Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a film directed by Rian Johnson and is the eighth episodic movie of the legendary Star Wars franchise. A sequel to 2015’s The Force Awakens (A movie that has since gone on to gross over $2 billion at the box office and become the third highest grossing movie of all time), The Last Jedi is one of the most anticipated movies of the year.
As a huge fan of Star Wars myself, I was one of the many faithful fans who pre-ordered tickets to the movie the instant that the first trailer dropped. Since then, I have anxiously been waiting for December 14th to come around so I can once again witness “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” accompanied by another one of the iconic opening text crawl. And because of this, it brings no joy to say that The Last Jedi is unfortunately, a huge disappointment, a movie that can be perfectly described a beautiful looking mess.
This is not to say that The Last Jedi is a particularly bad movie; that is far from the truth. It is a perfectly enjoyable watch for the casual audience. However, it pales in comparison to the expectations set out most fans of the original trilogy and massively underwhelms its lofty expectations.
First, let’s get the positives out of the way:
As mentioned, The Last Jedi is a beautiful looking movie. Known for his unique visuals, Rian Johnson puts his fingerprints all over the breathtaking shots featured throughout the entire movie. This film features the best looking action sequences in the entirety of Star Wars, whether it’s with lightsabers, X-wings and Tie fighters, the Millennium Falcon or other spaceships.
In addition, The Last Jedi’s all star crew also puts in great performances throughout. Mark Hamill actually has dialogue in this movie, and with his much darker portrayal of Luke Skywalker, puts in his best acting performance in the whole saga. The scenes with Leia are heartbreaking knowing the fate of Carrie Fisher in real life, and the new characters introduced in The Force Awakens are once again all very well portrayed by their respective actors. However, the standout performance in this movie was that of Adam Driver, who with the conflicted portrayal of Kylo Ren, makes for one of the most compelling villains in recent sci-fi movies, and unquestionably the best aspect of this whole movie.
One of the biggest complaints of The Force Awakens by critics was that it felt like a complete rehash of A New Hope while taking minimal risks. This is not something that can be said about The Last Jedi. It is not just a rehash of Empire Strikes Back and takes some major risks, some of which should be applauded and take the franchise in a whole new direction.
However, this is where the movie runs into one of its biggest problems. The risks it takes are radical, which bring significant changes to the Star Wars’ lore, not all of which make sense. For instance, the movie introduces new ways that The Force can be used, and while they all make for cool sequences, they also raise questions as to why none of these powers have never been used or hinted at before in the entire saga.
An even bigger risk the movie takes is the darker portrayal of Luke Skywalker, the main protagonist of the original trilogy. While as mentioned, Mark Hamill does a tremendous job with this different portrayal of Luke, it hardly makes sense when you consider how he was characterized throughout the original movies. This is so apparent that even Mark Hamill has publicly admitted that he disagreed with the direction of his character in the movie, and it is clear why. Without getting into spoilers, during a flashback scene in The Last Jedi, Luke does something that completely goes against how he has been portrayed throughout the Saga, and such an action by Luke is incredibly hard to buy as an audience who knows his character history.
Another issue in the movie was that it seemed to completely ignore some of the events of The Force Awakens as well as what was hinted at and built up throughout that movie. For example, somehow at the start of this movie, The First Order has complete control of the Galaxy and has The Resistance on the backfoot, even though it was established in The Force Awakens that they were only a small reminiscent of The Empire, and that movie ended with their StarKiller Base being destroyed. In addition, the movie also does an underwhelming job at answering questions about characters and their backgrounds, all of which were hinted at heavily by The Force Awakens. It is as if Rian Johnson completely scrapped the plans made and the subplots set up by the director of The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams and decided to make a completely separate film from the one that was planned.
These are not the only logical fallacies in the movie, it's full of glaring plot holes that are difficult to talk about without diving into spoilers. But rest assured, these plot holes are not nitpicky; an entire side plot could have been entirely avoided if a character did something that had no consequence to that character’s plan. Any intelligent member of the audience will be able to identify many of these plot holes without even looking for them.
However, the biggest negative of this movie is an entire storyline in a Casino Planet involving Finn and a newly introduced character, Rose. The subplot takes up about 20-25 minutes of the runtime of this movie, and while it is relevant to the plot, it disconnects from the rest of the movie entirely. Whenever the movie cuts to this story arc, it screeches to a halt, and the whole sequence seems like an unnecessary detour that takes away from the excitement of the rest of the movie while tanking its pace. The arc itself is awkward, and although it attempts to teach a moral lesson on animal cruelty and war profiteering, it fails on its delivery and sucks out all the excitement that makes it a Star Wars movie.
Overall, despite being an enjoyable watch, The Last Jedi falters under its towering expectations and makes for a movie that is mostly style over substance and one that will surely be divisive amongst fans of the saga.
Film Rating: Light 7/10