Fantastic! Incredible! Clever! Groundbreaking! ...aka some of the adjectives I will not use to describe this movie.
OK, don't get me wrong. I won't be singing praise to this piece but (especially compared to the disasterous episode VII - sorry, I mean 4.1, which seems a lot worse in a hindsight than back when it was fresh) there has been a lot of improvement and the tremendous potential I felt hidden somewhere deep within the previous episode peeks its promising head from time to time. With J. J. Abrams, also known as "The Franchise Killer", replaced by Rian Johnson, the main Star Wars storyline finally caught a breath of fresh air and delivered an actual semi-original story; a story with more holes in it than a Chinese brothel's staff has but hey, it's new and even offers some character development that is not entirely laughable anymore.
Anyway, let me take you through the plot and my take on it. Apparently, the destruction of the super duper mega Death Star from the previous episode merely pissed Space Nazis off. They don't even need it, really, because we're shown they have an abundance of Star Destroyers with billions of TIE fighters on them, some new flashy Dreadnought-class ships and a ginormous flagship used by the big bad guy Snoke himself. The only force in the Galaxy opposing them is Leia's Resistance with 3 capital ships, like 20 fighters / bombers altogether and 1 operational base which gets completely and utterly space-fucked from the orbit within the first 5 minutes. Aaaaaand I don't really get the setup. Did the New Republic have its entire army in the destroyed star system? Why?! And why didn't anyone notice Space Nazis being so powerful?
Anyway, the opening sequence shows us some badass space action by Poe Dameron (one of the best characters of the new series, I think) who makes a fool of the ginger Space Nazi (= general Hux), takes down a motherfucking dreadnought losing just several of his buddies and gets fukken scolded by Leia because "the price was too high". Lady, destroying a battleship in exchange for 10 fighters or whatever is a SOLID trade, trust me. So far, so good. The space battle was gorgeous, dynamic, well executed.
The token, the not-so-bad actress and the token that nobody cares about.
After this promising start, the plot splits into three main lines. And boy, does it feel as if each got a different writer. The central line revolves about the teeny tiny good guy fleet being pursued by Space Nazis, getting smaller and smaller and suffering severe internal communication issues. To escape this unpleasant predicament, good guys decide to... keep running away in a straight line, not splitting up or anything, temporarily replacing the wounded Leia with "admiral Holdo" or whatever, a purple-haired repulsive chick who looks like and acts just like I imagine an editor of the Huffington Post would. She continues to lead them to an uknown destination without telling them why, resulting in a pointless rebellion within a rebellion.
The second plotline deals with Finn, the sweaty black guy janitor from Ep. VII who randomly switches from being a coward to being a suicidally brave warrior, who had fled from the Space Nazis to avoid killing people, ending up on a murderous rampage (sorry but his character development is just laughable) throughout the galaxy. He meets an Asian token named Rose, an uninteresting character who seems to attract deus ex machina situations; for example, she turns out to be an expert on hyperspace tracking which is just what Finn needs to form a counter-attack sneaky-sneaky plan just stupid enough to work. Together, they leave to a space casino to find a code-breaker or whatever, end up completely botching the stealth mission and barely escape the casino along with Benicio Del Toro, an obvious traitor. Together, they clumsily infiltrate the Space Nazi flagship, use Asian Token's deus ex machina necklace coincidentally made of a particular material with special qualities to... almost disable the tracking device on board of the flagship. They get caught, though, then escape through another deus ex machina situation and the whole plotline accomplishes absolutely nothing.
I found the third plotline perhaps the most interesting of the three. It's quite simple and focuses on Rey's training, reluctantly provided by Luke Skywalker. Turns out he fled and let his friends to die because... because he had kinda screwed up and raised Kylo Ren into a mentally unstable emo kid which we already knew. He then retreated to the island to die. Rey shares a literal telepathic connection to Kylo and there are some rather interesting semi-twists based on him sharing his point of view of the events. Eventually, Luke pussies out of Rey's training, letting another untrained and potentially dangerous superbeing into the world, and Yoda from the 80s shows up to tell him: "Young Skywalker, up the man fuck you must." In the meantime, Chewie becomes vegan and Rey, after her 24h intensive Jedi training boot camp, leaves to... surrender to the Space Nazis because reasons.
Aaaaaaaaand here comes the bad part. Meet your new main villain.
The Huffington Post left-wing SJW admiral commits a kamikaze hyperspace jump into the Space Nazi fleet and HOLY SHIT she tears it a new one. She one-shots Snoke's huge flagship and apparently damages the rest of the fleet. WHY IS THIS NOT A COMMON TACTIC! They could have instakilled every single Death Star, losing just 3 guys in the process!!! While this idiocy happens, the Tokens kick Brienne's chromed ass and join the remaining like 30 people still in the Resistance. Rey tries to turn Kylo to the light side of the Force but he just wants to be the boss because nobody understands his teenage pain - the subsequent kamikaze attack knocks him unconscious and when he wakes up, the audience realizes the full horror of the situation. Kylo... Kylo Ren, the angriest baby in the world, has become the new Space Führer. And his second in command - you guessed it - is the fucking ginger in a gestapo coat.
And this is bad. This is really bad. Losing Snoke was a cool immediate moment but there is no villain to replace him. Kylo Ren proceeds to be a clueless and uninspiring leader while the gestapo ginger remains utterly useless. There is noone left to be scared of, no ominous presence, no great personified evil to fight against. And the movie completely wastes the opportunity to uplift Kylo to a higher level; he does not develop in any way, leaving the new trilogy esentially villainless. Aaaaand this worries me. A lot.
Visually, the finale is amazing.
The Resistance then makes its last stand on a Hoth-like salt planet with some absolutely amazing visuals. The writer was probably having a seizure around this part, though, since there are some painful gaps in its logic. The Rebels, with Poe in the lead, mount a desperate counter-attack on the Space Nazi siege cannon, resulting in... nothing. Another wasted opportunity. In the very moment when Finn prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice and kamikaze the shit out of the cannon (because suicide attacks with ships of all sizes are kinda the Rebel thing now), his Asian token friend crashes into him to save his life, almost killing them both and leaving them without cover and vulnerable in front of the advancing Nazi battleline. Rose, heavily wounded after the crash (duh), is shown to have fallen in love with Finn during the last 24 hours because that's how relationships work. Yeah and during the counter-attack, Millenium Falcon shows up to help and disappears after a cool chase scene.
Luckily, nothing happens to our helpless vulnerable heroes because - tadaaaaaa - Luke Fucking Skywalker shows up, being as badass as Mark Hamill can be. Which is pretty badass. He reconciles with Leia and walks towards the Space Nazi walkers. Kylo Ren panics and orders everyone to shoot Luke with a trembling, squeaky voice (OK, the part with the voice is just my invention since it would suit him better). Luke doesn't give a shit, apparently, and walks through the storm of heavy fire unscathed. Kylo goes out to duel him and... reveals that Luke is just an illusion. Which Kylo could not sense. Because plot reasons again. The real Luke is still on his little paradise island and just when you're ready to applaud him when... well, he dies. Or becomes one with the Force or whatever, point is, he's gone. Talk about a letdown.
Luckily, Poe realizes in time that Luke's sally is just a diversion (pity Luke didn't tell anyone because, I guess, he's kind of a dick) and leads the remaining Rebels almost to their deaths through a secret escape tunnel. Rey is on the other end to make sure they actually get through aaaand that is where the movie ends, unless you count a short end scene implying that the Resistance will now be recruiting child soldiers.Well, why not? As long as the kid from the scene can press the "HYPERSPACE" red button of death, he can make a real difference in the fight!
Sleep well, sweet prince. I'll miss you.
So what comes to my mind in relation to this movie are two things. First, it's a major improvement. Second, there are loads of wasted potential. This movie is what Episode VII should have been, building up a solid original base to further development with some very creative and cool ideas as well as some mildly interesting revelations. And maaaaan, those space battles are AWESOME as fuck! However, with just one episode left, the rest does not leave the trilogy in a good position.
We will probably never learn more about Snoke, an actually interesting villain who could have had some fascinating background rooted deep in the prequels. He'll remain a minor villain and the fact that the main antagonist will now be Kylo is simply painful. Also, we got absolutely no payoff from the Token plotline. It's great that the moronic infiltration plan failed for once but there were no consequences! This was the perfect chance to kill Finn, bringing some actual emotion into the story, showing that bad decisions tend to be costly and that nobody is safe. It just seems that Finn & his buddies are just there so they can be there, without really adding anything to the plot. In addition, Luke "died" for no reason, wasting his character development as well as the best actor in the trilogy by far.
We now have a not-so-interesting main protagonist facing a pathetic main atagonist. It's obvious that we will see a Space Nazi plot to overthrow Kylo but... who can he be replaced with? The ginger. The fucking ginger we have seen ridiculed for quite some time. The only genuinely interesting character left seems to be Poe and that's just not enough. Just as in the movie, there is hope, of course, but after seeing this slightly-above-average Star Wars flick, I must worry that it played some wrong cards, weakening the trilogy's upcoming finale. Let's hope I'm wrong.