SUPER spoiler-y! Proceed with caution...
Look, I’m not going to rant and rage about this. I’m not one of those crazy Star Wars fanboys/fangirls who bully and berate folks on social media over a film. I have strong opinions, but I have no intention of yucking anyone’s yum. So, if you loved TRoS, I’m happy for you. Truly, I am. And truth be told, there were some real high points to TRoS that I really enjoyed. But as someone who grew up on the original films (and thought very little of the prequels, frankly), I think JJ Abrams and Disney did the fans of the series--and some of their characters--a real disservice. Here’s why.
I’m actually a big fan of fast-paced action films. And I liked the action sequences in TRoS. But holy crap, did everything move FAST! There was barely a moment for the characters to breathe. It felt like there were 9 movies crammed into 2 hours and twenty minutes. It was a bit much, and it really felt like they were sacrificing story and character development for action.
Fan service for the sake of fan service
There’s an almost desperate feel to the fan service in the film. It’s like Abrams and Disney are just BEGGING the fans who were pissed off after The Last Jedi to love the film. Han Solo says “I know,” Lando has “a bad feeling about this”, (which was always Han’s line), there’s cute droids..you can almost feel Abrams jabbing you with his elbow while you’re watching, saying, “This is everything you love about the original films, right? Heh? See what I did there? You got that reference to The Empire Strikes Back, right? Heh?” Desperation isn’t a good look on anyone. Sorry, JJ.
I’ll admit it. I really liked The Last Jedi. I think Rian Johnson did a fabulous refresh of the old Star Wars franchise. Was it a perfect film? No. I mean, the thing on Canto Bright dragged on for a million years. But I loved the complex characterizations in TLJ. We saw a Luke who was allowed to be human and lose faith, we saw a girl from nowhere who was allowed to become a hero, we saw a troubled, conflicted villain that was infinitely more interesting than past villains simply because he was so far from one-dimensional. TRoS managed to undo most of that, especially when they messed with Rey’s parentage.
In TRoS we learn that Rey isn’t really a nobody from nowhere, as TLJ had told us. Turns out she’s a Palpatine, the granddaughter of arguably the strongest force user the dark side has ever known. It was Abrams’ answer to all the angry fanboys who couldn’t deal with the fact that Rey was stronger than Luke and Kylo Ren with very little training, I think. “See? She’s not a Mary Sue,” Abrams seems to be telling us. “She’s the product of a very strong man, so it makes sense that she’s super-strong. Right? Heh?”
Personally, I preferred Rian Johnson’s message: anyone, even a girl who grew up in the middle of nowhere all alone, can become a strong, capable hero.
Rose was a huge part of the storyline in The Last Jedi. For whatever reason, she was a polarizing character, and a bunch of angry folks took to bashing her on social media to the point that she shut down her accounts. I personally really enjoyed her in TLJ. She was a strong character who was a capable, quick-thinking asset to the rebellion. She also had a nice little chemistry with Finn (not as good as Finn’s chemistry with Poe, but I digress…). Rose even saved Finn’s life and they shared a kiss at the end of TLJ. In TRoS, however, she’s relegated to second-class status. She’s little more than a minor side character. And whatever she had going with Finn? Apparently they had a fight or something between films, because TRoS acts like that never happened. Again, I feel like Abrams was pandering to the vocal Rose haters who spoke out after TLJ by reducing her presence in TRoS. It’s a sad day whenever a smart, capable, talented heroine is forced to sit in the back of the bus because of an angry mob of fanboys.
Ben Solo. He. Deserved. Better.
Adam Driver could read me tax law in that deep voice of his while looking at me with those soulful eyes of his and I would be ENTRANCED. He didn’t have hardly any lines in TRoS, and all the emotion he managed to convey with nothing more than the power of his expression was staggering. You could just look at him and feel the pain and conflict his character was suffering. It was absolutely heartbreaking. And what does he get at the end of the movie? He gets to lay at the bottom of a pit, broken and dying, while every Jedi that ever lived rallies around Rey to support her. Where’s Ben’s support? He showed up to help destroy Palpatine. Why isn’t everyone trying to help him like they’re trying to help Rey? Ben Solo was neglected and abused, manipulated and groomed from an early age to be evil. He managed to turn his back on everything he’d ever believed in support of the woman he loved and he’s rewarded with about 2 minutes of happiness before he dies. It was a sad, lonely, depressing end to the most interesting character in this trilogy.
Side note to anyone who is considering casting Adam Driver in anything going forward: Give him LOTS of lines, LOTS of screen time, and all the money he wants for the role. He’ll earn it. You’ll thank me later.
I’ll admit that I shipped this couple since The Force Awakens. And no, I didn’t ship Rey with Kylo Ren. I shipped Rey with a redeemed Ben Solo. The chemistry between Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver was off the charts HOT, and the idea of the balance they could create together (the light and the dark) was especially enticing to my romance novel-loving heart. In TRoS, we get a quick Reylo kiss, a heart-breakingly gorgeous smile from Ben Solo, then he’s dead. And this is AFTER the movie did such a great job of letting us all know that even if a force dyad is broken, the one left alive will pretty much feel the empty gaping hole left by their counterpart for as long as they live. So, my takeaway from that because Ben’s dead now, Rey will feel empty and hollow and alone for the rest of her life. Thanks for that knife to the heart, Abrams. Appreciate ya.
And while we’re on the subject of romance, can we just take a moment to acknowledge that every Star Wars romance (Han and Leia, Padme and Aniken, Rey and Ben) ended in horrible tragedy? WTF, guys? I’m not saying we need for everyone to have happily ever after endings, but can we at least have one?? Star Wars is a space fairy tale, after all. Fairy tales have happy endings. I thought that was law. (And if it’s not, it should be)
Did anyone else notice that Ben Solo’s redemption/death storyline pretty much exactly matched Darth Vader’s? How lazy is that?
The fact that Ben died at all is lazy writing, too. He died because Abrams wasn’t sure how to redeem him and let him live. No one can convince me of anything different. Redeeming someone who doesn’t sacrifice his life at the end of the movie is WAY harder than just killing him off. But how interesting could it have been to see another movie in which Ben Solo works to undo the damage he did and repent while still being the most hated man in the galaxy? Now THAT’S a movie I would’ve waited in line to see. Adam Driver would’ve been PHENOMENAL in a role like THAT. But no, Abrams took the easy way out.
In the end, we’re asked to ignore the joy Rey felt in The Force Awakens when she saw a green planet for the first time, and the joy she felt when experienced rain for the first time in The Last Jedi and accept that she “always felt more comfortable in the desert”. That’s why, apparently, she goes to Tatooine with BB8 and decides to live there...alone. So, the lonely scavenger we met in TFA who was so desperately lonely that she ticked off days on the walls of her hovel, has lost the only person who really ever understood her (Ben), and has come back to live out her days alone on a barren wasteland of a planet where Luke’s aunt and uncle were murdered, Ainken and his mother were enslaved, Leia was kidnapped and sexually harassed by a giant slug, and Han Solo was kept prisoner in carbonite. She’s come full circle and is back exactly where she began in TFA, only on a planet that holds an even worse history for her loved ones.
And I distinctly remember JJ Abrams saying this movie ended on a hopeful note. What’s hopeful about any of that?
SHE’S A SOLO, for crap’s sake!!
Rey taking on the Skywalker name at the end of the movie made absolutely no sense to me. She saw Han Solo as a father figure, Leia Organa Solo helped train her in the ways of the force, and she was in love with Ben Solo. The fact that she wouldn’t call herself Rey Solo is absolutely asinine. Luke treated her like crap when she found him. Why would she take his name and not Ben’s/Han’s?
So, all in all, my feelings on this one can probably best be summed up as…
But what about y’all? What did you think? Let’s discuss.