First Hit: Unimpressive effects, tired story, and there is little hope that the new cast of characters can carry this story into the future.
Trying to create the magic of the original film by using the same music, the open space background and the scrolling storyline explanation almost worked.
However shortly into the story, all we got to watch is multiple battles; signal combatants and groups of combatants. It just got boring to watch fight after fight after fight.
What would have helped was, if Rey (Daisy Ridley) had the depth of spirit and a powerful inner presence to play someone going to take us, and the story, to a next level and into the future. Her facial expressions showed she doesn't understand the depth of this story and the inability to create the kind of intrigue that Star Wars must hang on. The lack of communication through her eyes was a dead giveaway. This was a disappointment because in her first turn as Rey in “The Force Awakens,” she showed promise. The hopes of having a strong independent woman take us forward is perfect because Leia’s character passes with Carrie Fisher’s passing.
Another problem with this film is Luke Skywalker’s role and character (Mark Hamill). Here he is played as grumpy and tired. Yes, he has a right to be tired and grumpy, for all the battles’ he’s been through but the script gives him little room to breathe. Because of this he suffocates as Luke and so does the audience.
The story is essentially the turning over the final page of the old guard characters, and opening the book to the new guard. Hans Solo is gone, Darth Vader is gone, Snoke (Andy Serkis) gets toasted, and Leia, who is the leader of the resistance, has a son, Kyle Ren (Adam Driver), who becomes the leader of the first order bent on destroying the resistance and ruling the universe. Before it was father (dark) and son (light); now it is mother (light) and son (dark).
Too many things are already known, which is the opposite of what made the original film work. The first film was an exploration into the unknown. The films, after the original, varied in strengths and weaknesses, but always sought to keep an edge of the unknown for the future. The Force Awakens, was strong and was that way because it was a welcome back to the original story and characters and what would happen as they passed. Now we know - little.
Besides being overall dark of color, there are a few interesting special effects but nothing that will set this film apart from any of the other effects focused films that have come out in the last few years. Effects can never take the place of a good story with interesting characters. And having mediocre effects and little story makes this film fail.
Hamill acted as though the life had been sucked out of him. Yes, this was part of the role but it didn’t seem like his heart was in this character any longer. Carrie Fisher as Leia was tired. She looked tired, there was little energy or enthusiasm coming from her and this swan song is not reflective of what she gave to the role in the past. Driver is one of the few highlights in the film as he does have the capability to carry the anger and darkness required as the new enemy of the resistance. Ridley is fair as Rey. She’s supposed to be a ray of light to the upcoming stories but to me she lacks a depth of spirit and it shows in every frame she’s in. John Boyega as Finn is good. As a side character and carrying what is good about the resistance he’s strong, but I didn’t buy into his being the fighter he is made out to be. Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron was good but it’s mostly script and storytelling that fails him. Serkis as the character Snoke is good enough. Rian Johnson wrote this mediocre script that relies on fighting and digital effects more than telling a great story with characters. Johnson also directed this film and it shows that he doesn’t have the chops for telling a Star Wars story that intrigues an audience into the future.
Overall: This film could keep me from seeing next installment as I don’t want to dragged down any further.