I had a chance to see the new Star Wars saga film The Last Jedi twice this weekend and I have to get some things off my chest
*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Let me start this off by saying that I love Star Wars, it was a big part of my childhood and I love the original trilogy. I was so excited when they made a new trilogy albeit under Disney and was very optimistic about the new directions it could take the franchise.
The Force Awakens was a very enjoyable film for me and I felt like I was watching a Star Wars film for me. The pacing was great and the new characters were interesting and likable. This is why it pains me to say that I think The Last Jedi is a missed opportunity.
Now I know what a lot of you are thinking “oh you’re just upset because Rian Johnson did something different and your theories turned out to be wrong blah blah blah.” I understand that argument and I will tell you whenever I watch any movie, I am always willing to give the film a chance. I go into the theatre and say “Okay show me what you got!” The first time I enjoyed the movie, but I noticed some flaws. The second time I watched The Last Jedi I noticed what the movie was and I was left disappointed. The flaws became more noticable and I didn’t feel like this movie had a good story.
I’m just going to dive into my thoughts and specifics about what I liked and did not like about The Last Jedi.
First off I feel like in retrospect, this movie tried to undue some rich and interesting ideas introduced in The Force Awakens. I understand every director wants to do something different and maybe challenge ideas and concepts concerning lore but I cannot help but feel like The Last Jedi isn’t a natural progression from The Force Awakens.
Rey finds Luke who says he hid away on this mysterious Island on Ach To to die. This completely contradicts The Force Awakens when Luke leaves behind a map and it is mentioned that Luke disappeared because he was in search of the first Jedi temple. When Luke mentions he came to the Island to die, it narratively does not make any sense.
Luke is revealed to have sensed darkness in Ben Solo and in a moment of weakness ignites his lightsaber and is ready to kill him in his sleep sensing through the force that Ben will be responsible for a lot of pain and suffering in the future. Luke realizes this to be wrong, but unfortunately Ben wakes up to Luke trying to kill him and he defends himself using the force to collapse the hut and then burn the Jedi temple and recruit a group of students to become The Knights of Ren. I didn’t have any issue with this other than Luke trying to kill someone which seemed out of character for him. If Darth Vader could be saved, why couldn’t Ben Solo? Also what happened to The Knights of Ren plot, what happened to them and how come they aren’t around anymore?
Luke believes he failed Ben Solo who turns to the dark side and becomes Kylo Ren. Rey discovers Luke cut himself off from the force and this seemed out of character for Luke. Despite all the bad things that happened to Luke, he would never give up on the force let alone the Jedi. This sort of rubbed me the wrong way.
His criticism of The Jedi order and their failure to stop Darth Sidious due to their arrogance seems to be more of Rian Johnson’s commentary on the Jedi than Luke’s own opinions on the Jedi order.
Yoda makes an appearance as a force ghost to explain to Luke that the Jedi order must end and explaining that failure is the greatest lesson one can learn. It was awesome seeing Yoda again and I was so happy to see him again!
Throughout the film Rey and Kylo Ren are shown to have a weird force connection that seems sort of random and the fact Rey suddenly feels bad for Ben Solo and believes he can be turned to the light side leading her to leave Luke seems a bit too quick to me. Their connection is revealed to be a manipulation by Snoke to lure Rey to him, whom he believes will turn to the dark side and join Kylo Ren and himself.
This leads to Kylo Ren betraying and killing Snoke (with no payoff to his identity or how he poisoned Ben Solo’s mind) only to turn around and want to become the new Supreme Leader but offers Rey to join him.
We then get the big reveal that Rey’s parents were nobodies and they sold Rey for drinking money. I would be okay with this if it weren’t for the fact that Rey is a novice force user and can somehow hold herself in a lightsaber duel with little to no training something Luke couldn’t even do and led to him getting his ass kicked by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back.
Making Rey this super powerful force user with little to no training disregards past lor, past films and mythology that showed us that no matter how powerful you are, if you are not trained in the force, you will get your butt kicked.
Apparently whenever a dark force rises, the force chooses someone to match their power on the light side and vice versa, Ying and Yang. This is supposed to explain why Rey is so strong in the force. I just think if they were to explain that Rey is so powerful because she is a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Qui Gonn Jinn would have answered those questions better than you are strong in the force because the force chose you, Rey Nobody seems like a copout to me.
Another thing that I noticed was Poe Dameron the strong male character introduced in The Force Awakens being emasculated in The Last Jedi. Yes it’s important to see him fail to show his weakness and but the way it was exeuted made it seem like a female empowerment ie feminist agenda. I am all for strong female characters, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of strong male characters. Poe Dameron was kind of cut down in this movie and it kind of bothered.
Oh I can’t forget to mention that awful subplot of Rose and Finn off on casino planet to find “the master codebreaker,” which led to finding a thief and later scoundrel who got most of the resistance killed. This whole sequence could have been cut from the movie because it slowed the movie down a lot.
Pacing is another issue with The Last Jedi, it starts out slow and doesn’t really pick up until and hour or more into the film. This did not enthrall me as much as The Force Awakens did with it’s engaging story and great pacing.
The character of Rose was an interesting idea on paper but she added nothing to the film and served as someone Finn could go off on an adventure with just to give Finn something to do.
Speaking of Rose, in one of the most dramatic scenes in the film, Kylo Ren and The First Order are almost about to obliterate what is left of the resistance when Finn decides to fly his speeder into The First Order’s Battering Ram Cannon. Finn is ready to sacrifice himself to stop The First Order, when Rose flies her speeder crashing into Finn and saving him. Finn angry asks why Rose did that and she says “We aren’t going to destroy what we hate, but save what we love. That’s how we’re going to win.” What a cheesy line! Such terrible writing…
This leads to one of my favorite scenes of the film where Luke (who I noticed looked younger and different) appears to face Kylo Ren and is just a distraction to give The Resistance a chance to escape, to live to fight another day. When Kylo Ren cannot penetrate Luke’s body with his lightsaber, it is revealed Luke is still on the island and is using a force projection as a distraction and a way to redeem himself for being responsible for creating Kylo Ren. Luke proclaims he won’t be the last Jedi and through Rey the Jedi will live on resistance will survive. The process is too much for Luke and it takes everything out of him and he sees a binary sunset (a nod to A New Hope) and becomes one with the force.
Oh before I forget! I know Leia is force sensitive but her floating in space ala Superman was the wrong way to show her strength in the force. It felt out of place. Rian Johnson could have had Leia lift debris from the ship that was crushing her and that would have been more effective than *cue John Williams Superman theme* Super Leia!
It’s fine to take risks in terms of filmmaking and I commend Rian Johson, but if those risks don’t work you have to understand that some people and maybe even hardcore fans will not be happy.
I wanted to love The Last Jedi, but I just feel like it wasn’t Star Wars to me. It had great moments but at the end of it, I felt like it was a wasted opportunity and could have been so much more. This movie felt more like a reboot of Star wars than a continuation of The Force Awakens.
I give Star Wars: The Last Jedi a 7/10