Star Wars: The Last Jedi is directed by Rian Johnson and it is the second chapter in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. Set exactly after the events of The Force Awakens, Rey hopes to train under Luke Skywalker while Kylo Ren leads The First Order to destroy the little that’s left of The Resistance. While this is happening Finn and Rose go to retrieve a master codebreaker who can help with the mission. The movie stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac and Laura Dern.
After the massive critical and commercial success of The Force Awakens, fans were pretty excited to see where the story would go, especially after that cliffhanger, literally. Many theories were made then that amazing trailer came out and a bunch more theories came out and then the movie came out and after that hell broke loose. I went to see it opening weekend so I knew no spoilers going in and I remember after the movie ended I was left feeling emotionally tired. I did not know what to make of this movie, I thought about it a lot but I still couldn’t come to a conclusion. After some time I made myself think that I liked this movie, then I rewatched when it came out on digital and I came out with the same feeling, I enjoyed myself so naturally I thought that I liked the movie. A year later, this week in fact, I rewatched it again to prepare for the next movie and I think I found the problem. I wanted this movie to be great so badly that it blinded my opinion, I had a few problems with this movie and I want to dissect this movie as both a stand-alone movie and a Star Wars movie.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a double feature as it plays out like a Star Wars movie and a movie about hope and the battle of good vs evil. What’s the difference you might ask? A Star Wars movie is usually a fast-paced adventure with character development and tons of events coming full circle in the end. The latter can be a movie which doesn’t focus on setting up any more future stories and just focuses on the present moment. Star Wars: The Last Jedi has an identity crisis. In my opinion there is very little story here to treat this as a second chapter in a trilogy. We do progress some characters but it’s still very minimal. Rey doesn’t progress that much as a character. If you told me to describe her journey in this movie I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything beyond the fact that she learns more about the force and forms an intoxicating bond with Kylo Ren. The Last Jedi works best as a solo movie, this feels more like an extension of The Force Awakens than a continuation. I understand that there is a huge difference between Abrams’ and Johnson’s style and it is shown in these two movies but in terms of story and character, The Last Jedi doesn’t put as much focus and importance as it should have considering this is the second chapter in a trilogy.
I completely respect Rian Johnson’s vision for this movie. In fact I actually like it a lot, what I don’t like is the incredibly stupid fact that this trilogy didn’t have a basic plan so that all three movies have a goal to achieve in terms of story and character. J. J. Abrams should have worked together with Johnson on this movie in some sort of capacity because it is painfully clear that both directors have a very different plan for this trilogy. That being said this movie has a lot of interesting ideas and some more answers to the questions Episode 7 left. I like some of the answers but I question other ones, particularly that one scene which I felt was used more for shock-value than to actually move the story, you know the one. For the longest time I hated what they did with Luke Skywalker, I thought it was incredibly out of character and even Mark Hamill himself has spoken about this. Now after seeing it for a third time I actually liked it. Hamill gives a freat performance. I liked his interaction with Rey, they have this amazing scene, it’s Rey’s first Jedi lesson and he’s telling her to reach out which at first provides one of the funniest jokes in the franchise but after that Rey starts to focus and sees the light and dark side of the force and then balance but she is called by something from the dark and she trusts it immediately. That is really the only bite-size character development we get for Rey.
The star of the movie this time is Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren who continues being the most interesting character in this trilogy. His impatient need to prove to everyone that he is as dark and powerful as he says he is makes for one of the most shocking scenes earlier on, only it was shocking and actually benefited the story. His inner conflict and connection with Rey which grows stronger as the movie progesses is when the movie is at it’s best. Finn gets a major downgrade as he and newcomer Rose get sidetracked for a completely useless sub-plot. Finn brought so much to the previous movie that seeing him wasted here was nothing but a shame. Hux gets to become a laughing stock so that was another waste of character. Poe gets more to do so that was nice to see but overall the characters outside of Rey, Kylo and Luke all disappointed.
It probably seems like I am hating on this movie, which I’m not. This movie also has a ton of positives. Visually this movie looks gorgeous. The colour pallete is so unique to this saga that it felt like a breath of fresh air watching this movie. As usual the set design and imagination never ceases to amaze. Crait, the salt planet at the end of the movie gives some of the most visually striking ship chase scenes of the franchise. Another expected positive is John Williams’ score which mimicked the darker tone of the movie with it’s more ominous score. Also, Porgs, I am eternally grateful for this movie because it gave us Porgs. The entire third act of the movie is one of the most exciting and suspenseful third acts of the entire saga. I love the third act, especially how it ties each character’s story together.
Overall Star Wars: The Last Jedi fails to do it’s job as a second chapter in a trilogy as it barely moves the story and progresses it’s characters. It feels like an extension of The Force Awakens rather than a sequel. It wastes characters’ potential to grow which is incredibly necessary for a trilogy since there isn’t there is that limited frame of three movies. Yes, the movie looks visually stunning and it has some really great ideas but it works best like a stand-alone Star Wars movie than an episodic one meaning that The Last Jedi is not a bad movie, it’s just a wasted episode.