By Jack (California)
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Almost a year ago, I posted a review of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. I gave it a fairly positive review, but I did mention that there were a lot of problems with the movie. Upon first viewing though, I was couldn’t figure out whether or not I truly liked the movie. As I stated in the review, I felt kind of emotionless at the end of the movie. Then I started watching videos on YouTube about The Last Jedi. Some said it was good, while others said it was bad. It was very interesting seeing both sides, and I have to say both presented very strong arguments. After watching the movie twice more, reading about the different opinions on the film, and having a year gone by since I first watched it, I think I’ve concluded that I think it’s a bad Star Wars movie. Not the worst, but I think it has way too many problems to call it a good entry. In this review, I am going to say much of the same, but with quite a bit added as well as changes of opinion.
So, let’s dive in. Let’s first go over the good stuff, which to be fair, there is a lot. The film looks very nice. I especially loved the planet Crate at the end, with all that red salty stuff. Speaking of which, I did like a few parts of that last battle on Crate. The special effects were also outstanding. I liked seeing Yoda again. I literally cried when he first appeared. I especially love that shot of Luke and Yoda looking at the burning tree. I liked Kylo Ren and Rey’s relationship. Although, there was a point where I thought they kind of ruined the relationship, which I’ll get into later. The moment where Kylo Ren kills Snoke and Rey grabs the lightsaber does hold a place in my favorite moments in the entire saga. Additionally, I liked certain elements in the battle that followed. Leia’s flying scene I will admit was pretty awesome. I love that conversation between Finn and DJ on that ship that was heading to the First Order ship. That’s about it. I don’t have anything else positive to say about this one. Therefore, it is now time to get into the negatives.
First, I’m not a fan of Rose. For whatever reason, I never really got into her character. Not the worst character in Star Wars (a certain Gungan holds that prize), but far from being my favorite. I’d say the same about Holdo. Again, I feel like I didn’t know much about her. There felt like there was a fundamental component that was missing that prevented them from becoming well-written characters. Speaking of Holdo, let’s talk about the storyline with her and Poe. It’s pretty bad. Not the worst, but, pretty bad. My complaint is the same as everyone else’s: why didn’t Holdo tell Poe about the plan? The opportune moment was when she was being mutinied. I can completely understand why Poe was skeptical. She appeared to be completely incompetent and not have a plan. I might’ve mutinied if I were in that situation! Then, in the end, Poe is made to look like an idiot by Leia, despite the fact that it was pretty much Holdo’s fault! There is an argument that because Holdo didn’t know how the First Order was tracking them through Lightspeed, she concluded that there was a mole within the resistance.
The reason she didn’t tell Poe was that he was highly suspect since he led so many pilots to their deaths. Not a bad theory and I can understand why Holdo would hold back that information. But, if this was the film maker’s intent, they did a pretty poor job of conveying it. So many others were confused as to why Holdo didn’t tell Poe the plan, including me, so it is safe to say that we didn’t pick up on this fact. Someone had to explain the mole-theory to me, I didn’t figure this out myself. If this was what the filmmakers were intending, then they should have had one of the characters explain the whole mole situation. That scene where Poe wakes up on the escape ship, Leia could explain that Holdo thought he was a mole. Then Poe would’ve have realized that he should have told Holdo how they were being tracked. (Although, again, I still see why Poe didn’t trust Holdo, and so I think it’s fairly reasonable that he didn’t tell her).
I think if Leia had said this, people wouldn’t have had such a problem with this storyline. A bonus to adding this scene is that Poe will have realized some more of the consequences of being reckless, hotshot hero all the time: he loses people’s trust in him. If he hadn’t been so reckless in the battle at the beginning of the movie, Holdo would’ve had more trust in him. Not that he didn’t already know some of the negative consequences of trying to be a hotshot hero. He was aware that he was the cause of so many lives being lost. But Holdo not trusting would’ve just added to his regret, therefore, giving him more reasons to stop being reckless. This way, we could still have the same character arc and the whole storyline would’ve made much more sense.
My next problem is Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship. As I said earlier, I really loved their dynamic for a while. Then, I feel they ruined it towards the end of the second act. The point at which I’m talking about is when Kylo Ren and Rey defeat the red guards (which I will admit, was a pretty cool sequence). The YouTube channel Wisecrack posted a fantastic video named “Star Wars: The Last Jedi – What Went Wrong?” that explains how this moment ruined the movie. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLYUc5t6wag I highly recommend you watch it, as you will understand my point much better. To summarize, the video explains that Luke was very right in saying that the Jedi need to end.
As Luke states, “The legacy of the Jedi is failure.” This is a fair enough statement. As he says, the Jedi are to blame for the rise of the Empire and the creation of Darth Vader. They’re also partly responsible for the rise of the First Order and Kylo Ren. It’s safe to say that the belief that the Jedi are what the galaxy needs in order to stay peaceful is incorrect. This seems to be what the movie is trying to convey. Even Yoda thinks the same. He is after all the one that blows up that tree along with the sacred texts. And of course, we all know that the Sith isn’t the way to go either, with them establishing a cruel dictatorship not once, but twice. Therefore, as the video suggests, since neither the light side or the dark side seems to be providing peace throughout the galaxy, the only way to bring about peace in the galaxy is through a balance of the two. Both light and dark. When light ruled the galaxy, it didn’t work. When darkness ruled the galaxy, it didn’t work either. Luke states: “Balance. Powerful light, powerful darkness.” A mix of the two, not just one.
This was what the movie kept telling us. Then we come to the scene after Rey and Kylo Ren defeated the red guards. Kylo Ren says that they need to let the past die and create a new order. After all, Rey has learned from Luke about how the force needs to be balanced, I’d expect her to join Kylo. But, she doesn’t. Wait, what? She said “no”? But after all that build-up and all that Luke said, she says “no”? Why? It seemed like this was the direction the movie was going, but apparently not. Then at the end when Luke confronts Kylo Ren, it seems as though Luke has changed his mind. He seems to think that the Jedi should continue. What?! Where did that come from? It’s like if at the end of the movie Inside Out, after learning Sadness can actually help Riley, instead of Joy letting Sadness take the control panel, she just says “Nah, never mind. I changed my mind. Sadness is bad for Riley’s emotional health.”
If that happened, I’d ask what was the point of all that build-up of Joy realizing that Riley needs Sadness in order to be healthy. If you’re presenting a lesson in a movie and present reasons as to why you should adopt that lesson, then suddenly have the characters suddenly say “Nah. I won’t take in what I’ve learned and become a better person,” it makes the characters seem a bit stupid. Rey not joining Kylo Ren makes her seem a bit stupid. And I feel that if she did join him, it would’ve been a twist I wasn’t expecting and provides many more interesting and original story opportunities. I felt that after that point, it was just the same old Empire versus Rebels. It felt like a bit of a rehash of the original trilogy. Not that it wasn’t at all original. It just felt like it could have been more original. On the topic of the scene with Kylo Ren and Rey, let’s talk about Rey’s parentage.
I do in a way like the idea of her being just a nobody. Still, it was anti-climactic. I remember sitting in the theater, being really hyped up in that scene because I thought Rey was about to reveal her parentage. I kept thinking “Who is it? Who is it? Just say!!!!” Then she said, “They were nobody.” And I just thought “oh… Is that it?” After all that build-up in Episode VII, we end up finding out they were nobody? Some people call that reveal clever and smart since it subverts your expectations. I call it “anti-climactic”. Either they shouldn’t have built it up so much in The Force Awakens, or come with something better than her parents just being nobodies. I will admit though, if she did say that it was Luke, Obi-Wan, Leia, or any other character we already knew, it wouldn’t have been shocking. I would’ve just shrugged and said: “makes sense”. I still think though that it beats her parents just being nobodies.
Next, is the infamous Canto Bight storyline. I will say that overall I didn’t dislike it as much as many other people. I honestly thought Poe’s was worse. Still, I think this storyline could’ve been much, much better. For one, again, I didn’t like Rose all that much, so I wasn’t really invested. She also didn’t really have any chemistry with Finn. Their interactions with each other weren’t interesting to watch, unlike say Han and Leia in the originals. The social commentary did seem a bit like they were trying to force a message down your throat. You don’t just say capitalism is bad, you SHOW us why it’s bad. (Plus, I would say it’s a bit hypocritical of Disney to criticize capitalism). I also wasn’t a huge fan of Finn in this one. I feel he was a bit boring in this movie. This is a shame, because I really, really liked him in The Force Awakens. Come to think of it, I don’t I liked any of the characters as much as I did in The Force Awakens. They all seem a bit plainer. There isn’t much banter between the characters.
Another problem I had was with Captain Phasma. She is a joke. Her costume looks really cool, but that’s about it. It didn’t take too long to beat her. I never thought she was a particularly good fighter. She shuts down the shield for Finn and Han in The Force Awakens. Nothing about her screams badass to me, unlike Boba Fett in the other movies. And she wasn’t in it that much. Felt like a very missed opportunity to me. Lastly, the biggest problem I have with this movie is, unfortunately, Luke Skywalker. I did not like the choices they made for his character. In no way would Luke Skywalker consider murdering someone, let alone his nephew. Even if he saw darkness in Kylo Ren, I don’t think Luke would’ve resulted in killing him. He would’ve talked to him, tried to bring him back to the light. And I don’t like grumpy Luke. This isn’t what I wanted to see. Luke is an optimist, not a pessimist.
I know it has been a long time since Return of the Jedi, but still, I feel this is too much of a character change. I also didn’t like his sense of humor. It felt a little forced and made him seem a bit cocky. I liked him in the scene with R2-D2. Other than that, I just didn’t like him. This was an element of the movie that I was extremely disappointed by. It was so good to see Han and Leia again in The Force Awakens. I was hoping to say the same of Luke in this one. Unfortunately, I don’t. As you can see, I have quite a number of problems with this movie. I really don’t think it’s a good movie. The characters aren’t strong, some of the storylines feel like side-quests, it’s confusing, makes some strange decisions, and overall, isn’t as good as the original trilogy or even The Force Awakens. Rating: 3.5/10 Not the worst, but certainly not the best. Thank you for reading!
Rating: 2/5BEST QUOTES