I have a love/hate relationship with TLJ. I love how it shook up the formula by moving the throne room into the second movie and killing the evil overlord. I love pretty much everything about Kylo, and Rey, including the fact that she’s a nobody. Not everyone needs a famous last name! I adore the Yoda cameo. Luke was a surprise, but I didn’t hate it. And the way he went out is the ultimate example of the Jedi way.
But it definitely has its problems. Rian Johnson has no idea what to do with Finn, which is a shame because he was my favorite character from TFA. TLJ reduces the First Order to a bunch of bumbling Saturday morning cartoon villains. Canto Bight is an indulgent, preachy waste of space. I don’t hate Rose, but I don’t care for how she’s shoved down our throat, and it doesn’t help that every plot she’s involved with is the worst. And then there’s the stuff like Hyperspace tracking, the world’s slowest “chase”, the stupidity of the Holdo / Poe fight for supremacy, and that ridiculous Maz cameo.
I’m guessing JJ hated most of Rian’s choices, which is why he elected to ignore or retcon some of it in Rise of Skywalker. It’s a real shame. Even for all TLJ’s many faults, I was excited to see what happened next. A movie in which the fallen Jedi is the Big Bad and not a lackey is something we haven’t seen before. What happens when Kylo is Vader and the Emperor in one? Can he still be redeemed? Might he regret some of his choices, once he has it all? It raises all sorts of interesting questions.
Instead we got a half-baked story in which the Emperor returns. Sigh.