SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!!
Okay, I trust that I've made it absolutely clear that this review will be filled with spoilers and I won't hear any whining about that in the comments section.
This year, I didn't want an advent calendar, I wanted a Star Wars count down calendar. Return of the Jedi was the first movie that I saw in the theater (no snark about my age) and that hooked me. It's a series that I have enjoyed sharing with my children (well with the notable exception of Jar Jar Binks). Sitting in the theater, the geek in me was shaking when the opening theme started. "In a galaxy far far away", scrolled across the screen and I was flush with excitement, only to leave 135 minutes later bitterly disappointed. At almost halfway through the movie, I actually turned to my partner and told him that I was bored. I mean BORED. It simply didn't live up to all of the hype and I want a refund for the extra money I paid to see this in 3D as well. You guessed it, I'm blaming J.J. Abrams at least in part for this. I wanted big huge moments and light sabers coming through the screen to get me and not something I could have watched in my home comfortably pausing as need be for bathroom breaks or to get more butter for my popcorn. I wanted to be absolutely blown away and stand cheering when the credits rolled across the screen.
Okay, here's the deal, if you saw the original 1977 Star Wars, there really was no need to see this movie. It essentially was one big reboot. Han Solo quickly came to take on the role of Obi-Wan and Rey and Finn a combination of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. It all starts with Poe Dameron, a skilled fighter pilot searching for a map to find a missing Luke, who it seems decided to isolate himself after the training of a Jedi blew up in his face. Finding himself about to captured, Poe puts the information inside a droid and instructs it to get as far away from the battle as possible. Does this sound at all familiar to you?
It seems the First Order has filled the vacuum of the Empire and they even get their own Death Star - just a bigger version and therefore more scary. Then we have Kylo Ren, who channels his grand pappy Darth Vader, hoping to be just as strong. I just wanted to scream, dude, grand daddy recognized the error of his ways and was defeated. If you're going to pick a hero, wouldn't it actually make sense to pick someone on the side who won? I will give the Force Awakens points for the epic Vader mask but I couldn't help wondering why Leia and Solo didn't get their precious boy the counselling he so desperately needed. Have these two ever heard about tough love? Geesh!
The Stormtroopers hit the ground looking for the droid and Finn, who works in sanitation is just not up for the blood and gore. Quick question, why would the First Order send a sanitation storm trooper into battle? Also, do sanitation and storm trooper even go together in a way that makes even the least bit of sense? So, I'm down with the whole idea of not slaughtering innocent people and totally cool with Finn helping Poe escape the clutches of Kylo Ren. When the two crash land, Finn just happens to run into Rey, who is in possession of the missing droid. I know I shouldn't complain because R2D2 and C3PO ending up in the custody of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars is just as sketchy of a plot turn; however, having to see it happen a second time was just too much because as you may have already guessed, the force is strong with Rey. Le Sigh. In fact, epic sigh.
Finn is all about getting the girl while avoiding the First Order, so he pretends to be a member of the resistance. To that end, when the Finn and Rey find the Millennium Falcon, the two take off. It's not long before they run into Han Solo, who has been searching for his ship while naturally running a series of scams on the side. I guess some things never change. Han is in for the mission and why wouldn't he be? Luke and Han go way back and then there's a little matter of Han Solo's son having gone totally off the reservation. We get a quick pause for the seemingly necessary cantina scene and for Rey to get her hands on Luke's lightsaber. This comes with visions of all the saber has seen and done. As you might imagine, this is quite dark. The next movie better explain why exactly Luke decided to leave his light saber behind when he went into hermit mode, particularly given that he knew that Kylo Ren had gone all dark side and angry. Oh wait, I know. Luke was doing his Yoda thing just waiting around for a Jedi to find him. Yes, I'm rolling my eyes.
So, a whole bunch of yada yada and it's time to blow up the Death Star 2.0. The same bullshit applies about how invulnerable it is and therefore some member of the resistance has to board it. What I want to know is why no one in the resistance decided to question Finn in depth? Dude was making claims about knowing so much about the station and yet he was only a stormtrooper. They didn't even consider for a moment that he could have a been a plant. I wanted to scream can we please find someone with 2 cents worth of common sense. Finn's big motivation to volunteer is to save the girl - a young woman he has known for a New York minute no less.
Seeing his son, Han Solo is all forgiveness and Kylo Ren is all help me daddy. Help me daddy. Yep, that's the beginning of the end for Solo, who finds himself speared by a lightsaber. I get that they had to move the old generation out for the new to take over the battle but Han Solo deserved so much better than this. Also, it really made me wonder if Star Wars is capable of having a parent child relationship that isn't dysfunctional as shit? Parents are either absent, incapable or just plain evil. To have Solo's life ended by patricide is just another layer in horrible parent child relationships in this series. I made a quick note to self not to watch this with my kidlets, lest they look at their father and get ideas when he tells them to take the garbage out.