‘The Force Awakens’ was an excellent start, but it was far from perfect.
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It’s been almost exactly two years since The Force Awakens was released in theaters and finally delivered a sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy 34 years after Return of the Jedi. As with all sequels/beloved franchises, some fans loved the film, others hated it, and others still landed somewhere in the middle.
I personally loved it. I understood all the critiques of it being a rehash of A New Hope, but the film introduced a new cast of characters that were mostly great (Poe Dameron, come on!), we got to see our original heroes, and it was entertaining as hell. I almost feel like it was a good thing to bring us all back into the Star Wars universe this way, with something familiar yet different. I loved Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8. I thought the film took the time necessary to introduce us to each of them and get us invested in this new trilogy.
With that said, it wasn’t perfect. I wish Han and Leia got some more screen time together. I thought Han’s death was not nearly as epic as it deserved to be for arguably the franchise’s most beloved character — though that probably had to do with my personal distaste for Kylo Ren. I think Adam Driver is a fantastic actor, but Ren felt like a weak spot to me. He was a whiny kid; definitely not someone strong enough or worthy enough to be the one to kill off Han Solo. That really bothered me. I feel like Han could have gone down heroically if Ford really didn’t want to be in the series anymore, rather than die at the hand of his moody son.
Also, Snoke looked a little generic as the “big bad.” He didn’t feel unique or original, like he could be the bad guy in any of the comic book/blockbuster movies. I’m hoping that The Last Jedi will prove my initial feelings wrong about both Kylo Ren and Snoke.
I thought the ending with Rey finding Luke was obviously a great set up for The Last Jedi. I cheered like an overexcited kid when Rey found Luke and then the credits rolled. With that said, here’s what I hope is different in Last Jedi opposed to Force Awakens. While I thought it was okay to rehash some of the plot from Episode IV in Episode VII, Episode VIII needs to entirely stand on its own. It needs to be totally original, because if the entire new trilogy is a rehash of the old, that’s just lazy and boring. The first part having ties to A New Hope made sense, but anything further than that is playing it TOO safe. There doesn’t need to be ties to The Empire Strikes Back. Quality wise, I hope it follows the trend of Empire in being a lot better than the episode before it.
I really want them to go deeper into Kylo Ren’s story, which it appears they will be doing, because he needs depth added to him for me to accept his character as a big part of this new trilogy. I’m also looking forward to seeing more Luke in this one, and it will be bittersweet to see Carrie Fisher on screen for the last time as Leia (and apparently her dog Gary has a cameo). Expanding Poe’s story would be great as well. All in all, I thought The Force Awakens was a great intro to this new trilogy, and like everyone else, I can’t wait for the evening of December 14th to see The Last Jedi.