So, I’ve seen The Last Jedi three times since it came out two weeks ago. After sitting with it for this time, I decided I would like to share my thoughts on the latest installment of what is possibly my favorite movie series/franchise.
BEWARE: SERIOUS, SERIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE! SERIOUSLY I AM NOT FUCKING AROUND! YOU WILL BE SPOILED FOR THE LAST JEDI IF YOU READ THIS POST!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I want to preface this by saying: I really did like this movie. A lot of people have a lot of harsh opinions about it and it seems like if you have any criticism at all people think you hated it and rush to point out the good things. I’m not saying it didn’t have good parts. The movie was about 90% good parts. I liked the damn movie, okay? That’s why the parts that disappointed me did so with great weight.
I also want to say that this is just my opinion and I’m not trying to tell anyone who liked it/didn’t like it that they’re wrong. If you liked the movie and thought it was perfect, I’m glad! You’re allowed to enjoy things! If you absolutely hated every second of it, that sucks, but you’re allowed to feel that way, too!
Now, most people know that I have always been firmly rooted in my support for Star Wars villains. Star Wars has always had the best villains and, as a result, I’ve always been firmly rooted in the Dark Side of the Force when it came to the movie universe.
The Last Jedi is the movie which changed that.
Everything I liked about this movie came from the good guys. Everything. There was not a single thing which came from the villains that I actively enjoyed (other than seeing Domhnall Gleeson’s beautiful face).
Let’s start off with the biggest Light in the Galaxy, the late Carrie Fisher. Leia Organa was amazing in this movie, despite not getting nearly enough screen time. Leia has been fighting this fight for literally her entire life. With the First Order in power, Luke still MIA, and the Resistance taking heavy (heavy) losses, the woman is tired and it shows. Still, despite the realism of the exhaustion of war portrayed by Carrie Fisher, she still manages to retain the spark of hope which makes Leia the leader of the Resistance. It is a beautifully balanced performance and I’m sorry we won’t get more of it.
Poe’s character progression is fantastic. He starts the movie as a little trigger-happy and a bit hot-headed, ready to sacrifice everything to “follow [the mission] through.” He even has the balls to argue with General Leia Organa (I mean, really, how dare you, sir). She tries to explain to him that not all sacrifices are worth it. By the end of the movie, Poe finally gets his “ah-ha!” moment and realizes that some risks need to be more calculated and blind sacrifice won’t always win the day. Admittedly, this comes on pretty suddenly, but considering the sheer amount of stuff in this movie, I understand why certain things had to be rushed and Poe is still a relatively minor character, so I understand why they couldn’t devote a lot of time to his internal learning process.
Rose, a new character introduced in the Last Jedi, is one of my favorites. She managed to balance take-no-shit badassery (when she and Finn are explaining their plan to Poe, Finn cuts her off, so she cuts him off right back; she will be heard) and righteous idealism (“I want to put my fist right through this whole beautiful city.”), and that’s what makes for a good Rebel. I really hope they bring her back in Episode IX.
Rey’s journey is just beginning in this movie, so I don’t think it’s quite fair to fault them for not taking her further. Remember, we still have a whole other movie for Rey’s character progression. Episode IX would be pretty boring if she’d reached Master status in the Last Jedi and then just came in next movie and wiped everyone out because she’s already The Best. I think Rian Johnson did well at moving Rey along just enough to progress her, but still leaving JJ Abrams something to work with in Episode IX.
Everything about Luke Skywalker is perfection. My Poor, Tired Son. Let him rest. His characterization was spot on. He still delivers his sassy quips and attitude, but now with an older, more haggard edge. Luke’s scenes make you laugh while also maintaining the necessary seriousness the story deserves. We see Luke Skywalker, champion of the Light, fall a little bit. He is human after all. His fight scene with Kylo Ren is the stuff of dreams and legends. I’m so sad he’s gone.
Speaking of Kylo Ren, I lied. There is one thing that the villains brought us that I did like, and that was the fight scene in Snoke’s chambers. That is one of the most beautifully choreographed pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen in my life. The way Ren and Rey moved together was fluid and flawless, and seeing Ren take on three Praetorian Guards himself was borderline erotic.
It’s such a shame he had to ruin it by everything else he did in the movie.
All of my biggest complaints about the Last Jedi center on Snoke. So much so that when I tried to write them all out and explain it, my complaints regarding Snoke alone was a page and a half long, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes:
I could almost get into the storyline regarding the link between Ren and Rey. It could have made perfect sense if they’d gone with the idea that Rey is somehow related to Kylo Ren (either his sister, or his cousin–or fuck it, even just someone he knew growing up). This would explain why they’re connected and why that connection is so strong. It would also explain why Kylo Ren is so desperate to turn her even when she refuses and why he’s so hesitant to kill her until the very end.
The Force Awakens set Kylo Ren up to become a badass villain out for vengeance. He got his ass kicked by a lowly scavenger who knew little-to-nothing of the Force and had never used a lightsaber before in her life. His pride was damaged, his position with his Master had been shaken, and he even got a fancy new Villain Scar across his face. He should have gone into the Last Jedi ready to murder Rey with his bare hands.
Instead, he offers to have her rule with him. To what ends? At no point does he offer to train her–he knows Luke already has and she’s powerful. Honestly, it would make more sense for Kylo Ren to kill her immediately and rule alone, unchallenged and all-powerful, as the strongest Force user in the Galaxy. Rey, even if she had turned to the Dark Side, would have been little more than a threat to his power.
So, rather than a menacing villain, Kylo Ren ends up coming off as a lonely man who wants a Force buddy (or if you’re a Reylo shipper, a Queen) on his quest to rule the Galaxy. I don’t know if this was supposed to make him seem like more of a sympathetic villain, but if so it was unnecessary. The audience garners sympathy for Kylo Ren the same way Rey does; by learning that Luke once tried to kill him as a student. If that knowledge doesn’t make someone feel a little bit bad for the guy, him wanting a girlfriend definitely won’t.
Ren doesn’t become any kind of villain to Rey’s hero until the assault on Crate, where he demands the TIE Fighters shoot the Millennium Falcon down. And even then, he’s not a very good villain; he’s a rash, headstrong child playing war. His preoccupation with Rey and the Falcon leads the entire TIE squadron away from the battle, saving the lives of the Rebels in the speeders. His obsession with killing Luke leads him to wasting valuable time and allowing the Resistance to escape.
The First Order could have won if they’d listened to General Hux and pushed onward through Luke’s one-man blockade. Just saying.
Although, I will give this much credit to that whole thing: Kylo Ren is the villain all modern women can relate to encountering. He’s a whiny little fuckboy who can’t take no for an answer. Every woman I know has met a Kylo Ren and hates his guts.
Then there’s Phasma. Or is there? I’m not sure, because between the Force Awakens and the Last Jedi she gets all of, like, ten minutes of screen time before being killed off. Phasma has been hyped up; there’s tons of merch for her and she even has an entire book devoted to her backstory. Then, they put her in the movies to become what amounted to a minor antagonist for Finn before killing her off completely.
And, sorry, I don’t buy the Boba Fett argument. Boba Fett wasn’t hyped up the way Phasma was until after the original trilogy came out. He wasn’t meant to be a fan-favorite character; it just happened that way. But, Disney/Lucasfilm promoted Phasma long before the Force Awakens came out. They made her seem like she would be a major character and then they didn’t deliver. They gave me expectations they failed to meet.
There were a few other minor things that bothered me, but those are the big three that really sat ill with me coming out of every screening.
Oh, honorable mention to the confusing way time elapses in this movie. We can infer that Rey is on Luke’s planet for multiple days. However, we can also tell by her visions/meetings with Kylo Ren (which also seem to take place over multiple days) that her training happens concurrently with the rest of the movie’s events. And we know those events happen in a roughly eighteen-hour period, because we’re told at the beginning of the movie the Resistant transport ship only has eighteen hours of fuel left and it’s still moving by the time Rey is aboard Snoke’s ship with Kylo Ren.
Continuity is important, Mr. Johnson.
There are a few things I waffle on, of course. You could say there’s… conflict in me. Heh.
Leia reaching out and floating through space back to the ship. I was really happy to see Leia (presumably) using the Force, for once. But, the whole scene just felt… hokey. She reaches out and magically floats through space, some how still alive? Force or no Force, being sucked into the vacuum of space would have instantly killed her. But, of course, I do not ever want Leia Organa to die, so I’m okay with them bending the laws of physics and biology.
Vice-Admiral Holdo is probably my biggest flip-flop opinion. On the one hand, I love her as a character; she’s a badass older woman (with purple hair!!!) who refuses to be pushed around by the boys. But, talking with Pup, he made a fair argument that she should have told Poe that there was a plan in place to ensure the safety of the Resistance, because a good leader doesn’t leave her subordinates to speculate; speculation causes panic.
But, then again, I’m not so sure doing so would have worked. Poe is established at that point in the movie as still being a trigger-happy fighter. If she had told him, “We have a plan,” he would have demanded to know what it was, and when she told him it was evacuation, he would have reacted the same way he did when he finally found out she’d planned to evacuate: He would call her a coward and a traitor and stir up a panic in the crew.
Overall, though, I find more positive with Holdo’s character than flaws. The scene where she pilots the Resistance cruiser at lightspeed through the First Order fleet, splitting Snoke’s ship almost in half and decimating their whole fleet was the best scene in the whole movie. People apparently don’t like it because it’s silent and they thought the movie was glitching out, but the silence adds weight to it. That sacrifice embodies what the Rebellion/Resistance is about–giving everything you have to a cause greater than yourself. May the Force be with her.
The Finn/Rose romance. Now, while I admit, my flag is planted in StormPilot as the OTP to end all OTPs, I will also admit to shipping Finn with damn near everybody. And, I have nothing at all against them setting it up to explore Finn/Rose in the future. I look forward to it. My issue here is that having Rose say, “[We win by] saving the things we love,” before kissing Finn is pretty heavy. I mean, she just implied she loves him… after they’ve known each other for about eighteen hours. It just seemed… rushed. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t make sense to me given the timeframe. Keep the kiss, remove the line.
They threw my evil ginger bastard around like a ragdoll! Schmucks. Though, it was kind of nice to see him a little bloody and disheveled at the beginning. I need a gif of him looking up to Snoke’s hologram, hair out of place and blood dripping down his lip. I will happily patch that up, darling. Let Cupcake kiss it better. (Have I mentioned that I have a huge crush on Domhnall Gleeson? I am not usually turned on by genocidal fascist would-be dictators, even fictional ones. Just want to make that clear, because these days you never know.)
Porgs. Porgs are adorable, but also seemed to serve no other purpose than to be comic relief, which I feel wasn’t necessary (there were plenty of other opportunities for comic relief in the movie). I want a plush porg, but I also want 90% of the scenes with them to go away.
Like I said at the beginning, I liked this movie a lot more than I disliked it. I don’t actively dislike the Last Jedi as a whole, but I do actively dislike how the bad guys were done. They just didn’t fit with the badass history of Star Wars villainy. For someone who has always enjoyed the amazing villains of the Star Wars universe, this is particularly jarring for me.
That said, I liked the movie. I recommend everyone go see it, because unless you’re like me and feel a deep, spiritual (and often confusing) connection to the bad guys, you’re probably going to love this movie. It’s a solid story at face-value and beautifully executed.
I love you all.
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