Spoiler-Free Review of the Last Jedi
I need to preface this article by stating that I love Star Wars. I love the characters, the adventures, the mythology and the expansive and elaborate worlds found throughout the fandom. I’m not just talking about the films; I’m also referring to the comics, the novels and the video games that have helped shape and expand the immense magnitude of the Star Wars Universe. With that being said…
I did not love The Last Jedi.
I will not be discussing anything outside of what was in trailers, and I will certainly not be discussing any of the most important plot points. I just want to point out what I found to be the most disappointing to me, personally. I realize that I am not in the majority here, and that most people have really enjoyed this film. I just need to voice my opinion.
I’m writing this shortly after seeing the movie for the second time, and I can honestly say that watching it twice certainly helped me like it a lot more but still not enough to raise it out of my personal bottom three ranking of the films. For me, it goes like this:
- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Episode VII: The Force Awakens
- Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- Episode IV: A New Hope
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
- Episode II: Attack of the Clones
- Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The story that was told in The Force Awakens was incredible and when the credits rolled at the end, I was beside myself needed to know the answers to so many different questions that were presented during the narrative. Director JJ Abrams crafted an incredible story and as a result, fans (including myself) spent the past two years trying to figure out the answers to questions like who Rey’s parents are, what happened between Luke and Kylo Ren, the origins of Supreme Leader Snoke and many more. Abrams already had a long track record of successful science fiction films, including the franchise reboot of Star Trek.
Rian Johnson was chosen the helm the second installment of this new trilogy despite a limited film portfolio. His most notable achievement to date is the time travel film Looper. In my opinion, his career is not comparable to Abrams, but there must be something that Disney saw in him that made them want to hire Johnson not only for this film, but for his own spin-off anthology- a trilogy that does not revolve around the Skywalker family. Based off his performance in this film, I’m not sure that I’m really excited about the prospect of three more movies like this one.
Some people, based on the articles and social media posts I’ve seen, are happy with the direction that Johnson is taking the franchise. Personally, I feel it’s been overhauled, and given the happy-go-lucky veneer of Disney films. There were goofy jokes, slapstick comedy, cutesy animals- none of which are par for the course for Star Wars. It felt more like a live-action adaptation of a Disney animated film than a Star Wars movie. From the Force Awakens to this movie, the characters seem to have undergone drastic changes. It was almost like the characters were the same in name only. I will give Johnson a lot of credit for taking chances and sending the franchise in a different, possibly frightening direction. Even Mark Hamill was unhappy about the script when Johnson first presented it to him because of the direction in which Hamill’s character, Luke Skywalker, was being taken. To be honest, that was one of the few things about this film that I truly enjoyed.
I don’t want to make it seem like I’m going all-in with the negativity. There was quite a bit that I liked about this film. The progression of Leia Organa, the conflict between the First Order and the Resistance and the desperation of both opposing forces in the film were all portrayed very well. I especially liked the lessons regarding the Force and its role in the larger scheme of things in this universe.
There was a lot I didn’t like, though. The confrontation between Rey and Snoke that we saw previewed in the trailer ended in an incredibly disappointing fashion. The fight between Captain Phasma and Finn drew my mind to Back to the Future Part II, which is not something that should happen with a Star Wars film. There was some fan service and the inclusion of the Porgs was certainly done with more than just a little bit of thought of capitalizing on their merchandising potential. This I could have done without. And if you pay very close attention, the climactic final battle of the film loses a bit of its punch.
Overall, I was disappointed with this film but after watching it for the second time I did enjoy it more. I’m hoping that this grows on me as the years pass by and that JJ Abrams can build on the good stuff the Johnson did do in this film. I’m not going to give this a rating because I no longer believe in rating films; from now on I am only going to state what I do and do not like about them. I don’t want to influence anyone in one direction or another. I believe everyone should see a film if they want to see it and some random person’s opinion should hold no sway on that. If you are a fan of the Star Wars films then you should see it. If you are a fan of blockbusters, go see it. You’ll find something about it that you will love, I’m sure. There are plenty of amazing action set pieces, thrilling battles, and incredibly choreographed fight sequences. There is something for everyone. It just wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but that isn’t a bad thing. Maybe it’s time I opened my mind and embrace the changes and the new direction that the franchise is heading. If there’s one thing that Star Wars teaches us, it’s that you need to open your mind and be aware of not just the future or the past, but the present as well.
May the Force be with us all.