Was this the story we were looking for?
I think it has a nice complex story line with multiple turning points for the characters. So in this stance, we are sucked into the story for the whole length of the movie, so the very long 2 1/2 hours doesn't feel so long. I think there are some plot holes or what I would call character inconsistencies for the situation they are in.
The major issue I have is that Leia is portrayed as a leader, but the rebels don't really follow her lead like say in Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, so that really doesn't ring true. The older you get as a leader, the more leader like you become. You may tire of a leadership role, but in the fight to the death I would have played Leia as getting more steely, rather than deferring to younger characters run amuck. Of course, a rebellion has a much looser command than say an Empire or First Order. I'm not sure it is because of her real life ups and downs or bad writing. It's like she is losing hope when she's been the hope so long. A good analogy would be how Churchill became more and more of a leader and withstood Hitler in the darkest times Britain faced because he had gone through so much hardship and outright failure in his younger years. Leia would have the same steely resolve in my mind, but she has more of a lost feel as seen below.
The director took a very loose approach to Luke. He is embittered, which makes sense after the betrayal of Kylo Ren. He feels responsible for creating a monster rather than continuing the good side of the force. I really liked that they didn't make it too much like Luke's training in Empire, but then on the other hand, I was really looking forward to Rey getting properly trained to be able to hand the torch down on proper Jedi training. It did kind of feel like the Last Jedi in this stance. They bring up this really interesting idea that even the good side corrupts a person or how regret can completely undo a former hero. So I think though this isn't what I wanted, it really made for a stronger story as you realize there may no longer be any hope with Luke or Leia and its up to the younger generation to carry forward. Is hope lost?
Yes! Benicio del Toro plays as DJ, this code breaker they pick up to turn the rebellion fight around. The part you get to love about his character is that he is playing a type of Han Solo character always playing both sides of the First Order and Rebellion depending on who pays the most. It dives into the duality of both sides as being guilty of war crimes by continuing to buy weapons and continue fighting. This element has only been shown by the Empire or now The First Order, so this character has a lot of meat to him. The interesting part is he doesn't become the hero you expect him to be. I think this is because there are so many Star Wars to compare to over and over with repeating plot points.
Of course that's heresy, but since Lucas is off the project I think its fair game. One thing I would change is the use of Yoda in this film. For one thing, it doesn't seem to roll off that well from early films that we learned of Jedi ghosts. Of course, Ben would have been great, but even a further stretch to try and do via CGI, so I get it.
I think the costumes and ships were very true to Star Wars, but I think the loosey goosey aspects of some of the characters like Leia should have been tightened up. The other part that was killing me was that in this film and the last, the rebel leadership is fighting amongst themselves and only a few rebels that mutiny become the heroes. In reality, anytime you have a mutiny and them the original leaders assume control later during war, the leaders don't tend to take a soft hand of the rebels. We saw this in WWII when the SS were given the right to execute any retreating soldier not fighting to the bitter end. So I think this is a plot hole that really doesn't make sense. Of course, since it is a highly complex plot, you make leaps of faith in the logic.
Another part, I think would have made for a killer end would be to have ended similar to Empire. Leave it completely as a cliff hanger. They kind of do this, but in a way not really. Another major issue is they don't address the death of Carrie Fisher. They had a partial answer, but then she is revived. So now it won't make any sense. It could be that the filming wrapped right before her death, so there just was no way to rework the film to resolve this pickle. There was a scene where they could have swapped leaders and it would have made sense, but the director did not take that route.
It will be a real challenge for Disney to keep pumping out good films as the franchises ages and various plot lines are stomped over and over again. I know my wife didn't even want to see it and I can understand it. Of course, I saw it as a kid, so it kind of feels like an obligation. I still think Lucas should probably not have sold off the franchise, but so far not too far from the originals. It's a guilty pleasure we all fall for again and again.
How does this movie relate to your art?
I like the idea of Luke being in total despair that breaks his original spirit before getting revived. I can personally identify with this idea of regret. One of my deepest regrets was not studying Architecture, which was my passion at 18 even after multiple attempts, I set it aside. So one of my styles is called Architectural Abstraction. It reflects this lost dream conjured up in a new way, which in a way is more freeing as architecture tends to be done by committee sometimes. World Trade Center One reminds of this; the original design is super interesting and the final design not so much. The lines I use in the work can feel like light speed from the Millennium Falcon or laser shots from the Death Star or Star Killer. At the same time I always use drips as a type of regret in the work.