This review contains spoilers…
It's almost impossible to know where to begin critiquing this film. TLJ is a film with so much promise but falls flat like Snokes corpse and the underused character development. There's a reason the audience score is the lowest of any Star Wars film. And like many, I hated almost every major plot decision in it.
TLJ is a beautifully shot, well directed, well acted, terribly written mess-of-a-film bristling with oddly placed Marvel-esque meta-quips, bizarre shifts in narrative tone, dull side-plots filled with Harry Potter-esque CGI creatures/fauna that are completely inconsequentia; that ultimately offers no logical character development and impacts the story in no way at all.
You can say what you will about the prequels falling victim to cheesey dialogue and casting missteps but, and I HATE myself for even thinking this, they pale in comparison to the 2.5 hours of boring, disposable ‘busy-work’ the majority of these characters are given. Johnson clearly only has an interest in exploring Rey and Kylo’s characters as everyone else is basically going in circles and under-developed. On top of this the most insulting thing I felt as a viewer is that TLJ systematically deconstructs and undoes all that was set up before which has led some to exclaim how TLJ ‘bravely makes choices and gives you something you weren’t anticipating'… but actually it insults you for even caring about anything Abrams and Kasdan set up in TFA by not answering anything at all. TLJ is a film that blasts away the mystery and awe left by its predecessor, and shows its loyal, theory-obsessed audience that nothing is going to be linked to what they thought in ways akin to how the writers of LOST treated their viewers. Instead of leaving you with wonder about how this trilogy will continue, you’ll be left wondering what you’re meant to be wondering about with the future of the films.
Let me explain, if you want to kill off Snoke then do it, but don't make it a cheap death. Snoke hasn’t been developed enough to understand why it is meaningful, or not meaningful, when he dies to Kylo Ren; let alone me. If Rey is a child of nobodies, then make it meaningful why her lack of knowledge of her parents is in itself meaningful and important. Show us, or at least tell us, but don’t cop out completely with nothing to fill the cop out.
Iif you’re going to 'completely flip the genre on its head' then don’t fill the film with constant ‘is he dead’, ‘no he isn’t’… ‘oh but now he is’ misdirection and psyche-outs. Even Finn, on his redundant side-mission, looked like he was going to die 3 separate times. One by execution, but then he doesn’t, then Phasma may have killed him, but then he returns, and then he tries to sacrifice himself by taking out the final super-weapon, but then he doesn’t… this rollercoaster was both taxing and infuriating; especially when this ‘fake-out/psyche' happens repeatedly to Luke, Rey, Finn, Leia and even Rose! Add on the rip-off chase plot from Battlestar Galactica and repeat the same scenario of Rebels need to take on a super-weapon 3 separate times (a dreadnought, a ship with tracking abilities, and a Death Star mini super-weapon and failing each time) and you’re left feeling really drained.
Most of all this is a film, that disrespects Luke Skywalker character, one of my all time film idols, someone we saw briefly in TFA but I/we ultimately haven’t seen on screen for 35 years, by insufficiently explaining why he is the way he is and completely mischaracterising what we do see of him. For example, Luke refused to fight Darth Vader because he felt the conflict and good within him… yet he senses a conflict in his own nephew and for ‘reasons the script needs to happen’ Luke decides to murder him IN HIS SLEEP? Sure this sets up Kylo’s path and explains Luke’s guilt, but what led him to this point?!? What happened to Luke? Now he is just a grumpy, cowardly old man? The hero is gone???? What? Why? He doesn’t want to be found, but he leaves the galaxy a mysterious map so people can find him? What? Why?
Never ONCE in a trilogy that was had the opportunity to resolve the story arcs of our favorite heros did we even get Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewy in the same room! Now the actors who are alive have dead characters, and the character left alive belongs to a dead actress! All I can say is, JJ, I would like to think this was not your intended storyline from the beginning. I would like to think that Rian Johnson attempted to blindside our expectations but in doing so he simply betrayed the potential growth the new characters. Seeing as each writer and director seems to have a blank slate as they start each film, with the freedom to take things in any direction they want, combined with the similar amount of outrage this film is getting from divided fans, I can see Episode IX spending most of its runtime undoing everything TLJ deconstructs!
Sorry. Rant over.