When “Episode 7: The Force Awakens” was released a couple of years ago, the film reminded me of my childhood, and overall I thought it was very well-done. However, as I thought about it for the next two years, I have become more and more disappointed with how the film destroyed the resolution of the original trilogy and stole from the plot of Episode 4. Despite these setbacks, I believed there was still potential in the subplots of the new characters. So, before I became too critical of the film, I decided that it’s quality would be determined by the sequel, and waited.
I have been thoroughly disappointed.
Episode 8 would not even work well as a non-Star Wars movie. The movie feels like a long episode of a T.V. show; there is one event going on the whole time.
The writing was some of the worst I have ever heard. While even the prequels had redeemable dialogue, the lines in Episode 8 are choppy and feel like they are being spoon-fed to a child. Some lines are paraphrased back to back and the names of ships and vehicles don’t seem to be thought through, such as the First Order’s “battering ram cannon.”
It is still unexplained why Rey is so powerful. Based on a line uttered by Supreme Leader Snoke, it seems the Force created her to counter Kylo Ren’s darkness in a similar way Darth Vader was born. While it seems she may be the new “chosen one”, Vader still had to be trained.
For the majority of the film, the Resistance is trying to flee from the First Order ships. Snoke himself joins the conflict in his flagship, and the physics of space travel apply to Star Wars for the first time when the Resistance finds they can be tracked through lightspeed. The result is a long, drawn-out chase scene. Instead of calling in more ships to intercept the Resistance, or jumping to lightspeed to get in front of them, the First Order decides to stay right behind them and wait for the Resistance to run out of fuel while wasting their own.
During the battle, General Leia Organa is hurled into space after the wall of her ship is destroyed. Somehow she survives, and its decided the best way to display her force power is to show her, now fully CGI, float her way through space back to the ship. It’s quite cringe-worthy.
Meanwhile on the remote planet Ahch-To, Luke Skywalker and Rey are found right where they were left at the end of Episode 7, with Rey handing Skywalker his old lightsaber. He then tosses it over his shoulder, a moment meant for comedic effect that completely tears down one of the most exciting scenes of the previous film. Skywalker later refers to the lightsaber as a “laser sword,” a phrase neither he nor anyone else in the Star Wars universe would ever use.
When Captain Poe Dameron’s superior officer refuses to tell him the escape plan for unspoken reasons, he sends runaway stormtrooper Finn on a mission to find a master coder and attempt to shut down Snoke’s ship. In the process, him and his undeveloped companion, Rose, destroy a wealthy casino town which holds animals captive for sport. They end up using the animals to destroy the town, and are about to get arrested, having not found the coder. However, even though the fate of the galaxy is lost, they decide their mission was worth it because they made the greedy people hurt and freed the animals.
When Rey and Ren have an actually intriguing Force connection, she is convinced he can be turned. She then goes to see him on Snoke’s ship, leading up to the best scene of the film when Ren briefly switches sides, kills Snoke, and helps Rey fight Snoke’s guards.
The impact of this scene is lost, however, in what happens before and afterward. Ren kills Snoke abruptly, leaving who seems to be the main villain completely undeveloped. While this may be similar to the Emperor of the original trilogy, this franchise needs to stop reusing plot points and recycling characters. After they kill the guards, Ren stays with the First Order, and Rey escapes to the Resistance.
The Resistance makes their escape to a planet that seems just like Hoth from Episode 5, and a very similar battle takes place. This scene is only different because instead of escaping from an ice planet, they escape to a salt planet.
After an apparition of Skywalker fights off the First Order, he all of a sudden dies. Rey meets up with what is left of the Resistance, and they fly away on the Millenium Falcon.
The film leaves the viewer with more questions than the last film and fails to move the plot along. The new characters have yet to be developed, and a second beloved, original character is gone. This is not a new direction for the franchise, this is simple confusion, and I doubt the next film will resolve it in any adequate way.