I am a Star Wars fanatic. Naturally, I was anxiously awaiting the release of The Last Jedi since The Force Awakens’ release two years ago. And as of now, after three viewings of the film, here is my review of the eighth episode of the Skywalker Saga.
Despite garnering a 90% critic’s score on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.5/10 on IMDb, the film received an unpredicted 49% approval under the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Because of this, The Last Jedi is regarded as one of the most, if not THE most, controversial Star Wars movie of all time. I however, am part of this 49%, as I in fact quite enjoyed The Last Jedi. In this review, I will discuss the film’s “Good, Bad, and Ugly” parts. (By no means was it perfect)
The movie has been out for quite some time now, so I assume that if you are reading this, you: a) have seen the movie already, or b) haven’t seen it but don’t care about spoilers. But if none of these apply to you and you don’t want to be spoiled, this is your warning.
Luke, Rey, and Kylo Ren were objectively the strongest characters in the film, and when they were present, the film was at its best. Adam Driver’s portrayal of the villainous Kylo Ren was especially great. Driver is a spectacular actor, and it is evident that his acting skill can be attributed to his schooling at Juilliard. Kylo Ren is one of the most complex, intriguing characters of the entire Saga, and will probably go down as one of the new trilogy’s most memorable characters. His character development in this movie was great, as his constant battle with his small yet ever-present desire to return to the light side reveals his humanity. Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Mark Hamill’s Luke were well acted as well. Many were upset with Luke’s portrayal as an old hermit who had fled “the Force” and his past. I didn’t have any problem with Luke, in fact, I loved the direction that director Ryan Johnson took the character. It’s only natural that Luke Skywalker’s character changed as he aged. His reclusiveness and resent towards the “Force” made the film more interesting, and his death in the final act was extremely well done. Lastly, both the beloved Carrie Fischer’s Leia Organa and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron were well acted.
The battles and new worlds present in the film felt authentic to the Star Wars universe. The action sequences were great, and stayed true to the films before it. What people are calling “That Moment” was arguably the most iconic part of the movie, being when Kylo Ren killed his master Supreme Leader Snoke and teamed up with Rey to fight off Snoke’s throne room guards. That entire scene was phenomenal, and is probably one of my favorite moments of all of Star Wars. And while many were disappointed to see Snoke die, I frankly was not. Killing off Snoke made this movie/trilogy more interesting and avoided the cliche villain formula present in most trilogies.
John Williams also didn’t disappoint – his score was beautiful.
Last but not least, the film did a good job by playing off the audience’s nostalgia by just the right amount. Not too much to make it predictable and somewhat a copy of previous films (which I would argue is how The Force Awakens was), but just the right amount that still allowed for more of the Star Wars universe to be explored. Throwbacks such as R2D2 projecting to Luke his sister’s classic “Help Me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope,” message and the ever so appreciated banter between C-3P0 and his superiors kept the movie heartfelt and engaging. And fan favorite Jedi Master Yoda’s appearance to Luke as a ghost was a great way to connect this new trilogy to the last.
The sense of time in this movie was just really awkward. The audience is constantly switching from the First Order’s (Bad Guys) fast chase after the Resistance (Good Guys) and Luke and Rey’s training on Luke’s planet of self-exile, Ach-To. And while both parts were well done, the pacing just felt off. Also, the overall movie takes place over the span of just about a day, which is a little strange as well.
The movie also included A LOT of comic relief. While at many times this comic relief was genuinely funny, I thought that sometimes the comedy distracted from the importance of some scenes. This didn’t end up being too big of an issue however, because most of the film’s comic relief was present during the beginning.
Carrie Fischer’s death was both deeply saddening and untimely. Luckily, she was able to have completed her filming in The Last Jedi before her passing. This did create some issues for the future of Star Wars however, as it was reported that she would have a larger, more important role in Episode 9. The problem with all of this is that Lucasfilm did nothing to end Princess Leia’s story in a way that was both respectful to the character and satisfying to the audience. Leia did not die in the movie, which since she is a major character who was supposed to have a large presence in the following film, creates some problems. Now, Carrie Fischer will not be present to film her role, and Disney/Lucasfilm is going to have to find some way to explain away Leia’s death, which at this point, will only feel unsatisfying
Lastly, while Luke, Rey, and Kylo were great characters, their supporting ones were not as much so. Finn, portrayed by John Boyega, was great and had a very prominent role in The Force Awakens, but lacked clear significance to The Last Jedi’s plot. Kelly Marie Tran’s character Rose Tico was also largely unimportant to the film, as despite having much screen time, again lacked importance to the main plot. Finn’s and Rose’s trip to the Casino world “Canto Bight” seemed a little bit awkward. Many critics have stated that this subplot should have been removed entirely, as it holds zero significance to the main story. In some sense I disagree, as their whole mission to find the codebreaker to save the day did seem like plausible idea, yet I do agree in that the whole act felt forced and just a little poorly done. But whatever, I didn’t really have as much of a problem with this stuff as I did with what comes next.
There are some parts/aspects of this movie that are just flat out annoying and wrong. Princess Leia flying through space is one of these things. When her command center on the ship blew up causing Leia and all others in it to fly out into space, I had accepted her fate and was glad that Lucasfilm could now move on without her. But oh boy I was wrong. Leia coming back to life and using the “Force” to fly through space might just be one of the cheesiest and most unbelievable scenes in all of Star Wars, and seeing her do this caused me to sink down into my chair. It would be cool to see Leia use the Force, but now was not the right time.
I liked the scene when Rose and Finn broke out of the jail at the casino with their alien-horses. The scene was fun and interesting. However, at the end of the scene Rose says one of the most cringe-worthy lines of the entire saga. As Finn asks if coming to the planet in the first place was “worth it”, Rose takes off the saddle of one of the horses, watches it run to the rest of its herd, and says “Now it’s Worth It.” This scene is a prime example of a popular movie franchise being “Disney-fied” by being influenced by Disney’s recent acquisition of such franchise. And while I am against all forms of animal cruelty such as that seen in the movie, the fact that this line somehow made it into the movie still boggles my mind. It just sounded terrible being spoken on screen.
Lastly, Luke had promised Rey three lessons during her training on Ahch-To, yet we only see two. I don’t know if the third lesson is supposed to be in a deleted scene, or if they forgot to film it altogether, but something clearly went wrong here. Not good Lucasfilm, not good.
Like I said earlier, I really enjoyed The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson did an overall great job — with a few exceptions here and there. I liked it better than The Force Awakens, but it’s still not my favorite. I’d give The Last Jedi an 8/10.