The Last Jedi apparently picks up almost immediately after the end of The Force Awakens. We find the First Order chasing down the Resistance, Rey begging Luke Skywalker to return and help, and Kylo Ren not quite recovered from his duel with Rey.
From this point on, there will be spoilers. Lots of ’em.
The Light Side
- John Williams’ music. Superb as always, and a wonderful complement to Star Wars. I would say “I can’t imagine Star Wars without his music” but then Rogue One did ok with Giacchino. I like Michael Giacchino’s music too, but Mr. Williams just has a magical touch to his tunes that others can’t replicate.
- At least this storyline wasn’t a blatant copy of the old films. The story made progress instead of just treading water, even if there are some similarities to Empire Strikes Back. But did it expand the universe? Hmmm. Crait had shades of Hoth written all over it, but at least it wasn’t snowing. Canto Bight was a good one though. A sort of Vegas or Monaco where the rich gather to gamble and watch fathier races. I rather wish we’d seen more of the place besides its prison and fathier stables.
- The climactic fight between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren was good. I admit to not seeing the twist coming, but when it did, I was delighted because it showed something of the Luke Skywalker I so enjoyed in the old Expanded Universe (now “Legends”) books – a Luke that was powerful, but also calmly confident and grounded. And it made sense. Luke couldn’t have gotten to Crait in time, and he chose a defensive tactic against Kylo Ren so as to hold him off longer. I really didn’t want Luke to pull an Obi-Wan and let Kylo kill him. It seemed like he was going to and then… Just barely dodging attacks meant that Kylo didn’t find out that Luke wasn’t actually there, and that he was projecting an image of himself all the way from distant Ahch-To. Alas, the fight took everything out of Luke, it seems, and now the great Luke Skywalker is no more. Faded into the Force. I’m sad.
(But least Luke got a relatively noble death. Han Solo’s was crap.)
- There was an abundance of cuteness in this movie. Yeah, BB-8 is cute, but even cuter are the animals. Porgs are maddeningly cute. Fathiers are pretty adorable. And vulptices! Them “crystal critters” are pretty. This movie appears to have ditched the idea that alien creatures are all terrifying (like rancors) or creepy (like whatever the creature was in TFA or the tentacle-covered one in Rogue One) and it has opted instead for cute as heck.
- I appreciate that the Rebellion/Resistance has a track record of being led by women – Mon Mothma, Leia, Vice Admiral Holdo. They’re all cool. And Holdo’s character was quite well done. I appreciated that they didn’t make Poe the heroic rebellious officer and Holdo the misguided stick-in-the-mud leader. Having Poe be wrong about her was a nice inversion of the usual plot.
Oh, and her last desperate manouvre of taking the cruiser to lightspeed only to slash right through Snoke’s ship? That scene was quite the sight.
- The Luke and Artoo scene. When Artoo plays the old recording of Leia’s message to Obi-Wan… It went right to my heart.
- The Luke and Leia reunion made me tear up. (That really should have happened in TFA. I think it sucks big time that Luke, Leia, and Han should have spent 90% of the new movies apart.) Their conversation was really well done – just the right touch of sentiment with a sprinkling of humour at the start. (Luke begins to apologise but Leia says, “I know what you’re going to say. I changed my hair.” Luke chuckles a little. “It looks nice.” And then I cried.)
- I think Leia’s character is the only one that they haven’t ruined in some way in the new movies. I wish she had done more Jedi-like stuff, but that’s minor considering how much more annoying I find their treatment of Han and Luke. I’m half-relieved that she didn’t die in this movie, but also not sure that was a good idea – how are they going to get around the problem of no Carrie Fisher for the next movie?? Explaining away Leia’s death in dialogue would be doing the character a disservice. But that’s a future thing. In Last Jedi Leia gets more scenes that she did in TFA, and wears better outfits too. I liked that. What I did not like was…
The Dark Side
- … The sequence where Leia, thrown out into space when the ship’s bridge is blasted to pieces, appears to “fly” back to the ship by using the Force. It was just so awkward to me. She looked really stiff – it was as if she was frozen in one position and just floated all the way back in that same position. Like a really lazy animation. What was that?? I get that she’s injured and all, but surely they could have done that sequence differently – more naturally? Maybe there’s some physics logic to it but sometimes you have to exaggerate stuff for it to look good on screen.
The more I think about it the more I hate that scene. It does not help that Leia did not display any Force powers before or after that. It was just for the sake of keeping her alive in the story. I want Leia to do some Jedi-like stuff but considering what they showed, I’d almost prefer it if she didn’t have any Force powers at all.
- From a design point of view, I really disliked Holdo’s colour scheme. Her purple hair was fine, but that shade of purple with that awful muddy brown dress she wore – ugh. So ugly and dreary. Also not great was Rose’s hair. Something about it didn’t sit well with me.
- The Rey and Luke stuff dragged. I simply wasn’t interested and I thought it took too long. The sequence where Rey follows Luke around? That seemed to be mostly for the purpose of showing off the island. She didn’t say anything to him; she just trailed him around as he took and drank green milk from giant Dr. Seuss-like seals, and went to unnecessary lengths to catch a fish. And only tried to convince him to come with her when they got back to his home. Why follow him around then?? Then all that stuff about the Jedi books and the tree and whatnot. It did not intrigue me enough.
- And ugh, the whole thing about Rey’s parents. They kept bringing it up but in the end it was just nothing! Her parents turn out to be shiftless people who sold her for money. That’s it? Pointless. But perhaps that was the point – that her history is relatively pointless, and it’s all about her future now. I was never as curious about her parentage as half of fandom seems to have been so spending so many scenes and lines of dialogue mentioning it was a waste to me. Or maybe it’s all a lie and we’ve yet to find out who her real parents are. Either way, I’m not interested and it isn’t a question that’s going to be bothering me.
- Benicio Del Toro’s character, DJ, seems to have an unresolved character arc. Or something. He never showed a hint of turning “good” – if anything, he seemed like the Jack Sparrow of the story in the sense that he just does what’s convenient for himself. But the character was just prominent enough that the point at which he exited the story felt strange to me. (Also, I couldn’t remember his name at all and actually had to look it up on Google.)
- Maz Kanata. We did not need to have her in this story Poe, Finn, and Rose contacted her to ask for help in locating a hacker to help them break into the star destroyer. But was that necessary? I think not. She appeared to be in the middle of a fight of some sort too, and that issue never came up again… Another strange hanging thread. I think there was an odd edit there too because it cut to their phone call or whatever the Star Wars equivalent of a phone call is really abruptly and it threw me for a second. I think they could have just given the informative lines to Billie Lourd’s character, Lt. Connix (a name I had to go look up as well), and made her a bit more prominent since they were evidently trying to mark her as a minor character. Actually, yeah, they really should have given Maz’s lines to Connix instead. Maz was irrelevant and unnecessary here.
- The only way the sequence with Maz could have been made relevant in this story is if Maz had shown up at the end with a bunch of ships to aid the much-reduced Resistance on Crait. As it happened, no one came to their aid. What nonsense is this?? Leia Organa sends out a call for help and no one in the galaxy comes to help?! It’s not even like the First Order is the Empire. The opening crawl made it sound like they were in charge now but when the movie actually started, events were taking place not so long after the end of TFA, so the First Order can’t possibly have just taken over the galaxy like that. I could go on a long ramble here about the possible ramifications of the destruction of Coruscant 2.0, but in short: I think the old EU books did a much better job of depicting the trials of taking back rule from an established government and military. The fact that no one responded to the Resistance’s call for help really ticks me off.
- The more I think about it, the more depressing it seems that the Resistance is down to a handful of people. In that sense perhaps this movie is very like Empire Strikes Back – the heroes kinda win, but they also kinda lose. :/ Luke is gone, Leia has given up on her son, no one came to help the Resistance and they’re down to like 1 Millennium Falcon and 20 people. Sigh. I suppose that’s the point but… Still… It’s sad.
- I disliked the characterisation of Luke Skywalker in this movie, except in the last 20 minutes or so – that is, once he appears on Crait, he’s the Luke Skywalker I know and like. Before that point? No. That is not how Luke Skywalker is. Would he really have even contemplated killing his teenage nephew in cold blood just because he saw that darkness had taken root in him? The man who wouldn’t kill Darth Vader at risk of his own life! Come on. And then to exile himself and basically sulk for years on end whilst his nephew wreaks havoc? To not immediately go to his sister when he finds out her husband and his best friend is dead? That is not how Luke Skywalker is to me.
- I know most movies require a certain amount of plot convenience but I found it really silly that Snoke’s great big ship apparently could not catch up to the Resistance ships. The Resistance ships were always juuust “out of range”. What did that term even mean? They certainly weren’t out of range of the ship’s cannons. But they were out of range for the small fighters? Huh?? Uhm. Vader managed to fly his TIE fighter away from the exploding death star in the first movie. Luke flew his X-wing from Hoth to Dagobah. I cannot believe that these small starfighters have a “range” and must stick close to the main ships. Or did I miss some logical explanation somewhere?
And for a ship that was running low on fuel, the main cruiser had remarkable shields and speed. Low on fuel but the shields still held up against the First Order’s shots and the ship still maintained its distance from the huge destroyer..
- The Most Useless Character award goes to Captain Phasma. She was unnecessary both in TFA and in this movie. I hope she’s really dead. She existed just as someone for Finn to fight. That’s it. Boring.
Second Most Useless Character – every single one of Snoke’s guards. They stoof so far away from Snoke, but every time anyone even looked like a mild threat, what did they do? Snap into fighting poses but not move even a single step closer. They may have looked cool but they were zero help to the person they were supposed to be guarded. There was no logic at all to just striking poses and looking menacing from metres away.
The Random Side
- In the first scene with Luke and Rey, he takes the lightsaber from her and looks at it. I thought, “Would be funny if he just tosses it over his shoulder into the ocean.” And then he did. HAHAHA Well, he didn’t toss it into the sea – it landed on the ground a little way down. But I still laughed. (I didn’t hear any other laughter in the cinema though. Awkward.)
- Why were there suddenly weird nun frogs on Ahch-To? Why didn’t they show up in TFA when the Falcon lands? Made no sense to me. Continuity issues. Meh.
- Paige. Rose. Finn. Rey. Ben. Single-syllable names really are all the rage in the galaxy, huh?
- When Poe taunts Hux by saying he has a message from Hux’s mother, I had a horrible fear that they were going to make Mon Mothma his mother or something. That would’ve been awful. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Leia’s child turned dark – were they going to make Mon Mothma’s son evil too?? Thankfully, that turned out to be nothing. Phew.
- The Yoda appearance. I don’t know what to make of it. On one hand, it’s fun to see Yoda again. On the other hand… Was that necessary? Did Luke have to be all but pushed by Yoda to wake up? And wow, Force ghosts can induce lightning strikes? Okay… Gee, Yoda, why don’t you bring down lightning on Snoke instead?
That scene was rather heavy-handed in its message – the whole “don’t be too attached to the past, be in the present and look to the future” thing.
- Kylo Ren killing Snoke was not surprising. I didn’t exactly see it coming until that lightsaber twitched, but I wasn’t surprised by it either. It made sense for the direction in which they’re taking the character. Does that count as a twist? haha
Kylo Ren really hates Luke Skywalker and the Millennium Falcon though. It’s almost frightening. This movie still doesn’t answer the question of why he hates his family so much. (But since he couldn’t bring himself to shoot out the bridge of the ship when Leia was there I guess he likes his mother better.)
- The guy Finn and Rose were looking for in the casino with the flower brooch. He had black hair with a white streak in it. My reaction to seeing him was: NO, you did NOT take Jagged Fel from the EU and turn him into some sleazy codebreaker!! I don’t remember what name it was that Maz mentioned, but at least it wasn’t “Jagged Fel.” I would be really annoyed if they did that to one of my favourite EU characters.
- I liked the red-on-white visuals of the Crait battle but at the same time I couldn’t shake the feeling of “Hey, let’s do this because it’ll look cool.”
- BB-8 is such a deus ex machina. How exactly did a droid without legs get into that AT-ST or whatever?
- I can see the opening crawl of Episode IX now: General Leia Organa is dead. The remnants of the Resistance are struggling…
Something tells me I’m not going to appreciate whatever manner they choose to eliminate Leia from the story in that movie. Prove me wrong, Abrams.
- I’m really glad Kylo smashed his stupid helmet. I cannot shake the impression that it looks like an elephant head.
In conclusion… If forced to pass judgement on this, I would say the movie is good. Better than The Force Awakens. But will I go running to see it again immediately? Probably not. I might, if people coax me to, but I certainly don’t have the reaction I had with Rogue One (“I really want to see that second half again!”) or Thor: Ragnarok (“I must see it again. ASAP”). I think I am far too attached to the previous characterisations of Luke and Leia (and Han) to enjoy this in a simple, unbiased manner.
My objective overall rating: ★★★★
My emotional overall rating: ★★★