Before we get started, I need to warn you about something. This article will contain some very, very, very, very, very,very big spoilers. I mean, This will reveal most of the major secrets of this film and, if you aren’t up to that sort of thing, then you best leave now. I’ll give you a moment.
Still here? Okay, let’s do this.
Star Wars the Last Jedi: The Breakdown
An in depth analysis of what I loved, what I didn’t and in between.
Star Wars The Last Jedi is certainly a film with an insanely mixed reaction. There are those who consider it literally the Best Star Wars Film since Empire, some that consider it terrible, and then those like me who think it was good but not great.
The Last Jedi is NOT a perfect film. In fact is has plot holes in it so big that a Super Star Destroyer could fly through them. That being said, it was fun and, really, I can’t ask for much more these days but at the same time, maybe I should. I have really come to expect only the best from my fandoms (and they are Legion) so when we get a fun film that under even a little scrutiny is seriously flawed, I have to wonder if I am either expecting too much or maybe the keepers of my fandoms are providing too little. Maybe it is a little bit of both.
As always, feel free to chime in in the comments below. I would love to hear your opinions of this film as well.
So, not to start on too negative of a spot, lets start with what I loved about The Last Jedi.
What I loved:
- Rey’s Parentage is meaningless
This is a fantastic bit that honestly wasn’t surprising when you think about it. For the past two years there have been rumors and speculation of just who Rey is and how she fits into the grand tapestry of the Skywalker Saga and the reality of it is….she doesn’t. Her parents were literally unimportant drunks who sold her into slavery.
Damn, Why is this great? That sounds terrible!
Not only does it establish her as her own character but it also makes the already crowded universe a tiny bit bigger. For too long has the story been solely about the Skywalker bloodline. From Anakin becoming Vader to his redemption from his son and on to Luke bringing about the Return of the Jedi Order, it has always been about the Skywalkers. Everyone and everything seemed to revolve around a single family and man did that ever make such a vast universe feel so small. No more. Rey gets to be the true Last Jedi on her own, she has no blood ties to anyone and this makes me so excited to see what she does with this new mantle.
- Rey is THE LAST JEDI.
This was one hell of a red herring in all of the marketing. Luke may be technically the Last Jedi but, when you meet him, he has given up that mantle all together. So, really there was a ‘Last Jedi’ and Luke was it but he isn’t now so there is now No Jedi. Star Wars: The No Jedi Left doesn’t have the same ring to it so I guess The Last Jedi makes sense from a marketing perspective.
In all seriousness, Luke sees the faults in the way the Jedi order handled their belief in The Force and became rather conflicted in his search for balance. (Luke eventually realizes that there is a need for both the Dark and the Light and sorta ends up a lot like The Bendu in Rebels but without the magical elemental powers.) When Rey arrives, he wants nothing to do with her and, through her tenacity (and a little bit of force from Chewie) he finally relents but only giving her ‘three lessons’. Those lessons aren’t really important but once he freaks out and thinks she is ‘too close to the dark side’ to teach and gets upset with her for thinking Kylo is redeemable, he comes to realize that she is indeed the true Last Jedi. She is the new generation of the fallen order and, now that the Skywalker bloodline is pretty much dead, that tainted line is no longer an issue. So I guess, This Last Jedi is really the First Jedi of the New Republic.
- Yoda returns.
Yeah, you heard me right, the little green Jedi Master makes the ultimate cameo and comes back to give Luke some shit about being a crappy Jedi Master and it is awesome.
When Rey leaves the island (and Luke) behind to go redeem Kylo, Luke threatens to destroy the Ancient Jedi texts and even some special Force Tree that they are in. when he tries, he is visited by none other than the wise old green alien
Kermit the Frog Yoda and Yoda basically tells him that the books aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. He then informs Luke that Rey is actually already a pretty bad ass Jedi who has learned all she needs. This all makes Luke realize that the problem with Luke’s teaching isn’t that his students failed him it is that Luke never taught his students how to learn from their failures. It is a pretty huge moment and It was just cool as hell to see that old Jedi master back again.
- Kylo Ren finally surpasses his Grandfather, Darth Vader.
For so many years Darth Vader was under the thumb of Emperor Palpatine as an apprentice to the Sith Master. Although Vader plotted the demise of his master it wasn’t until he discovered his son that he realized he had a chance to truly be out from under the grasp of Sidious. Sadly, when Vader finally killed the Emperor it was at the cost of his own life AND he ‘redeemed’ himself turning back to the light side of the force (and ultimately disrupting the balance it seems).
To Ben Solo, this was a MAJOR failure on his Grandfather’s part. Ben (Kylo Ren) Solo believes that Vader should have ruled the galaxy and Luke pretty much betrayed his own Father by denying him that legacy. So when Ben takes the mantle of Kylo Ren, he starts his path to finish what his grandfather started….and boy does he.
In an EPIC moment, Kylo kills Snoke and literally becomes the Supreme Leader of the First Order. This is something that even Vader was unable to do so this makes Kylo even more powerful than his very idol. (at least in Kylo’s mind.)
One bit I really loved of this is that Kylo offers Rey a chance to join him and rule (not unlike the offer Vader made Luke) but Kylo goes even further suggesting that they wipe out everyone and start over. Wipe out the First Order, wipe out The Resistance, literally everyone. Rey, of course, refuses but damn was it not a pivotal and epic moment.
- Snoke’s Death Scene and The EPIC Lightsaber battle on Snoke’s Ship.
Okay, let’s set this up. Rey is being tortured by Snoke (Snoke using evil force powers and all) and Snoke tells Kylo to kill Rey in order to finish his training. (sound familiar?) Kylo starts thinking about it but ends up killing Snoke by igniting Rey’s lightsaber which is practically in Snoke’s lap resulting in multiple Snoke pieces. Trust me, it was awesome. So there they are and, guess what?! Snokes Guards saw the whole thing happen and they are PISSED. So what happens next? Genuine Lightsaber vs Vibroblade goodness.
I mean it is pretty awesome. Rey and Kylo, the Light and the Dark fighting side by side against a common foe, truly bringing balance to the force and with each other is a sight to see. In the annals of Lightsaber Duel History, this goes down as a top five at least. I mean, we are talking 7(?) red armoured guards against two fledgling force users and we see lightsabers used in ways that we never really have. I can’t even begin to describe it but it was amazing.
- Force Projection Luke
So the rebels are trapped in a stronghold that has been breached and all appears lost when, guess who shows up? Luke freakin Skywalker, that’s who! Sporting his classic hair cut, nicely trimmed beard and his trusty lightsaber. After a touching moment with Leia, Luke walks out onto the battlefield alone in front of Kylo Ren’s battle cruiser and 5 or 6 giant AT-M6 (basically AT-AT’s on steroids). Kylo reacts by instructing every vehicle to fire on Luke and they freakin miss. Right?! After the smoke clears he just walks out of the dust and taunts Kylo to the point that Kylo comes down to fight him personally.
The fight is pretty remarkable. Not once do the sabers touch but Luke dodges every blow like a ninja master. I mean even down to practically singeing his nose hairs. After the fight comes to a stand still Kylo makes a killing blow, slicing straight through Luke’s body Darth Maul style. Only Luke doesn’t die. In fact, he is unharmed. Confused, Kylo touches him only to discover that Luke is using a Force Projection power and basically astral projecting himself across the galaxy in order to help Leia and the remaining Rebels escape. It is an AWESOME moment but comes with a price. The real Luke uses up so much power projecting himself that he collapses and, in his final moments fades into the force like Yoda did in Return of the Jedi. It is one of the most heartfelt moments in the film completing Luke’s journey as a Jedi. I may have gotten some sand in my eyes. I hate the sand.
- The Humor
Star Wars films have always had some levity and this one has more than it’s share. Some of it is fairly heavy handed but most of it just comes at the right moments and in the right quantities. If Rian Johnson did anything well, it was this and it worked.
- Poe Dameron’s expanded story
In the last film we didn’t get much of Poe Dameron on screen. He was an instantly likeable character but was sidelined for much of the film. That was okay, as his story did not progress the plot. In this one, we get to see much more of Mr. Dameron and he really shines as a future leader of the Resistance. I really dug his story arc and hope we see more of him in the future.
- The Force is Mystical Again.
One of my biggest problems with the Prequels was that Lucas had taken a spiritual and mystical thing and boiled it down to a scientific explanation involving midichlorians. What a way to kill the magic George!
This film brings the mysticism back. Luke specifically tell Rey that the Force is the space in between, inside and all around everything. It is not something tangible yet touches us all. Luke even mentions that the Jedi Order at it’s height were incorrect in their perception of the light side and the dark side. That, no matter what, there had to be a balance of the two. This fix to the continuity alone, was worth the price of the ticket.
- Destroying a ship by ramming it in hyperspace
The way they destroy Snoke’s ship is incredible. Laura Dern’s Character Vice Admiral Holdo rams Snoke’s ship with the Resistance ship while going through hyperspace. It was the single most insane and impressive maneuvering in the movie and was a crazy visual. I have feelings about who went down with the ship (see below) but needless to say, the scene was awesome.
- The Boy at the End
There is a moment at the end of the film that was almost an end credit stinger but not after the credits. During Finn and Rose’s ill fated mission (of which I will discuss in the next segment), they run into some slave kids. These kids help them out and we don’t see them for the rest of the film. After the main story, the movie revisits them recreating the epic Luke showdown from above with home made action figures. It is pretty cool but that isn’t the part I am most excited about. Their owner arrives and shoos them off and we follow one boy out to the stables where he very subtly uses the force to grab a broom and then starts to work. He stops and looks up at the sky, holding the broom almost like a lightsaber and a star flys by. It was a very simple but majestic moment that opened up the story like never before. Although Rey is now the Last Jedi, she is, as I said before, also the First New Jedi and there are others that are still out there, waiting to be trained.
What I Didn’t:
Okay, so that was the stuff I loved, now to the stuff I didn’t. Surprisingly this isn’t a very long list as there wasn’t much to not like but what there I have are a few pretty big things.
- The Finn and Rose story
There is an old rule in writing called ‘kill your darlings’. It basically means that sometimes you need to kill a part or a scene for the sake of the overall story even if it is your very favorite part of the story. This entire thirty minute pointless meandering felt like that rule was not just ignored but Rian Johnson went out of his way to tell the rule it was full of crap.
You see, Finn and his new friend Rose leave the longest and most ridiculous space chase in the history of science fiction (see below) in order to locate a master code breaker so that they can disable a device aboard Snokes ginormous ship that allows the First Order to track the Resistance through hyperspace. Wow. that was a long sentence, but trust me, this part of the film is soooooo much longer (and serves less of a purpose).
So, in this scene, we go to a Casino Planet…okay…and meet up with Benicio Del Toro’s character named…uhm…I don’t think he was ever really named but according to most sources he is called DJ. We spend 30+ minutes of a 2 1/2 hour movie at this place and you know what ends up coming of it? Not a damned thing. Seriously, Finn and Rose fail their mission and are captured only for Finn to be set up to have a fight with the horribly underused Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. So we spend a whole fifth of the film just to give Finn something to do and get Benicio Del Toro in the film. While I love Del Toro, he seriously provided nothing either and really should have been on the cutting room floor as well.
I get it, John Boyega is a big part of Star Wars now and his character Finn was incredible in The Force Awakens. Sadly, When the story gave more focus on Poe Dameron’s character that left very little for Finn to do other than initially try to run away. This film really should have either sidelined his character or allowed him a bigger role with the Resistance. I mean, he could have been brought in as one of the pilots or teamed up with Poe to do more on the Resistance movement. Better yet, he could have died.
Hear me out, there is a scene in which the First Order use a giant ‘Death Star’ gun to blast open the Resistance stronghold. At one point Finn was ready and willing to sacrifice himself to destroy this gun with his own ship. At the last minute, Rose stops him and that entire scene was for nothing…again. He had already failed in one mission so this sacrifice would have permitted a heroic ending for this character. At the very least we could have had a horribly damaged Vader-esque Finn in Episode 9. Now that would have been unexpected and, he Disney listen to this, would have sold more toys. It’s all about the marketing my friends.
- Wasting Captain Phasma…again
I love Game of Thrones and when Gwendoline Christie was cast as Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens, I was stoked! She was billed as the new Darth Vader but all silver and bad ass…only for her to have all of ~2 minutes of screen time.
I mean look at this:
She got just about as much in the new film. She was literally as important as any other Storm Trooper and could have been replaced by a lamp post. This is NOT how you treat Brienne of Tarth dammit.
- Admiral Ackbar is cheated out of a heroic death.
Admiral Ackbar was in this film but you really wouldn’t have known it unless you really listened to the dialogue. Then, in a pivotal scene where the rebel ship is hit with a torpedo, he and dozens of others are swept into space (along with Leia) and all but Leia die.
Later, they introduce a new character played by Laura Dern who ends up piloting the Resistance craft into Snokes Ginormous ship, sacrificing herself in the process. This is all well and good but had ZERO emotional impact. Don’t get me wrong the impact of a ship going at hyperspace and colliding with another ship was awesome but it should have been Ackbar that made that sacrifice. Dern is a very good actress so please don’t think I am trying to diminish her in any way. Her character, however, was useless and like a murder mystery that introduces the killer at the end of the story, was completely pointless. Her entire part could have been given to Admiral Ackbar and we would have had one of the most memorable death scenes for a Hero of the Rebellion ever.
Imagine, Ackbar going down with his ship in a blaze of glory, having once again saved his people but this time he himself would not be saved. Imagine the emotional impact on the fans knowing we would never again here ‘It’s a Trap’ from those Mon Calamarian lips of his. That and having a non-human make such a sacrifice would have been HISTORIC for the franchize. Alien diversity yo! Yeah, we were cheated that.
- The longest and most ridiculous space chase scene in the history of sci-fi
I don’t think Rian Johnson understands how space works. In the film, the Resistance is being tracked through hyperspace by the First Order. Running out of fuel, the Resistance’s defence is to ‘stay out of the range of the First Order’s guns’. Okay, that sounds reasonable…on a flat surface!!!!
Seriously. The for the entirety of the film the small group of Resistance ships stayed just outside of the First Orders range and were picked off one by one as they ran out of gas. This is what the story used to give time for Finn & Rose to go do nothing ad for Rey to train as a not-quite-Jedi. Did someone not tell Rian that space wasn’t a flat plane and that all the First Order had to do was surround them? What was stopping the First Order from jumping in front, above, below and behind them and blasting the hell out of them all? Well? NOTHING, At All! So, either the First Order is just completely incompetent or Rian Johnson doesn’t understand how space works.
There was a one line bit where a guy touches the ground and licks his finger. He then says ‘Salt’ and the scene moves on. I think this was to tell the audience that ‘NO this isn’t a rehash of Hoth, it’s Salt not Snow dammit’ but it was a dumb line that should have been edited out. It’s the little things man.
Come on, did you expect these product placement on feet to be a part I liked? They were there to sell toys! That’s it. oy.
Now for the middle ground, The parts that I liked but they still bothered me enough that I couldn’t say I loved them. The things that were forgotten or lost, the things that were cool but didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The inbetween.
- Snoke is…nobody?
Snoke dies, but just before he does he reveals himself to be none other than one of the Royal Guards who was present at the death of the Emperor. Determined to get revenge, he plotted his return until he found young Ben Solo and saw his opportunity….well that’s what I was hoping for.
Do you know who he turned out to be, this crazy force wielding ball of evil scar tissue? Do you? No? Neither does anyone else. They never gave an answer. He was literally a walking plot device and that bothers me a bit. On one hand, maybe his origin was unimportant, but on the other there was sooooo much setup. Don’t set up things only for them to never come through. That’s not just being a dick but also just bad storytelling.
- Where are the Knights of Ren?
While the Knights of Ren were not referenced in The Force Awakens they are part of Star Wars canon due to their existence in the rest of the Adaptations, media and books. They are the guys seen in the Rey flashback standing with Kylo. So, what happened to them? Why were they not there with Snoke on the ship? Where the Pretorian Guards the Knights of Ren but in new suits? Did Rian Johnson just not do his homework? I don’t know and this bothered me a bit but not enough to be considered something I didn’t like.
- Yoda looked…weird.
I loved that Yoda came back as a force ghost but to be honest he looked…odd. A friend referred to him looking like ‘someone sat on the puppet before filming’. It was a small thing but it was bothersome.
- Leia’s Forced abilities
So, Leia gets blown out into space and looks dead. She opens her eyes in the vacuum of space and uses the force to ‘fly’ back to the ship ala Mary Poppins.
I am really torn on this scene. On one hand, I think it is cool to see that Leia did indeed complete some of her Jedi training before choosing to lead the Resistance. It is something that was only hinted at and this pretty much confirms it.
However, it was kinda dumb. I mean she was dead. In space. Dead dead but she wasn’t. She just needed some rest. I imagine this was done to ‘shock’ audiences into thinking that this is how they were writing the late Carrie Fisher out of the script but it was a strange and pretty pointless part ,other than establishing what I mentioned above and that could have been done with floating rocks or something.
- The dark side scene with Rey
There is a really cool scene where Rey is called to her own Dark Side cave (but this is a sinkhole not a cave) on the island with Luke and Luke warns her against following it down. Classic stuff really. Heck, Luke had his own Dark Side Cave.
Rey goes into the Dark Side Sinkhole, because of course she does. While in the sink hole she encounters a Dark Side funhouse mirror and it shows her who her parents really are….herself. Yeah they pulled the old Luke in the Vader Mask thing again only it wasn’t as obvious what they were trying to say.
I’m torn on this as it was a really cool scene, just a pointless one overall. ugh. I guess you can’t have them all.
Well there you have it. My in depth thoughts on The Last Jedi, for what they are worth. There are other things I could have added to all of the lists but these were the biggest. I liked the film and , to me the good outweighed the bad (an 11/6/5 ratio is going on above so yeah, the good won this one) I really think it needed a good editing and had it lost about 45 minutes, it would have likely been the best in the series thus far.
But let’s be honest, this article isn’t going to change any minds. It’s not like Disney or Lucasfilm are going to look at this review and say, ‘hey, this guy knows what he’s talking about, we should consult with him’. No, I’m just a nerd with an opinion like so many others out there. Star Wars is a multibillion Dollar franchise that I will have little impact on, save my money being spent on it.
That being said, it was fun presenting my thoughts on the latest installment in the universe that is Star Wars.
Thanks for reading.
Late To The Game 12/17/2017
Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed the review. If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Wednesday and also a complete review of Star Trek Discovery. Be sure to check out our contributor Darkmovienight with the New Movie Reviews every Sunday.
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