The following article contains spoilers for ‘The Last Jedi’. Read at your own risk!
This is not an article meant to bash The Last Jedi, so if that’s what you’re looking for you won’t find it here. Being a big Star Wars fan doesn’t mean you can hate on a new film/its director or overly criticize the fact that Benicio Del Toro wasn’t revealed as Ezra or Rey wasn’t confirmed a Kenobi. As fans, we’re supposed to get excited about what went right, and also have the right to thoughtfully criticize and question when things may not have gone so great, confused us, or didn’t live up to the hype (in our expert fan opinions.)
Let me begin by saying I’m a MASSIVE Star Wars fan. I host a Star Wars podcast with my brothers/husband, my dad had us watch these films growing up, and I dress up like this for every Star Wars movie premiere:
Now that my street cred has been established, let’s candidly talk about what went right and what went wrong in The Last Jedi. I’m skipping a lengthy intro and just diving right into it.
First, let’s answer “What makes a good Star Wars movie?”
Starting off on a positive note, there were some great moments in The Last Jedi. We can’t truly define what’s great and what’s bad about this movie, though, until we define what we mean by each.
What makes a good Star Wars movie? Light humor, tight storytelling, a dramatic climax, heartwarming moments, an overall theme (i.e, “hope”), and of course—a kickass lightsaber battle. In Empire the climax was Vader revealing he was Luke’s father, and we had some solid lead-up to this (which is why it’s the best Star Wars film to date. I’m confident in that claim.) In every other Star Wars film, we’ve had amazing lightsaber battles (see them all here). While these elements were present in The Last Jedi, many fans can’t help but feel these desired moments were lost in the several other storylines of the film.
Here’s what The Last Jedi got right.
Not only was the humor timely and hilarious for all, the droid basically saved the day. On the what seemed like pointless mission to Canto Bight (more on that in a minute), BB got Finn and Rose off the planet, and then saved them again when The First Order’s ship was blasted by Laura Dern. Give me more of this droid, because I freaking love it.
This character is so needed, so powerful, and so damn awesome. She’s vulnerable, feminine, and as strong as ever. She’s relatable in her desire for answers, meaning, purpose. This was played out beautifully in the film, and it’ll be crucial to nail the next phase in her development in Episode IX. As much as I’d love to see a Dark Side Rey (check out this insane fan art), I’d prefer for her storyline to make sense in where she goes next and what trials she faces.
His appearance was campy and silly—as it should be. Yoda is loved for these reasons, and his scene with Luke gave fans the nostalgia they were craving.
Fans have always thought this power was glossed over, and it’s a pretty sick f*cking power. I straight-up loved how Luke went full-on Jedi-badass and appeared in front of Kylo and Co. It almost made up for the fact that there wasn’t a proper lightsaber battle.
Side note: While the scene with Snoke’s Praetorian bodyguards was awesome, I still found myself craving a good-old-fashioned lightsaber-on-lightsaber battle. The Kylo/Rey fight over Anakin’s lightsaber and the Luke/Kylo fight felt a little Harry Potter to me.
Here’s what went wrong in The Last Jedi.
While the “what went right” are quick highlights, I can’t dive into more of what was great about the film without adding some criticism. When I first saw the film, I came out needing to digest everything. Instead of, “Wow, what a great film!” I kept thinking, “wait, OK, so what exactly did this and that mean…wait, I forgot about that part…” The latter can be a good thing, but in this case it prevented me from feeling the former in any way at all. Here’s why I think that is.
As cool as it was, Canto Bight’s screen time was too long, and it took away from the theme it was meant to support.
After seeing the film for a second time, I understand why Canto Bight was written into the movie (aside of an opportunity to showcase cool aliens, characters, etc.) It was meant to expand the universe and remind fans that there are “no ones” out there that believe in the Force, the Resistance, and fighting for the Light Side. There’s no way that Luke could ever be the last Jedi, or that Rey could be. As long as hope remains, little boys and girls like the Oliver-Twist-looking joker on Canto Bight will use the Force to do right.
WITH THAT SAID, there was so much going on, that theme felt cheesy and forced (especially with the whole broom-looking-like-a-lightsaber thing at the end.) Why is this? Maybe it was because Rose—as much as I really, really wanted to love her—felt like a forced and unnecessary character. Yes, she was meant to show Finn that his fight should be grounded with love—not hate—and to fight because it’s the right thing to do… but didn’t Rey already do that in Episode VII? Maybe I’m way off here, but it seemed like a repetitive storyline for Finn’s development, which is why I found myself getting frustrated with him in this film. I rewatched Force Awakens (after I saw The Last Jedi for the second time) and loved Finn. He deserved more than a one-minute fight with Phasma and a pointless trip to a cool planet.
Luke’s big twist
While the twist was awesome, I felt like I had a delayed reaction to its reveal. I wasn’t sure when the climax was in the film because there was so much going on, so it didn’t feel like an “oh shit” moment. After watching the film a second time I liked the reveal more, but it was only after I checked out during the Canto Bight scenes, knowing I didn’t have to pay extra attention and find something crucial to the story there. Once I did that, Luke’s unfolding made a lot more sense.
Why fans need to appreciate what happened to Luke in The Last Jedi
I’m ending this article on a positive note about the film. When Luke Force-ghosts to the mineral planet to face Kylo, it’s so much more than a moment to show off how badass the Force-ghost power is. When Kylo tells Luke he’ll kill him (before he realizes he’s a Force ghost), Luke says, “No, you won’t, because you’ll carry that with you forever” (or something along those lines.) It wasn’t until seeing the film for a second time that I realized how important this moment was for Luke.
In A New Hope when Obi-Wan sacrifices/gives himself to the Force while fighting Darth Vader, he does it so Vader doesn’t kill him. Meaning, he saves the last bit of light in Vader’s soul. If Vader murdered Obi-Wan—who was like a brother to him…
…it would have truly eaten him alive and kept him on the Dark Side with no chance of return. (Of course, you’d think Order 66 would be enough to put someone on the Dark Side forever, but that’s a whole other argument.)
To quote Princess Leia/General Organa in The Last Jedi, Luke “chose to protect the light instead of be a hero.” The funny thing is, by doing what he did, he was the hero—saving what was left of the Resistance to fight another day.
Yes, I’m ending on a cheesy note, because while The Last Jedi wasn’t my favorite film, I still f*cking love Star Wars.
Featured image: Disney