I have now seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi twice and I think I have all the information that I need to make an accurate review of this film. Hopefully, most people have seen the movie by now but for those of you who have not yet seen, I have left the spoiler-free section and I would suggest not reading beyond that. As for everyone else, I am excited to share my detailed opinions on this wild ride of a movie.
For the most part, I thought Star Wars: The Last Jedi was brilliant. I would consider myself a big fan of the franchise and I think director Rian Johnson did a fantastic job on starting the evolution of the franchise while keeping the integrity of its history intact. This movie has, in my opinion, a couple of the best scenes in Star Wars history, and those scenes are what drove me to enjoy it to the degree that I did.
The film was one of the most cinematically appealing movies I have ever seen. I also really enjoyed the acting performances, with only a couple small exceptions. Daisy Ridley was great, Mark Hamill gave us probably the single best performance of his career and I left the theater with a newfound respect for Adam Driver as an actor.
The biggest problem that I had with this film is some of the writing and side stories. The storyline following Rey was gripping and had me in full attention while the other storylines just weren’t as exciting. I kept wanting them to get back to Rey so we could see what was going on with her. There are many things about the story that I look back and think, “That was kinda stupid”, but certain parts of the film made up for the worse parts in a big way.
I have seen a lot of hatred voice about this film on social media from many long-time Star Wars fans. While the majority of people seem to love the movie, a decent group has been expressed strong negative feelings toward the movie and some even saying things like Disney “has ruined the Star Wars franchise”. It seems to me like those people are resistant to change when it comes to how the movies flow. Star Wars: The Last Jedi tries its best to break all things that fans think they know about Star Wars movies, and I really enjoyed the desire to make an original film in a familiar universe. I am going to hopefully see this movie again in the coming week (hopefully in IMAX), and then next week I will come back and give everyone my more thorough, spoiler review. So if you have already seen the movie by that time, be on the lookout.
I noticed many little things that I think Rian Johnson did wrong in The Last Jedi, especially after watching it a second time. There are also many things that I have been reading complaints about that I don’t have a problem with. I’m going to talk about both. For starters, I think a lot of people didn’t really like the comedy in this film. While at times it did seem a little cheesy or out of place, overall I can always appreciate a movie that can make me laugh.
One that I have heard as a knock on the film is that fact that there are too many convenient things that happen to some of the main characters that save them, and I agree with this notion 100%. It is like BB-8 ex machina all over the place. From the first scene where he just slams into the circuit board and somehow makes it operable, then on Canto Bight he finds DJ the codebreaker and steals a ship to save Finn and Rose, and finally in the latter stages of the movie when he jumps in a walker and blasts Finn and Rose out of a bind. BB-8 is literally the only reason half the main characters are still alive it seems like. Let’s talk a little bit about Canto Bight while we are at it. I think this scene in the film is the only place the really lost my attention and in fact, I actually skipped it for a bathroom break during my second viewing. It doesn’t feel like a Star Wars and unless it becomes really important in Rian Johnson’s future trilogy, I don’t think it belonged.
The two main questions that everyone had going into Star Wars: The Last Jedi were “Who are Rey’s parents?” and “Who is Snoke?”. After toying with the audience at various points throughout the 2.5 hr runtime, it is eventually revealed that Rey’s parents were nobody’s who sold her in Jakku. It is incredible the amount of hatred that answer has generated from fans bother young and old. Everyone seemed to want Rey to be related to someone that we all know, and they can’t handle the fact that Disney through them a curve-ball. I honestly kind of like the point that the movie is trying to make, which is that Disney isn’t going to stick to the same old Star Wars script anymore. They were also trying to insert the idea that the force cannot simply belong to the Jedi because it moves through every little thing and you don’t need to be born of a Jedi to use it.
As for the latter question, there really isn’t a lot of background on Snoke’s origins before he is killed. I would’ve loved to know where he has been throughout the other movies, or how he became so powerful. As for the question “Who is Snoke?”, I am fairly certain that he isn’t Palpatine or anyone we know from older movies. Snoke is simply Snoke; deal with it. I actually agree with Rian Johnson more recent comments that killing Snoke was necessary because it paved the way Kylo Ren to become the leader of the First Order that he is destined to become.
As I mentioned in the spoiler-free section, I thought the acting in The Last Jedi was fantastic. I briefly mention Adam Driver, but I wanted to bring him up again. After The Force Awakens, I admit that I wasn’t convinced about Kylo Ren as a character or Adam Driver as an actor. I didn’t find him to be intimidating and I thought he was kind of a weak villain. I was very pleased with his performance in this film. The raw emotion and power he displayed seemed to blend perfectly in every intense situation he was in throughout. Someone I didn’t mention earlier that also thought was fantastic was Carrie Fisher. I know some people didn’t like the whole force gliding in space thing but overall I think she went out with a gem of a performance and I can only imagine how she is going to be written out of episode IX.
Some of the visuals in the movie are phenomenal and I would love the artwork hanging on my wall. There was one specific two-second aerial wide shot from Crait that particularly blew me away. It was a view of all of the little speeders kicking up red salt while heading toward the First Order and IT WAS STUNNING. Look for it if you watch the movie again. Outside of that one specific shot, I was pretty happy with how the movie looked in general. It was filled with color and it seemed like all the color had a meaning.
The scene inside of Snoke’s quarters was probably my single favorite scene in any Star Wars movie ever. The movie is worth watching a second time just to be able to watch that scene again in my opinion. That 10-minute sequence had me sitting on the very edge of my seat. The twist of Kylo putting an end to supreme leader Snoke was such an incredible moment but the fight sequence that followed may have been even better. I also really liked pretty much everything that went down at Crait. I have seen a fair amount of criticism of Luke’s and Kylo’s fight scene (or lack thereof) but I actually kind of liked it.
The biggest reason I found myself loving Star Wars: The Last Jedi is probably because of how this movie redefines what fans should expect out of Star Wars movies. Many people didn’t like the fact that this film is so different from the typical Star Wars movie, and those are the people that are ripping this movie apart on social media. In my opinion, change is a good thing, and we can’t expect a franchise that has existed since the 1970s and will likely exist long into the 2000s, to keep doing their movies the same way the whole time. Disney changed what we thought we knew about the force and force users, and I think that was good for the franchise. I think Luke Skywalker summed the movie up best when he said the line,”This is not going to go how you think!”. That proved true to all of us Star Wars fans that thought we knew what was going to happen in this movie based on the trailers or other information. We all had theories about who Snoke was or who were Rey’s parents. We all thought that this film was going to be centered around those questions because that’s what Star Wars fans want, right? Disney showed they don’t care about catering to every need of the old-fashioned Star Wars fan and when it comes to putting the franchise in the best position going forward, they are going to do what they want.
In the end, I found myself picking out many more things that I didn’t like about The Last Jedi after watching it a second time. However, I still seemed to enjoy the movie just as much as I did the first time. When it comes down to it, you just can’t fake the real emotions that I feel when I watch the film and the excitement I expressed after some of the biggest scenes. No matter how many problems this movie has, it is still a hugely exciting film to watch.
Have you seen this movie yet? What did you think of it? I am eager to hear some of your opinions on this somewhat controversial film.