This review is very late to the party! I realize that yet found it hard to do this one earlier as I was trying to figure out whether I wanted to do a review of this film with or without spoilers. As stated in the title there will be spoilers here so if you have yet to check out the Last Jedi, I suggest you do so before reading any further. The fact that this movie has been so divisive within the fan base influenced me to go all out and talk spoilers contrary to how I usually go about my review blogs. I don’t think you can really talk about this movie without getting into the meat of what you do or don’t like about it to give a true review. You have been warned so here we go.
This film for me was a mixed bag of overall enjoyment with a string of disappointments throughout leaving me not angry but still frustrated despite having a good time. There were stunning visuals, awesome space battles, a lightsaber fight with the red Praetorian guards with some call backs to the OT, and then there were completely stagnated or simply forgotten plot lines, wasted characters, clumsy structure and finally the spoiled icing on the cake, the mishandling of Luke Skywalker. I’ll try to be concise while going through all these things and more but it’s going to be hard as there was a lot going on or not depending on your opinion.
JJ Abrams has a talent for setting up great questions for the next director to answer in any way they want making for an interesting kind of potential follow up films can take advantage of. It appears that Rian Johnson is having none of it which was a major problem for me. It’s not just that these questions aren’t answered to my satisfaction or I didn’t like the answers given. That is the case with one but most are simply tossed out altogether. Want to know how Snoke got to be so powerful, amassed wealth to give rise to the First Order and who he actually is? Johnson could have answered that but chose to unceremoniously kill him before we get those answers. (holding out hope that he is still alive somehow that’s not completely stupid) Did you want to find out definitively who Rey’s parents were? Kylo Ren asserts that they’re just junkers who sold her for drinking money. Naive I know but I am actually hoping he said that in an attempt to manipulate her to make her angry to seduce her to the dark side. Did you want to see a cool rocky like montage of Master Skywalker putting Rey through the rigors of Jedi training like the trailers teased, or would you have liked a equally interesting montage of cruel dark side tutelage given to Kylo by Snoke? Yeah neither happen. What about Finn? I for one was interested in possibly learning about his people. He was after all taken as a child to be indoctrinated by the First Order. Like I said it’s not that I didn’t get the answer I wanted but for the most part there is no answer at all! Which brings me to my next point which ties in to this one. Wasted characters.
All that build up of Supreme Leader Snoke only to have his apprentice cut him in half with a lightsaber sitting right next to him is outrageously laughable! How powerful was he again? All the while pontificating about how he knows Kylo Ren’s every thought, and that he cannot be beaten or betrayed. Now if they spin this so that this was the plan all along and Ren striking Snoke down somehow allows him to leave that decrepit body for a better host enabling him to retain his force powers would be a stroke of genius but until then this makes no sense. We were told that Captain Phasma would have a greater role in the Last Jedi and its seems Rian Johnson chose to Boba Fett her a la Return of the Jedi style except he used a flaming explosion rather than a nasty sarlacc pit. Wait what? You don’t hire Brienne of Tarth (Gwendolyn Christie) from Game of Thrones, give her nothing to do in the first film only to repeat that mistake in the second film! Then there’s my boy Finn. Johnson decided to send him on a wild goose chase with a new character Rose. Finn’s character arc is nothing short of stagnant. It’s almost identical to the Force Awakens, and Rose has absolutely no utility in this film other than having a necklace that’s the perfect conductor the code slicer can use before handing it back to her prior to betraying them therefore nullifying the whole fiasco. This is a shame because I applauded the castings of all these characters in hopes that they would be integral to the new journeys ahead.
Finn deserts from the First Order, then is deceptive about being with the resistance and finally joins the fight after Rey is captured, but asks her to run away with him right before that. He goes all captain save em to rescue Rey. As soon as he wakes up in the Last Jedi it’s the same thing except he doesn’t get incapacitated in the end. Rose does this time. If any of their roles were integral to the story then I am all for it none of it mattered in the end. They would have been better off splitting this into two films but one focusing on the conflict between the resistance and the First Order and giving us the training sequences in between for each side. At the conclusion to the Canto Bight scenes I was waiting for a guy to walk by and scream “message!” to let us know there was a moral lesson to be learned, but it was pointless and made the film drag. Finn gets the mummy dust knocked off of him by Phasma before miraculously popping back up to wack her t-ball style into billowing flames. Why the Jay and Silent Bob treatment?
The film was clumsily structured, with pacing problems and yet I had a good time which is strange. Seeing Poe Dameron pull his e-break on an X-Wing while taking out turbo laser canons on the Dreadnaught was great, and it was nice seeing the red Praetorian guards do more than get forced slammed into walls by Yoda like in Revenge of the Sith. They did more than just look cool this time around and it made for a well choreographed fight scene. Admiral Holdo’s capital ship kamikaze scene was awesome to see. They knew it was a great visual and took sound completely out of it’s climax. The character was dressed more like something I would see in a twenties prohibition club scene except she had purple hair. Although to be fair it could have been homage to Mon Mothma from the OT but Mon Mothma was a politician and not a military commander. She may have wanted to pull of her self sacrifice before a majority of the resistance fleet was obliterated.
The finale to the fleet chase was really hard to wrap my mind around. I know shields as yet don’t exist but somehow flying just out of range and the shields can protect them from the First Order’s weaponry? How does that work exactly when you at the time are not travelling faster than light speed yet the weapons being used are shooting light based projectiles and not ballistic ordinance? I know it’s all fictional but this is “Science fiction” with fantasy elements here and a rabid fan base some of which you know ahead of time will rip all theories and minutia of the film to shreds even if it isn’t warranted. Some of the plot holes make it seem as if someone had a bunch of ideas on a spinning dart board going with whatever they hit.
I had some other minor issues but this will be my last point and biggest issue with this film. The mishandling of Luke Skywalker and the lack of a deserving send off of that character. I know everyone on the Internet has been raging over this and the Leia Mary Poppins act in the beginning of the film. This is the New Hope or one of them from the original film! One of the most powerful Jedi to ever have raised a lightsaber, and you don’t give us a proper battle to send him off in? I didn’t mind that he had become a curmudgeon and somewhat of a hermit. I even didn’t mind him drinking that weird green milk from the breasts of a mammalian alien creature. It was really weird but didn’t bother me but if you’re going to off my boy then you have to send him to Valhalla right! The force projection trick was a neat twist but we have had no Luke in film since Return of the Jedi and this felt like a robbery. I understand they were going to get rid of him to make way for the new heroes but why not an epic battle with Snoke which seems like a more fitting way for either of those two to be taken out. How about a final stand where he whoops up Kylo but doesn’t kill him and then takes on the canon, Gorilla walkers destroying most of them before finally giving in to fatigue after showing us a tangible force demonstration the like we have never seen. He goes out like a great hero breathing further life into his legend and the resistance while giving the remnants of his comrades time to escape. Kylo has to regroup and Rey is angered further at him leaving the thread that she may still sink to the dark side in her quest to avenge two deaths. Instead what we got was a great spectacle that felt hollow at the end of it. The satisfaction I could have gained from the passing of Master Skywalker dissipated like he did along with those space dice from the falcon that somehow stayed there after he died so Kylo could briefly pick them up.
Well these are my thoughts on the film and I am curious to know how you felt after seeing it. I saw it the day it released and will likely go again. Sadly it feels as if Disney cares more about merchandising than it does for the care of these characters people have grown to cherish over the last forty plus years. This franchise at least from a literary standpoint is what inspired me to write. For all those who bought Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren action figures or their helmets I hope for your sake they make a comeback. I feel this franchise can be saved but it looks bleak. Comment and let me know what your thoughts are. Did you enjoy the film, did you hate it, or were you split like the audience ratings on Rotten tomatoes? Until next time!