Last week Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi premiered. I was able to attend one of the “preview” showings Thursday night… this way the inevitable greatness wouldn’t be spoiled for me by the Internet. In the interest of maintaining the secrets of the movie, this is your ***SPOILER ALERT***.
*** LAST JEDI SPOILERS AHEAD ***
So… let’s talk about The Last Jedi. When I walked out of the theater my sense of it was that it was a GOOD movie. It was NOT GREAT or FANTASTIC or WONDERFUL, all the adjectives I would have used when leaving the theater after Episode VII: The Force Awakens. As time has passed I have pondered it more… and it has unfortunately been downgraded to an OKAY movie. So here’s the basic list as to why…
- The Main Rebel Fleet Runaway Storyline – if you want to save yourself 90 minutes go watch the Battlestar Galactica episode 33 Minutes, because it’s really basically the same exact main plot. The Poe mutiny was not impressive and lacked any real substance with Laura Dern’s character General Hodo becoming a one-shot wonder who’s “sacrifice” can best be met with a shrug. One of the most adverse effects of this is that the movie has been locked into a timeframe of 18 hours… yet it frequently breaks that to show you things that have obviously happened in the past, most notably on Ahch-To with Luke and Rey.
- The Canto Blight Subplot – The subplot of Finn and Rose going to Canto Blight had a throwaway purpose at best, while also highlighting possibly the most important moral lesson of all. The introduction of Rose was great, and she really breathed fresh air into the other characters grounded in nostalgic stereotypes. The introduction of the splicer DJ as another throw away one-shot was unnecessary to say the least. The showdown between Finn and Captain Phasma was weak to say the least. For some reason Captain Phasma has been cursed with Fett Syndrome, where the most popular villain is not only underutilized by killed off in a seemingly innocuous way.
- The Ahch-To Storyline – This was SUCH a WASTED opportunity to explore the ancient Jedi Order, to illustrate how their transition resulted in the horrible atrocities the galaxy suffered since the fall of the Republic (although this was acknowledged), and the build out of unexplored canon in the past as well as for the future. Time most definitely passed differently here than in the main plot, and there is an acute underutilization of Chewbacca and R2-D2 throughout the time spent there. The insertion of Yoda seemed almost like an afterthought, and the destruction of the ancient Jedi text by his hand was stupid to say the least.
- The Kylo Ren Storyline – this is the ONLY storyline that actually contributed to the forward movement of the overall story. With Kylo eliminating Supreme Leader Snork and assuming that role, in part thanks to Rey, we actually have a Skywalker decisively leading one of the two factions. While many will say that Leia was a leader of the New Republic/Resistance, I would agree but the fact is she was A leader and not THE leader.
In summary, The Last Jedi really did absolutely nothing to move the story further along OTHER than illustrating that the Resistance is down to about 30-40 people and removing Supreme Leader Snoke, who we still know nothing about, from the equation. It offhandedly answered the question of Rey‘s parentage in the least creative and anti-fanbase way ever. It gave us a poetic conclusion to Luke‘s life as a Jedi, while being the most unsatisfying climactic battle between Jedi and Sith ever. The bright spots of the movie, the introduction of Rose Tico and the closing scene where the stable boy uses the Force to draw a broom to his hand prior to looking to the stars with the Rebel insignia ring, are snuffed out by the disjointed and poorly conveyed 140 other minutes of the film. That is why, in the end, this movie is just OKAY.
I once was asked by someone who was a Law & Order connoisseur and despised science fiction, “Why Star Wars?”
My initial reaction was along the lines of, “Space ships, wizards, and samurai. What’s there not to like?”
The truth is that while Star Wars has all those things, one of the most appealing aspects to it is the underlying moral and life lessons. The “certain point of view” lesson was highlighted well in this film, while the moral lessons of good and evil being a choice and the concept of redemption from one’s past were barely palpable. The draw to these movies is not just the action, and that seems to be something missed in this episode.
I’m going to end this here… because honestly the more I think about it, the worse I feel about the movie both on its own and its role in the larger Star Wars Saga. As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on it so feel free to leave a comment…