Released: 19th December
Seen: 19th December
So, talking about Star Wars online is basically the worst thing one could be required to do. Ever since The Last Jedi came out (a good movie that was good and I enjoyed) there has been a certain contingent of people online who have decided that Rian Johnson killed their puppy when he made that movie and therefore any time Star Wars gets mentioned it soon devolves into the worst kind of toxicity. Since the end of 2017, there hasn’t been a week where some fanboy on twitter has been able to avoid saying something so mind-blowingly irritating that it drained me of a ton of love for this series. Sure, some people had legitimate criticisms that I was able to listen to and talk about but let’s be honest, the loudest and most annoying voices were the ones screaming about the purple-haired woman who behaved like an actual captain and didn’t treat the hero with kid gloves because he can fly well… so, yeah, that portion of the fandom made me walk into this movie feeling demoralised and hoping that maybe, just maybe, this movie might make me feel better.
I have a headache now and I get to be the angry fan who doesn’t like the movie. Joy.
I promise you that I will not spoil a single moment of the film, which won’t be easy but I’m going to try. This means I can’t give you a plot synopsis because I don’t want to risk spoiling anything that wasn’t in the trailers. What I will state is that every plot thread that you might remember from Last Jedi, with the notable exception of Snoke being dead, doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It’s months later and really, let’s just pretend that the interesting ideas that were in Last Jedi didn’t happen at all because they get completely dropped here. Seriously, there are SO many dropped ideas. Rose and Finn may as well have never met, Rey’s parentage is still a thing we are meant to care about, Poe is still an arrogant a-hole who clearly learned nothing, the entire second movie in this new trilogy held up so many interesting ideas that could be explored and JJ Abrams said “But being complicated and thoughtful is hard, can’t I just do the same shit again and again and that be enough?”.
Look, I’ve got no problem with nostalgia as part of a plot. Force Awakens very clearly lifted a ton of stuff from the original movie to tell its story and that was fine for the movie that’s basically reviving the franchise after several decades. That movie pushed us back into familiar waters, then Last Jedi came and yelled “HEY! HEY LET’S DO A NEW THING!” and we would’ve gone there but nope, it’s back to the well of things we saw in the original trilogy, except back then they were done better and didn’t follow a massive curveball. The upsetting thing though? Even if for a second I could ignore that this movie followed Last Jedi and should at least try to use the story threads they set up, the film is just not good on its own merits. For crying out loud, they had a perfect villain set up with Kylo Ren and instead they just bring back Palpatine (not a spoiler, he was in the trailers) because… I don’t fucking know, there’s no reason to have him back other than the fact that JJ Abrams couldn’t think of anything interesting and original to do so he just copied chunks from Return of the Jedi. Badly.
Palpatine being in the movie leads me to the thing that took me from mild dislike to objective hatred of this movie. Guess who gets to complain about strobe lights in movies again? Oh, how I love having to fall back on this topic so often but yes, this film has strobe lights that could trigger a seizure and at least this time, unlike when they released Incredibles 2, Disney warned us about it. I mean, they could’ve been decent human beings and decided to not inflict a large number of strobes (seriously, every scene with Palpatine is basically trying to give you a seizure for no good reason) but no they decided to use the known trigger anyway because of reasons. It’s not like it’s even justified, it’s shitty lightning flashes happening indoors almost constantly for no reason other than someone thought it looked cool and it is why I now type this with a massive headache because it’s visually painful to look at. It doesn’t make Palpatine more imposing, it made me want to get up and walk the fuck out before the nausea set in.
If I had walked out, it’s not like I would’ve missed anything because the action scenes in this movie are just boring. I won’t give away what happens, but there wasn’t a single shot in the movie where I was genuinely impressed by how cool it was or how over the top they pushed it. Even stuff from the trailer that looks cool out of context is ruined when you actually see what comes before and after. Chase scenes are hard to follow and any giant battle scene barely seems to have any emotional weight. Oh, and they’re just outright saying that the force is magic now. It’s not even subtle… like, if you’re one of those people who got super ticked off when Leia used the force to float 10 feet in space (which is a thing that makes sense with what we know about the force, if you can pull things towards you then naturally you can pull yourself towards something but it’s the internet and a woman did a thing so, therefore, we had to argue about it) then you’re going to loathe the stuff they use the force for here… stuff that removes all tension from scenes and is also rendered pointless seconds later. Seriously, the last big thing the force is used for in this movie is so gloriously pointless, I laughed when it hit me just what they’d done.
If I can be positive for a paragraph, I will state that they did their best with working out how to keep Carrie Fisher in the film. The scenes with her blended in seamlessly, to the point where I could believe this is how her character would’ve gone no matter what. It can’t have been an easy task to try and work out how to get her back in the film with whatever excess footage they had lying around but they pulled it off better than I thought they would’ve considering the circumstances. Also, there was a lesbian couple in the movie and it’s nice to know they finally decided to let gay people be in the space wizards movie… granted you only realise that the lesbian couple is a couple when they kiss right at the end but hey, it’s only 2019 so clearly we still need to take baby steps. Seriously though, yay for them actually getting to that inclusivity… even if Poe and Finn are right there clearly gagging for it.
Look, I didn’t want to hate this movie. I didn’t. I wanted to walk in, have fun, walk out and go “Well, the last one was better but this one is still pretty good” but I can’t do that. It’s so heavily reliant on copying things we’ve already seen that it forgets to have a point. It doesn’t give the characters anything interesting to do (that other characters didn’t do better before them) and it’s visually a mess. Even without the strobe lights, the fight scenes are just boring. I didn’t clap, smile or feel the urge to cheer once. If anything, I groaned when certain bits of major information were revealed. If you’re able to overlook all that, you might enjoy it… hell, if you sat through the prequels, you might as well finish the series itself off, but I was not a fan of this movie at all. Had it not given me a monster of a headache, this film would be dead in the middle for me… but it physically hurt me, so I must do what I must do.