We’ve been waiting two years to find out what happened to Rey, Finn and Poe, what was Kylo Ren’s deal, and what exactly Luke was doing on that island. And in all honesty, it was worth the wait.
The film begins immediately after The Force Awakens ended, with Rey with Luke, and the Resistance all together in a fleet. Poe’s leading a daring attack mission, while Finn is lying in the hospital wing. The Resistance ships are being hunted down, trapped and losing fuel like wounded prey – and their chances of escape are waning.
The structure, much like the first, focuses on two – and then three – plots, based around a central character of the main trio of Rey, Finn and Poe. Often the action cuts between each scene several times in lieu of a transition, reinforcing the sense that this is a narrative with a really sense of urgency. Sadly some of this urgency is lost, with certain scenes dragging on, providing some key character development but adding little to the plot. The film does end up feeling overly long in places, for example in the casino scenes, which does dilute the plot to some extent.
However, the cast of characters – old favourites and new additions each bring something to the story, with each character arc becoming richer as the film unfolds: Rey’s determination to understand the Force inside her, Poe’s rebelleous brave streak providing issues and not just positive results, and Finn, still wrestling with his own belief and his role in the Resistance. Carrie Fisher is magnificent in her final outing as the peerless General-Princess Leia and Mark Hamill is clearly having fun returning as Luke. And a word for the newbies – Kellie Marie Tran brings a breath of fresh air and a whole heap of determination to the role of Rose Tico, Laura Dern pulls off a purple dye job and attitude, and Benicio del Toro is brilliantly conniving in his criminally underused and underdeveloped appearance.
It’s a visually stunning film too, with red salt planets and gorgeous sunsets and tightly choreographed fight scenes that leave you tense and breathless.
This film, more that any other, explores the parallels and link between the Dark Side and the Light, beautifully played out in the tension and relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey – often played out purely through the expressions on Adam Driver’s face, something pretty incredible to watch.
Plus, it’s actually pretty funny in places, with snide comments and sass – mostly from Luke – but that doesn’t take away too much from the overall story. It’s also full of lines that feel instantly iconic without intending to be. And although you have an expectation of what the film will be like, it keeps surprising until the very final moment.
I’ve seen a lot of negative stuff online about it, some of which I can understand and some of which just seems like the usual complaining for complaining about sake. It’s a blockbuster, it’s not going to cater to precise needs and views of everyone perfectly, but in my opinion it was excellent.
“You were always scum.”
“Rebel scum.” *mic drop