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So here's the daft, unimportant, non-spoiler stuff that I don't get, up front. Firstly, how did the tide between the Rebellion, formerly the Republic, and back again, get so much weaker than the First Order? Did the Rebellion Nee Republic just slash the military budget when they took over? Did the New Order get their own part of the galaxy in a post-New Hope peace settlement and then pulled an German Rearmament thing like after 1933? It's not a plot hole but I can't wrap my head around how it happened and it almost makes the original films lessons in futility, because the bad men are back and now they're even deadlier, and one of them is Brienne of Tarth and she's not even a bloke (getting women into the workforce means they have an even more powerful economy and could be as big of a boost to their war efforts as a whole fleet of Star Destroyers).
But now onto the actually spoilery parts: I thought Luke was just messing with Rey the same way Yoda did before he trained Luke, but then he wasn't, which was fine. Then Luke starts explaining why the Jedi are hopeless, which is kind of a big deal in a Star Wars film and really had my attention. His point makes sense too, that the Jedi just become full of themselves and gain the sanctimony that seems like a prerequisite to being a Sith. We hear a lot in The Prequels about bringing balance to The Force, but it actually just means destroying the Sith, which doesn't seem balanced at all. Good, probably, but not "balanced", so this was a compelling, new image of The Force, one without the need for either order. And this really seems like the overarching theme of the film. There are more allusions to the idea of wholeness than I can begin to remember; Rose and her sister's necklaces, Rey and Ren's weird, awkward, teenage-esque, pseudo-romance, and Poe realising that for the Rebellion to thrive he needs to be a part of a larger collective, not Clint Eastwood in an X-Wing. The idea that you can't just take a cricket bat to your opposition and bash them into submission is bordering on revolutionary in a blockbuster film like this one, and the way the film points out the Rebels get their weapons from the same people as the First Order, suggesting that even if you're the "good guys", you can be more like the "bad guys" than you'd want to admit, simply by engaging in a pitched conflict, whether military, political or personal, is actually very clever and I enjoyed it a lot.
However, the final half an hour seems dedicated to rebooting the old conflict and undoing what a great portion of the films prior efforts. Despite hammering home the supposed futility of a forever war between absolute good and absolute evil, the film launches into a restaging of the most visually and emotionally quintessential good versus evil event of the Star Wars series to date; the battle of Hoth. A battle that sees the outgunned Rebellion cover its fleeing members from the hulking weight of Imperial walkers and Star Destroyers. A battle whose visuals, with dark, angular machines, marching on men, defending brightly coloured, smooth looking transports, tell half the story without a second thought. A battle so clearly inspired by the real-life events of both the Dunquerke evacuation and later Ardennes Offensive, in which the Western Allies did battle with the Nazis, that even a normal, non-WW2 obsessive could recognise it, is then retold in this new film that was seemingly about true balance through cooperation and the rejection of endless opposition. It made no sense and left me flabbergasted for that last thirty or so minutes.
If it hadn't have happened, I'd have been willing to overlook the other poor elements of the film. The whole trip to the space casino seems rather pointless after Finn gets saved, meaning his character did essentially nothing the whole film. I'm confused no one thought to ram a ship before now, it might literally be the oldest trick in the ship on ship combat manual, and is apparently unbelievably effective. Are we supposed to like Poe? He's a complete dickhead, but the film just gives him the slightest telling off, and even when that happens foreboding music plays over the Vice Admiral to imply she's being too mean, even though this is a military organisation, with extremely limited resources, which just watched its bomber fleet get annihilated in the name of Poe's vanity and inability to act professionally, he sort of learns his lesson, and saves the lives of half a dozen pilots and some junked speeders they didn't need, after getting hundreds killed and giving the Rebellion's entire secret plan away; hurray for Poe? No, he needs to be court-martialled yesterday. And Leia is a Jedi, kind of? That made no sense, just none. There's a lot of new Force stuff in this and that's fine because it's magic, but getting spaced, freezing to death, then undoing all of that is a hell of a opener for someone who's never so much as meditated in a swamp before. I'm sure there's other stuff too, but this post is already so massive I should be getting a commission.
The damnedest thing is I'm not even massive Star Wars fan or anything.