**WARING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW**
It’s finally here! The film Star Wars fanatics (and everyone else in the world, let’s be honest) have been waiting for since the closing credits of The Force Awakens. So let’s just get right into it. Here’s three things Rian Johnson got right with The Last Jedi and three things that I wasn’t a fan of.
1. An Original Script
Let’s go back to The Force Awakens for a minute. For me, it was a major disappointment. Yeah, yeah it got 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, big whoop (I’m starting to think there’s some under-the-table dealing with Disney and RT.. but that’s a different subject). For me, The Force Awakens was, essentially, a beat-for-beat remake of A New Hope (maybe that’s a tad exaggerating, but not too much). I was hoping for something more original, new. And that is what I felt they delivered with The Last Jedi. I actually felt like I was watching a new movie this go-around, where I was surprised and taken on an adventure. It was refreshing. So a thumbs up to Rian Johnson for the script as a whole. The several witty comedic lines were a nice add as well.
2. Kylo Ren’s Development
Kylo takes over! Something Vader never did (luckily). Not saying that Kylo is a better villain than Vader, but hey you’ve gotta give the guy some credit, he seized the opportunity, assassinated his master, and now rules the First Order as the new Supreme Leader. I liked seeing this. At first, I wondered (for about one second) if Kylo had actually turned good. This was thanks to Johnson perfectly setting it up with the discussion between him and Rey about who will turn who. But then I realized what he was actually doing. A lot of times villains are simply static characters. They are bad because they are bad because they are bad. And they just simply stay bad. But in this film we saw Kylo’s conflict (he doesn’t kill his mom) and we saw him go further down the path of the Dark Side by killing Snoke and seizing power.
3. Rey’s Parents
We discover that Rey really is nobody, her parents were junk traders that sold her off. She doesn’t come from Skywalker blood (debunking all the internet rumors about her and Kylo being siblings, which I’ll admit, I believed) and she doesn’t have any Jedi heritage anywhere, at least that we are aware of. This was a total twist! Johnson set this up perfectly by Kylo Ren stating that he knew that she would turn because he saw who her parents were. This is said right before Kylo kills Snoke instead of Rey, like he is being instructed to do.
This superb set-up paired with two years worth of internet lore made me totally believe that they were brother and sister. Kylo knew she would join him because they’re siblings right? Kylo didn’t want to kill her because they’re siblings right? Wrong. Totally wrong. That took me totally off-guard and was an excellent twist.
1. It’s basically one big long scene….
Now, I know I just credited Johnson with writing an original, well-done, script. I still stand by that, but at the same time the whole TWO AND A HALF HOUR MOVIE WAS ONE BIG CHASE SCENE! And because of this, it didn’t feel substantial at some points. Of course they cut back and forth to Rey and Luke’s training on Ahch-To and to Finn and Rose searching for the codebreaker on Canto Bight but really the whole of the film revolved around a cat-and-mouse chase. This caused me to lose interest at a few points, I wanted something to happen to move the plot along, instead of just waiting for the First Order to eventually catch the rebels.
2. An inconsequential adventure with Finn and Rose
This seems to be the problem that is getting all the media attention. As Vanity Fair puts it “Slice this part (and, in fact, a lot of what Finn and Rose do) out of the story, and the end result of the film wouldn’t be all that different” and as Ethan Gatch says, “Had Leia not been forced into a coma by the writers . . . Finn and Rose would have known all of this was completely unnecessary. In fact, it would have potentially saved hundreds (thousands?) of lives.”
I one hundred percent agree. Now there are external reasons, outside the realm of plot and story, why studio execs would want to leave that part of the story in. I won’t get into all of them here but it’s basically to give Finn something to do even if it has absolutely no impact on the plot. Something more consequential from Finn’s adventure would have been nice.
3. Several cheesy lines…
Some of them were just plain cheesy. Probably the king being Rose’s, “Now it’s worth it” as she pulls the saddle off of the Fathier on Canto Bight. Not to mention that they had just broken out of jail, trashed the city, and risked their lives for no reason whatsoever (as described above). But there were also some “cheesy lines” that came solely from expository dialogue, lines which were said for the benefit of the audience, making sure that we understood what was happening. Lines that, normally, characters would never had said to each other. Was this just Disney trying to make sure their younger audience was keeping up? Perhaps, but still it was a bit off-putting.
Triumph Honorable Mentions
- Snoke had more screen time, and dang he is powerful. It would have been cool to see him in the next movie, but I’ll take Kylo’s assassination over more Snoke time.
- Luke’s reluctance to train Rey, after what had happened with Ben Solo this was believable.
- Ending with the slave children, one of which (if you didn’t notice) also seems to have force powers. In the credits this kid’s name is listed as Temiri Blagg, so maybe we haven’t seen the last of him.
- Yoda showing up… Although to be honest I was kind of hoping it would have been an Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Yoda is sweet.
- Clues that Luke was a force projection in the final battle, including that he does not make red footprints in the salt! Check out this article from Forbes for more clues you may have missed.
Shortcoming Honorable Mention
- I didn’t believe the romantic relationship between Rose and Finn that surfaced at the end.
- The force projection was cool.. but was it stretching the power of the force a little too much? Also Rey and Kylo communicating (actually talking) through the force… I’m undecided here but my gut reaction was that it may have been a bit too far.
- Luke “passing on”…. Is he going to be in the next one as a force ghost? If so then this is fine. But if not, then it felt like Lucasfilm was just killing him off, for no apparent reason, so they didn’t have to pay him for the next one.
All in all the film was a triumph in my opinion and I loved it WAY more than The Force Awakens. I’m excited to see what happens in the next one!