It can be a difficult task to write a review about something which expands on a source of childhood joy. When I thought about going to see this movie, the one thing I braced myself for was the idea that Luke would die as Obi-Wan did, or worse yet, as Darth Vader did. I couldn’t take an unfair death for Luke, I couldn’t accept it. It was my only worry heading into the theater.
Here is where the spoilers start, so if you’ve managed to get this far without experiencing any, please stop reading and go see the movie.
I needn’t have worried. To be honest the movie, which I expected to feel like The Empire Strikes Back, felt more like a Disney cartoon mini-series where we all learn lessons and are hopeful for the future. A bit early in this trilogy for that feel.
Poe learns a lesson about leadership!
Rey learns a lesson about balance!
Finn learns what matters!
Rose becomes a hero!
The children are our future!
Do you guys even remember how The Empire Strikes Back ended? Luke’s hand was sliced off, Han was frozen in carbonite, the rebellion was suffering, we’ve learned some very important information and been betrayed, we’ve met Yoda, we’re worried about Luke. I can only imagine how people cried out for episode 6. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT OMGWTFBBQ!!!
This movie was all over the place. The side quests were distracting and confusing. Why is Brienne even in this series if we only see her like 3 times and is in that shiny suit the whole time? Is she even a villain? Who cares? Also who cares about Rey anymore? I 100% figured there was going to be a “my father is also your father” reveal in this movie and I was disappointed. Rey is 100% a Solo, whether she is Ben’s twin or younger sibling I’m not sure yet, but that knowledge has to be given to me in the next movie or I’m gonna be real mad. There is no cliffhanger in this movie like Empire. Everyone is together, everyone is safe, Luke’s story has come to a conclusion. What am I looking forward to in the next episode, the directors and writers dealing awkwardly with Leia? No thank you.
The brilliance in this movie is not in the new. To be honest none of the new characters stayed with me, and without seeing the movie again I would be unable to recount their antics with any reliable detail. The brilliance in this movie is in the old favorites. Mark Hamill provides us with some of his best acting here. I loved the conflict in him in dealing with his failure. He’s not only failed Ben, Leia, and Han, but he’s failed all the Jedi that came before him. He cannot live with this, and so he exiles himself, cuts himself off from the Force, and resolves to die angry and alone. I see you Luke.
Rey comes, of course, but her persistence isn’t what wins Luke over as we expect. She leaves to help her friends and face Kylo Ren, much like Luke does in The Empire Strikes Back after they escape from Hoth. What changes Luke’s mind is a visit from Yoda. This encounter is hands down the best part of the entire movie. Yoda’s wisdom, his reminder to Luke that failure is the best teacher, his recognition that yes, Luke did mess up, but he should have learned from it and continued to do, for there is no try – all of it just washed over me as clearly as a sermon in a church might. I cried because it was like Yoda was talking to me. Sometimes to move forward, we just need someone to look at us and say “It’s gonna be okay, everybody fucks up. It’s whether or not you learn from it and move forward as a better person that matters.”
Luke’s re-acceptance of the Force and his journey to face Kylo Ren, protect Leia, and the rebellion is everything. It was just everything he was capable of and more. He was the Jedi I dreamed he would become after Return of the Jedi. He was strong and clever and finally one with the Force. And I cried again when he disappeared into the wind, having cemented his legend and the fact that the Jedi may be gone, but the spirit of that old religion lives on. I left the theater wanting nothing more than the requisite amount of midichlorians in my system so I could be a Jedi. I left wishing that Luke and I had been given more time.
This movie was a mixed bag with gems hidden throughout that were bright enough to make up for the parts that were dull. Go and see it because you have to, it’s Star Wars for crying out loud, but when you’re done ask yourself, “Do I really need an Episode 9”? The answer might surprise you.