I am so confused as to how I feel about this movie. I’d like to just start off by saying when I left this movie I was pumped up. I really liked it and left thinking I just saw a great movie, and then, as usual, the internet ruined it for me. Since I had seen the movie, and wasn’t in fear of anything being spoiled, I was now able to read as many reviews as I wanted, look at as many fan theories/complaints/opinions as possible, and watch a plethora of youtube videos breaking down what I just saw. Most of which, were overwhelmingly negative. That being said, I don’t know if I should rate this in what I felt personally leaving the theater, or what I felt after everyone exposed the film’s faults. So what I’m going to do, is list out what I liked and disliked and then see how I feel after to give it a rating. Let’s start off with what I though Rian Johnson did good with the 8th installment of the Skywalker story.
The Good Stuff
I’m slightly biased here because a few years ago, before The Force Awakens came out, I visited Skellig Michael in Ireland, aka where the First Jedi Temple is and where Luke has been exiling himself. Every scene there is beautiful and there is so much mystery that comes with the island and so many cool shots, creatures, and moments that take place there. I loved the ledge where he teaches Rey that the force is a balance, I loved the underground cave where Rey touches the mirror and goes into an infinite universe, and to be honest, I liked the porgs and other creatures that came along with the island.
Another new planet Johnson introduced is the remote one that was basically made of salt? Such a cool base there and the ground having red dust come up whenever it was scraped made for some unbelievable shots and a really cool hint as to Luke not really being there when he’s walking around (no read dust scrapes from his feet).
Lastly, I would’ve loved to see more of the Casino Planet. Finn was right when he was talking about how cool it was. We barely saw any of it because our characters were almost immediately thrown in the brig and then went to the “stables”, but I’ll get into that later. It showed the darker, scummier side of the galaxy that I think could’ve really been explored more. But, just as far as aesthetics and actual coolness goes, it was dope.
Use of Old Characters
Similar to the Force Awakens, R2D2 was used sparingly during The Last Jedi,but for pivotal moments. One of my favorite scenes of this movie was when R2 plays the clip of Leia asking Obi Wan for help from A New Hope. It so perfectly tied in the old movies and it clearly resonated with Luke because it reminded him of his own training and desire to do what’s right, just as Rey has. This is what got him to start training and even Luke saying “that was a cheap move” or whatever added a great sense of humor to it all.
Yoda also has a brief appearance in this movie as a Force Ghost. I loved how he was the puppet yoda and not the CGI one from the prequels. Also unlike the prequels, Johnson made Yoda like a crazy old man like he was in Empire. All the things Yoda said were great and the more I think about it the more I like his appearance. People were upset that Yoda could somehow call a lightning bolt to burn the tree that held the Jedi Texts (where did he get that power from?) but to be honest I think that’s just overthinking things. If he can use the force to become a ghost and talk to Luke on a remote planet I don’t think it’s wild to think he can summon one bolt of electricity.
Even C3PO had a great little scene when Luke winked at him at the end because, looking back on it, it was a nod to him letting him know that Luke wasn’t actually there. It was all a plan. This is where I think Johnson really did justice to the original trilogy.
Po Dameron and Rebel Command
A character who I think everyone wanted more of after The Force Awakens was Po, the best pilot in the Rebellion. We didn’t see too much of his skills in the first one but he really gets his time to shine in this movie. He’s an impulsive hot head but we see him take out that entire ships blasters in that awesome first scene and from there we see him trying to take command and just be a perfect “loose canon” character. I loved his relationship with Leia and the conflict that ensued from the mutiny. I think Laura Dern’s character was kind of annoying? But sending the ship into hyper speed THROUGH Snoke’s ship was such a cool shot. Cutting the music and everything going white was powerful. The entire theater was dead silent or gasping. The act itself was a great end to her character’s short lived on screen time but also one of the things I think people had always thought of in Star Wars “how do more ships not crash while in Light Speed??”
A huge reveal in the film is that Luke tried to kill Kylo Ren…kind of. He was overwhelmed with fear after diving into Kylo’s mind and out of instinct and pure fear of the horrible future he just saw he whipped out the saber. Although it only lasted a second before he realized his mistake, it basically made Kylo the villain he is. Luke’s guilt and blatant mistake add so much to his character and build on the overarching theme of the movie that the force isn’t just between good and bad. It’s a balance. And Yoda teaching Luke that he needs to teach Rey about his mistakes and failures was so cool and a risk Johnson took in this movie that I think totally paid off.
The Force Projection
This reveal was so cool I don’t care what anyone says about what the Force’s powers actually are or whatever. Luke being able to project a perfect replica of himself to that planet was BRILLIANT. All the ships shooting him, Kylo slicing him in half, it just made me wonder “Did Luke figure out how to become immortal using the Force” but then showing him floating on the ledge was just like BOOM. Sorry Kylo, we tricked you. It was a great plot device, a great moment for Luke to apologize for failing Kylo, and also get the rebellion out of there without losing any more soldiers than needed.
Kylo and Rey’s Team Up Fight
This was maybe one of the coolest fights in all of Star Wars. The minute Kylo sliced Snoke and that lightsaber flew into Rey’s hand I was like LET’S. FREAKING. GOOOOOOO. We saw them both just go absolutely off. I’m not talking sabers hitting armor and bad guys falling down, I’m talking HOLES through people’s FACES. This fight was so sick and after a major death the audience’s mind was racing. It was such high adrenaline at a great time in the film to pump things back up. Then when Kylo asked Rey to join him and rule it added even MORE excitement. This all led to the lightsaber blowing up essentially to end the best like 15 minutes of the film, if you ask me.
The Bad Stuff
After typing all of that out I’m now back on the “light side of the force” with this movie. (Oh my God that was nerdy). BUT I’m sure after I list the things I don’t like I’ll be tempted back to the dark side by the negatives (nerdy, but I’m still gonna run with this analogy ok). Youtube Videos, fan complaints, super overanalyzed reviews; they are the Darth Vaders, Emperor Palpatines, and Snoke’s of the film critique world. And unfortunately, they put that little taste of the sith in my mouth for this movie and it just kept growing.
Finn and Rose
I was so pumped to see John Boyega back and healthy to play Finn in this movie. The guy drips charisma. He was one of my favorite parts of JJ Abrams’ film and I was looking forward to seeing more of his chops in this installment. But INSTEAD we see him go on this adventure with this new character no one’s ever seen to a planet where they really don’t do anything and the result of it ends up in multiple rebel lives being lost. I was really rooting for Rose when I first met her in the movie because she was kind of funny and had a good backstory with her sister dying and everything, but as the movie went on I just thought she didn’t bring anything to the table. Not to mention, her and Finn had zero chemistry. They were kind of on two different pages the whole movie about the casino planet and all the arms dealing going on. They didn’t have enough time or go through enough of an experience together to really develop a close relationship of any sort, which made their kiss unbelievably awkward. Rose legit is like half dead and somehow perks up enough to peck Finn on the lips and he has no idea what to do. There is zero passion or chemistry in it at all. Also, the whole movie it seems like Finn is in love with Rey asking about her whereabouts trying to make sure she’s safe. I just really hope they don’t try to make their romance a thing in episode 9, because if I’m being honest, I (and I think most people in the audience) were hoping Rose was gonna die after crashing her ship into Finn’s.
Luke Throwing His Lightsaber
After decades of not seeing Anakin’s original lightsaber, the one Luke was given by Obi Wan, the one that fell into the clouds after getting his hand chopped off, Luke said YEET and through it behind his back? It made for a good chuckle and I guess it showed Luke really doesn’t want to be a Jedi anymore but c’mon that should’ve sparked some sort of emotional connection for Luke. Also Luke was so stubborn the whole time on the island. Even after R2 convinces him he should train Rey, he still wasn’t all in. I get that maybe Rian wanted to show Luke’s reluctance and guilt, but to be honest it just would’ve been way cooler and entertaining if Luke just started showing off his evolved Force skills and teaching them to Rey.
Rey is obviously powerful and as shown from her battle with Kylo, she’s not bad with a lightsaber. But if Luke really taught her a bunch and did extensive grueling training with her I would be way more excited to see the potential badass she could be in 9. Right now I think she understands the force better and we saw her lift the rocks in front of the cave so we know she’s gotten better, but her development with the force could’ve been way cooler, for lack of a better word. We really just saw the lesson on the ledge, and then what? She fought with Luke and heard his story about Kylo but that was really it right? Maybe I’m forgetting about a lesson or something but if I’m forgetting it it couldn’t have been that great.
This is one that I’m still on the fence about but right now I’m going to mark it as a negative. Rey’s parents being revealed to be nobodies, just junk traders who sold her for drinking money, was a huge shock to most people. I don’t “hate hate” this reveal solely because it wasn’t predictable. If Kylo said “your father is Luke” or “you’re my sister” or “you’re Obi Wan’s granddaughter” I would’ve been like yup ok that’s what we thought. Rian Johnson defends this reveal by saying “it was the hardest thing for Rey to hear at that time, just like it was for Luke to know Vader was his dad”. I think that’s a good risk to take, but when watching Star Wars, you don’t really care if things are corny or predictable. Fans complained The Force Awakens was just A new A New Hope, but those same fans are mad this movie is different from all the others. I think for me and most fans, it just would add a lot more weight to the ways of the force and to Rey’s character if she did have relation to a past character.
Played by Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones, Captain Phasma was teased to be one of the cool new bad guy of the recent trilogy. We had a great actress playing her, cool armor, and plenty of instances where she could’ve been used. This movie she appears in maybe 5 minutes? Has a pretty underwhelming fight and ends up just dying. She was supposed to be the new Boba Fett and dies just as disappointingly as he did. She didn’t do anything in either of the new installments. Her character was basically wasted while General Hux got plenty of screen time just screaming at everyone (although he did add some great subtle comic relief, props to him). I was just bummed she was gone so soon after contributing nothing to the series. Seems like JJ set her up to be great and Rian was like eh, I don’t need her.
Snoke in General
So Snoke died. Pretty unexpectedly. It really just kind of ruined his character. This massive scary powerful force user surrounded by mystery was just killed off with no explanation of origin. Similar to Rey, the past two years people have come up with theories and been waiting for the huge reveal of who he is and Rian Johnson just said “nope, F you, he’s just a way for Kylo to become a bigger bad guy”. I think if he did this but revealed a cooler parent for Rey or vice versa revealed a cool lineage for Snoke but not Rey, people wouldn’t be mad. But both being nothing? It was just fuel in the flames of angry geeks’ hatred bonfire.
The Last Scene
Some kid uses the force to grab a broom and starts sweeping up a stable. He’s got the rebellion ring on that Rose gave him. Meh. Unless there’s a huge time jump in the next movie what is this kid going to do? Like is he gonna be 14 by the time the new movie comes around and somehow learn how to use the force and get to the rebellion and be a new character? And if he is a new character do I even care? It seemed like Rian Johnson was sort of using this last scene to set up his entirely new Star Wars trilogy that has no connection to this one. That seems to be a theme throughout this movie, there’s not much connection to the old ones. At all.
What I would’ve liked to see is The Knights of Ren, aka the other Jedis in Training that joined Kylo after he went ballistic at the First Jedi Temple. Luke said it himself that Kylo recruited other force users to his side, but we haven’t seen any of them. A great final scene to get me hyped for episode 9 would’ve been Kylo walking into a room of fellow dark side force guys and him being like “let’s hope the time I’ve given you to train these past 2 movies has been enough, we’re going to need you to end the Rebellion, I’m your new supreme leader” and then maybe showed one of them being like nervous like “uhh I still kinda want to be good” so Rey isn’t the only one with the force fighting for the rebellion.
After putting all my ideas in this review here (and I’m sure I missed several things I liked and disliked), I do think I have a more positive than negative view of this movie. I think just as a fan of movies, writing, directing, and cinematography you can’t dislike The Last Jedi. It was a bold take on a beloved franchise and there are so many amazing scenes that you can’t ignore. That being said, the director himself ignored a lot of what fans love about the Star Wars universe. He almost went a little too bold and tried to make a more serious movie in a franchise that shouldn’t be taken seriously. I think one of my favorite reviews of this movie was summed up in the sentence “The Last Jedi is a fantastic movie, just not a great Star Wars Movie”, and I couldn’t agree more. This movie has some great character development, interesting plot points, surprising tough reveals, and beautiful shots, but it didn’t deliver a true Star Wars feel. All together, I’m a fan of this movie and the little things that do annoy me are mostly coming from other people nit picking it apart. Overall, I’m going to give Episode 8 a solid 7.8/10. It lost points in it’s “F You” to what all the Star Wars fans really wanted, but in all other aspects of the movie it was pretty great.
Let me know if you liked the review/set-up of it. I’m hoping to do this with more movies, tv shows, and music albums in the future but not sure if this is the best lay out to use.
Till the next crappy blog…