“THIS IS NOT GOING TO GO THE WAY YOU THINK”
This review contains spoilers - lots of them.
If you don’t want your enjoyment of The Last Jedi spoilt don’t read it.
I will start by saying that this is my opinion – you don’t have to agree, you don’t have to like it.
The only thing that spoilt my enjoyment of The Last Jedi was watching The Last Jedi.
Having left the cinema, I felt like I’d just woken up from an illness induced dream where I couldn’t quite put the pieces together.
“Why did that happen? Why did I think that? Was it because I’d been thinking about such and such earlier today? What did I eat that’s affected me before I went to bed? Have I got a temperature?”
Lazy ‘story’ telling, pointless uncomfortable comedy, total lack of characterisation, or characterisation that didn’t develop said character or detracted from the way the character was previously written, throwaway resolution of plots that were set up in the previous film.
Episode VIII adds nothing, subtracts if anything, and feels like it’s deliberately tarnishing the original.
I can’t even say this felt like Star Wars.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s like someone writing it had never seen a Star Wars movie, book, comic or anything but had been told about it by a friend whose friend had told them about a friend who liked Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back a bit when they watched its television debut on Christmas Day 1988 on ITV at 3:55 pm whilst recovering from the hangover they’d secured on Christmas Eve.
I can only imagine the conversations about the script:
“How about we do a light comedy version of ESB?”
“Brilliant! It worked for Star Trek V The Final Frontier!”
“Should we watch the Force Awakens and advance and add to the potential character story reveals/arcs that are hinted at in it?”
“Just throw in a lot of new vehicles based on OT vehicles that don’t do anything particularly onscreen but that the scalpers can buy and sell on eBay to make them some money before Christmas.”
“Well while we have spoken I’ve outlined a plot on the back of this cigarette packet. I say outline, I mean complete script.”
I know people will disagree with me. Other members of Geek Force disagree with me.
I just see this new saga, and particularly episode VIII, as a series of missed opportunities in so many ways.
“I NEED SOMEONE TO SHOW ME MY PLACE IN ALL OF THIS.”
I’ve been told by a few people that I need to watch it a second time to fully enjoy it and get it.
I watched the originals at the cinema in ‘77, ‘80 and ‘83 once - I loved them and got them.
I watched the prequels at the cinema in ‘99, ‘02 and ‘05 once - I enjoyed them and got them.
I know some will say it is different watching them as an adult to when you are a child but this is an excuse.
I can still watch the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy and enjoy them as an adult.
I recently watched Blade Runner 2049 and thought it was the most amazing sequel that I’ve seen. It built on and respected the original while having its own beats, twists and identity.
I didn’t need to go and see it twice to fully enjoy it or get it.
If you don’t get and enjoy a film the first time then it isn’t for you.
If you didn’t like Marmite the first time you ate it you wouldn’t keep eating it repeatedly until you fully enjoyed and got the damn stuff!
The main plot point that I just couldn’t get my head around was the slow chase between the First Order and the surviving Resistance fleet.
I’ve wracked my brain trying to understand why it was happening.
I can only liken it to this:
Imagine a version of Battlestar Galactica where a Cylon base ship is following the rag tag colony’s fleet from a distance of a few thousand metres and deliberately firing on it from said distance to annoy it and remind them they are there. Just close enough to keep hitting the ships’ force fields.
The base ship will only destroy a colony ship that run out of fuel and falls below that minimum safe distance and into full destructive range of its cannons.
They do this under the excuse that the colony’s ships are faster and more manoeuvrable than their cannons can cope with - even though the Cylon base ships carry 300 small Raider ships that could attack the fleet.
Indeed, the Raiders could make sure that smaller ships (shuttles or Vipers) from the Galactica’s fleet can’t just keep coming and going through hyperspace for help whenever they please but the Cylons decide not to bother scanning for them. After all, what harm could those smaller ships do?
If you would like to see that version of the TV show then you will love The Last Jedi.
Imagine the Dam Busters’ Avro Lancaster bombers, for some unexplained reason, not being capable of any kind of speed whatsoever or not being at all manoeuvrable making them incredibly open to being attacked by enemy guns and planes and indeed having their bouncing bomb payloads susceptible to exploding and destroying them way before they reach the target.
Wing Commander Guy Gibson decides to prank call the German high command via his radio set, just to try and gain some time.
They destroy said target but everyone dies in the process because of said lack of speed etc except for Gibson (and his dog) who thinks the losses are acceptable.
If you like the sound of that version of the Dam Busters you will love The Last Jedi.
When Kylo Ren says “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.” it becomes clear that this is a message to OT fans telling them that the franchise we have loved for 40 years is ending and we have to accept change.
I don’t mind change one bit, what I do dislike is crap storytelling and crap characters.
The Last Jedi seems to delight in ruining the legacy of the OT characters - Han Solo running off and becoming a smuggler again in TFA was not a good call.
“YOUNG SKYWALKER. MISSED YOU, I HAVE...”
Likewise, in TLJ Luke has become a bitter old man who sensing darkness in Kylo Ren decided to kill him.
Does this sound like the man who sensed the good in Vader and faced him, wanting to bring him back to the light?
Would the man who helped free the galaxy of the Emperor really give in so easily and run away?
This is not the Jedi master that was established by the end of ROTJ.
And the comedy moment between Force ghost Yoda and Skywalker was just awful.
Yoda’s page turner line made me cringe.
Speaking of Yoda (awful puppet, clearly cheaply made as the mouth and eyes were almost inanimate) why would this wise and respected Jedi master not have persuaded Luke off this course before? And if Luke closed himself to the Force why is Yoda even there?
If ghost Yoda can suddenly make a tree explode via lightning and can physically hit Luke why on Earth didn’t he and Obi-Wan do anything to help Luke in ESB or ROTJ?
Don’t even get me started on Luke milking that creature on Ahch-To.
Other major gripes for me include Hux being made into an ineffective comedy villain and all his menace disappearing, Snoke being set up in TFA to be the big bad with a mysterious back story - who was he? Darth Plagueis? A youngling that Anakin didn’t quite kill? He is powerful that is for sure, oh and look he can use the Force - it doesn’t matter though, you don’t find out what or who he is and he is killed very easily. Problem solved as obviously they didn’t know who he was either (or fans had guessed who he was and it really annoyed them - I’m sticking with Plagueis.)
Poe Dameron is forced to make poor choices by Admiral Holdo not explaining her actions, Finn’s character is made a bit too comic relief for my liking, he dispenses with Captain Phasma in a very easy way too.
Lightsaber battles are poor - a friend noted that one-to-one combat scenes are too slowly executed with terrible continuity, you can actually see opponents waiting to be hit.
The final battle on Crait is just a rehash of Hoth. Snow = salt, Snow Speeders = Ski Skimmers, AT-ATs = AT-M6. All of them are underused and are just thrown in. We never see their full potential.
“I ONLY KNOW ONE TRUTH: IT'S TIME FOR THE JEDI... TO END.”
I feel the conflict in this movie, I can sense the good. I went in to the film having avoided all spoilers, having seen the trailers and thinking how cool it looked.
But style doesn’t make up for lack of substance.
I’m sorry but Rian Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm and Disney have created a mess.
I’ve tried to let go of my hate but even after 48 hours of trying to resolve it and listen to other people’s points of view I am angry about it, no not angry - disappointed, let down. Embarrassed.
I think serious questions will be asked about the direction this film has taken the franchise.
It’s become apparent over the weekend that the audience isn't behind this film and it has sharply split fans. Disney will not be happy that such a divide exists.
I have no doubts that there will be a discussion going on at Lucasfilm and the house of mouse right now.
Kennedy and her team will be genuinely worried and wondering what they can do to salvage the wreckage.
Is Abrams returning the answer? I don’t think so; the damage is done.
Go and see it and make your own mind up, however for a lifelong Star Wars fan (I don’t dislike the prequels, I loved Rogue One, I think Rebels is great - hell, I didn’t dislike TFA until this mess failed to build on it) this latest instalment is nowhere near the standard of the originals for me.
Maybe I’ve had too much Star Wars in too short a space of time? Maybe I’ve reached saturation point?
I do think that it partly goes down to quality over quantity.
“BREATHE. JUST BREATHE. NOW REACH OUT. WHAT DO YOU SEE?”
In my humble opinion, they should’ve hired Timothy Zahn to write the new trilogy.
Heir to the Empire respected and built upon the original trilogy - the new movies do the complete opposite.
If, like me, you are disappointed with how the series is being handled then my advice is to revisit the Thrawn trilogy, revisit Dark Empire, revisit Shadows of the Empire and pretend this chapter never happened.
We all have the original trilogy and we all have the Star Wars we invent in our heads. One ill-conceived movie can’t take that away.
Deinde usque ad tempus