Movie Review – The Last Jedi

It’s too soon to know how I feel about this latest installment to the Star Wars saga. A lot happens, at a brisk pace. We have fleeting introductions to a bunch of brand-new characters we never get to know; why they rounded up well-known actors for little more than extended cameos is beyond me. It’s a long movie, so maybe a lot of character development was cut. I wouldn’t mind a Director’s Edition, like we saw in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

There’s a great deal of humor, but while some of it’s clever, the rest is somewhat more goofy than usual for this series. People at opening night really got into everything, though, applauding, laughing, squealing at certain appearances (no spoilers!). Definitely everyone enjoyed themselves in a totally packed theater (sold out across the nation, apparently). At least the critters are “good cute”, instead of overly cutesy, which is nice. (Porgs! Crystal Foxes!) The blue milk “cow” was admittedly very strange. All the scenes on Luke’s planet were hugely pretty and interesting. They even had a Degobah feel. In spite of trailers spoiling a lot of it, those were my favorite scenes.

Everything with Luke Skywalker…well, I’d describe those as magical. Riveting, even, as it should be. Mark Hamill absolutely carried the film and deserves a special shout out. It warmed my heart to see him back in action, in both grumpy and heroic modes.

Rey and Kylo were great, and I liked seeing them interact again. Rey did a bit better, with actual character development. Kylo was kind of stuck at the same emo place we saw him before. His parts with Rey were highlights, though — they have a great rapport! I hope to see more of it, next time. The big fight scene (being vague here on purpose) was excellent.

Poor Finn doesn’t come across as well as he did in The Force Awakens, and he was such a bright light in that film. I think having him separated from Rey and Poe made it problematic, chemistry-wise. Boyega did so well interacting with Ridley and Isaac. This time his sub-plot felt flat and extraneous. It could have been the writing. I’m not sure yet.

Carrie Fisher’s post-death swan song finalized in a strong way, and that was a huge relief. I don’t know how they’ll bring her character to a resolution in the last film of the Skywalker Saga, but it was a shock to see the actress “live” here, after her untimely demise a year ago. I worried it might feel tacky or forced. It definitely worked. She has a lot to do, and did it well. I think Our Princess would be very happy with this movie.

So, a good installment, definitely superior to the Prequels — but I’m not sure yet where I’d rank it among the others. It’s probably for the best anyway to think a bit on The Last Jedi before passing judgment. When you build something up so much in your mind for so long, better thoughts parse (or parsec?) out after time passes.

I need a second and third viewing. It took me a year to figure out where to place Rogue One, although I was so happy with The Force Awakens that I instantly gave it 3rd place. This series has been so plagued with disappointment. I don’t think Star Wars is done yet, by any means, and I’m not a hater of The Last Jedi at all. But I may not be a huge fan of director Rian Johnson.

NOTE on the 3D version: Only a few scenes made 3D worthwhile, but it wasn’t noticeably darker, as can happen with those glasses. 3D really only came into play at the end battle on the salt planet, with the red soil, and in some adorable Porg shots. I didn’t notice much else. Ultimately, I wouldn’t shell out for the extra money for a 3D showing. If you’re a huge fan, consider 3D for a one-time viewer experience; otherwise stay with 2D.

Movie Grade: A –

Read RunPee Jilly’s Pre-‘Last Jedi’ SW Movie Rankings.

6 replies
  1. polyGeek
    polyGeek says:

    I wouldn’t say this is the worst of the Star Wars saga, but it comes close. It had plot holes big enough to fit a Dreadnought through. While it was visually interesting, the story just felt like wet tissue paper. The entire concocted idea to go find a “key master” was just bizarre. They pitched the idea like there was only one person in the galaxy who could possible crack the Imperial code, and then when they get to the casino, they find the guy they’re looking for, but suddenly get thrown into a jail cell. And in the jail cell they just *happen* to run across some stranger who is an even better key master. I mean, if you can find two in the same casino how come you don’t have a few code cracking wizards in the Rebel fleet? Like maybe that would be a handy thing to have?

    Then, the entire Rebellion within the Rebellion fleet was just too stupid for words. Why couldn’t the new commander woman just pull Poe aside and say, “Hey, I got this. We’re going to abandon the fleet and sneak down to a passing planet, where we have an ancient hiding place, and then let the Empire destroy the fleet, making them think we’re wiped out. Then we can attack again, and they won’t see it coming.”

    Now it would suck to give up the ships in the fleet, but at least they save the people, which is what the Rebel Alliance is all about, right? But no. New commander woman thinks everyone should just follow blindly into what looks like suicide.

    And then there’s the Empire’s strategy of just following the Rebel fleet until they run out of fuel. Okay, so how about take just a few ships, FTL out in front of the fleet and bottle them in. Or, just send the TIE fighters in without cover. It isn’t like the Empire gives a hoot about losing a few dozen TIE fighters/pilots.

    So, blah-blah-blah. Get back to me when someone writes a decent Star Wars story and doesn’t just rely on hand waving and special effects to impress us.

    Reply
  2. Jill Florio
    Jill Florio says:

    Hey, good comments. You’re a smart kind of dude. 😉

    SPOILERS AHOY….

    I’m sure the whole Admiral Holdo Secret Plan poodoo was Rian Johnson’s idea of “shaking up” expectations in prior SW about hotshot pilots. He frak-it-all wanted a story where the good guy gets in trouble for insubordination (instead of a patented Throne Room Medal Scene), so he made a stupid plot to fit his ploy. I agree it was an idiot move, in-story, to keep Poe in the dark. And also to destroy the entire fleet like he did — he probably figured he was so “risky” for going there. He probably also wanted to decimate said Resistance Fleet enough they would all fit in the Falcon, for whatever internal logic/imagery he had in mind.

    You do know this, but this isn’t the Rebellion this time; it’s the “Resistance” (and the First Order instead of the Empire). But I get it — zero difference, and they never bother to explain why there are stupid, barely understandable name changes for this. (Although that was JJ’s decision, granted.)

    I have a lot to add about my fury over dropping all the mysteries JJ set up in TFA. I don’t mind someone being a nobody, but you DON’T do that after making your viewers spend two years piecing together hints from the previous movie. It’s disrespectful and NOT edgy. JJ might change all this — I hope he does. The point about anyone being Force-sensitive is still made with the broom scene at the end. But dumping us all on our heads after such an effort to give us interesting clues reminded me of nothing more than the end of Ron Moore’s BattleStar Galactica. Just a cheap trick.

    Reply
  3. Bob Trezise
    Bob Trezise says:

    I’ve seen it twice. I saw it again to be sure that it was ..not good. Too many plot issues. To many new force abilities. Of course a lot of issues are still in existing from the first movie. Why do all the First Order ships look like the old Empire? Dreadnought? After all they are the ‘rebels’ in the first one, where’d the get funding? ANYWAY. Where the heck are they going? You too, can use the force with effectiveness, you don’t need Jedi training to be good. ?? I HATE that the old a Jedi uses calm and peace to flow with the force and work with it. Now, it’s all anger, even Luke for a brief moment. The whole thing feels like someone with kinda the same vision as Lucas wants to do it again, but their way. They have to use existing characters to get people to watch, but they don’t really care too much if they are the same people we grew up with.

    Reply
  4. Jill Florio
    Jill Florio says:

    Great comments, Bob. I agree about the anger. It leads to the dark side, you know. LOL. I think the idea is that we can’t just have Jedi vs Sith and also have balance, and maybe that’s what they are going for…the whole Grey Jedi thing. But it hasn’t been explained yet if that what’s they’re doing.

    I don’t like that Rey doesn’t need any training either, but I can fanwank it as her upbringing on Jakku – she must have pulled upon the Force her whole life to just get by. Luke didn’t have much training either. Anakin used the Force with his childhood podracing. So it’s not totally out of nowhere.

    I didn’t mind the new Force abilities, since I expect the Force to be unlimited except in the mind of the user (Ie, ” I don’t believe it.” “That….is why you fail.”)

    The Resistance was directly funded by The New Republic, but I still don’t understand where The First Order Came from. The New Rep is the legit government and has been since Return of the Jedi, apparently. What we don’t get to find out is where the new problems came from. I wish they could explain to us what happened in the intervening years. I need to care about the missed history.

    Reply
  5. Jill Florio
    Jill Florio says:

    Thinking further, a lot of the problems with the new trilogy so far is the lack of world-building. And laying groundwork doesn’t have to take up a lot of time or dialog…just give us a place to stand. How did the First Order rise up? Where did they get those expensive capital ships, that, as you said, look exactly like Empire Star Destroyers? If they wanted to be the Empire, aping everything they did, using the same stormtroopers/tie fighters/giant holographic leader images/private pet Sith, etc – then just be the New Empire. The First Order comes out of nowhere and the new name isn’t addressed, unless it’s supposed to be a WW2 allegory. The renowned Thrawn (book) Trilogy of the used-to-be-cannon EU is an excellent example of how this movie series could have gone. I should just go re-read that. 🙂

    I think it was a huge mistake to cut the scenes in TFA on the New Republic planets. We didn’t need to see the people of Alderaan before they blew it up, but by that time we cared about Leia. Her pain, and Obi-Won’s, were good character moments. But with the New Rep, the StarKiller just fires at these planets, and you really don’t ‘feel’ it. It’s a whole government, presumably billions of people on each planet (there were five?).

    It’s also hard to buy people in other star systems watching the event, which takes us out the story. That didn’t help.

    What we did get was a lot of filler. Finn’s subplot makes so little sense, as polyGeek said, that it’s not even worth discussing. There was a lot of out of place juvenile humor (I appreciate humor, but a lot of it here was jarring), the Maz Kanata “phone call” was weird, unnecessary, and ultimately unexplained. A
    lot of time was wasted on characters that felt forced in there: Holdo, the Codebreaker, Phasma, and even Snoke, who didn’t exude the menace he should have and was also completely unexplained. Leia flying in space was silly-looking. And what happens (or doesn’t happen) with Admiral Ackbar is a hugely wasted opportunity. Chewy was underused. All the droids were underused, although R2 gets a nice moment with Luke. The Poe stuff was the opposite of world-building: more like world-destroying. Abusing his character like that was completely unearned, and gave us another bad subplot that went nowhere and wasted everyone’s time.

    Good stuff: Very pretty movie, nice effects. The Luke stuff. The Rey and Ren interactions (both in person and via Force-Timing), and their very cool fight scene. The salt planet. Some of the humor. The kid with the broom at the end. Being back among a beloved and familiar franchise was nice, although I want to smack the writer/director in the head for not understanding that Star Wars should be “comfort food” entertainment. Don’t shake things up. Draw us in. Bring us home.

    Note: Rogue One didn’t draw us in or bring us home, but since it’s a self contained story that’s not in the Skywalker Saga, I don’t mind the tonal differences as much.

    Reply
  6. Jill Florio
    Jill Florio says:

    SERIOUS SPOILERS – Don’t read this comment if you haven’t seen the movie!

    ……..

    I was able to duck into SW for a half hour between the movies last night and saw the end scenes on the salt planet, with Luke’s Force Projection fight. I did like the visuals, and Mark Hamill totally owned it. The clues were there that he wasn’t physically on the planet. It was a pretty good finale, although again, Finn had some plot issues. How was that scrapped old ground ship supposed to stop a super heated Kyber crystal plasma cannon at all? How did Rose get ahead of him fast enough to swipe him out of the way? What if the action killed them both? Why didn’t the AT-ATs take them out when Finn was dragging her across the ground? Yes, they were distracted by the lightsaber duel, but he was screwing around right at the feet of all those war machines. I’m also still annoyed Luke had to DIE from his little stunt. It bugs me that we’ve now lost all three main characters from the OT. Luke might come back a Force ghost, but it would probably be a cameo at most, like Yoda.

    Reply

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