- By and large the first 60-90 minutes are pretty mediocre but the final hour (whenever Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley finally connected) is superb.
- Chief amongst the elements I want to praise is the use of the color red. Again, I wish Johnson had just done it throughout the entire film—- Snoke’s throne room, his guards, that long scene where he’s killed, and the salt mine sequences are just saturated in the color and I can’t help but think of Zhang Yimou Hero (2002). Now, the great Chinese auteur did it for the entire running time and Johnson does it for like 25% of the movie -but still- superbly done and quite gorgeous.
Driver’s performance, his relationships (with Hamill, Ridley) and the entire Kylo Ren character (beating up things like Charles Foster Kane) and character arc are right up there with the use of color amongst things I’d like to praise.
the salt mine sequences are just saturated in the color
very high highs, and very low lows in Rian Johnson’s film
- The throne room production design (this is by Rick Heinrichs- who worked on Sleepy Hollow (1999)), and Thor: Ragnarök (also 2017) owe a great deal to Flash Gordon (1980)- which is camp, and that’s clearly more of what Johnson is going for in half the tone.
exemplary production design in the throne room- by Rick Heinrichs
- Driver’s performance, his relationships (with Hamill, Ridley) and the entire Kylo Ren character (beating up things like Charles Foster Kane) and character arc are right up there with the use of color amongst things I’d like to praise. He’s a brilliant actor- and every scene he’s in is a highlight. On the downside, the scenes without him (with the exclusion of the Ridley/Hamill story) suffer.
Great wide angle shots of the final duel
- Johnson also keeps his voice and stamp on the film in other ways- he clearly has the “rainmaker” moment (like from 2012’s Looper) with Ridley raising the rocks and the reaction shots (great sequence) of those she saves. There’s a “this rainmaker could go either way” duality to her. I love it—it’s a Disney Star Wars- but also his film. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it but watch the scene with Yoda burning down the sacred old texts—perhaps that Rian Johnson here a bit.
- I also like the final epilogue with the kid with the ring—thought it was a very nice ending.
- There are some issues to the film as well and they include the first hour which is largely is comprised of loud noises and nonsense. It reminded me of a weaker Bong film—maybe Okja – with the wild swings in tone and genre, lines and inane dialogue that would make the writers of a Fast and the Furious sequel cringe, etc. He’s a great actor but I thought the opening prank call (“tooling”) and the entire character of Domhnall Gleeson would fit better in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs.
- I don’t understand the casting of Serkis as Snoke at all. Why you’d want your arch-villain sounding like Gollum from another wildly popular and successful franchise is beyond me.
- The scene where Hamill wipes his shoulder off as to show Driver’s Ren that he’s unharmed is awful—though I will say it is consistent- he also flips the lightsaber over his shoulder into the ocean early. This quirkiness, Johnson’s efforts to diffuse the more dramatic moments, is curious.
- I would’ve cut the entire Boyega and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) story out– Benicio Del Toro’s role/character is an unmitigated disaster
- I like Justin Chang’s LA Times review— really liked the film but not the “somewhat forced moments of cutesy comic relief”—he had the same problem of like the 10 reaction shots from the mini-ewoks – Chang gives it a 4-start review but keeps it off his top 12 of the year (it does make his list of honorable mention) and honorable mention is I think where I have it