SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS!!!!
NO SERIOUSLY, STAY OUT IF YOU AIN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET.
Rey and Finn were excellent. They had good chemistry on screen and they were good Star Wars characters without feeling like exactly the same Star Wars characters. There is no attempt to make Finn ‘cool.’ And it’s fine, he’s awesome just as he is. Rey is great. She’s capable, likeable, and heroic but human. She doesn’t have the instant – I’ll throw myself into danger for a pretty girl moment that Luke has. Even with the death of his family, Luke is still very much an innocent when he goes off to adventure in A New Hope… Rey isn’t. And Rey is a little scared of the Force, despite her powerful gifts. And she gives in to the Dark Side just a little there at the end. Which was perfect.
I really like Kylo Ren. He was the character I was most worried about going into the new movies. How can we have another big-ass scary dude in a black outfit and mask and not have it seem stupid? But I like what they’ve done here. Unlike some, I enjoyed his temper tantrums. Yes, they were childish but that seems to be the point. He’s not in control. He’s chosen the Dark Side (and I do hope we get a little more explanation of how he reached that decision) but he’s not in control, he’s not an old man secure in his power and resigned to his fate… he’s young and foolish. He’s living up to a legacy that he clearly doesn’t understand and clearly doesn’t know how to handle. He’s powerful but raw. He is the Dark Side acolyte we all wanted Anakin to be.
Poe Damaron is also a great addition to the SW Universe. He and Finn had solid on-screen chemistry and he’s charismatic and unafraid. Cool. We’ll see more of him in the next two movies, I’m sure, so we’ll see how well they keep him going.
All I’m going to say about Han and Leia is this… I liked their weary separation. I liked when Han says that they both went back to the only things they’d ever been good at. I like who Leia is now. I was prepared for this by the Expanded Universe because they did the “tragedy drives them apart for a while” storyline and it worked there too. It’s okay.
Things that disappoint? There are a couple. Was I disappointed with Captain Pharasma being a bit part? Not really. We only cared that she was a bit part because of who the actor is under the mask and because we thought we’d get more based on advertising showing us her fancy armor.
I was disappointed that the (New) Republic was basically just standing around with a thumb up its *** while the Resistance stood up against what seems like a pretty terrifying gang of terrorists. The First Order is a clear and present danger dressing itself in the trappings of an Empire defeated within the lifetime of the characters. The wreckage of the war still litters the planets we see this movie take place over. But Leia’s not leading the Republic – or even involved – she’s out working as a “rebel leader.” This may be explained more in the future but really, so far, it was a struggle for me to square this with the few details we have.
And on the subject of inaction… my biggest disappointment is Luke. While I was expecting that he’d be the object of this first movie’s action (the search for Luke Skywalker), I needed a better reason for him to be moping off on the edge of the galaxy in isolation than… “my student went all evil so I runned and hided.” Does he believe that the Jedi are actually a mistake and that maybe the galaxy is better off without them? I could believe that, but then he should send Rey packing and tell her he’s not coming back. Luke is one of the few, genuine, not at all “Iron Age” heroes out there. He’s a lot like Superman, earnest, hardworking, knowing that his power doesn’t make him better – it requires him to be better. I’m too much in love with the vision of Luke that is presented by the EU but I feel that way because it was presented so well. Luke is a character that grew from being a “I can’t do it, you ask the impossible” to, “I have to do it, because I can.” We saw it in Return of the Jedi… and now, it’s gone. I guess I’m just saying that I’ll need a lot of explanation for why Luke just bailed on everyone and everything for like, the last 5 years or so (because in the vision, Ren is grown up when he turns on Luke’s new Jedi).
Overall, I had a lot of fun and it felt like Star Wars again. The new cast gives me hope that as the universe becomes theirs, they will make it a great place. But it had some disappointments for me too, and I hope that Episodes 8 and 9 overcome those. The good news is, I feel like – in many ways – they will.