Edgar Cochran ✝️’s review published on Letterboxd:
The greatest talent this feature has over its modern predecessors is the construction of effective character arcs that evolve to interesting psychological clashes, even if the family cliché foundations imposed by said predecessors are not as strong to support them. It is like justifying the means with the end, which is decent by itself.
Johnson struggles hard to make an epic out of an unecessary prolongation of a story that already had a fitting conclusion since 1983. With an original cut that ran over three hours chopped off due to financial interests and a heavily corporativist presence by the growing Mickey Mouse monster slowly becoming a monopoly of entertainment, artistic dilution in Johnson's talents is more than evident considering the intelligent storytelling structure and Golden Age noir idiosyncrasies he was able to conceive with his best film, which happens to be his debut. He embraces the fantastic scenarios of the Star Wars saga and makes cute attempts at seeming cinematic without really being so because of how abruptly he cuts most of his aesthetic compositions. The pressure of the project seemed to be above his capabilities with Looper (2012) as background evidence, but his nemesis turned out to be of capitalist nature while, speculatively, fandom expectations and the aforementioned sources of pressure didn't allow him to make the film explode in a rainbow of innovative talents... innovative for the Star Wars universe, that is.
I say this because it surpasses Abrams' nostalgic recycling of Star Wars (1977), even if, ironically, a third of this film recycles Episodes V and VI to shocking extents, destroying the original intentions of his character arcs, whatever they were. To put it simply, it was like watching Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and being very obvious that a giant, greater film was sleeping beneath it, but in this case, it took a different route instead of being "edited by a lawnmower". This totally had the capacity of being a good film with really new things to offer, having the variety of atmospheres and the proper distribution of action and tension as my main reasons to claim so.
Its length caught my attention and was, perhaps, the strongest reason that convinced me to see this. What could possibly justify Episode VIII being the longest? Many ideas suppressed by greater forces. Again, it is not about being original plotwise, but about how you work over the ideas previously established and/or making the bold move of exploring new boundaries in the name of art before the name of money or the tradition "dictated" by the masses. People seem to be happy, though, making comparisons with Episode V in terms of quality structure, which is astonishing. I wish I could have the feeling of excitement people have with these blockbusters, but I blame myself, though not for the most part: my cinematic expectations of a film not having to be encapsulated by preconceived boundaries of a genre are stronger in me than the Force.