Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, don’t read any further.
Are you sure you want to know what I think?
Well, you have been warned.
The Internal Debate
Before I begin, I just wanted to say that this was probably one of the most difficult posts that I’ve ever written to date. Largely in part to the fact that I’ve broken the first rule in blogging—I stopped writing solely for myself and have taken into account what others may feel about my opinions on the film.
And there have been many.
Hey! It’s Star Wars guys! Everyone and their uncle feels that they have an opinion of substance on any Star Wars film as well as where it would ultimate rank among the—as of this writing—nine continuity films: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI); The Prequel Trilogy (Episodes I-III), The Force Awakens (Episode VII), Rogue One (Prequel to Episode IV), and now The Last Jedi (Episode VIII).
With that said, I just wanted all the readers to know that although I am happy[i] that they made a Star Wars movie, I was not pleased by the direction that Writer/Director Rian Johnson decided to take with everyone’s favorite farm boy/Jedi Master Luke Skywalker as well as with other plot points that I will tackle later on in this post.
The Virtual Community has Spoken
Per Rottentomatoes.com, the critics (92%) loved The Last Jedi. Yet the online users who frequent the very same site were on the fence with it (52%). Why is that so? Well, the short answer would likely be that the movie did not live up to the two-year hype generated by its predecessor, The Force Awakens (2015).
Although a successful box-office movie, The Force Awakens was far from a perfect one. It did its job though as it introduced Star Wars to a new generation of fans; allowed old fans to reconnect with the characters and themes that they grew up with; but more importantly, it allowed Disney—the franchises’ new owners—to start recuperating their 4 billion dollar investment.[ii]
With the foundations of a new story firmly in place, The Last Jedi, hailed by many to possibly be The Empire Strikes Back of this new trilogy, was supposed to—at least in my eyes—succeed The Force Awakensd in not only box-office receipts but also in critical acclaim.
Now taking into account ticket inflation, The Last Jedi will likely rake in the necessary dollars to supersede its predecessor. But as far as critical acclaim goes, that proverbial ship has already sailed with many netizens even calling for the omission of Johnson’s The Last Jedi from the Star Wars cannon. Even Mark Hamill, who to my surprise had top billing when The Last Jedi’s credits rolled, had harsh criticism over how his character was handled (click here to see the video). Paraphrasing Hamill, “Jedi’s aren’t supposed to give up. They are supposed to symbolize hope.”
Or something to that effect.
The Underutilization of Luke Skywalker
As a longtime Star Wars fan, I have to agree with Hamill’s strong willed characterization of Luke Skywalker. After all, Luke didn’t give up on the belief that he could turn his father away from The Dark Side. Now in The Last Jedi, it is established that Luke had a moment of weakness when he felt the darkness cultivating within Ben Solo? Guys, it’s okay to have a moment of weakness. At one point in time, everyone does. It’s also okay to make mistakes.
But to go from badass legend Jedi Master to a depressed, suicidal, passive-aggressive Jedi Master was a bit too much wouldn’t you agree?
I mean think about it?
Every movie cannon Jedi Master has failed their apprentice/Padawan at one time or another. Yoda failed Dooku. Dooku failed Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan failed Anakin. Luke failed Ben Solo. The list goes on. Yet I don’t remember Master Yoda ever saying that he didn’t want to live his full 900+ years. Nor did we see Obi-Wan Kenobi giving up on the idea of teaching a young Luke Skywalker the ways of the Force.
But I slightly digress, the story arc of Luke Skywalker could have been better. After his—to put it mildly—limited role in The Force Awakens wherein he receives his father’s old lightsaber from Rey. We as an audience waited two years to see what he would ultimately do with the laser sword[iii] only to find out that he outright junks it? The depressed, suicidal, and passive-aggressive Luke initially doesn’t want to train Rey but with the timely intercession of a newly revived R2-D2, he has a change of heart. Now that lasted about 20 minutes before he changes his mind yet again.
Now don’t even get me started on Luke’s Force Projection from Ahch-To to Crait. He knew the strain would “kill” him. But he did it anyway.
Unfortunate and/or unnecessary events that added even more fuel to my already heavy reservations for this film.
Here are the other stuff that I liked/didn’t like from The Last Jedi:
- Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) shows us why he is the Resistance best fighter pilot in the film’s opening sequnce. Who could have known that an X-Wing could make sharp turns in space like that?
- Director Rian Johnson should have left Finn/FN-2187 (John Boyega) in stasis for the duration of this film. The Last Jedi could have done without his re-introduction and computer hacker side quest in Canto Bight.
- Is it just me or is it safe to say that The First Order is truly a sadistic organization? Despite having the energy resources to get the Resistance fleet in the range of their big guns, they choose to patient follow the crippled fleet until they run out of power. If it’s not that, then the film’s MacGuffin is really weak: Basically, the Resistance leaders lack of transparency forces several of their people (e.g., Finn, Rose Tico, and BB-8) to seek out a computer hacker with the intention of disabling the hyperspace tracking device onboard the lead ship of The First Order. Finn, Rose, and BB-8 make their way to Canto Bight and find a hacker named DJ (Benicio del Toro). Mind you, all of this is happening while the remaining ships of the Resistance fleet continue to lose power. Anyway, they bring DJ back to the fleet only for that plan to blow up in their faces. Subsequently, the secret plan of the Resistance leaders was to reach an abandoned—yet heavily armored base—on Crait via cloaked transport ships. Um, why not tell your constituents that was the plan all along? Why all the secrecy? They could have literally saved themselves from Poe Dameron’s mutiny.
- The Porg. Much like the Ewoks, the Porg clearly exist to sell toys. They were actually quite funny in The Last Jedi—along with the Jedi Caretakers on Ahch-To. However, because of the Porg, I don’t think I could ever truly enjoy another rotisserie chicken if someone were to put a Porg toy in front of me.
[i] George Lucas once promised that their would be seven Indiana Jones films. He barely got to 4 when he sold his Lucasfilm properties to Disney. For this reason alone, I’m happy that any Lucasfilm movie gets done.
[ii] They made a reported 2.068 Billion with The Force Awakens. Halfway there!
[iii] Laser sword? Who would have ever thought that Luke Skywalker would ever refer to a lightsaber as a laser sword. We think it but we have never ever called it that! Simply blasphemous!