*Warning: I cuss quite a bit in this article. Normally, I would edit it out, but it felt right to leave it in this time. So head's up if that sort of thing bothers you.
I am a fan, however, and fan is short for fanatic, which is good description of my relationship with Star Wars. I take it quite seriously, so when, halfway through The Last Jedi, I thought to myself, “I fucking hate this,” it caused a disturbance within me. I had never felt that way watching Star Wars (yes, even the prequels). I’m not alone, and there have been plenty of articles and videos stating most if not all of the problems I’m about to list. I still wanted to write about this film, though. Mainly, I wanted to work out for myself why I was so disappointed with this movie. Secondly, I’ve become increasingly annoyed with the dismissal of critics of this movie.
Fans of it seem to think there must be some problem with anyone who didn’t love it as much as them. I honestly do wonder how I could feel so differently from others about this film. It’s as if I watched a completely different movie than they did. So I felt obligated to explain that I don’t hate this movie because of women (strong women have been part of the series since the beginning), subverting tropes of the series (it only speeds them up), changing the Force (new Force powers and details were added in every film), or any other stupid reason that allows people who love the film to dismiss me. I didn’t like it because I found some plot elements weak and/or pointless, I found it lacking (despite a couple of great moments) in action, and it was simply boring too often. This doesn’t make me a hater. It means I didn’t like this movie. There’s no conspiracy or agenda here, and I’m not boycotting the series. I plan on buying this film, for God’s sake. (I may even review it again after I’ve rewatched it, especially if my feelings have changed.) I’m still a fan. I just don’t like this movie very much. It is allowed.
I’m just going to go through every issue I had with the film, every part I liked, and every issue others had that did not bother me. There won’t be much order to this, as I’m just going to write about each issue as I think about it. I will keep it organized into those three categories, though.
Also, I will be bringing up the prequels a few times, as I think a lot of stuff people claim The Last Jedi introduces was actually in the prequels. I loved the prequels, by the way, which makes me sad that I found The Last Jedi disappointing. For years, I’ve been defending the prequels making claims that people who hated them “just wanted to see the original trilogy again” and “don’t like change.” Now since I don’t like The Last Jedi that much, I’m being lumped into that very group as people seem to think the only reason to not like this movie is because we wanted it to be like the other films. That is not the case. And this film is still very derivative of the original trilogy, even if it upends a few things. Anyway, I’ll get to all that. Here goes.
*Final note: I reference fan reactions and quotes from Rian Johnson throughout, but I was too lazy to go back and link everything up. The quotes are legitimate, but as for me speaking for people who love the movie, I'm taking that from YouTube debate videos, comments on articles and Facebook, etc. Not exactly stuff I can source properly anyway. Just know that I'm not making up fan reactions.
Issues I had with The Last Jedi (in no particular order)
So much death, so little caring
I get that this is the darker entry in the trilogy, so things aren’t going to go well for the Resistance. I kind of like that, actually. I mean, the entire resistance can fit on the Falcon at the end! It doesn’t get much darker than that. My issue is that no one seems to care. I like Poe Dameron and his desire to go blow stuff up, but shouldn’t he have at least one scene of remorse for all the pilots that die because of his plans? I know he gets called out for it, but he doesn’t care.
This applies to everyone in the Resistance. Everyone seems very jokey and happy-go-lucky even though almost everyone is dead. Were the other Resistance fighters hired guns? Sure, Rose has her sister that she mourns, but everyone else is unfazed by it all. Ackbar died, for God’s sakes! No moment of silence or something for him?
Defenders of the film might point out Kylo Ren’s line about having to kill the past to move on, but do we really need to kill off every single Resistance member except the notables to move on? And for those that use his line (which I’ll delve into in my second article about the meta bullshit of this movie), since when does one character’s line, especially that of a villain, justify anything that happens in a movie? Oh, the bad guy said it, so that’s why it happened? What?
All I’m asking for is a little emotion. Trash the Ewoks all you want, but who doesn’t get a little teary-eyed when that one Ewok dies and the other Ewok tries to wake him/her up and realizes what happened? At least the Ewoks value life. Poe wants to lead as many people to slaughter as possible and doesn’t think twice about it. But hey, they have to die so the Resistance can be reborn. Because those losers weren’t true believers or something.
Yoda looked weird
I don’t really have much for this one. I just thought he looked weird. I thought they would have done a better job of making him look like Empire Yoda instead of prequel Yoda. Not that big of a deal, but I’m covering everything. But I have read where others think Yoda looked amazing. Maybe my eyes are messed up...
Luke’s weird island life
The milking scene was meant to be funny, I guess? Was that alien enjoying it, by the way? And Luke couldn’t come up with a better method for fishing? That seemed needlessly complex. And what’s with the comic-relief nun-creatures? Why did they just suddenly show up after one of those Rey-Ren talks?
I’m not going to make some sad fanboy “You ruined Luke!” claim here, but I didn’t buy that Luke would be like this after failing as a teacher. So the Jedi have to end. Fine. But does that mean you fly off and hide while the galaxy is taken over again? And if he didn’t want to be found, why did he leave clues to his location? And how did Max von Sydow have that clue in The Force Awakens? And, and, and, and...so many questions, so few answers. I know that a film doesn’t have to answer every question, but with the two new saga entries, it seems like mysteries were created to be answered in other places, like books, videogames, comics, etc. And that is complete bullshit. For everyone claiming this movie stands on its own, I will point out every unanswered question that was only left unanswered to sell more shit to us. Which brings me to…
The treatment of Snoke in this film left me the most conflicted. I liked that they killed him off, but hated the lack of any explanation of his identity. Writer/director Rian Johnson recently explained that it simply didn’t make sense for his film to stop and explain who Snoke is, but that it might be picked up in the next film or elsewhere. If it comes up in Episode IX I’m okay with it. If Snoke is only explained in a video game or book, then it’s Disney cash grab bullshit.
I’m not crazy about Snoke as a character, but the mystery of him kept me interested. You can’t introduce this powerful Force user out of the blue and kill him off without telling us where the hell he came from. Sure, the Emperor was simply there in the original trilogy, but that’s acceptable because we didn’t know what happened before the first film. Then the prequels thoroughly explained where he came from.
You’re telling me that Snoke, who appears to be very old, just sat out the previous intergalactic war between good and evil, telling himself, “I’ll wait this out and swoop in when it all falls apart”? I don’t care if this guy does have the ability to see in the future and could have stayed in the shadows the whole time because he knew how he could rise to power. Even if that is the case, there has to be at least one scene setting that up at some point.
And it’s not like The Last Jedi doesn’t have flashbacks. There was a flashback showing what happened between Luke and Kylo Ren. So why not a quick flashback for Snoke. According to Johnson it didn’t make sense for the story of the film, but when a sizable portion of the audience is wondering who the fuck that all powerful being was that just got cut in half, I think it might make a little sense to tell us who he is and how he was able to stay hidden so long. It doesn’t need to be a flashback, even. Vader’s backstory was covered with exposition in A New Hope. Why couldn’t Luke explain who Snoke was to Rey? Maybe cut out that stupid fucking milking scene and have Luke say, “By the way, Rey, let me give you some info about Snoke before you head off to his spaceship.”
The problem is that they felt the need to bring back the original characters, so they had to have some villain already there since the films have to take place thirty years later. The issue there is that this creates so many questions it seems like we need prequels to these movies. I know they won’t do that, but something tells me there will be plenty of comics, games, and books that fill in these backstories.
Would it have been so bad to have the past thirty years be peaceful? For the First Order to have immediately come to power makes the original trilogy pointless. Why not start Episode VII with the origin of the First Order thirty years later? Snoke could be given an origin. The Luke as a teacher scenes could have been the plot rather than a flashback. You can still have Kylo Ren and Finn and Rey. They would just be introduced differently or later. This way, instead of creating mysteries that would be abandoned, there would be answers and the saga could move forward. Obviously I could flesh that out a bit more, but I’m not trying to start some fan fiction here. I’m just throwing out other possibilities that might have worked a bit better and led to less fan rage.
Instead, we were introduced to needless mysteries by J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson said, “Fuck those mysteries.” I can’t prove that he literally said that, of course, but it’s not hard to imagine him thinking that as he wrote the script.
Wait, isn’t that just a complaint about The Force Awakens?
Yes, it is. And I think the missteps taken in that film forced Johnson into a corner. He had to try and move away from just copying the original trilogy and he had to try to dismiss the mysteries he had no interest in revealing. But in doing that, he jammed plotlines of Empire and Return of the Jedi into this film to get it over with, which is annoying if you didn’t care for the rehashed elements of Force Awakens. And he did away with the most interesting mysteries of that film, which is also annoying because those of us that hated the rehash plot clung to those mysteries in the hope that they would come up with some great answers in this film.
The lack of a unified vision for the saga
And that brings me to Episode IX. So if Johnson was all about doing away with things Abrams introduced, is Abrams just going to re-introduce this stuff in the next film? If so, that’s way too sloppy. I’m fine with different directors taking a crack at Star Wars, but is Kathleen Kennedy and the Star Wars team not controlling the story? They’re willing to fire directors over creative differences, but they also allow writer/directors to completely abandon story elements of the previous film? That is why I prefer the Lucas films. He was the sole creator, for better or worse. But he had a singular vision, and we didn’t have to wonder from film to film if he was going to abandon or revisit elements from previous films. At least this means all the movies coming forward will be surprising. But some stability would be nice.
With that in mind, I’m actually interested in Johnson’s announced trilogy that will be separate from the saga. I think Johnson could make some great Star Wars films if he was given complete control from start to finish, and he didn’t have to work around another writer’s material. Fingers crossed.
That fucking casino
This issue has been beaten to death by the haters, so I’ll keep this as brief as I can. This entire sequence was pointless and boring. It was pointless mainly because the mission would not have been necessary if Holdo would have just told Poe the plan (more on that later).
It was also pointless because Finn and Rose just bumblefuck their way to this casino and immediately get arrested...for a parking violation. They never even speak to the guy they came to see, and instead pick up a stuttering Benicio del Toro, who I assume only stuttered because del Toro insisted on doing something weird to keep himself interested in the character.
This is where lovers of the film will point out that the mission is not the point. The point of the scene, and the entire movie, is that Finn learns about the evil of war, and finally embraces the Resistance. Okay, but didn’t that happen in the last film? Being ordered to kill innocent villagers didn’t convince him? And when he joined the fight in that film, was that not him making a choice? I’ve read arguments that in the first film he was only acting to help Rey, and now he’s acting to help the Resistance. I disagree. When he fights the “Traitor!” trooper, was he only doing that to help Rey? Because that seemed like a moment to me; a moment in which he realized he needed to choose a side.
Finn’s arc aside, the argument is made that the casino sequence was about introducing hope to the stable children, which represented hope in general spreading to a new generation in the galaxy. Again, did this not happen in The Force Awakens? Did no one tell the stable kids about Starkiller Base being destroyed? That wasn’t impressive enough? But a couple of fuck-ups freeing some stupid-looking horse-creatures really gives them the rebellious spirit? And at the end, they’re recreating Luke’s fake-out fight with Kylo Ren. First off, how did they even hear about it? Second, that motivates them, but Starkiller Base blowing up doesn’t? And finally, let’s say Luke is what creates this new...ugh...hope in the children. (By the way, can we retire or at least tone down the theme of hope in Star Wars? I think hope was covered quite a bit in the first six films. Let’s just assume everyone is now very hopeful in the galaxy and move on to something new.) So these kids are in awe of Luke’s confrontation, but that confrontation was a lie. Do they know he was a Force projection, or do they think he’s truly invincible? If they know he’s a Force projection, why do they find that so impressive? And if they believe he’s invincible, then isn’t that creating hope on a lie? Wasn’t Luke’s whole goal to stop making the same mistakes of the old Jedi order?
People also point out that this is the first time Star Wars has looked into people profiting from war and whatnot, because Finn sees the rich people and DJ points out that one of them provides for both sides. Hate the prequels all you want, but you can’t deny that those films delved into the politics (the Senate debates) and economics (the Kaminoans creating the clone army) of war. Hell, most people complained about the movies being boring for doing so. But now that it happens in a non-Lucas Star Wars movie, it’s brilliant? Fuck off.
I just don’t see how Finn learning that rich people are bad, deciding to fight for the Resistance (which he seemed to have already done anyway), or learning about war profiteering excuses the fact that he and Rose carried out their mission with the adeptness of Jar Jar Binks. And I certainly don’t see rehashing those three existing elements as an excuse for creating an uninspired, boring setting and sequence.
Maybe I’m wrong, and the casino sequence does represent the soul of the film or whatever. That doesn’t makeit okay that the entire sequence is unforgivably boring. The wannabe Cantina sequence in the casino was a wasted opportunity to add something interesting. Instead, we get bland aliens doing goofy shit, like putting hundreds of coins into BB-8. I can remember damn near every alien from the Cantina scene, but all I can remember from the casino is the weird Justin Theroux cameo and that stupid drunk alien putting coins in BB-8.
Even the freeing of those stupid horse-things was lame. Say what you will about the prequels, but Lucas created great action sequences. The pod racing sequence, for example, is insanely lengthy, but I’m okay with it because it was done so well. The freeing of the horse-goats and the ensuing escape sequence, on the other hand, was forgettable at best.
So much for being brief, right? I can’t help it. This was the moment in the film that turned me against it. This is the sequence that prompted my “I fucking hate this!” response. There are moments in nearly every Star Wars movie that I’m not crazy about (the Muppet performance in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi, the terrible child acting in Menace, the abysmal "love" scenes in Clones, etc.), but I’ve always been able to shrug it off because of all the other awesome stuff going on. I couldn’t do that this time, and that makes me very sad.
Those fucking horse-things
Yeah, I covered this already, but I wanted to mention them one more time. I just hated their stupid faces...
For the first time, a nobody can matter (bullshit!)
This falls into the defense of the casino sequence, as people point to the stable children as the future of the Jedi. “You don’t have to be a Skywalker to be a hero!” This was never the case, anyway! These films have always been “about” the Skywalker family. Skywalkers have been heroes because it’s been their family story. Even with that, however, plenty of other people have been heroes. Han Solo was just a smuggler. Luke was a farmhand. Anakin was a child slave. Obi-wan and Qui-gon were just Jedi Knights. The whole idea behind the old Jedi system was about nobodies becoming Jedi. Jedi aren’t allowed to have kids, so how could the Force be limited to one family?
This is what annoys me the most about people defending the film in this way. They take shit that has either never been an issue or has already been established and act like this film broke the mold of Star Wars and started everything over. I don’t care if you like this movie, but don’t claim you like it because it’s the first “Star Wars” film to do this and that when this and that have already been done in the previous films.
Force projections - AKA the Star Wars version of the overused mask gag from Mission: Impossible
I am very worried about this new power. Hopefully, it can only be done once and then you die or something. Otherwise, every scene from here on out involving a Force user will have the question, “Is he/she really there?” Please let this be a one-off power.
Luke had to die because…
...oh yeah, because Ren said so. Sorry, I forgot.
Come to think of it, though, this is in keeping with one of the weakest story elements in the prequels: Padme’s death. In Revenge of the Sith, Padme dies pretty much because the story needed her to. Even the doctor droid couldn’t explain why she was dying, aside from her losing the will to live. I get that Lucas wrote himself into a bit of a corner in that situation, but wouldn’t it have been much more powerful of a scenario if Anakin’s force-choking of her really did lead to her death? I suppose Lucas wanted to leave the guy slightly redeemable, but come on, he was killing younglings minutes earlier in the film! Go for it and have basically murder the love of his life. I know he’s still responsible for her death because she doesn’t want to live after what he has done, but that makes her final moments weak.
The point is that Luke’s mom died seemingly for no reason, so it stands to reason he would die that way too. I’m joking, but that at least makes a little more sense to me.
Holdo refuses to tell Poe the plan
I mentioned this earlier, but I’ll point it out again because I have yet to hear an argument for her withholding the plan from Poe. Some have pointed out that Poe got demoted or was being punished for his actions. So your plan for dealing with the hothead who always goes off and does whatever he wants is to leave him in the dark, forcing him to go off and do whatever he wants, like stage a mutiny. Good idea, Holdo.
The whole point of the film was to show that the Resistance will stand no matter how much loss they endure, and that will inspire the people
Again, hasn’t this been covered in previous films? I don’t care about the whole “kill your past” bullshit. It’s ridiculous that the Resistance is down to a couple dozen people. Are the stable children going to be ready for the fight in the next film? I hope not, because using a broom and using a lightsaber are two very different things.
Knights of Ren
Rian Johnson has said that he didn’t include the Knights of Ren because he would have just killed them off because they would have been Snoke’s guards. Fine, go ahead and kill them. I just want to know who they are. Not having them in this film at all just makes me wonder what the hell they are doing since chasing the Resistance seems to be the only thing that matters to the First Order. Are they all just hanging out somewhere? It’s just another example of something being set up that Johnson didn’t want to pay off. That is lazy storytelling. I’m worrying more and more that Episode IX is going to be a spiritual sequel to The Force Awakens rather than the end of a trilogy. You cannot deny that these two films have lacked overall focus. I guess you can claim that lack of focus is actually a “bold, new” direction for the series. Starting to use your bed as a toilet would be a bold, new direction, too (for most people), but that doesn’t make it a good idea.
Snoke has no peripheral vision
I’m no Jedi, but if something starts moving next to me on the arm of the chair I’m sitting in, I’ll notice it.
The misplaced humor
The humor didn’t bother me overall, but it did feel like they were worried about being too dark, so every time something remotely serious happened, a cutesy gag had to follow within a minute. I don’t understand how people who claim this movie works a standalone film can give it a pass for the jarring tonal shifts. Any other movie would get (rightfully) called out on that.
Luke’s chance to be a badass
Man, when Luke showed up to face down all those Walkers, I thought, “Finally! Grumpy bitch boy Luke is about to redeem himself.” And I expected to see him Force push a Walker down and start a domino effect. But no, he was only projecting himself there. Sigh.
The (mostly) weak action
I started watching the Star Wars movies again recently to get out of my Last Jedi funk, and I started with the prequels (I know, blasphemy!). Especially after watching Revenge of the Sith I feel the need to point out that despite whatever issues you have with the plot and acting and whatnot of those films, you cannot deny that George Lucas delivered the action. Revenge has multiple huge, amazing action set pieces, like the opening long take space battle, Count Dooku vs. Obi Wan and Anakin, the General Grievous vs. Kenobi fight, and the showstopper: Obi Wan vs. Anakin. Not to mention multiple smaller action scenes throughout. Some might complain about the use of CG, but I honestly think it holds up. So far, the new Star Wars movies have failed to hold up to that standard. I’ll give you the throne room fight in Last Jedi, but aside from that the lightsaber action is almost nonexistent. Some of the space battles are okay, but they lack the scale of the prequels. It’s hard to watch Last Jedi and compare it to the prequels and think that the budgets were similar. Lucas puts every penny on the screen. Where did the money go for Last Jedi? Let me guess, they painstakingly created practical costumes for most of the casino patrons that we barely see.
This brings me to my biggest issue: The Last Jedi is a boring film, and that is unacceptable as a Star Wars fan. Some people love it, and I wish I did. But I do not understand how anyone could consider the majority of this movie entertaining. I love Star Wars for the mythology it created, and for the awesome sci-fi action. The two new films can’t decide if they want to copy the old films or subvert them, or make a statement about the franchise, or whatever. Along the way, they forgot to make these movies fun to watch.
Do I want an empty action film? No. And I don’t consider the prequels to be empty action. But if you’re going to create subplots that exist only for character development, at least go to the trouble to create some memorable action.
Parts I liked
Believe it or not, I liked quite a bit of this movie, although I’m leaning more towards overall hate the more I think about it. Hopefully focusing on these elements will get me back to the “like, but had severe issues with it” category.
The beginning space battle
An honestly thrilling and tense opening. Heads up, I’m going to be shorter in my praise than my rage. It’s just how I am.
The killing of Snoke
I hate that they didn’t explain his origin, but I loved that they killed him off. The more I look back to The Force Awakens the more it annoys me that it’s a remake of A New Hope. So I was prepared to sit through a rehash of Empire followed by a rehash of Return of the Jedi. By killing Snoke now, as implausible as it may seem, the story can now go into uncharted territory. I was truly surprised in the moment, which is always welcome, and it opens up the story.
The lightsaber battle
The ensuing battle after Snoke’s death is easily the highlight of the film. I’m starving for lightsaber action in these films, so it was nice to finally see some great action. Even though it doesn’t make sense to me that the guards would fight after Snoke died… Wouldn’t they just start working for Kylo Ren? Maybe if we had any info at all about Snoke and these guards… Anyway, great sequence.
The hyperspace ram
I pretty much hate the character of Holdo because she needlessly withholds info, but using a hyperjump as a weapon was badass. That coupled with the lightsaber fight nearly redeem the movie for me...nearly.
Some of the humor
I didn’t hate the humor in the movie, and I found quite a few moments genuinely funny. I think there is humor in the wrong place at times, but overall this movie is actually funny a few times, whereas other Star Wars films usually feature cutesy, weak humor.
The surprising nature of the movie
This goes back to Snoke’s death, but after that moment, I had no idea where this movie was going, and it made the last hour much more interesting than the first hour. Sure, they ended up redoing the Hoth sequence for some fucking reason, but overall all bets were off and anything could happen.
The fact that I have no clue what Episode IX will be like
This leads us to the next film. Will Abrams revisit element Johnson dismissed? I hope he does a little bit, but one thing’s for sure, he can’t remake Return of the Jedi because Johnson beat him to it. I’m very interested to see where this series goes. It’s just unfortunate that they had to make a weak ass Star Wars movie to get to that point.
Parts other people hate that didn’t bother me (that much)
I believe the sexism involved in some critiques of this film (some dildo even made an edit that removed all the women from the film) is simply a loud, pathetic minority of fans. As mentioned at the beginning, this series has always featured strong women, so I don’t even understand how a fan could be upset with the role of women in this film. That said, it’s still okay to hate the actions of female characters without being sexist. Holdo’s decision to leave Poe in the dark would have annoyed me just as much had she been a man, for example. I only point this out because I don’t like that people who dislike this film sometimes get lumped in with the idiots who are mad because the main character is a woman or that the bad guys are all men (which has also always been the case in the series). Some of us didn’t like the film for legitimate reasons.
I’ve seen this referred to derisively as the Mary Poppins moment, but it didn’t bother me all that much. Aside from issues with surviving in space, I didn’t see what the big deal was. I will say that in light of Carrie Fisher’s death, it would have made much more sense for Leia to die in this moment, especially since her character was very inconsequential this time around. And if the plan is to kill off the main three (Han, Luke, and Leia) one film at a time, why would Leia be the last to go?
Finn and Rose’s love story
This could be about Rose’s character in general too, I suppose. Either way, it didn’t bother me that these two fell in love, even though they seem to fall in love simply because they share screen time. What I don’t get is people claiming that Rose steals the film and immediately cements herself as a great Star Wars hero. I thought she was pretty bland.
Look, ever since the Ewoks, there are going to be animals or aliens that are just there to be cute for the kids. I didn’t mind them.
I’ve never understood the hype of this character. She was given nothing to do in either film, so it doesn’t bother me that she appears to get killed...again. It’s no major loss because aside from being a female trooper with chrome plating, Phasma is a very minor, inconsequential character.
The “running out of gas” plan
It’s a pretty weak plot element, but fine, they’re running out of gas. Why not? It’s fantasy/sci-fi, you can go anywhere you want with it. They needed a ticking clock, and this is what they came up with. Now, whether or not this needed to be a ticking clock movie is another matter...
Rey becoming badass seemingly overnight
...which is why a lot of people have issues with Rey’s sudden abilities. If we’re doing the math, she was with Luke for a day or two. If they didn’t have the running out of gas plot, Rey could have spent much more time there. Either way, it’s unclear how long Luke stayed on Dagobah in Empire, but it definitely didn’t seem like a long time. So if we’re cool with that, we have to be cool with this. Also, Snoke mentions the light side rising to meet the dark which explains it, but as stated before, I don’t believe plot holes can be explained away by villains.
Okay, I hate this fucking movie. I do. I hate that I hate it, but I do. I plan on buying it (because I’m a stupid nerd) and watching it again, though. Hopefully, I see something different the next time out. As it stands, this is a shitty Star Wars movie with a handful of decent moments, but at least it sets things up for
Episode IX to be its own film. There’s always...ugh...hope.