guys not only don’t notice them, but they heroes don’t even consider that possibility despite narrowly avoiding a bunch of Tie-Fighters minutes before. If you consider the logistics, the scene where Finn and Rey are working on the Falcon happens while the First Order’s Star Destroyer is basically sitting right next to them, but nothing comes of it.
In the opening scene, who is Max Von Sydow supposed to be? We don’t find out; I don’t think he’s even given a name before his killed off (yes, Max Von Sydow, acting legend, star of The Seventh Seal, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Exorcist is in the film for about five minutes and dies without our even knowing who he’s supposed to be). And why does Kylo kill him when he knows he can tell him where the map is? Why does Poe stay behind instead of fleeing with BB-8? What did he expect the droid to do on this desert planet full of scavengers? He just says “this is safer with you than with me.” What was his plan? Was he counting on the droid finding a friendly local who happened to be able to get it to the Resistance?
In the original, Leia sends R2 to Obi-Wan, obviously the best qualified person to get the information to the rebellion. She knows he’s on Tatooine and drops the droid onto the planet when she can’t get there herself. There was a clear plan in her actions. Poe giving the map to BB-8 instead of fleeing into the desert makes no sense.
On that subject, is it really that hard for the First Order to scan for a droid in the middle of the desert? And why does Kylo drag Poe all the way up to his ship when he must know the map has to be nearby; why not torture him then and there? Then he does the exact same thing later in the film with Rey: dragging her all the way back to the super-Death Star because she saw the map once when he knows it must be in the area.
Speaking of the map, it shows multiple labeled star systems, yet not one of them is in the Republic archives? In Attack of the Clones it was a huge deal when they couldn’t identify one planet, now there are at least ten whole systems complete with labels and they say “it’s useless without a larger piece.” And who made this map anyway? Where’d it come from?
Oh, and the characters talk as if the Jedi, the Force, and so on are things out of legend and myth, so that Han Solo has to tell them “It’s all true.” The Jedi Order was destroyed less than a lifetime ago. Luke Skywalker was training new Jedi as recently as a decade previous. The Empire fell thirty years ago. This is idiotic! Rey flat out says that she thought Luke Skywalker was a myth: that would be like someone in the 1970s saying they thought Winston Churchill was a myth.
On that subject, no one recognizes the Millennium Falcon? It’s not the most famous ship in the galaxy or anything, it’s just sitting in a junk pile because some low-life stole it? Oh, but we’ll get to that.
Also, why is the First Order and the Resistance still using the exact same tech they had thirty years ago? I’ll tell you why: so the filmmakers could have familiar sights like Tie Fighters and X-Wings for the fans to feel nostalgic over. Never mind that that makes no sense in the context of the world. Again, the prequels did this better by having ships that were recognizably similar to the familiar ones, but clearly at a lower stage of evolution.
Again, the world building this film is amazingly bad. There was no effort or creativity whatsoever put into this story or this set up: they simply copy and pasted elements from the original without bothering to make them connect in any meaningful way.
Then there are the characters. Oh, Lord, the characters…
The film is headed by Rey, a scavenger from Jakku waiting for her family to come back, unable to accept that they’ve abandoned her. She’s okay in the early scenes, where we see her just going about her daily routine, and when she’s meeting BB-8. But then the action starts and she becomes absolutely unbearable.
In the first place, she’s a textbook Mary Sue: an overly-perfect character that everyone in the story loves and admires, who possesses an unbelievable level and number of skills and who more or less succeeds at everything she does. This isn’t an idealized figure, like Superman or James Bond: this is a character the filmmakers demand you like and are willing to sacrifice any and all concerns to make you like them. Rey gets set on by a group of thugs: doesn’t matter if this is a chance for character development on Finn’s part, or to show his stormtrooper training come in handy: she beats them all, even though they’re bigger than her and have the element of surprise. Rey boards the Millennium Falcon: doesn’t matter that she’s never flown it before, she knows instantly what each button does and after a little comedic crashing pulls off the most complicated and amazing stunts ever seen in the ship. She then helps Han Solo fly it better and fixes it for him. He hands her a gun (to which she says, “I can take care of myself,” which even the film seems to recognize makes no sense in that context) and after a single fumbled shot she’s knocking down Stormtroopers like nine-pins. She though the Force was a myth a day before, then starts using Jedi Mind Tricks and Force-pulls before willing herself to be a better swordsman than Kylo Ren (who was trained by Luke) and defeating him in combat.
And all the while everyone is telling her how special she is; Finn is practically in love with her (which admittedly is one of the few honest-seeming character motivations in this film), Han Solo wants her to be his co-pilot, Kylo and Snoke want to train her as a not-Sith, and so on. She indignantly snaps at Finn when he tries to help her (“let go of my hand!”) and makes shrill expressions of irritation when she thinks he’s doing something wrong.
I found Rey to be almost as irritating as Jar-Jar Binks, only with an added level of smugness that made her even worse. She’s an awful lead character. Her ‘arc’ consists of discovering how super-awesome she is without any struggle or training – it just comes natural to her – and using her self-esteem to defeat the villain. To make matters worse, she defeats Kylo, the main bad guy, in the first film of a trilogy. Why? Where do the filmmakers think they can go with this?
To top it off, even if you accept her abilities and allow for her shrillness, she’s not a very interesting character. Her motivation is that she’s waiting for her parents, which is okay, but it ties into nothing else in the film and she’s told to drop it half way through, leaving her without any real motivation at all. Why does she want to be a Jedi? Why is she suddenly invested in the Resistance? What is her goal? On the subject of the parents thing, how hard would it have been to make finding them a guiding motive for her? Wouldn’t that make sense, wouldn’t that give her a relatable goal, open up story possibilities, give her some reason for being in this film?
Then there’s Finn, the defecting Stormtrooper. There’s a lot of potential there for a really interesting character, something we haven’t seen before, and the filmmakers very carefully avoid all of it. In the first place, there’s no credible reason behind his defection: he’s just shocked to find he’s being ordered to kill people and that war is frightening. This despite the fact we later learn he’s been trained from childhood to do just that. We’re told this was his first mission: they train him for twenty years before sending him on his first mission? And he instantly falls apart? Not only does he instantly fall apart, but no one in the First Order seems to notice or care; they just give him another extremely important assignment. Then we learn he’s actually a janitor. What?! Then what was he doing on a covert strike mission? It’s not like the First Order lacks men or resources from what we can see. He’s been ruthlessly trained to kill for twenty years, yet he’s a cheery, bumbling, insecure idiot who seems to have walked straight out of a sitcom. Why? Why take such a potentially fascinating character premise and immediately turn him into a bog-standard cowardly black sidekick?
Poe is our hotshot pilot, would-be Han Solo analogue, and he’s…fine, though he doesn’t have a lot of screentime. Also, his dialogue, like everyone else’s, just feels off. Too contemporary, to sitcom-esque, neither the awkwardly ‘mythic’ cadence of the prequels or the easy banter of the originals: more like whoever was writing it was trying much too hard to be clever and witty without really have the talent to pull it off. Still, Poe at least works as a character.
Easily the best new character is BB-8, the droid, who has a lot of personality and fits in well beside 3PO and R2 (who have little more than cameos here). One of the few genuinely clever jokes in the film involves him giving a thumbs up. He’s about the one thing I would keep if remaking this movie.
As for the bad guys, we have Kylo Ren, whose story I have problems with, but at least he has some dimensions and some attempt at complexity. His personal confusion, his obsession with Vader, his overcompensation with the mask and the lightsaber are all reasonably interesting. Trouble is, he’s as whiney and immature as Anakin, except he’s supposed to be one of the leaders of the First Order. At least Anakin wasn’t supposed to be head of the Jedi Council.
I do like his interactions with General Hux, however; they come across as equally powerful, but in different ways, and their back-and-forths are some of the best scenes in the film. On the other hand, Hux’s Nazi speech is much too on the nose (the Stormtroopers even give a ‘heil’ salute for goodness sakes!).
Then we have Supreme Leader Snoke, who…what the heck is he supposed to be? Where did he come from, what’s his position in the Galaxy? What is his goal? How does he relate to the past villains? Like the First Order he heads, Snoke is just there: he’s not established, he’s just dictated to exist and be super powerful.
As for the returning characters…let’s be blunt.
You do not get to reset Han flippin’ Solo’s character development you pathetic little cockroach of a film!
Han Solo’s development from smuggler to war hero is one of the most perfectly realized character arcs in film. This movie undoes it. It posits that after his son turned to the Dark Side he abandoned Leia and went back to smuggling as “It’s the only thing I was good at.” Han Solo would never do that! He would never abandon Leia at any time, let alone when she’s already dealing with losing their son. If there’s one thing we know about his character, it’s that. Smuggling is the only thing he was good at? He was a war hero! A general! He helped save the frickin’ Galaxy! How is it even possible he would not be heavily involved in the Republic? He had firmly left the life of crime behind him by the end of Empire at the latest: how would it even be possible for him to go back to it?
Also, he lost the Millennium Falcon? First of all, that would never happen while Han was still breathing; he loved that ship more than he love most people. Second, why do that? You could easily have had him fly in with the Falcon to save the heroes as his introduction: that would have been awesome. The whole set up serves no purpose except to create two or three separate plot holes and provide more opportunity for Rey to be insufferable.
But that’s not good enough for this movie, no! Not only do they reset his character, they make him completely incompetent; he welches two deals at once simply because he’s an idiot and according to the dialogue has done so to basically everyone in the underworld. “Only thing he was good at” and he’s a complete failure at it. Then we have a bit where Leia snipes at him and he just takes it with a few ineffectual pleas rather than pushing back (she actually asks “When have you ever helped?” Which…go to hell, movie!). That’s the defining feature of their relationship and they dump it to make Han Solo an ineffectual beta male.
Then they kill him off in the course of him failing one last time. Han Solo exists in this film only to be humiliated, emasculated, and die.
Leia fares a little better. There’s a touch of her old character left, though she’s much more subdued and has lost most of her spitfire attitude. There are a few scenes between her and Han where they at least come close to channeling their characters again, probably just because Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford still had great charisma and chemistry, despite the terrible writing.
By the way, in what universe do you make a sequel trilogy to Star Wars with the original cast, and you don’t give the three leads a scene together? Luke, Han, and Leia never share a scene in these films. And they can’t do it now: Han’s dead in story, Carrie Fisher has died in real life. The opportunity has passed by and they just ignored it. What idiot made that decision?
Apparently to disguise how much they’re insulting his character, the film gives Han some ridiculous feats to pull off, like entering the atmosphere at light speed or shooting a Stormtrooper without looking. Likewise they establish Poe’s master piloting skills by having him blast bad guys with pinpoint accuracy from his X-Wing. This is another example of lazy writing. We know these things are ridiculous. They don’t depend on anyone’s skill; they depend on the writers dictating whether or not they’ll work. They’re not impressive; they’re just stupid. Contrast this with something like Empire Strikes Back, where Han has to evade the Imperial fleet at sub-light speeds. Everything he does is logical, audacious, and clever, like hiding from a Star Destroyer by landing on the side of its bridge. They work because they reasonably would work in the context of the film.
Even in the prequels, for all their exaggeration of Anakin’s abilities, he couldn’t just break reality at will. Directly contrasting with Poe, when he tries to get off pinpoint shots from his fighter he blows off part of Obi-Wan’s ship and has to improvise something else.
The point is, the original films and even the prequels took time to think up reasonably impressive feats for their characters to perform and which worked in context of the world. Force Awakens simply dictates that something happens.
In conclusion, the writing in this film is simply terrible. Granted the dialogue and acting are better than in the prequels, and the environments are less cartoony, but in terms of storytelling, world building, character, and plot, I’d say The Force Awakens is worse than any of the prequels, while lacking the creativity that made them watchable. There’s a technically competent sheen that makes the film appear better at first glance, but the moment you apply any thought to it you find it’s completely hollow.
But apart from the bad writing, the insultingly bad storytelling, and the absolute lack of creativity, the reason I hate this film in a way I don’t hate any of the prequels is the insult done to the original trilogy. This film isn’t just a bad or unnecessary addition; it systematically seeks to destroy the accomplishment of the originals. The Republic? Gone in one shot. The Empire? Apparently fully restored. Leia? Old, alone, and ultimately ineffectual. Han Solo? A failure at everything, lost all his character development, and is killed by his own son while failing yet again. Luke Skywalker? Failed to restore the Jedi and ran away after being unable to prevent his own nephew from falling to the Dark Side. Vader’s last-minute redemption? Apparently forgotten and irrelevant. Everything the characters we loved accomplished over the course of three of most beloved films of all time is now gone. That fantastic, rousing adventure that won the hearts of millions around the world has now been ret-conned into a dismal failure just so the filmmakers can retread the same ground with new and terribly conceived characters.
See, the prequels may have been bad, they may have introduced some truly stupid ideas, but they ultimately didn’t take anything away from the originals. The Empire was still powerful and evil, Darth Vader was still the ultimate villain, whatever he had been as a young man, and however clunky or dubious the Empire’s rise might have been, it doesn’t detract from the thrill of seeing it fall. Now, according to this film, all that is meaningless.
There are bad films and there are malevolent films. A bad film is just technically poorly made, but a malevolent film is actively hostile to the audience: it seeks to take something from them.
The Phantom Menace is a bad film, but it isn’t a malevolent film. It’s incompetent, but in the end it was only trying to be a fun sci-fi adventure for kids and it failed. There’s no harm in it really except that it’s irritating, boring, and badly done.
The Force Awakens is both a bad film and a malevolent film. It’s not only terribly written, but it seeks to undermine and destroy the legacy of three of the most beloved films of all time in order that it can take their place. It tears down great characters in favor of pushing terrible ones. I won’t get into a possible misandric agenda, though it’s kind of obvious if you care to look.
Because of that, I hate this film in a way I don’t hate the prequels, and I have trouble pointing out anything positive about it. There are good things: some of the humor, like the two stormtroopers quietly retreating as they hear Kylo throwing a temper tantrum, is very funny. The visual can be very cool, like a surface-level shot of the death planet firing. Finn’s obvious attachment to Rey is an isolated bit of believable human emotion, especially his saying that he was ashamed to tell her what he really was and her ending up being the one thing he’s willing to fight for. In a less agenda-driven film, that could have been a really good plot line. And BB-8 is a fine little character who fits right in with the others. Luke’s introduction, whatever the problems around it, is visually and atmospherically striking.
But none of that matters because the film’s ill intention is too palpable. Even ignoring any socio-political aspect, the fact that it tries to undermine and undo the original trilogy is itself enough to outset any positives it may have, and that’s not even considering how bad the writing is.
I hate this film.