Movie Review: The Last Jedi

Spoiler Alert!  

I saw The Last Jedi during opening weekend.

I’ve been excited about this movie for the past two years since Force Awakens came out, which I enjoyed. I thought J.J. Abrams handled it very well considering Star Wars is now a Disney property and the pressure to make up for the prequels and get back to the feel of the originals was extremely high.

It seemed like the ideal first movie for this new trilogy. It introduced some solid new main characters in Rey, Finn, Kylo, and Poe while also integrating the old crew without it being distracting. It also brought up some new mysteries that left me excited to see how they would be dealt with in Episode 8. Oh, and it brought the Millenium Falcon back in style. So fucking cool. Way to go, J.J.

Between the success of Episode 7 and the buzz surrounding Rian Johnson’s directing, I couldn’t help but buy into the hype of The Last Jedi. I didn’t want to help it. If you’re going to go see a Star Wars you might as well be excited about it!

Ultimately I ended up with very mixed feelings. Probably more bad than good. The high’s of this movie are really high, but man was there some shit that just pissed me off. Here’s what I liked and did not like.

I really liked how they handled Luke. Turning our hero from the original trilogy, the one who never even lost hope in turning Vader back to the light side of the force into a broken defeated old man was risky, but I thought they pulled it off and it made sense within the context of the last movie.

Everyone’s looking for Luke in FA and it’s clear he has zero interest in being found because he’s broken from what happened with Keylo turning and destroying his Jedi Academy. Rey finally shows up with his lightsaber thinking this legend is going to come to the rescue. Well, he wants no part of that. It takes Rey’s stubborn hopefulness to even just get his attention and eventually confront his involvement with the Kylo/Jedi Academy incident. One final push from his little green ghost of a mentor got him to make peace with himself and come to the aid of those who needed him.

I liked Rey and wish we got more of her. Rey’s one of my favorite characters in Star Wars. She’s a less whiny, more badass without realizing it (yet) version of Luke. She does her best to convince Luke to help save the galaxy and is eventually successful, but she doesn’t wait around for him either. She has that same hopefulness regarding Kylo as Luke with Vader, but never seemed as tempted by the dark side. She has mental strength in spades.

She’s very fun to root for in this story, but I didn’t really feel that she was on a hero’s journey. Luke quickly teaches her a few lessons about the force and she quickly grasps them. You feel a little tension during her scene with Kylo, but you’re never fully convinced she’s in jeopardy of joining the dark side. And she barely has anything to do at the end! Way to go lifting those rocks, Rey! You used Jedi mind tricks to escape in Episode 7, but those rocks really showed how much you’ve grown since then.

I liked Poe and Kylo. They both have good arcs. Poe is an aggressive rebel growing into a true leader. Kylo decides he’s had enough of Snoke’s bullshit and is fully capable of taking things over for himself. They’re both stepping up big time. One just a little angrier than the other.

I loved the action sequences. The bombing of the First Order fleet (other than Poe’s prank call), Kylo and Rey battling the Praetorian Guard, and the entire final scene were all great. Exactly what I want from a Star Wars movie.

I didn’t like how Leia used the force. This scene took me out of the movie completely. The look of it was just weird. The way she moved made it seem she would have been more comfortable on a broomstick in Harry Potter. I actually thought we were witnessing Kylo dreaming this happening or something. What a bizarre way to show Leia using the force for the first time on screen.

I hated almost every attempt at comedy. Here are the two worst examples.

The opening scene got off to a rocky start with Poe’s prank call to General Hux. Very slapstick. It’s hard to be too threatened by a wannabe Nazi who falls for a practical joke in the middle of a space battle. Compare that exchange to the Captain of the Last Order ship that went down. That guy was legit. You immediately sensed he knew what he was doing and was a worthy foe.

Luke throwing his old lightsaber over his shoulder was a disgrace. The act itself was fine and to toss it away in whatever direction you want works with the character in my opinion. What doesn’t work is turning it into a moment of comic relief. To treat that moment so casually is just plain stupid. They tried too hard to be funny all throughout the film and none worse than this big scene.

I really hated the fact that this movie made it clear that Disney is making it up as it goes along.

This royally pisses me off the more I think about it. I actually love that they went in unexpected directions with this movie. For me, it would have been boring if Snoke and Kylo ended up repeating Palpatine and Vader’s relationship. Same goes for Luke and Rey being too similar to Obi-Wan and Luke or Yoda and Luke.

It’s one thing to take a story in an unexpected direction than what the audience thinks, but it’s something completely different to neglect the story that’s already being told in favor of a new version of the story.