So I got to see the movie a second time today, and I enjoyed it once again.
I want to talk a little bit more in-depth now about the things I liked and what I didn’t.
I’ll start at the end: Skellig Michael. It only appears in one scene, namely the last one of the movie. You may have surmised that this Irish island, which I visited last summer, is in fact the place where Luke has been hiding. It looks absolutely beautiful in the movie; they did a little bit of editing, adding (I think?) some stones, and some other islands in the chain (in real life there’s only two total). They also may have edited out some puffins, because I didn’t see any in the film and they are everywhere on that rock in season.
We already knew that film crews have been back to Skellig Michael to shoot for Episode VIII, so I surmised that it was an important location. It turned out to be very important indeed. And very fitting. The only semi-permanent inhabitants of Skellig Michael were Christian monks who kept seeking more and more remote locations to better commune with God, eventually ending up on the island, appreciating its isolation and austerity. So it is a perfect place to choose as the spot to which a Jedi Master would exile himself.
I understand the First Order/Republic/Resistance situation better now, but I still think the movie doesn’t do enough to clarify the political situation of the galaxy. They moved too far in the other direction from the prequels. I am not very happy with the First Order as antagonists. Starkiller Base is still a dumb plot point, and lacks any kind of emotional intensity. Hux’s speech is very heavy-handed. And Snoke is not only more baffling than mysterious, he’s also completely unnecessary in this movie (remember that in the OT we don’t see the Emperor until Empire Strikes Back).
Kylo Ren is not bad, and I will attribute that to excellent acting by Adam Driver, and a strong parallel to the now-discarded EU storylines about Han and Leia’s kids. Ren is the analog of Jacen Solo, their oldest son whom Luke trains, but who eventually falls to the dark side, taking the name “Darth Caedus” (thank God they changed that…Kylo Ren is much better). He kills Luke’s wife, Mara Jade, on his path to galaxial domination.
Jacen has a twin, Jaina, the “Sword of the Jedi” who eventually has to kill her brother to stop him. Jaina takes after her father, being an excellent pilot and mechanic…sound like anyone we know? Yeah, Rey reminds me so much of Jaina, even with her looks. They also seem to be hinting that she has a familial connection with Kylo Ren, so their adversarial relationship may turn even more personal. I think Jaina especially has always been a fan favorite, so it’s pretty cool to see these doppleganger versions of these two brought into the new Star Wars stories.
Speaking of Jedi fights, I really liked how the lightsaber battles in TFA felt different from either the OT ones or the prequels’. They had the same kind of energy that the prequels’ had, but without the technique. And while there was less talking than the OT’s, I think they still managed some character development for Ren, Finn, and Rey, which is a hallmark of a great action scene for me.
There’s so much to say about this movie, so feel free to let loose in the comments. Let’s talk!