DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN The Last Jedi.
DON’T TRY IT, ANAKIN. I HAVE THE HIGH GROUND.
OK, here I go.
I LOVED THIS MOVIE. I was smiling, laughing, crying, or on the edge of my seat for most of it. As a pure space adventure, this movie is perhaps best in its genre. It captures the sense of wonder we want to get from Star Wars, it pays homage, and it subverts expectations and moves forward the Star Wars universe in important ways.
I’ll lead with the negatives since I like to end on a positive note.
What “The Last Jedi” Got Wrong
- That scene with Leia floating out in space, waking up, and force-moving herself back into the ship? That was weird. That’s not how the Force works. And that’s the first time we’ve gotten an indication that Leia is able to harness the force with such power. If the scriptwriters had wanted to give Leia a concussion to get her temporarily out of the picture, this space fake-out was unnecessary.
- Since the movie decided to depict Leia as an awesome force user, I think it missed an opportunity at the film’s end. When the Resistance crew ran into that wall of rock, it should have been Rey and Leia who moved the obstacles together.
- Not nearly enough (significant) screen time for Chewbacca and R2D2. These characters felt like afterthoughts.
- On the other hand, this may have been a goal. This film feels very much like a transition of power to a new generation of heroes.
- Snoke got way too little character development. He ended up being a plot device rather than an actual character with a story.
- The large number of plot lines in the movie made it harder to provide depth and color to any one character’s development.
- Captain Phasma was/is an unnecessary character. Let Finn have his conflict with the stormtroopers. But we don’t need a fancy armored stormtrooper with zero backstory to advance the plot.
- It was hard for me to get used to having Laura Dern in the Star Wars universe. There’s something to be said for casting relative unknowns for big roles in your movie to not distract your audience.
- I still feel like Rey gets away with being too awesome with too little training/not enough mistakes. She was able to move a wall of rocks using the force with very little understanding of her own skill.
- I would have liked to see Luke raise his X-wing out of the water and fly off to get some in-person fighting
What “The Last Jedi” Got Right
- I truly feared a battle of Hoth opener. Instead, this movie gave us an amazing space fighter and bomber drama, with a closer look at pilots who normally just blow up and disappear.
- The film captures much of the “gritty” war aesthetic which viewers and critics praised Rogue One for, from the bombing run at the opening to the foot soldiers on the battle of Crait.
- This film subverts many fan expectations and genre tropes. It would have been easy to please fans by giving Rey well-known parents, for instance. The movie also doesn’t kill of Luke as you would expect (i.e. like Ben Kenobi)
- There was an abundance of new alien life in this movie, from the toad-like casino player to those horse things to the ice foxes on Crait. This is Star Wars.
- The witty banter can come across as campy, but it’s the same kind of spirit that made the original Star Wars trilogy great. The funny dialogue and even funnier body language comes from great writing and great directing by Rian Johnson.
- Even with some deep, galaxy-spanning themes, this movie managed to keep the light heart of a space romance. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but ends up being a real piece of art.
- The score is tremendous. It’s great to have John Williams back after a somewhat mediocre score from an outside composer on Rogue One in 2016. This score has a number of great callbacks to the Force and Luke/Leia themes of the original trilogy, along with some fun new marches and lighthearted romps that remind me of Williams’ work on the Indiana Jones trilogy in the 80s.
- Yoda’s return got me hype. The conversation, the force lightning – everything was executed perfectly. That could have gone poorly. Instead the conversation moved forward the plot in an important way while also providing service to fans.
- I loved the first scene with Rey and Luke. We’ve been waiting for 2 years to see how he would respond to that outstretched hand proferring his father’s lightsaber. When he reached out and chucked it over a cliff I just about died laughing.
- This movie handled a large cast of characters quite well. Everyone from Poe to Finn to Rose had personal conflicts which they were able (at least partly) to resolve by the movie’s end. The array of heroic characters to cheer on was also a nice change. It’s easier to see a part of yourself in The Resistance with this broad cast of young rebel scum.
- Darth Vader BB-8, fish nuns, porgs – so much cuteness and weirdness
- Kylo Ren became a more interesting and complex character in this movie.
- Kylo and Rey’s battle against the red guards of Snoke was something I couldn’t have hoped for in my wildest dreams. We haven’t seen such an intense lightsaber fight since the prequels.
- Admiral Holdo’s hyperspace ramming of the First Order’s Supremacy was a stroke of genius I doubt would even have occurred to Han Salo.