The Last Jedi is the highly anticipated second chapter of the new Star Wars saga. Bringing together characters both old and new, this film picks up right after the exciting conclusion to The Force Awakens. Let’s get into my review, and please note, there are spoilers throughout!
- The Last Jedi is the second film in the latest trilogy.
- Reviews and critics praised the “fresh new direction” of the story.
- Mark Hamill praised for his performance as Luke Skywalker.
- Many fans divided over their opinions of this movie.
So the end credits rolled. I walked out of the theatre, got in the car, and found myself trying to make sense of The Last Jedi. Was I confused? Deflated? I’d say that sums it up. I remember feeling a similar sensation after watching The Phantom Menace all those years ago. I wanted it to be good… but something wasn’t right?
From the comedy opening lines preceding a tragic space battle, the tone for the film was confusingly set. This chapter telling a story of desperation, out-running death, and clinging to life is underpinned with frequent forced comedy, and huge plot holes leaving me to realise “this isn’t going to go the way we think.”
I appreciate the desire to take Star Wars into a new direction, but it’s becoming more evident that this new direction passes through a brightly illuminated Disney border crossing.
So where to begin? Let’s start with Luke. It is fair to say that Mark Hamill acted out of his skin in this movie. A standout performance bringing to life a Luke Skywalker, riddled with self-loathing, self-doubt and fear.
Just as Emperor Palpatine was the silver lining in Revenge Of The Sith, Luke Skywalker’s character was surprisingly interesting, and brutally honest in the The Last Jedi. A far cry from the hero of the rebellion, but Mark Hamill put on a stellar performance bringing to life a very controversial spin on the Jedi Master. It was so controversial in fact that after first reading the script, Mark revealed his displeasure to Director Rian Johnson:
“I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.” – Mark Hamill.
Luke’s character in this film reminds me of Denethor, Steward of Gondor from The Lord Of The Rings. The twisted and bitter hermit, trapped within his own self-hate and dismissive of the outside world. Ever since the original Star Wars trilogy my hero was Luke Skywalker, and it was a delight to see him again. Perhaps not in a way I would have liked, but still… it was Luke. That was good.
Force Hologram Projection Luke?
Just an observation: towards the end of the film, Luke confronts Kylo Ren as a force projection of himself. I didn’t understand this tactic. If the energy required to project himself half way across the galaxy would result in his death, why didn’t Luke turn up and face Ren in person? Surely that would have been more exciting?
The big problem with this scene was that neither Ren or Luke achieved anything from this encounter – it was just Luke’s way of “delaying the First Order” so the Resistance could escape. Lightsaber duels, in fact, any sort of onscreen sword fight between core characters is a perfect way to push storyline forward, and help hero’s and villains grow. This encounter was just a sneaky trick by Luke to delay the First Order, and the only thing missing should have been Luke shouting “fooled you!” as he disappeared in front of Ren.
A Rey Of Light?
Our underdog hero from The Force Awakens and desperate to know her role in the galaxy. I was so disappointed for Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, who really didn’t come off strong in this movie. No real questions were ever answered about “her place in all this”, and the answers that were given were underwhelming. Devoid of any revelation.
Rey goes from convincing and eventually learning a little from Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To, to being swept through a questionable throne room scene with Snoke and Ren, to then moving some rocks at the end, helping the Resistance escape through a tunnel.
Rey’s journey in The Last Jedi was very disappointing, given that the previous film teased so much unique potential and backstory.
Kylo Ren & Supreme Leader Snoke
Let’s talk about my real gripe with this movie. Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, and Supreme Leader Snoke, played by Andy Serkis. Ever since the first trailer of the The Force Awakens, Snoke is a major driving force in this new saga. His voice is the first thing we hear, and teased his relationship with Ren and the overall plot for the film.
JJ. Abrams did a wonderful job building up the evil and mystique of Snoke throughout The Force Awakens. An overseeing unknown powerful entity, controlling and blatantly using Kylo Ren to achieve his goals. Snoke bears so many questions. Who is he? Where did he come from? Kylo is torn but willing to follow his lead, and even kill his own father for the promise of fulfilling his grandfather’s legacy.
The relationship between Snoke and Ren is fasinating and exciting. Unlike Vader and the Emperor who held a mutual respect for one another, Snoke and Ren have an exciting twisted relationship that deserved so much exploration.
The Throne Room Scene
A pivotal part of The Last Jedi. Rey, Ren and Snoke in the same room. “The light to meet the darkness of Ren.”
Going into this scene, everyone hoped that something would happen. Things usually happen in a big scary Star Wars throne room. Stuff goes down, and it usually moves the plot forward and new heroes/villains emerge from the smoulder.
As Rey and Ren entered the room, I wondered…
- Will we learn about Rey’s parents?
- Would Rey turn to the dark side?
- Would Snoke reveal his powerful origins?
- Would Ren and Rey team up and face Snoke?
- Would Luke crash the scene and help Rey?
- Would Luke turn to the dark side and try to kill everyone?
All of the above scenarios would have been much more exciting and believable. Instead, Kylo pokes Snoke… with a lightsaber… and Snoke is dead. My heart sank.
Firstly, why did Ren kill Snoke? By killing Rey kneeling before him, he would have fulfilled his destiny and become the new Darth Vader. The thing he wanted more than anything, and the reason why he killed his own father.
Instead, Ren gets cold feet because of a few force Skype sessions with Rey earlier, and performs a random premeditated attack on Snoke. It made no sense. It was like Rian Johnson wanted the most random shock moment for the sake of it. The only villain in this film, which is only two thirds of the way through, is gone.
I remember watching the Avengers-style “hero team up” lightsaber battle with the guards afterwards, and kept looking to Snoke’s body in the background, hoping he’d reform using the force or something. But no. He’s dead. It’s like Darth Vader killing the Emperor halfway through Empire Strikes Back, or John McClain killing Hans Gruber half way through Die Hard.
Why is Snoke the only villain in this movie? Well, who is else there? Kylo Ren is a deep and twisted character, but he is so relatable. We see his struggle and constant inner-conflict that I actually felt sorry for him, and even pitied him.
Similar to how I felt towards Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings. I didn’t regard Ren as scary compared to Darth Vader or Darth Maul. Even after Snoke’s underwhelming death, Ren was still reckless and ill-tempered. More importantly, he didn’t transcend as a character and so failed to fill the gaping void left behind by Snoke. Perhaps this is one of the problems with setting the film just hours after the previous one – the characters didn’t have time to grow.
Ren didn’t invoke fear in his peers. You get the impression even Hux didn’t fear him, and even pledged his allegiance to Snoke after his death.
The film had lost its villains, and was now being driven by two characters squabbling in the driving seat and not able to operate the pedals.
Throughout the Star Wars universe, there’s always been mystery and magic surrounding the Force, and those who have the power to wield it. In this movie, I felt that magic was gone. Mark Hamill’s brilliant performance as Luke presented a cold normality to the galaxy. Ren revealed that Rey’s parents were “nothing more than scavengers”, going against every hint and tease to a bigger storyline previously laid out in The Force Awakens.
The fact that Luke and Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber “called to Rey” in The Force Awakens, invoking a troubling vision filled with infamous voices and echoes from past events was just… coincidence?
Disney seems to be firmly stamping its name on Star Wars making sure we know that everyone is special, and everyone can be a Jedi – hence the closing shot of the kid with the broom.
They’re very slowly getting away!
The main storyline for this film. The Resistance moving it’s dwindling fleet “just out of range” of the First Order who give a slow laborious chase, occasionally blasting and killing Resistance people we don’t care about. This plot is worse than the taxation of trade routes and the blockade over Naboo! At least with that plot, we were so confused by the weird politics we hoped it would lead to something!
This “fuel shortage” storyline however in the The Last Jedi was awful, and riddled with plot holes:
- Why didn’t the First Order just overtake the Resistance and cut them off?
- Why didn’t the First Order release a hundred thousand fighter ships and blow them to kingdom come?
- Why didn’t the First Order call for backup?
It reminded me of Speed 2: Cruise Control. I never watched that film for the obvious reason it looked terrible, but you get the comparison. This plot in The Last Jedi was ridiculous and made both the Resistance and First Order look incompetent.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel nothing really happened to the characters in this movie? Besides major pivotal names dying off in underwhelming ways, none of the core characters besides Luke really transcended or grew?
Ren and Rey had another saber battle and they’re both still annoyed at each other. They concluded this movie with exactly the same relationship as The Force Awakens.
What about the other characters?
- Luke underwhelmingly dies.
- Snoke underwhelmingly dies.
- Phasma underwhelmingly dies.
- Leia underwhelmingly dies – then flies through space and comes back to life.
- Thousands of First Order and Resistance underwhelmingly die.
Let’s quickly talk about Phasma. What a waste of a character!
I see Phasma as the General Grievous of this film. All bluster and no substance. We got a glimpse of Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens, and I really hoped this movie would let Gwendoline Christie shine given her awesome unique screen presence. However, after an over elaborate battle exchange with Finn, she plummets to her death and another one bites the dust.
Poe, played by Oscar Isaac, went from being super cool space pilot, to just annoying. He had too much screen time. He then seemed to lose all respect for authority going all “gung-ho” on the galaxy while everyone one of his peers died around him.
Finn is the “steady hand” in The Last Jedi. He fulfilled his role by stepping up and delivering as he did in the previous film. There weren’t any revelations or strong developments for John Boyega’s character, which is a great shame. Especially considering his pivotal role in the main Ren/Rey story of The Force Awakens.
One of my favourite moments of that film is seeing Finn stand up to Kylo with the blue lightsaber. Kylo’s hatred towards Finn for being a “traitor” is chilling and adds so much meaning to the encounter. You can’t help but root for Finn as he goes up against a much more powerful foe.
The Last Jedi however was very underwhelming for Finn. He’s just there.
Urgh. Can you hear my eyes roll? This whole segment was like the pod race in Phantom Menace – not required. I think at one point you hear a kid shouting “yippee”?
After a terribly wasted cameo by Maz Kanata (who only met Finn hours before but still video chatted with him with vital information while under fire), it’s revealed the Resistance needs a code breaker to hack into a Star Destroyer’s tracking system or something? Urgh.
The First Order/Resistance chase was that slow, Finn and his girlfriend had time to travel across the galaxy and return with some weird guy who ultimately sells them out. Meaning… the entire Casino storyline amounted to nothing. I really wonder if anyone critiqued this script… anyway, back to it.
My hat goes off to the late Carrie Fisher who delivered a strong performance as General Leia. One scene in particular however was very cringeworthy (Mary Poppins in space), but I tried to look past this and smile upon her performance. I find it difficult to understand how so many critics could rave about this scene, with many regarding it as “breathtaking”. It wasn’t. It was cringeworthy.
What The Critics Say
“Johnson serves up bold, gut-wrenching narrative. A multicoloured adventure that juggles different moods and tones.” – Empire
“It’s hard to say whether The Last Jedi has left the Star Wars saga in a greater position of strength.” – Den Of Geek
“As the third act approaches, the crescendo of air-punching interludes accelerates, eliciting gasps, cheers and OMG whoops from an audience whom Johnson treats with respect, affection, and evident admiration.” – The Guardian
You might have guessed by now that I wasn’t impressed with The Last Jedi. The Force Awakens however, despite mirroring many aspects of A New Hope introduced fresh likeable and interesting characters, raising exciting new questions about the magic and mystique of the Force.
JJ Abrams stacked a deck bursting with possibilities. Unfortunately The Last Jedi took those opportunities and tossed them over Luke’s sad shoulder.
The Last Jedi was an utter disappointment, which is incredible given the vast opportunities the previous film presented. The plot was weak, and the tone confusing. It raised frustrating questions throughout it’s bizarre plot, and returned zero answers, no heroes, and dead villains.
How I rank The Last Jedi among the other Star Wars films?
- Empire Strikes Back
- A New Hope
- Rogue One
- The Force Awakens
- Return Of The Jedi
- Revenge Of The Sith
- The Phantom Menace
- The Last Jedi
- Attack Of The Clones
Thanks for reading. Did you like The Last Jedi? What was your favourite or most loathed part of the movie? Leave a comment below!