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Star Wars --outside of Spider-Man and Brooke Vincent from first grade-- was my first true love. I’ve loved every movie. Revenge of the Sith isn’t just my favorite Star Wars film, it edges out Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as my favorite movie of all time.
Since Disney bought Lucasfilm from The Maker, they’ve made two films which have been positively received. I loved both. Loved them. The Force Awakens was obviously A New Hope reintroduction and Rogue One wouldn’t have been what it was without Vader, but they’re both stellar films. And Michael Giacchino’s Rogue One score makes my Spidey senses tingle.
J.J. Abrams laid the groundwork with Awakens and set up Rian Johnson to give us an epic sequel full of continued character development for Rey, Finn and Poe among others while telling another magical Star Wars tale. Disney has already green-lit three more movies from Johnson and are riding high after Episode IV. So this is going to be gooooooooooooood!
Well chop off my right arm and call me a Skywalker (or Bucky) because...
...The Last Jedi hurt my (nerd) soul more than Anakin could ever hurt Padmé. Seriously, I don’t think Thanos will come close to this kind of damage in Avengers: Infinity War. (The trailer preceding Last Jedi film is the best part of the film.)
So character by character, let me break down one of the most disappointing films of my young life.
Luke Skywalker: The hero of the original trilogy, the main character (outside of papa Anakin) of the beloved saga. He’s back and he’s depressed and he doesn’t want his lightsaber and he doesn’t want the force and he wants to just be left alone to die. I get it...life sucks. But this is our beloved cinematic hero and he’s reduced to a depressed hermit even more angry at the world than Ben Affleck’s Batman.
He doesn’t want to help Rey and he was going to straight up murder his nephew because there was darkness in him. The birds and the bees talk comes after the beheading of your sister’s only child. He’s remorseful about Han for a good half second and R2-D2 snaps him back into it before he decides “no, no thank you” because now Rey may have some darkness.
He’s a horrible teacher and Jedi master and there’s absolutely nothing heroic about him until his dying act. Yeah, they killed Luke, too. I was okay with them killing Han. It was dramatic, had heart, fit the narrative and had real thematic use. Plus Harrison Ford has been begging for sweet death since Return of the Jedi.
So Luke sacrificed his life so Poe Dameron could say out loud (not sure if it was for his benefit or the audience’s) “he must be doing this for a reason guys!” and the horrible remnants of the Rebellion/Resistance could live to fight another day against an enemy more incompetent than the Cleveland Browns front office.
So Luke dies. Exerted himself in an epic final battle where his not-to-be apprentice got the best of him. Oh wait, he wasn’t even there! No lightsabers were harmed in the making of The Last Jedi.
Long live Luke Skywalker. He deserves better than this. #FreeMarkHamill
Leia Organa Solo: I would have liked at least some reference to Han Solo. Perhaps open the movie with his funeral. Anyway, Leia really doesn’t do much in this movie except scold Poe, comfort Poe and almost die. Almost because she pulls a moonwalk in space in a scene that would be one of cinema’s most embarrassing if not for John Williams’ Leia theme illuminating both the scene and the audience. The piano version of Leia’s theme is heartbreaking. (But so is this movie.)
I get that Leia is extremely powerful and she’s obviously as potentially force sensitive as her brother Luke. We’ve seen none of it outside some sibling telepathy in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, so to throw this at us is a bold move from Director-Writer Rian Johnson. I wouldn’t even feel so insulted by it if they had the characters react to it, talk about it or even discuss for a second of the movie’s bloated two and a half hour run time.
But no. This awe-inspiring, once-in-a-lifetime Leia moment is forgotten so we can let other important plot threads like Rey’s parentage mystery, Snoke’s identity or the First Order’s pursuit of the Resistance's fleeting remnants play out.
Or nevermind, nevermind and nevermind.
Chewbacca Smith: Nah, but could you imagine? “Hi, Chewbacca Smith reporting for duty on the Millennium Falcon.”
“Honestly, for Episode IVV Mr. Smith, you’re just going to be a valet.”
And that’s that. Although in a movie stuffed with cute moments just for the sake of cuteness (and toy sales), I quite enjoyed his scene at the campfire with the porgs. As for the rest of the porg scenes, the less I say the better. In fact, no more porg talk. No more I say!
Rey Kenobi/Skywalker/Palpatine: Turns out it’s Rey Nobody from nowhere. Kylo Ren says he’s seen her true parentage and that they were simply junkers who sold her for space weed. I don’t believe this to be the truth and am holding out hope she is somehow related to the most underrated character of the saga: Ewan McGregor.
I know Rey has that Mary Sue thing going for her and I never had a problem with her being powerful. Or even being a nobody. But if she’s that powerful then she must be somebody. You can’t pick up the force and start using mind tricks on James Bond and dueling with Sith apprentices and speaking Wookie without some sort of special abilities beyond the norm.
Daisy Ridley is also beautiful and I want to give her the benefit of the doubt but her decision making in The Last Jedi -- like everyone else’s -- is piss poor. I can’t tell if it’s lazy writing, wanting to churn out a sequel in two calendar years or the writer’s are just trying to give limitless middle fingers to the true fan base, but every main character in this movie makes horrible decisions.
For Rey, she immediately trusts Kylo Ren. “Why did you kill your father?!” she demands to know through tears via Harry Potter conference call (Ridley is amazing at crying on cue and therefore is directed to be sad as much as possible). Kylo avoids the question and Rey...buys it? She just accepts that Luke tried to commit nephew-cide and becomes besties with Ben “Don’t call me Ren” Solo.
So she goes alone to meet with him and redeem him. Womp womp it doesn’t work. But he does kill…
Snoke: I was a believer in a Palpatine clone. One of the EU’s (Expanded Universe) coolest stories to me is Palpatine cloning himself, not letting one silly body carry his tyrannical legacy. Snoke looked deformed and close enough to be a Sidious clone, but instead he is……...drumroll, please…..nobody, too!
Well, he’s somebody. But Johnson and his writers don’t give two s*its to enlighten us. Seconds after saying “I cannot be betrayed” he is betrayed by Kylo Ren, who uses the force to Kimbo Slice him in half using Rey’s lightsaber that he confiscated…
...that he confiscated after using force lightning on both her and Ren earlier in the movie. Along with lightning, he can suspend others in the air without even waving his hand. He’s obviously extremely powerful and Andy Serkis’ mocap work deserves better than this. I guess I’ll buy the spinoff toy line that reveals just who the heck he was and how he was so damn powerful. Coming to Target for $99.99 with a free porg included. Crap, I mentioned the damn porgs! Moving on...
Kylo Ren: I really like this character. I think --mask on-- Ren is an extremely cool, intriguing, intimidating, sexy character. I love the mask, the hood and the bathrobe. But when that mask comes off, it all goes to hell. Adam Driver is a great actor, don’t get me wrong, but man is he ugly. It just takes me right out of Kylo Ren.
Driver still manages to make the character very layered and I think he has, by far, the most mature story arc in The Last Jedi. His ambitions are sensible and multi-dimensional. However, as a leader and military personality, he’s more than useless. After Snoke is expelled, he is the new Supreme Leader and he sufficiently hands the rebels their survival at the climactic battle of Crait. Which leads me to the other man in “charge” of the inept (but somehow dominant) First Order.
General Hux: Domnhall (which my autocorrect wants to change to "Downhill" and I almost let it) Gleeson is a great actor. He (and co-star Oscar Isaac) are tantalizing in Ex Machina but are bumbling idiots in this film. First discussing Hux, he’s obviously a pet to Snoke and even though Hux does secure the First Order a big victory after tracking the Resistance fleet through light speed (not explained, of course), he doesn’t finish the victory off because……..I’m not sure.
In one of the movie’s worst plot threads (saying something there), the First Order ship is unable to capture and/or destroy the Resistance because, like, they’re out of range? The flagship star destroyer can’t catch up to it because it’s going too fast at the expense of gas, sure, but they have tie fighters and countless other ships to approach individually, take down the shields and obliterate their opponent.
But they don’t. They just don’t. And as viewers we just have to accept it. Which the vast majority of the audience will gladly do. At my second viewing, the audience cheered frequently. There’s a low bar to be met, folks.
Hux goes from Snoke’s b*tch to Ren’s at the end. If Hux had control of the Crait assault, the First Order wins. But Ren makes it personal with Luke (who isn’t even there) and the Resistance’s crumby remains escape the planet. Hux is tossed aside by Ren who blows the op miserably.
Also, Gleeson is so over the top in this role that it’s painful. A brilliant actor thrown into the Star Wars universe just to scream his lines until he’s reached sexual climax. Useless.
Finn/Rose: They’re getting grouped together here because the film made me sit through their scenes together. I wasn’t really a big Finn fan in Awakens but I think that has more to do with John Boyega than the actual character. Casting is crucial and this one never really landed with me.
Finn and Rose join Poe for a mutiny against the Resistance leadership after Leia doesn’t not not die because Finn was going to abandon the good guys (again) but Rose caught him and now they think they can free the main ship from the light speed lock because Poe says Maz Kanata can through hologram. What a waste of the beautiful, talented Lupita Nyong'o. (Two months ‘til Black Panther, y’all!)
Oh yeah, how did she get Luke’s saber in The Force Awakens? Who cares! “A story for another time” isn’t this time, but neither are the super interesting Knights of Ren, Rey’s parents, Snoke’s anything or anything of story that George Lucas would wipe his tucus with.
But anyway, Finn and Rose go to Canto Bight and mess with rich people while looking for a code breaker and settling for a very bored Benicio Del Toro, all the while inspiring some random kids and their Fathiers (google it) and setting up the movie’s final scene that suffers from the same terrible editing as the rest of the film.
They find a code breaker, not the code breaker but proceed with the mission anyway. Instead of succeeding, they end up getting the escaping ships of the rebel fleet destroyed (except the ones with main characters). Finn and Rose: the heroes that almost wiped out the Resistance.
Side note: what the **** happened to the Resistance. I know the Hosnian system was unceremoniously destroyed in Awakens but The Last Jedi takes place right after Awakens --which ended with a Rebel victory-- yet the Rebellion is like 500 total people at the beginning of this movie.
To wrap up Finn/Rose, they are more irrelevant to the plot than Darcy from Thor: The Dark World. Finn and Rose almost die at the end and I’m really sorry to report that they both live.
Poe Dameron: Ah, my favorite character from The Force Awakens. To be honest, he’s pretty carbon copy in that movie. If not for his convincing of Director J.J. Abrams, he would be long dead on Jakku. They were really going to waste Oscar Isaac just like that?
We’re never told how he survived and we don’t really need to be. We just accept what they are giving us like good little sheep.
Before his titular comic was unreadable even for me, we’re led to believe that Poe is an ace pilot and the number one arial weapon that General Leia has in her arsenal. Well, within minutes in The Last Jedi, he’s gotten the majority of his bombing unit killed after disobeying orders Leia’s orders and is then demoted from Captain to Commander and then starts a mutiny.
Laura Dern’s character takes over for Leia after her spacewalk and through Dameron’s interactions we’re suspicious that she’s a traitor and going to get the last people of the Rebellion killed. So Poe tries to start a mutiny, much to C3PO’s dejection (his only contribution to the movie). Turns out he was wrong and made things way worse. All Poe does in this movie is b*tch and moan and get people killed. Like Finn and Rose. Moving on and almost done thankfully.
Laura Dern’s character: Don’t remember her name. Waldo? I'm not even going to give the stockholders the pleasure of a Bing search to find out what it actually was.
She obviously has a plan in wake of Leia’s injuries but like...why doesn’t she tell anyone? I get not telling Poe because he’s in timeout but she doesn’t inform anyone on her staff and/or the bridge that she actually knows what she’s doing? Bridge personnel joins Poe’s ill-advised mutiny because of this and really, I just, the Rebellion deserves to die. So does the First Order. What the hell happened here?????
Captain Phasma: Pass. Useless. She got her own novel and comic book and lord knows how many toys they sold. After being cannon fodder at best in Awakens, surely she would be redeemed in The Last Jedi. There’s been too much hype! Well, like pretty much everything in this movie, there’s absolutely no payoff. She dies. Maybe? Hopefully.
John Williams: One of my favorite parts of movies is the score. John Williams is a true legend and has composed yet another brilliant score for The Last Jedi. However, it’s nothing new! It’s only brilliant because it’s his own recycled brilliance. Awakens gave us some new Rebellion cues and two new character themes: Rey’s theme and Kylo’s theme. And both are absolutely incredible! We hear a ton of great stuff this time around but it’s nothing new. Leia’s theme, Yoda’s theme, Rey and Kylo’s, the signature Star Wars theme...it’s all great but there’s nothing new.
I swear John Williams got as bored as the audience halfway through this movie. That’s right. Even John Williams is pissed!
Call me overly critical or call me late for work, whatever you want. But I’ve invested so much passion and time and love into the Star Wars lore and after eight movies that were slam dunks (in my opinion), how messy and insulting The Last Jedi is not just to me but to the legacy of the franchise is tragic.
Disney started off riding the coattails of the original trilogy. Now they’re besmirching it in every possible way. Maybe they really are just making this up as they go…
May the Force be with you all.