This review contains all kinds of spoilers from “The Last Jedi”, as well as other movies from the saga, so if you haven’t seen the movie or other movies from the saga, I advise you not to read it.
Star Wars is a movies saga I like a lot. Maybe I’m not the number one fan of the franchise but of course it’s a movies saga that I’m very fond of it. I didn’t see the original films in the cinema at all (I wasn’t old enough to do that, in fact, I wasn’t born when the first two were released) but I still remember that my father had recorded the first three films of the saga on the spanish television on VHS.
I used to see them when my brother or I was messing around with the video player and the truth is that at the time I didn’t know much about the plot but I thought it was interesting what I saw and I was only clear about certain things that happened in the movies.
It wasn’t until much later, in 1999 specifically, when “Episode I: The Phantom Menace” premiered, an event I attended with my friends at the time at the cinema in my village. I remember being in line at the cinema with my friends and freaking out with someone who came cosplayed to that premiere (although honestly, I don’t remember what he was cosplayed of).
I liked the film quite a lot in its day due to the spectacular choreography of the combat scenes and the special effects that I found very well done in their day, although the political plot of the film I didn’t understand much, to be honest.
It was because of the interest in the original films was awakened in me, and as soon as I could, I watched them again to finally get to know the original plot of this story. That’s when I saw what made these films so special.
When Disney announced that they had acquired Lucasfilm and they were going to make a new trilogy of movies and three spin-offs, the little Star Wars geek that lived inside me got excited because, okay, the second trilogy hadn’t been bad, but to be honest it was a bunch of nonsense, bad performances and bad special effects even though they had certain commendable things, so a new series of movies made today and told the way stories are told in movies today, had a lot of possibilities. The feeling of being able to see good Star Wars movies came over me.
As soon as I saw the trailer of “Episode VII: The Force Awakens” I saw certain details, certain moments, that reaffirmed the sensations I experienced as soon as the new films were announced and increased the expectations I had for these films.
And the day of the premiere arrived.
I remember I asked to leave work early to go to the 3:00 pm session. I had lunch with my partner at McDonalds near the movie theater where we usually go, and then we went to watch the movie.
The feelings about the movie were a bit bittersweet. Despite of I liked the movie a lot, it couldn’t be denied that the movie was an undercover remake of the first movie of the original saga. I understood this like a tribute done to the original movie so I didn’t take it in account at the time of the rate the new movie which contained a lot of elements that I expected to find in it. The film presented, in my opinion, new interesting characters and new plots that had a lot of interest and great potential and that was enough for me to enjoy it.
This year, when “The Last Jedi” trailer was released, I didn’t have the same feelings I had with “The Force Awakens” trailer. The footage of the trailer was so trivial, didn’t thrill the viewer at all, it didn’t have effect for me. Anyway, I tried to not let the trailer influence me and when the movie premiered I went as if nothing had happened.
“This is not going to go the way you think…”
It’s what Luke said in the trailer. The rest of what I’m telling you is not going to like it.
“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” is a film that takes everything J.J. Abrams put in “The Force Awakens” and throws it away. That would be the overall summary of what I thought the movie was.
It’s been more than two weeks since I saw the movie and during this time I’ve read many reviews on the internet (especially on Twitter) from people who liked the film and much less opinions from people who didn’t like it. The general tone has been that people who have not liked it has been largely due to all the breaks with the original Lore and all the “sacrileges” that occur during the film footage. The declared “true fans” have even created a useless Change.org that requests Disney to not count this movie towards the canon. Well, if I have to say that there are many of these things that bothered me, I am not going to lie, this isn’t the main problem I have with the film.
That is to say, what does it matter that Luke Skywalker or Admiral Ackbar (origin of one of the best internet memes in history) die in this film (to name one example) if you have told us a good story? Well, that’s not the case.
The plot of “The Last Jedi” is absurd and ridiculous and is full of equally ridiculous situations that cause embarrasment and insult the intelligence of the viewer.
So many of you will say, “It’s Star Wars! The ships are making noise in space!”. Okay, yes, it’s an adventure movie and it doesn’t have to be rigorous in scientific aspects or the laws of physics and you can forgive certain things that can happen to “speed up” and enliven a story that is usually for all audiences, but what I can’t stand is being taken for a fool by presenting a series of situations that have no sense or any excuse for a minimally interesting story.
You might be tempted to mention, for example, that in “Return of the Jedi”, a handful of Ewoks are able to stand up to the Empire, and yes, I admit that’s rather ridiculous, but in this case, this situation manages to go unnoticed because the whole thing does.
And this is the main problem with this film. It presents a ridiculous situation as a basis and everything else that is shown is equally insulting so it is impossible not to take it into account.
The film begins like all Star Wars films (except for its, to date, only spin-off, “Rogue One”), with its typical perspective crawl text that introduce us to the story that is about to be told, and then shows us a shot of space that normally gives way to a space battle. In this case the camera descends from space to a nearby planet where we observe how the rebels are evacuating their base because the First Order has found them. This gives way to a comic scene starring Poe Dameron and General Hux that ends in the typical space battle with which Star Wars movies begin, as I mentioned before, resulting in a small failure for the rebels who lose all the bombers in the attack despite destroying an enemy destroyer on the spot.
At the end of this scene, the rebels manage to escape through hyperspace, but the First Order has a device that allows them to follow at light speed, so they’re screwed. Really? That’s the main plot of the movie?
And don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t bother me that you can follow the rebel fleet through the speed of light, I don’t care about that, it bothers me that Rian Johnson bases the whole plot on a little group of people chasing a little group of people for HOURS shooting at them. Because yes, gentlemen, the fleet of the First Order after reaching the rebels launch a first wave of Tie Fighters, they load all their defenses and their X-Wing and then they just chase them at a certain distance. What’s the point of all this? Send the Tie Fighters and kill them all! But no, why would you end a situation in a moment if you can drag it out for hours?
From here on, we are going wrong, because everything that can happen in the film is based on this meaningless premise and it doesn’t matter what you try to do with the rest of the situations because the basis is wrong.
Anyway, doing an exercise of self-conviction and trying to forget the initial premise, pay attention to the plan they elaborate to get rid of this “chase”: look for a hacker in who knows where to deactivate the beacon that allows them to follow them at the speed of light. Of course, since the bad guys are imbeciles and are chasing them “little by little” to kill them as soon as they run out of fuel (VERY CLEVER), they have time to go to Canto Bright and come back, it goes without saying that they do it while they are in the middle of the “chase”, and besides, by chance they manage to find a hacker in a cell who helps them escape from it and of course, he also knows how to decipher codes of a First Order ship. Bingo! And I repeat, all this would not be bad if the basis of the plot was not what it is. You could have done the same scene from Canto Bright but not on those terms.
And what do we do with the characters?
Regarding Rey: am I the only one who sees that the character has not evolved at all? That is to say, in the first movie of this saga she was already the fucking badass Jedi, in other words, they couldn’t teach her nothing about being a Jedi because she started doing Jedi mind tricks and moving objects from the distance without knowing nothing about the Force. It’s something that can be debatable and hard to believe but can be assumed as a “shortcut” to the script if it weren’t for the fact that the character’s evolution is null in this film.
Just when I thought they were going to give her a little more baggage by going down into the depths of Ahch-To, Luke’s island-planet, we discovered absolutely nothing about her, her past or her future as Rey herself relates when she tells to his “great” friend Kylo what she has experienced by going down there. It will surely be something that will be deepened in the next film but, I repeat again that the character had to evolve in this movie and not be a mere link between Luke and Kylo. What motivates Rey to do what he does? To end the First Order? To bring Kylo Ren to the light side? This was a film to answer all those questions and the only thing we got was no answer and despite of this we got some new enigma.
On the other hand, Kylo Ren, a villain who started out strong at the beginning of “The Force Awakens” ended up defeated and showed his weaker side. For me it was a mistake to show his face in the first film, because the mask was a symbol of intimidation and identity of the character, which I would have encouraged. In the first part, for me he was a kind of fanboy or space hipster who revered the “vintage” (Darth Vader) and paid homage to the helmet and suit worn by his grandfather because of his breathing difficulties.
Snoke makes fun of him, saying he’s just a kid with a mask, and he smashes the helmet like a repellent kid and leaves his fan side apart. A complete mistake in my opinion.
All these facts are placed to make us aware of one thing. Things in Star Wars are going to change and what is considered “canon” is no longer going to be. And I’m fine with that. You get sick of the fact that there always has to be a “Death Star” to destroy, or an “Empire” to defeat. That’s not unique, that’s already been done and the Star Wars universe can be better.
It doesn’t bother me that nothing is explained about Snoke, it doesn’t bother me that Captain Phasma is a character created only to sell toys, it doesn’t even bother me that Luke dies at the end.
It annoys me that when they finally decide to show that Leia is sensitive to the Force in every way, they do it in the most ridiculous way they could think of. It bothers me that Luke isn’t able to realize that Rey is doing “Skype” calls all through the movie with his archenemy. It bothers me that the casino plot adds absolutely nothing to the movie and could have been saved itself, it takes the viewer totally out of the movie considering the supposed “urgency” that the main plot feels at the beginning. It bothers me that Kylo Ren is getting more and more pathetic as a villain and that he can’t realize that he is facing an “hologram” of Luke (or “spiritual materialization”, as you like it better) at the end of the movie.
And I said before that I didn’t mind Luke dying, but the point is that he does under these circumstances. It bothers me that he gets killed in the end and that he gets killed that way, dying in the distance and not understanding exactly why, when he’s a character that for me could still give a lot more of himself.
So why not tell things about the characters presented in the previous film. There were many elements that were shown as flashbacks that could have been interesting.
For example, it would have been nice to see how Luke created the new Jedi school, under what circumstances Kylo began to be drawn to the dark side, etc.
The scene where the Knights of Ren? appear alongside Kylo himself in the rain in one of the Rey’s flashbacks, didn’t really have that potential? They could have perfectly dedicated half the film to the whole part of the planet-island, evolving the character of Rey and explaining the circumstances in which Kylo became what we know today. Of course, that would have taken away minutes of footage of shots in space or the inexcusable casino scene. Another reason to call someone sacrilegious and now I’m responsible, check it out.
And on second thought, perhaps the so-called Knights of Ren are the red clad “protectors” of Snoke’s hall? In the original trilogy it was certainly like that, the emperor had an entourage of warriors dressed in red, so it must have been like that. Wasn’t this something they could have gone into at some length? No, it’s another of the things Johnson dismissed from “The Force Awakens” and has not given it any importance.
From the first moment Luke throws his father’s lightsaber behind his back, it is clear to us that this is a complete statement of intent by the director to “throw away” all the ideas planted in the first part and his desire to tell “his story”.
On the other hand, what are Kylo Ren’s motivations after eliminating Snoke? Destroying the Resistance? Destroying Luke Skywalker? He’s already dead, so destroying Rey? Perhaps if you had told us why he turned to the dark side of the Force, we would have been clear. This movie is more like a transition movie from a trilogy than a final one. Besides, why create in this story the figure of Snoke, giving him all the power he’s supposed to have and then ridicule that power by making Kylo Ren capable of killing him? He’s a Skywalker, all right, but Rey beat him in his first lightsaber battle.
Respecto a Luke Skywalker, muchos han criticado que tras el fracaso con su sobrino se retirase como un ermitaño a un planeta aislado y a pesar de que yo no veo desacertada esa decisión no me gusta cómo se trata al personaje durante sus interacciones. Para empezar, según lo que nos dice Rey en su “primera lección”, se supone que Luke está completamente cerrado a la Fuerza pero acabamos de verle cazar un pez con una lanza de varios metros de altura tras dar un salto con una agilidad digna de un Jedi. ¿Para qué esta escena de lucimiento si me vais a decir luego que se ha cerrado a la Fuerza? ¿Qué pasa, Luke abre el “grifo de la Fuerza” cuando le conviene? ¿Y si esto se puede hacer o según el Lore creado por el señor Rian Johnson es automático en ciertas circunstancias (volver a los senderos de la Fuerza en cuanto se desee), a qué viene ese tono de sorpresa de Rey? Estas son las cosas que me cabrean y que no se tengan en cuenta a la hora de escribir una historia, sea Star Wars o sea David el Gnomo.
Regarding Luke Skywalker, many have criticized that after the failure with his nephew he retired as a hermit to an isolated planet and although I don’t see that decision as wrong but I don’t like how the character is treated during his interactions. To begin with, according to what Rey tells us in his “first lesson”, Luke is supposed to be completely closed to the Force but we have just seen him catch a fish with a spear several meters high after jumping with a Jedi agility. Why this scene of showiness if you are going to tell me later that he has closed himself to the Force? And if this can be done, or according to the Lore created by Mr. Rian Johnson is automatic in certain circumstances (return to the paths of the Force as soon as you want), why the tone of surprise of Rey? These are the things that piss me off and that are not taken into account when writing a story, be it Star Wars or anything else.
But not everything can be based on the characters
What about the political context of the universe in this film? It is very much in tune with the social criticism in Canto Bright and in the previous film they destroyed several planets with the StarKiller but it doesn’t seem that the First Order controls anything in this universe. That is to say, as I said before, it seems like a group of people chasing another, it doesn’t give the impression that there is oppression, fights between different factions and so.
A lot of you will say to me, “It has the same logic as the previous Star Wars or any other adventure movie.” No, I’m sorry. That argument doesn’t work for me when new films are being made and the primary intention is to wipe the slate clean with the original films.
I mean, I don’t care if the original Star Wars films were full of mistakes or inconsistencies (which, as I said, you don’t clearly notice because the whole thing accompanies you), it was another way of making films and they could have more or less resources to tell things, but today, all this cannot be justified. I ask myself: did you really not think of another way to tell this story? Are you not capable of inventing a story that is not plagued by implausible situations, not realistically but stylistically speaking?
Because there are many more, many more situations that I find insulting as a spectator and that I have not detailed out of boredom, and I am not referring to things like bombs from bombers “falling” on the enemy destroyer in space or Leia being able to survive minutes in space. I have already made it clear at the beginning of this article that these things are not and cannot be taken into account by anyone because of the free interpretation and rigor that these films make of these issues. When you create a fictional story and lay a foundation for it (like bombs can “fall” into space) you create “new” rules for that created story or universe. But if you sacrifice those rules and randomly break them when it suits you, the verisimilitude of the universe you just created is compromised. This overuse and abuse of the “Deus Ex Machina” is not at all justifiable.
“The greatest teacher, failure is.”
And despite all this hatred, there are good things in the film, however difficult it may seem.
We could start by making the viewer aware that in war there are many casualties and that it is not worth using any strategy to destroy an enemy ship if this will result in the loss of many units of their own. There is also the social criticism of the sale of weapons made against the rebels themselves (a social criticism that was already rightly seen in Rogue One) and above all one of the new characters introduced, Amilyn Holdo played by Laura Dern who has her crowning moment when she destroys the “mega-ship” of the First Order with her own ship, in my opinion one of the best scenes in the film and my favourite along with the fight scene in Snoke’s chamber (design of which I also liked very much).
On the other hand I like how the film approaches the “ambiguity” with which Rey approaches both sides of the Force without being afraid when he enters the dark side, which scares Luke. That’s a good theme to go deeper into the Star Wars universe because for me everything is not black or white, it can also be gray, and that’s Rey for me. It’s a shame they didn’t go deeper into this subject.
There’s also the issue that Kylo tells Rey that his parents were nobody and I think it’s good that she’s not a Skywalker, I wouldn’t see the point, so anyway Kylo may be lying to him perfectly.
The character of Rose has been quite criticized by some and revered by others. In my opinion, well, it is one more person in Star Wars, I don’t have an opinion formed about her because she participates in the plot of the casino that as I said before was completely superfluous, anyway her personality is fine and she is a character clearly, very teenager, to please a certain sector of the public.
In fact, the only thing that would save the casino’s plot would be BB-8, which gives rise to quite funny situations in all the cases in which it appears. Regards Finn, might not even be named.
We’ll see what the still unnamed “Episode IX” has in store for us, but I hope that at least the basis of the story isn’t as incredibly ridiculous as “The Last Jedi”.
You don’t know how helpless you feel when all the opinions you see of a movie or series are mostly favorable and those who see things wrong don’t agree with you. It especially bothers me that many of the people who have liked the movie get involved with the people who haven’t liked it, taking into account only details related to the origin of the saga, when what I see as bad in this movie has nothing to do with that.
If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you taking the time to read this tawdry article. I’m sorry I took so long, but even with all this writing I feel that I have things left in the inkwell that I would like to talk about at length.
Anyway, thanks for reading me.