I haven’t posted my Star Wars The Last Jedi movie review before now because frankly, I’ve had to do a lot of processing on this film. I’ve seen it twice now and my opinions shifted somewhat in regards to how I felt the first time I watched it. I will likely go back and watch it a third time before it is out of theaters because I am so conflicted by certain things within this film and certain things director Rian Johnson brought to it.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Runtime: 2h 32min
Release Date: December 14th 2017
Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy | Sci-Fi
Director: Rian Johnson
Screenplay by: Rian Johnson
Production: Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Pictures, Ram Bergman Productions
Music composed by: John Williams
Based on characters created by: George Lucas
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaacs, Kelly Marie Tran, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro
Official Sites: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Twitter Hashtags: #TheLastJedi #StarWars #StarWarsTheLastJedi
Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.
*SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN! READ AT YOUR OWN ENJOYMENT RISK!*
To start with, I have to tell you that I have been a Star Wars fan since I was old enough to know there was a Star Wars. The first movie came out a year after I was born and for as long as I can remember, I have been an avid watcher of these films, and avid fan of its stars. I’ve seen the original trilogy hundreds of times over the years, which includes one excellent summer when I was ten where I binge watched all three movies every single day. Yes, I still went outside and played with my friends, too. But Star Wars came first, naturally.
Suffice to say, I am a massive fan of this franchise. I can quote the movies with the best of them, I’ve seen them so much. So when I say that I have feelings about this newest installment, I’m gonna need you to trust me on that. Because I do. Lots and lots of feelings. And not all of them make sense to me just yet.
When I watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theaters during its release weekend, I came out of the film with a serious case of internal conflict. For the first time in my life, I had a love-hate relationship going on with Star Wars. And I didn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. But it’s there.
Had I gone into the experience expecting too much? I didn’t think I had, and yet, more conflict began to fester as I began to talk about what I’d seen with friends at work. A few of my co-workers who saw the film opening weekend like I did had similar thoughts to mine, and another had completely different ones. The latter co-worker giddily pronounced this film to be best Star Wars film ever, even better than Empire Strike Back. I didn’t understand that. In some ways, I still don’t.
For the first time in my life, I had a love-hate relationship going on with Star Wars. And I didn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. But it’s there.
Now, that’s not to say The Last Jedi isn’t a great film. It is. By all accounts, it’s an amazing film and it held my attention throughout my viewing of it. Both times I watched it, in fact.
The problems I have with this movie, as I can process it right now, come from the storytelling, a few of the actors, and a few of the CGI scenes. But I should tell you that my opinion on some things changed on my second viewing of the film.
When I first went to see The Last Jedi, I hadn’t done a rewatch of the original Star Wars trilogy like I normally do before a new film comes out. I did watch A New Hope before my second viewing of the film and I have to admit, it helped me enjoy some of the new stuff in The Last Jedi a lot more than I had the first time around.
Okay, so onto my actual thoughts about some of the scenes and things.
General Hux and Poe Dameron
The first problem I had with The Last Jedi, and one that actually stayed with me through both viewings, was the almost cartoonish, villainous opening with General Hux. I don’t know if it’s the way the actor set out to portray the character or if he just wasn’t connected enough to the role or script to give the character any internal motivation or depth, but I thought it was a way over the top performance, and it was actually a bit jarring to watch because I kept thinking how poorly that scene was done and how much the opening suffered from that actor’s performance in that scene. I have a feeling it was because the director wanted to go for a cheap laugh at the character’s expense, but in that moment, it didn’t work. Not for me, at least.
Another scene I had a problem with was actually one of the main plot threads in the movie…Poe Dameron and his impulsive behavior that led to his demotion and Leia slapping him. To me, this whole thread was a joke. Especially the first time I watched it.
I honestly could not fathom how Poe Dameron could go from being such a great character in the original movie to someone who made stupid mistakes that cost the lives of the people around him in this film—and worse, not seem to even care. And Leia…I thought her actions in that whole sequence were out of character with who she has always been portrayed to be. Maybe with Han Solo she would’ve reacted impulsively and slapped a man, but she changed so much since then, I couldn’t wrap my head around her doing something like that in this film. It felt off, as did a lot of her scenes in this film, and it became a major sticking point for me throughout the entire film viewing.
And that brings me to yet another issue I had with this film.
Princess Leia and The Ship That Needs Fuel
Okay, someone please explain to me how in all of the Star Wars lore, the only possible story thread to work into the fabric of this new film was a ship that was low on fuel being slow-chased by the First Order. That seems like such a poor storytelling point and no matter how cool some of those scenes were, it still doesn’t measure up to the magic of Star Wars or what’s been done before. It seemed a poor attempt to create something new, and only served to make me think this director was far outside his depth with this film. Something I hadn’t considered before going to watch The Last Jedi for the first time.
Another sticking point for me, at least on first watch, was the scene with Leia using the force to guide herself back to her ship when she had never shown signs of being able to use the force to that degree before. I hated that scene when I first watched it, and not just because the CGI wasn’t good, but because I just didn’t get it. Or why it was necessary to show it. Then on second watch, I wasn’t nearly so bothered by it because I remembered how Luke said the force was strong in his family. In their family.
Which brought me to the question…had Leia’s force powers been dormant because she shut them out like Luke had done in the years since he’d gone into self-imposed exile? That made sense to me, and it still does now that I’ve ruminated on the film for a couple of weeks. But during my first watch? Yeah, I had issues with it. Now? Not so much.
The Disappearance of Luke Skywalker
I’m not going to lie. I had so many high hopes for Luke’s return to this franchise that during my first watch of The Last Jedi, I was legitimately angry over what had been created for his character. Because it didn’t feel like the Luke I met and grew up watching in this films. At least not at first.
But on second watch? After watching A New Hope again and meeting that impulsive, reckless Luke that Yoda swore was too old and too reckless to train? Yeah, I could see it then. How his own fear of failure could eclipse the needs of his sister and the resistance. Because if he thought for one second he was endangering the mission or the people involved in it? He’d be on the first ship out of there.
Which is likely how he came to be on Ahch-To, and why he chose to remain there.
In the end, he did what he could to help the resistance and through both viewings, it was and still is, my favorite part of the entire film. That whole scene was just so well done and brilliant in its execution, and it returned the character of Luke to the hero I’d come to know in the original trilogy. Just in a far different way than I expected.
Canto Blight and the Force Connection
These scenes were both an annoyance and a delight. On one hand, I loved the Canto Blight scenes because they really did give hope where there wasn’t any before and it was a nice thread to see despite its initial annoyance to me.
Because I didn’t enjoy the Canto Blight scenes on first watch. At all. I thought it stupid and a pointless side quest built more out of a need to give Finn something to do than to provide any real value to the movie.
And then I watched the film again and I understood exactly why those scenes were there and why Finn and Rose were chosen to experience them. It wasn’t just those kids that needed hope at that moment in time, Finn needed it, too. He needed to find his purpose in the larger picture of Star Wars and with Rose’s help, he found it.
The force connection scenes with Rey and Kylo were a delight the first go round and annoyance the second. A reverse for which I’m still not quite sure I get.
I enjoyed the scenes on the surface, but I can’t lie and say a part of me doesn’t hate them, too. Because to be honest, the only thing I can think about in regards to those scenes is how Snoke was able to bridge a connection between them if he couldn’t even figure out where Rey was with Luke Skywalker. I mean, if he’s so powerful he could bridge the minds of two people in different parts of the galaxy together then why couldn’t he see into the mind of one of them to discover the location of his supposed Jedi enemy. It made no sense to me. And still doesn’t.
Loose Plot Threads And Great Plot Twists
The force connection scenes with Kylo and Rey are one of my biggest issues with this new film. Because it seems as if they exist only because the writer-director needed something that could provide a more emotional connection for Kylo and Rey and this was the only way he couldn’t figure out how to do it. And that is a problem for me because it reeks of poor storytelling and quick, careless fixes.
That isn’t to say I didn’t love the fight scene with Kylo and Rey in Snoke’s throne room because I did. And despite realizing that Kylo, for all his raw power with the force, is a horrible fighter with a lightsaber, I thought that scene was well done and a brilliant twist to the film.
Do Or Do Not, There Is No Try
YODA made a triumphant return to the Star Wars saga in this film and I, for one, lived for it. I’m still living for it. That whole scene with the tree brought back so many awesome memories for me and it was so in character for both of them, that I was almost giddy watching it.
Luke needed the wisdom Yoda bestowed on him in this scene because he had forgotten what he’d learned from Yoda. Luke was so caught up in what he’d done wrong that he couldn’t see there was still something he could do and should do to atone for the mistakes he made with Kylo…and later, with Rey.
This scene led to Luke’s reawakening and I had never been so happy to see a Star Wars scene in all my life. It was just so good and so powerful to the saga on whole. Absolutely loved it.
All That Remains
There were a lot of things I could’ve touched on in this review, but in the long run decided against. In all honesty, my thoughts are still all over the place in regards to a lot of things in this movie and what I didn’t love the first time, I came to love the second, and vice versa. It’s the strangest thing, and the only time it has ever happened to me in regards to Star Wars and its canonical universe.
Now, that isn’t to say I was a big fan of all things prequels because I wasn’t. I had issues with those, too, but even with issues, I did not have the love-hate, rising and abiding conflict I have for this latest film. It’s the damnedest thing, and I’m having a devil of a time trying to wrap my head around it.
One thing, however, remains crystal clear. I love Star Wars, in all its conceptions, and this new film is no different. Even when I hate it, I love it. Because it’s Star Wars and it’s important to me. It’s a part of my childhood that I’ve carried with me forever and will continue to carry with me into the future. It’s my longest love and though I have conflicting feelings about this new movie, I also have hope in where the saga will go next…and where the powers that be plan to take us all after that, too.
And seriously, if you’ve read this far on this crazy review, thank you. My thoughts might be chaotic, but they’re mine and I’m happy to share them. Even if you might not understand or agree with them. And if you don’t agree, pop into the comments and tell me why. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this movie…and what I might’ve missed in my viewing of it.
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