I said the basic thrust of this on Facebook, but I’m going to go into more spoilery depth here. This picture, though, generally sums up my opinion.
SPOILERS from here on out.
So the first time I watched it, on release day, I came in expecting to be wowed. I wanted to be blown away, and to be so very impressed. I expected I wasn’t going to be, but I wanted to be.
The first screening, I give a B-. It was a good movie, but not a great movie. Decent, not bad, but merely ok. Neither The Phantom Menace nor Empire Stikes Back, but rather some very basic place right in the middle.
Upon the second viewing, I dropped the film down to a C. Frankly, I was bored. Repeat viewings did not do this movie any favors, though to be fair, even the first viewing felt like a repeat, since it was basically a warmed-over version of A New Hope.
There were plenty of things that I liked. I liked Rey quite a bit, and I was very pleased that the two main characters were played by a black man and a woman. I also liked BB-8 quite a bit more than I expected to, and the idea of the new Big Bad being a whiny emo brat worked far better than I had expected, too.
But really, that’s about it. The story is so much like the first movie that it isn’t even funny, and I’m confused about some of the choices they made with it. Ok, give Rey a little quest and stuff, but why did she have to be on yet another desert planet? And why not, if you’re already going to do that, just make that planet Tatooine? That would have made basically zero sense, but doing it this way in the first place makes so little sense that it wouldn’t have hurt the credibility any.
I was also very disappointed in the ultimate fate of one of the characters who, yes, died for all the right reasons, but had clearly never seen a movie or a TV show, or read a book, since that death was so telegraphed, it might as well have been delivered by Western Union.
I was further disappointed in the fact that the movie went an extra several minutes past where it should have ended. There was a very clear end point to the movie (it was staged exactly like the final scenes in all the other films), and yet they decided to continue past that point to something that should have been a post-credits sequence. Yes, this series has never done that before, but I would have accepted it here.
JJ Abrams is, at his most basic, a decent director. Nothing he’s ever made has been truly amazing, though little of it has been bad (Star Trek Into Darkness being a notable exception). I’m frankly not sure why he doesn’t get more flack from movie fans, because he’s really not all that great, and he showed that here. He remade the first Star Wars movie, made it a bit “eh”, showed us nothing that was really new or amazing, and really wasted an opportunity to make a game-changer of a film. You know, like what George Lucas did in 1977.
This isn’t a bad movie at all, but it wasn’t great. I don’t regret seeing it, and I’m looking forward to the next one, but…I really wanted more and I just didn’t get it.