Oh boy, where do I even start? The Last Jedi feels like such an overwhelming movie to review because of the legacy behind it. And I know there will be many people who disagree with me, maybe legitimately so, but in the wise words of Luke, “let go of your hate.”
In case you’ve been living under a rock or really don’t care for Star Wars, I’ll give a brief synopsis of The Last Jedi. It was directed by Rian Johnson and stars Daisy Ridley as Rey, Mark Hamil as the famous Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron. In this movie, Rey develops her powers under the careful watch of Luke Skywalker who is also unsettled by her strength. She tries to learn more about herself, her abilities, and where she came from. At the same time, the Resistance battles with the New Order.
Okay, let’s get to the good stuff!
Rey’s story sets out on the island where Luke Skywalker has isolated himself. The very first thing he does is throw his lightsaber off the cliff, leaving Rey totally dismayed. This moment would’ve been fine if Luke didn’t later have a such an issue with burning the Jedi transcripts. It felt like it was put in for a cheap laugh rather than an actual character’s intention. Anywho, back to Rey. She spends her days on the island trying to figure out what makes her so special, why does she have the force, and who she is, all while trying to bring Luke back to the Resistance. I think Rey shines in this movie as a developing character, especially in her moments with Kylo Ren.
It was good to see Luke Skywalker again, even with a scruffy beard. Many people had a problem with the fact that he hid away from the force, as it doesn’t align with the character we knew. However, let’s remember that Yoda himself hid away in Dagobah and become a little crotchety as well, so let’s cut him some slack. I found it interesting that we got to see Luke a little beaten down, and not so full of hope. It felt very realistic as even the most optimistic of people, or the heroes we look up to, fall down and sometimes lose hope. That’s such a real concept that was portrayed in Luke. I enjoyed Luke’s story arc when he finally joins the fight, and in effect, “saves the day”. It was interesting that when he appeared to Kylo Ren and Leia, he had trimmed down his beard and cut his hair. Was he trying to make himself look younger as people remembered him? I’d be interested to hear your theories on this down below! And SPOILER… his death felt very fitting and almost salutary. You know that Luke Skywalker died peacefully, knowing his last valiant effort was helping the Resistance. We could say goodbye to a beloved character in an honourable way.
The next character I want to discuss is Kylo Ren, who was amazing! The chemistry between him and Rey was tense, and they are by far the most interesting characters in this movie. We see the conflict that Kylo Ren is constantly struggling with, and that is most definitely his weakness. He and Rey are both lonely outcasts looking for something more, and they both try to use this on each other to get them to switch sides. Kylo Ren unceremoniously kills Snoke and momentarily fights alongside Rey (by far one of my favourite scenes). One thing I enjoy seeing in Kylo is that he is unpredictable. Sometimes he seems like he has his emotions together, and then at others time you see him, essentially, freaking out. He’s a temperamental villain with a soft spot, which is very interesting to see. I think Adam Driver did an excellent job portraying him, as you can really feel his anger throughout the movie. I look forward to seeing him more in the next episode!
It was bittersweet to see Leia. Carrie Fisher is an icon herself, let alone the relationship she has with her character Leia. She has a much bigger role in this movie and it was wonderful to see her taking charge. But again, it was sad seeing her knowing that she’s passed, and won’t take part in the Star Wars universe in the same way.
Finn’s story took an interesting turn in this movie, and at times, it felt a little confusing. His very first words when he woke up was, “where’s Rey?” He attempts to jump ship and try to bring Rey to safety, and that’s when he met Rose. Rose is a breakout character, played by Kelly Marie Tran and I really liked her. At times she can be a little self-righteous, and preachy, but she truly believed in the rebellion and she epitomized hope. I think she’s what Finn needed because you could see some doubt planted in his mind when DJ (played by Benicio Del Toro) told him the people from Canto Bight sell weapons to the Resistance as well as the New Order. I disliked the love triangle they had, it felt so unnecessary. I think it would’ve served Rose better to just be friends with Finn. I hope they don’t go through a love triangle in the next movie.
I liked Poe, and it was exciting to see him in his element within the first part of the movie as a flyboy. Other than that, I feel like he’s given very little to do. Poe reminds me of Han Solo; he’s like the bad boy with the good heart that everybody loves even though he can’t follow orders. Maybe that’s why Leia loves him so much! I think Poe’s greatest strength is his weakness as well. He’s quite impulsive and acts before he thinks. He basically tries to start a mutiny, and then, later on, discovers that Holdo (played by Laura Dern) had a plan the whole time, and sacrificed herself for the Resistance. Overall, I think Oscar Isaac did a great job and we see some character development there as well.
General Thoughts: the Positives
I think one of the best things about the new Star Wars movies is the diversity seen. In a successful blockbuster movie, we finally get an Asian woman as one of the leads. I think that’s fantastic and a step in the right direction.
I loved seeing the character arcs, and often times in these kinds of movies, you don’t get to experience character flaws. But with almost character, you see their strengths and weaknesses. They felt like people you know – which is so strange to say considering this takes place in a galaxy far far away. But doesn’t everybody know someone who’s extremely optimistic and hopeful if not a little preachy in times of distress? Someone who comes off as domineering but has the right intentions at heart? Someone who’s so impulsive and headstrong but determined? I enjoyed that they weren’t just one-dimensional characters.
This movie was pretty suspenseful, and almost heart-wrenching at times. The numbers dropped rapidly, and you could see how many people lost their lives. The movie did a wonderful job of planting dread in the viewer’s heart. It really did feel like all hope was lost, and the bad guys could win.
It was beyond thrilling to see Yoda again, and he brought back all hope that was lost – both to Luke and the audience! He was funny, and wise beyond his years, just like in the original trilogy. He gave Luke the strength he needed to come back to the rebellion and finish his personal fight.
I also thought this movie was stunning to look at visually, and I very much enjoyed the cinematography. The scene where Finn and Rose go to Canto Bight felt very inspired by George Lucas and the universe he created. This planet felt like something George Lucas personally created and designed – perhaps the director was paying homage to him. I loved the scenes at the rebel base with the red salt, I thought that looked incredible! I enjoyed the little details the director put into the movie like Luke’s hair/beard, and the fact that he didn’t leave any red footprints. There are many details to this movie, and I’m sure I’ll discover more on the second watch.
General Thoughts: the Disappointments
There is one major disappointing scene in this movie, and that’s when Leia uses the force to pull herself back to the ship. I understand that the force is being used in different ways in this movie, and I think that’s a great direction to go in. I liked that Kylo Ren and Rey were able to use the force to talk to each other. But this aspect of the force felt really odd to me, and it was never talked about or touched on again. So, can… all Jedis… do this?
I’m also a little disappointed with Snoke – he was so hyped in The Force Awakens, and it seemed like he would be a big baddie. But he was snuffed out pretty quickly. Perhaps this was an intentional move to show how powerful Kylo Ren is and setting him up to be the bigger villain in the next movie.
Finally, I thought the pacing wasn’t good. At times it felt like the scenes dragged on, and at other times it felt like things were moving too fast and characters were jumping from one spot to the other with no rhyme or reason other than to move the plot along.
A lot of Star Wars fans are not happy with this movie, and they say it “spits on the face” of the originals. I disagree with those fans. You cannot use the same formula the original movies do; people would be angry with that anyway. The director took a risk with this movie, and he wanted to head in a different direction all while still staying relatively true to the originals. This is one the funniest Star Wars movies to date, and while at times it felt like a cheap laugh, I did really enjoy it. It felt true to the original spirit of Star Wars.
I give this movie 4 Admiral Ackbar’s (RIP) out of 5.
But I’d love to hear from you! What did you think of this movie? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below.