REVIEW: Despite Some Good Moments, ‘The Last Jedi’ As A Whole Is Largely Flawed

The honeymoon appears to be over with the new “Star Wars” trilogy, at least from this reviewer’s perspective.

The latest film in the saga is “The Last Jedi” and it takes place shortly after the events of “The Force Awakens.” The Resistance, a military branch that was created to defend the peaceful republic government, is on the ropes to The First Order, a faction of Imperial remnants. The movie begins with the Resistance evacuating their base and getting chased by large spacecraft from The First Order.

Meanwhile, in another sector of the galaxy, new force user Rey (Daisy Ridley) is pleading with the Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for training. The problem, though, is that Luke is more or less retired now. As Rey tries to connect with Skywalker, members of the Resistance Finn (John Boyega) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) go on a special mission to help their faction escape. However, the two are on the clock because the last Resistance ships are being chased by larger crafts from the First Order.

There is one major, glaring issue with “The Last Jedi” and it has to do with the previous sentence. Basically the whole plot structure revolves around the last Resistance ships constantly running away from the First Order, but they can’t warp because they’re being tracked. So, the goal is to find a solution before their ship runs out of fuel.

The problem is that the film never brings up the idea of the First Order speeding up or going into lightspeed to get in front of the Resistance and just block them off. Again, this is the driving force of the film, because both Rey as well as Finn and Rose are more or less working to return to the Resistance to help them get away from the First Order. Logically, it just didn’t work.

It was also unfortunate that the side quest that Finn and the new character Rose went on was largely forgettable. Their mission didn’t have much tension, despite the race against the clock factor. In the end, it doesn’t exactly have a big payoff, either.

With that said, the sequences of Rey interacting with Luke are quite interesting to watch. The two sort of break each other down, with them having to reflect on their past and decide what they want from their future. Through their discussions, the audience gets to learn more about the Force and even the Jedi.

There’s also a set of intriguing scenes of Rey and one of the lead villains, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) speaking with each other by way of the Force. Audiences somewhat saw this Force ability before, ala Luke connecting with Vader at the end of “Empire Strikes Back.” However, it hasn’t been explored to this depth so far, so it was nice to see that fresh take.

These segments also work thanks to the acting from Ridley, Driver and Hamill, with the latter making a triumphant return. Ridley’s Rey, for example, is once again a relatable newcomer to the Force, similar to how Luke was in the original trilogy. Rey’s character arc as a whole is good, too, as it explores her flaws, her strengths and displays her questioning the future in regard to the Force.

Driver’s Kylo Ren, meanwhile, is also given a more unique turn as a villain, as he also questions his future with the dark side of the Force. It allows for more depth to a character who was previously looking like just a Darth Vader wannabe.

Stealing nearly every scene he’s in, though, is Hamill. The guy has not lost his stride at all, he’s great as the former Jedi Master who’s lost his way because of tragedy in his past. However, the Luke we’re all familiar with as the audience who was featured in the original trilogy comes through as well.

The characters with the Resistance, though, are a bit hit or miss. Rose, for example, seemed like an entirely unnecessary character. Tran is a fine actress, but her character doesn’t have much of an arc through the movie until an awkward and seemingly random moment in the third act with another character.

For much of the time where she and Finn were on their mission, all I could really think of was why didn’t Finn just go on the mission with the Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac)? The two already had great chemistry in the previous picture, yet they don’t get as much time together here.

With that said, it was fun to see both Finn and Poe come back and have expanded roles here, and Isaac along with Boyega are awesome in the roles.

There’s one character who’s significantly disappointing in this picture, though, and that is the big bad himself, Supreme Leader Snoke. It’s not that I have a problem with Andy Serkis, I think he’s fine here and I’ve written before about how good of an actor he is, but his character in “Star Wars” is such a blank slate.

We don’t know enough about his plans or who he is and the film never gives him that much depth. Plus, the character design just looks downright goofy. The character design wasn’t helped in this movie by the fact that Snoke was wearing all gold, making him look like Goldmember from “Austin Powers,” either.

While still on the subject of characters, it’s also important to note the very poor decision the movie has with one of them in the second act. Basically, there’s a heartbreaking moment with one of the characters that’s stripped away later in the picture that felt emotionally betraying.

At the very least, the look of the film is pretty damn good. Rey’s training on the deserted island with Luke is wonderfully captured through the camera and filled with grit. There’s also some fantastic space battles and an intense fight scene later in the film that takes place in a red room and it’s incredibly well shot and choreographed. However, a detriment was a scene taking place in an intergalactic casino, which honestly looked like it belonged in the prequels.

Overall, while some of the characters and story work from time-to-time and despite featuring solid acting from a strong cast, “The Last Jedi” has too many weaknesses. Its story and pacing has a lot of problems, which really hurts in a two hour and 30 minute picture, the main villain is forgettable and the film gets too emotionally manipulative in parts. 2.8 out of 5.

1 Response

  1. Steve

    The plot deserves much more scorn than it is getting.

    First of all, didn’t the Rebels defeat the Empire? Isn’t the First order supposed to be the rising threat? How do they suddenly have more unlimited power and resources than the entire galactic government that had 30 years to rebuild after the Empire fell? Why does the actual government keep calling themselves rebels? Why did they only have one capital ship? Where did the First Order get this endless supply of superweapons?

    It was bad enough they were able to secretly build one Super Death Star for the first movie, but now it turns out, that was only one of their endless supply of mega weapons? Again, these are supposedly the guys that lost the war, rolling out superweapon after superweapon, and they go from some mysterious force gathering in the outer rim to right back in charge of the entire galaxy overnight.

    So once we get past the massive problem of the Force Awakens and Last Jedi contradicting each other on what exactly the First Order is, and who is in charge of the galaxy, then we get to the details. Who is Snoke? This supreme leader that came from nothing and supplanted the galactic government overnight while losing his Hail Mary play Starkiller Base, is nothing but a cameo?

    So, it turns out it doesn’t really matter who Snoke is. Seems like it would be an important detail, but meh. What about his deputy, Kylo Ren? Leader of the fabled Knights of Ren! What about those Knights of Ren? Who are they? Where are they? Were they those red guys protecting that Snoke thing, or were those just regular Praetorian guards? Remember his all-consuming fetish with grandpa Vader? Oh, that was just a phase completely gone from the character? Remember in Rey’s vision when Kylo stabs someone through the back with a red lightsaber during the massacre at Luke’s temple? Yeah, turns out Uncle Luke was trying to murder him in his sleep and he defended himself with a blue lightsaber. If the whole massacre wasn’t a planned event and was simply an act of self-defense, not sure why Kylo would murder all the other younglings. Or why killing Han didn’t ease his light/dark conflict at all, but killing Snoke, the supposed dark influence over him, is the thing that finally makes him actually evil.

    So it turns out Snoke wasn’t really even a thing, Kylo Ren makes no sense, and the bumbling bunch of idiots known as the First Order have and endless supply of resources they manage to lose despite having overwhelmingly impossible odds in their favor. They do nothing but snatch crushing defeat from the jaws of incredibly easy victory, and somehow supplant the ruling government in the process.

    So, the First Order arises from nothing, is led by a complete nobody, and fails its way into control of the entire galaxy overnight by losing every battle it attempts. Ok, then. So what about our hero “rebels” that are supposedly the legitimate governing authority in the galaxy? Well, they seem to have celebrated 30 years of victory by never rebuilding their forces or correcting any of the systemic mistakes that made the republic fall to the empire in the first place. Turns out Luke went from incorruptible to trying to murder his own nephew in a couple short years.

    The only serious advancement they seem to have made in 30 years is to paint one guy’s X-wing black. Luckily, that was all they needed, since that one X-wing can destroy countless superweapons that it probably took a fair percentage of the galaxy to build. The only thing a black X-Wing cannot survive is being parked. Well, they also appear to have developed an incredibly useful cloaking technology. So secret that the guy with the invincible black X-wing is kept out of the loop on it, and it can only be used when all other hope is lost. Interestingly enough, the only person who seems to know the technology exists, or know that the “rebels” planned to use it, is the weirdo hacker guy, whose mission it was to disable a tracking device. He was somehow able to rat out the “rebel” plan even though the people that hired him (Fin and Rose), didn’t even know about the plan to fly cloaked ships to an abandoned rebel base. They thought they were disabling tracking so the “rebels” could jump into hyperspace without being followed.

    So Fin, Rose, and Hacker guy fail in their impossible plan, but then manage to betray the “rebel” backup plan that was developed while they were fooling around riding the enslaved space horses at planet Haliburton. By the way, Fin is recovering quite well from having his spine removed by a lightsaber. He survives a faster than light collision (we really have to ignore the whole E=MC2 business on that one) of capital warships that kills the 10,000 stromtroopers surrounding him. He also survives his pod racer-thing melting around him as he tries to kamikaze his way into that siege cannon. So it turns out he is pretty much invincible.

    Speaking of being invincible, good to see Leia survive all her perfectly opportune death scenes. Given they are killing off the old generation anyway, and that Carrie Fisher cannot reprise her role, it is quite curious they chose to bring her back from certain death even after they had successfully introduced perfectly legitimate succors to her role as “rebel” commander. First, they have her Mary Poppins herself back from the vacuum of space. Then, when it comes time to choose a kamikaze pilot to go down with the ship, they pass on giving Leia a meaningful death. To what end, I wonder? So they can CGI her into the next one? Or maybe just write her out and pretend she never actually mattered like that Snoke things or those knights of Ren fellas.


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