Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a film that will make you laugh, cry, scream out in anger, and completely surprise you unexpectedly. It is a film that is chocked full of Star Wars moments, and although fans are divisive about the film, it has epic lightsaber battles, crazy alien creatures, multiple planets, and plenty of space battles to make any sci-fi fan giggle with glee. The film is loaded with twists, surprises, and enough emotional weight to feel a disturbance in the Force. The Last Jedi is a film that takes a lot of big risks, and they mostly payoff.
Like with all reviews, there are BIG SPOILERS AHEAD for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Tread with Caution, you must.
It is hard to deny that the biggest focus of The Last Jedi was to move on from the shackles of the original cast. It wasn’t a film completely void of amazing cinematic moments, rather it had enough great moments to leave me happy, but uneasy. Don’t think that I am about to bash the film, because there are some truly great moments in The Last Jedi. The wait was two-years in the making, so why did I leave the theater unsure about what I had just witnessed? Luke’s quote to Rey sums up exactly what the film is, “This is not going to go the way you think!” He couldn’t be more dead on.
With missed opportunities, shifty writing at times, and a load of WTF character moments, it was hard to leave the theater feeling good about The Last Jedi. I liked the movie, but there are a lot of stupid things in The Last Jedi. Lets take a moment to discuss the really bad things:
This film relied too heavily on the plot twists. Plot twists are great, and TLJ is full of them, which is why there was so much emphasis on not spoiling them opening weekend. This is even the primary reason why I am just now writing this review of the movie. The twists are great: Luke’s Force battle, the Kylo Ren/ Rey ForceTime sessions, Kylo and Rey fighting side-by-side against Snoke, and Snoke’s death. Unfortunately, the film relies on these twists entirely too much, and that takes away from the narrative.
The biggest example I have of this is Admiral Holdo’s mystery plan. It was unnecessary, and could have been achieved had she just told her team and had everyone on-board. Instead, she keeps the secret and we are left thinking she is a villain or a mole. Instead, she is a brave Rebel, and (because we think she is a traitor) her sacrifice is basically wasted. The mislead kills the delivery. It brings up the supplemental question as to why she didn’t tell everyone her plan? There would have been no reason for the Poe mutiny, and it was a plan Poe would have more-than-likely supported.
The throwaway villains are distracting. Lucasfilm head, Kathleen Kennedy said that Captain Phasma would get a larger role in this film, and the chrome trooper was still not formidable and died quickly. Phasma is a great character with a lot of potential, if she would just be used right. Make her a force for the First Order, rather than a pushover like Starscream in the Transformers franchise. Give her fear and power to go along with her determination.
Another point (in the same vein) is the whole issue with Snoke. Snoke’s identity and past was a hot topic in the two years since The Force Awakens. So, why would you kill a great villain without any more growth or characterization. Granted, I know that we didn’t find out much about the Emperor until the prequels, but it would have been an easy thing to do with Snoke. Especially seeing as everyone on the internet had a different theory about him.
His death was great, but it just left us with more questions. It also didn’t give us enough of his master plan for Rey to really have validity. Did Snoke form the Force bond as he says, or is this a Force ability thats unique to Kylo and Rey? A little more characterization would have only helped the narrative.
Then next bad thing about The Last Jedi is the bad jokes. Star Wars and comic relief have always had a unique relationship. The Force Awakens had plenty of it, if not too much. TLJ goes off the deep end with jokes, and at times they just come off as forced. A good joke in the film was the Poe and Hux exchange in the beginning of the film. It was one of the few times that I laughed when watching TLJ. The Porgs and Chewy were also good jokes, although they tended to come at bad times as well. A few bad jokes were the cuts to humor during the Forcetime scenes between Kylo and Rey. It was a moment that the script was trying to build mystery and prevalence, but the jokes took away from that.
The next few issues with The Last Jedi stem with Luke Skywalker. Im not going to rag the fact that we all expected to see him portrayed closer to his Expanded Universe characterization as basically a Jedi badass. It wouldn’t have made for a good arc for Luke, and in fact, the way his story arc is in this movie is great exactly how it is. The problems are in the littler details. Why did Luke dismiss his lightsaber so easily. It was a relic that was revered in The Force Awakens, and having it play out this way seems like a slap in the face to what J.J. Abrams was building to in TFA.
This brings up another inconsistency. Luke makes the comment that he just wants to be left alone to die on Ach-To alone, so why would there be this elaborate map? Why would there be a way to find Luke if he was needed during a crisis, if he was not willing to help anyway? Star Wars fans are all about the little details, and these things may seem nitpick, but they matter.
One more thing about Ach-To: What was up with the creepy titty aliens? The scene was weird enough, without the creature looking at Rey almost saying, “You want some of this?” It was odd, to say the least.
Another big issue was timeline inconsistencies. Rey’s training was non-existent, and without reference seemed to last two days. Whereas, Luke’s training seemed longer, and was still nowhere near completion. Is this about to be a common theme in Star Wars movies? This is not the only timeline inconsistency. When TFA ended, Kylo Ren was about to complete his Sith training, if he even was a Sith, and General Hux was returning to Snoke to strategize. If The Last Jedi picks up where the last film left off, then what happened to these two big situations? Kylo never completes his training on-screen (if at all), and this would have been something that would be great to see on the big screen.
Poe and Finn were two characters that were left to their own devices in this film. Yes, Poe is featured throughout the movie, but he is an arrogant idiot who has no real reprecussions for his actions. I loved Poe in the first 15 minutes of this movie, but his arrogance felt out of place. He disobeys a direct order for General Leia, which kills most of the Resistance fleet, and gets a lecture about patience. He then send Finn and Rose off on a secret mission without having the authority to do so. Finally, he stages a failed mutiny and still only gets the sternest of lectures. He is not punished once for any of his actions.
Finn was a shining surprise in The Force Awakens. He was nothing but an afterthought in The Last Jedi. With a character that has this much potential, why would you basically give him a meaningless side mission? He and Rose are two characters who were misused in this film. The entire Canto Bight sequence is pointless. It seems just added to showcase extra aliens that the production made for the film. It was a filler scene, that had no point in the grand scheme, and did nothing to further the plot. Finn also has no character arc as well. After the events of TFA why is he trying to run away again? He already proved he was a hero and stood up to Kylo Ren, but in TLJ the first thing he does is try to run again.
Another big issue I had with The Last Jedi was the “Super Leia” scene. I understand that it’s been establishing in the film that she is Force sensitive, but this is a bit much. Why after this happened, did no one mention her use of the Force afterwards? It is a bit of a stretch, and one that director Rian Johnson is constantly having to explain.
My last nitpick is a personal critique. In The Force Awakens, we see the Millennium Falcon fly in a way that we had never seen on the big screen before. It was raw and fresh. It was not carried over in The Last Jedi. I know that in TFA it was Rey who was piloting the ship, and in TLJ it was Chewy, but it was a minor detail that J.J. Abrams added which gave the film a unique step in the right direction.
We saw these dynamic piloting maneuvers done by Poe Cameron in the beginning fo the film, but is it too far of a stretch to saw that Chewy would pilot the ship in a way that almost no one else could? I hope that J.J. Abrams will take the MF flight back to the way that Rey flew in TFA rather than sinking back into the comfortable flight it had in the original trilogy.
The Last Jedi was a good film, and it does get better with additional viewings. But it was not without it problems. There was enough things wrong with the film to make fans cringe, but they are missed-steps that are overlooked after multiple views. The inconsistencies are hard to overlook. The film did give us an epic X-Wing pilot taking down a super Star Destroyer, the reasons why Kylo Ren destroyed Luke’s new Jedi Academy, a broken Jedi Master who was disappointed to fail, Yoda, and a fantastic bunch of twists. It was refreshing, disappointing, surprising, and heart-warming. It is a film that felt like the conclusion to the new trilogy, rather than the middle film.
Don’t forget to read Part 2 of this review, cataloging everything great about The Last Jedi.