I know, I know. There’s nothing I can say about this movie that hasn’t already been said. Most people hate it, a few people love it. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any other movies recently, so this is what I’m going to talk about today. My perspective may have been a little different than most, so I’ll tell you what: regardless of what you may think about the movie, you’ll probably disagree with me. So, since it’s been several weeks, and nobody in the universe is going to read a review about a Star Wars movie at this point if they haven’t already seen it, there will be spoilers ahead.
Before I get into likes and dislikes, some background. My close family, (at least the people I spend the most time with) are all nerds. That said, I’m also the youngest of six, so sometimes I can be left out of the loop with things. Such was the case with the Star Wars franchise. The first Star Wars movie I watched in its entirety was Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in theaters. Before you bust out your pitchforks, though, know this: I was eight at the time, and while I knew vaguely about the characters and the premise, I didn’t really know anything. The literal eight year old I was liked the movie for the action, but since it was just one of many movies for me at the time, I all but forgot the entire thing within a year.
Fast forward to now. I’ve since seen every Star Wars film, and the first movie I got to really see and appreciate in theaters as a valid audience member was Rogue One. For as much as I liked it, I couldn’t give you more than two names of any of the characters in that movie. It was just too much, too fast for me. A solid war movie overall, and you can read my review of it here. (Plus if the entire movie was made just as an excuse to put the Vader scene in theaters, it would still be worth it).
Anyways, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, was the first time I really got to sit down and watch a new story unfold in this universe. I was ecstatic, and I’ll be honest, I loved it. I walked out of the movie theater thinking it was the best Skywalker film made yet. That isn’t to say it didn’t have flaws, but overall, the choices that were made in the movie worked really well for me. At the time.
I’ve since watched YouTube commentaries on the film, and have read up a bit on a lot of things, and it’s opened my eyes a bit to really see what the current trilogy is doing wrong. The Last Jedi is not a masterpiece. The side-plot with the planet only serves to further a love interest that I hated (which was my biggest gripe immediately after watching it) and narrative-wise makes things worse for our heroes, there were lots of silly character choices that were either meaningless or contradictory, and nobody in this movie ever learns anything.
But I did enjoy a lot of the scenes. The “silent scene” was astonishing to me, because everyone in the theater managed to be quiet, and it was a great moment. (It did make me wonder, though, why wasn’t that choice made half an hour ago? Or, heck, why aren’t spaceships used as missiles all the time? One cruiser for one flagship? Deal.) I actually really enjoyed Rey’s character arc, and the complexity of her character in contrast to Kylo Ren was pretty neat. It was an interesting new twist, and I liked it. I also didn’t mind things like Leia using the Force to save herself and the kid using the Force at the end. Sure, you can make the argument that nobody can use the Force until you’re trained to use it, but the Star Wars universe is a big place that encompasses a very long period of time. Lots of strange and unexpected things can happen. Besides, a character saying “This is impossible” in a story should not be taken as absolute, 100%, unavoidable truth. Things change.
As I said, the movie isn’t without it’s faults. There’s a lot of valid complaints about it, but I still think the movie is overall great, and certainly quite enjoyable. Maybe not for diehard fans that have trouble suspending disbelief for new content in familiar mediums, but still.
As for me, I’m just hoping that whatever trilogy what’s-his-name got approved to direct after Episode IX is an Old Republic trilogy. That would be sweet.
2 thoughts on “Review — Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
There was a lot I liked about The Last Jedi. And there were quite a few bits that I just can’t reconcile.
I no longer hate Kylo Ren as a character. Honestly, I really did not like him in Awakens when I saw it in theaters. But my second watching much later, I understood and appreciated him much more. And the second film I thought he was great.
I liked the Yoda bits.
It wasn’t what I wanted, but I appreciated Luke’s display of power. It was arguably far more appropriate than what I wanted to see too.
Everything going wrong for the protags, especially to unexpected degrees, is nice.
The whole “our universe leaking into Star Wars” – it threw me off at the time, but really got to me after other people started pointing it out. There were a couple examples, but the “on hold” scene was the obvious primary offender.
The casino subplot. I feel like I’m jumping on a bandwagon here, since I didn’t outright hate any of it at the time. But really it felt like it had all the meaningful parts stripped out – like it should have been a much longer sequence with obvious, meaningful plot points in it that felt important. Rather than a questionable rush job that broke the plot in many ways.
No Chewie/Ben anything. I just yesterday came across a webcomic someone put together showing Chewie playing with and teaching Ben as he grows up, leading up to Han’s death. Chewie’s rage has him focusing on Kylo’s face, but his memory shifts his aim to his side, as he can’t bring himself to kill what was very likely a son-like nephew for a while, even after Kylo kills his best friend. Basically, Chewie is an afterthought in these movies, and that sucks.
Luke’s death. It was so… weird? And drawn out. And anticlimactic. I was fully prepared to have Luke die, then the danger passes since he’s not even there, he’s OK! Then oh man he looks tired and is straining himself. Then the scene concludes, and he’s not straining anymore, oh good he’s fine. Oh wait, a shot of Leia, I guess he’s not fine. Oh looking at Luke again, he seems OK? No wait, he disappeared.
The whole back and forth just ruined it for me and I felt robbed of a meaningful sacrifice Luke could have given. Especially after Luke’s last words to Kylo were “See you around” – I’m thinking “heck yeah you’ll get to kick some real but next movie!”
Lastly, I think the movie is trying much too hard. Instead of coming up with a ridiculously convoluted reason as to why the First Order can’t catch up to a bunch of tiny ships because of all this made up science stuff and fuel reserves and nonsense, why not just a) sabotage the warp engines, or b) have an enemy spy on board, or c) actually have a chase done at a dangerous speed that is exciting and makes some of the bonkers reasons for things make sense (e.g. we can’t hit them because they are smaller and more agile, if we speed up they could chance course and lose us more easily)
All in all though, I did enjoy the movie for what it is. And if they continue to come out at this quality at least for the next 10 years, I think I could be OK with that. If they end up worse? Well… maybe I’ll start getting picky.
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Overall, I think this trilogy will hold up MUCH better than the prequel trilogy did. I don’t think it could ever hold a candle to the original, which is unfortunate.
I think moving away from the Skywalker Saga is the best thing that can happen to the Star Wars universe as far as theaters go: You’re just going to inevitably compare it to what it can’t be. Some fresh movies that have NOTHING to do with the Skywalkers would be great.