After a pesky nearly literal cliff hanger from Force Awakens, the continuation of the series is now upon us! The Force Awakens was a fun action packed Sci-Fi adventure that revivified the series for many fans. The movie however in JJ Abrams fashion left us with a bunch of questions. Does Rian Johnson continue the mystery box that Abrams is so fond of or are we finally going to get answers? Since this is a spoiler-free review I will not talk about those things at this time, but lets see if this movie is actually good or not.
- One of my greatest worries for this film is that it was going to be a rehash of The Empire Strikes Back, much like what The Force Awakens did with A New Hope. While the movie does take quite a bit from Empire Strike Back (which is not a spoiler if you saw any of the trailers), it does subvert your expectations in very surprising ways. I was legitimately surprised by some of the ways the movie sets up something you’d expect to happen then have it turn out something completely different. I don’t believe there is anything on the same level as the Vader-as-Father reveal in Empire Strikes Back but there are some surprises that satisfied my desire for novelty.
- All the main characters have strong arcs in which many of them learn something important and grow. Poe Dameron gets a lot more screen time this go around and turned out to be a really fun yet flawed character that is also given time to grow. There are some new characters that were integrated well into the plot without making it convoluted or messy.
- As stated earlier there were a lot of questions that this film really needed to answer. Without spoilers I will just say that there are several questions that are answered and there are some that are not. It did leave enough questions for the next movie, but I expect that some of them may need to be answered in stand alone films or other projects.
- The special effects are on point, but they also find neat ways to use practical effects where they can. It was a very good looking movie with the exciting action you expect from a Star Wars movie.
- Porgs are not this generation’s Jar Jar. I wouldn’t even say that they’re the Ewoks. It’s a cute creature made to market to kids but are harmless otherwise.
- It’s hard to explain without giving away plot points but there is a part where I don’t know why a character didn’t do something. They had no reason to do what they did. Sounds vague but I’ll get hunted down if I explain in more detail.
- There’s a lot more comedic bits thrown into the movie. While it works in many parts, there are others that felt forced and made the scene tonally messy. It was a similar problem I had with Thor: Ragnorok. While I don’t think it was as severe as Thor, the humor in the original series never felt forced or change the scene’s tone in a bad way. I can’t help but feel they had a mandated jokes-to-scene ratio that Disney keeps insisting on, even when the scene doesn’t benefit from it and may in fact alleviate tension that the scene wants to build. It would be like if Lucas forced Luke Skywalker to make quips during his fight with Vader in Empire Strikes Back. The scene doesn’t need it and it messes up with the tone of the encounter. I’m probably complaining too much about this, it really wasn’t that bad. But it’s an annoying trend I see with Disney films lately.
Awkward Walk-In Meter: 2/5
There is PG-13 level of violence, I would say that there is some parts that may be a bit more graphic than the previous film. There is also some minor language. Other than that it’s rather harmless.
Many are wondering if this is going to top Empire Strikes Back in terms of quality. In my opinion, it did not quite reach that level. Empire Strikes Back is one of my all time favorite films and is a very steep benchmark to meet. But is it better than the other two Disney Star Wars films? I would say yes actually. The film had a much more satisfying conclusion than Force Awakens and had better characters than Rogue One. There were legitimate surprises that helped the movie stand out amongst the other Star Wars films. This allowed real tension for many characters as you couldn’t tell what direction they were heading with the series. While I had some minor grips about confusing character motivation and forced humor, it was a solid movie overall. I’ll have to wait to see where is stands with the other Star Wars films.