There's a lot for me to like about it. The opening with Poe taking on the Fulminatrix by myself, and then gradually bringing in the StarFortress heavy bombers (or T-Wings) was a cool thing to see. It wasn't a perfect scene, there's some strange things that happen in it (the Resistance flagship Raddus just sits and doesn't try to run away until after Poe destroys the First Order's Star Dreadnought, Poe makes some jokes that are hit and miss, BB-8 of all people quotes "I have a bad feeling about this" apparently), but I still like the opening a lot.
Then it gets weirder.
Finn is back, great! But he walks around the ship in a leaking bag suit...and nobody does anything but Poe? :S
Luke is back! But then he acts moody, which is fine when you realize what's his backstory...but then they show him drinking milk...
The Resistance wants to send out a distress signal to their allies in the Outer Rim...but they won't just fly there? They're scattered, but you could just go to one of them.
Then the First Order finds them (we'll talk about that later), and Connix (the girl with the Leia hair-bun-things) reveals they have enough fuel resources for one more jump to lightspeed....you guys brought that little? This isn't too weird since the Resistance was barely funded according to backstory stuff, but without that, it's really weird.
This then leads to things that are, well, kind of dumb. So the First Order can't catch up to the Raddus because it's "faster and lighter." I'm not sure if that makes sense considering they stay right behind them for most of the movie. But it completely ignores that the First Order has two dozen Star Destroyers that can just use lightspeed to jump around and in front of the Resistance. The only thing that sort of saves this is that the villains seem like they're just "playing with their food" as it were.
They also kill off the leaders of the Raddus, and nearly kill off Leia too, but she ends up in a coma instead of dying. I'll get to this later.
One of the things I did like was they established why Snoke wanted Kylo Ren to emmulate Darth Vader, but I think it may have been too subtle for its own good. Snoke wants Kylo to kill the Jedi, then kill Luke, the last hope of the Jedi, and hopefully kill off all hope as a result, all similar to how Darth Vader destroyed the Jedi Order. With that in mind, it makes sense why Snoke would groom Kylo to be a Vader 2.0.
We also see Luke go onto the Millennium Falcon, take Han's dice, and reunites with R2-D2. It's all good stuff.
Unfortunately, we have to go to something bad. We're introduced to Amilyn Holdo, the person meant to take over the Raddus. She's...really frustrating. She's got quite an attitude and is willing to throw out insults to Poe in a public setting. This would just make her a jerk, but then she does something that becomes highly dangerous.
Poe comes up to her, and despite everything, keeps fairly calm and just asks what's the plan. Her response...is just to stick to his post and follow her orders. She didn't give any orders...
Now, to get to the real spoiling...the actual plan is fly straight toward a planet called Crait, secretly eject all the crew, let the Raddus fly away as a distraction, and let the Resistance call for help on the planet Crait.
That...is a horrible plan. First, it depends on the First Order sticking to their "taunting the prey" strategy. Secondly, it depends on the First Order not seeing the escaping crew. Thirdly, for whatever reason, it requires not telling any of the crew of the plan (and this is the crew, not just Poe, otherwise Poe could ask other crew members; even if they don't tell him what the plan is, if they all say the plan is good, then he'll be able to trust them instead of making his own plan...we'll get to THAT later). Fourthly...the plan falls apart anyway, after all the work to set it up, they get to Crait, call for help, and no one answers; while Holdo couldn't have predicted that, if she had talked about it with the crew, they could have discussed this and come up with options instead of having...none. FIFTHLY...this all goes back to assuming the First Order are idiots (assuming the First Order chases the empty Raddus and blows it up, they'd notice no dead bodies, realize the crew escaped, and just go back to Crait and kill everyone there anyway; and keep in mind Crait is a poor defense, Star Destroyers can do orbital bombardments, they have 8000 Stormtroopers each, and they have all sorts of devices like a superlaser siege cannon, gorrilla walkers, etc.).
It is mind-blowing how bad this plan is...the Resistance dies hard because of this horrible plan, and the closest we get to seeing it get called out is when Poe sees Holdo having the crew fuel some escape ships. Why she finally decided to tell some of the crew some of the plan...who knows, but it's pretty hard to evacuate a ship when barely anyone knows to evacuate.
Unfortunately, this bad plan leads to Poe coming up with a plan of his own. His plan is to sneak Finn and Rose off to find a codebreaker, and then have the three of them sneak into Snoke's ship to prevent tracking the Raddus as it makes a lightspeed jump. This is a problematic plan too, as it assumes Snoke's ship has a hyperspace tracking device. It does, but there could have easily just been a spy on board (which would have been a much simpler plot, but that's another story).
Poe's plan, however, illustrates multiple flaws. Poe can call Maz (who tells him to get the codebreaker), but she won't do it because she's busy...which feels contrived, but it also ignores that if Poe can call for Maz...he can call for help. Just...call for help now, don't wait for Crait. We also later see Finn and Rose leaving without any trouble, which means that the Resistance could have sneaked away at any time...and didn't.
Sonyway, when we come back to Rey, she suddenly has the ability to see Kylo, and he can see her, despite being in different locations. Kylo makes a point to say he can only see her, and assumes the reverse is true. I like this story idea, but seeing it again, I realize this could have been much more fun if the actors were actually on the same set. They'd still be in their same places, but they'd see each other as if Rey was on Kylo's ship, and as if Kylo was on the planet Ahch-To with Rey. They actually do this later in the movie, sort of, but it feels like lost potential to not do it more in the movie.
Speaking of Rey, Luke decides to give her lessons on why the Jedi need to end. Things are weird when it comes to her. She learns how to use the Force incredibly quick, she recognizes Ahch-To and the tree Luke is hiding books in despite (presumably) never being there, and then to make things weirder, when she's having this lesson, she realizes Luke's closed himself off from the Force.
...But he doesn't? Later in the movie he starts using the Force again. If you're closed off from the Force, why do you still get to use it? I'm assuming he decided to reconnect himself to the Force, that would explain why the movie shows him using the Force suddenly, but it's not really clear why he would.
Again, I do like things about this movie. I like this connection aspect, I like that Luke is teaching, and I like the concept of his lessons, I even like the design and ideas around the casino town Canto Bight. But it feels like there always has to be a negative attached. Like with Luke's lessons; he tells Rey the Jedi's legacy is actually failure, but it ignores a thousand generations and all the good they actually did. Or how the scenes on Cantonica are mostly filler and can be kind of awkward, even though I like the design of the town. Or even how Luke tries to push that it was his fault for Kylo Ren being evil, when he doesn't really show anything that bad. He randomly threatens to kill Kylo...but Kylo then kills a bunch of kids, burns his temple, and then joins the First Order to kill zillions others.
But...there's a lot of dumb things too...for instance, back with the Resistance, they decide to evacuate a ship that ran out of fuel...not use it to escape, not use the fuel for the Raddus, just...abandon it...except for the admiral aboard, who decides to stay and die...for no given reason.
I just get so conflicted with this movie. I feel like Rey, actually! ¬‿¬
But seriously though, I think I would have really been into this movie had I thought less about it. All the bits that come together, like Rey's mirror scene, the Rey-Kylo connection, even Luke's descent in his exile...but I feel like it needed something cleaned up to make it work. But oh well...
In the end, I still like the movie for the bits I like, but I will probably love it more for the potential it had than the results. But that's fine, here's hoping Episode IX takes advantage of its potential.
Lan Prower Kopaka