I don’t need to convince anyone about how big of a Star Wars fan I am, how much I have been anticipating this movie, or how much I hate the fact that I’m going to have to rip it apart so I’ll cut to the chase.
I pretty much hated The Last Jedi.
Of course for those of you reading this article that follow me on social media that shouldn’t surprise you in the least. Despite my initial plan to wait to vent until I released this review I really couldn’t hold my frustration in and ranted about this film just about every day of opening weekend and beyond.
Of course my rants were just little blurbs of retching in disgust from the chaotic, disjointed, and absurd film that slogged on for two and a half hours leaving the taste of bantha poodoo in my mouth and the sinking feeling that Star Wars may be heading down a path that is breaking my heart–a path that I can’t follow.
What I’ve decided to do is break down one by one the individual reasons why I hated The Last Jedi so that once and for all you can see that there’s a method to my madness and that there are legitimate reasons as to why I consider this film to be the worst Star Wars film of all time.
Let’s do this:
Reason 1: The Force Awakens No Longer Matters
When the new saga kicked off with The Force Awakens I was ecstatic as was the rest of the civilized world. The idea of the saga continuing with an unlimited amount of possible story-lines to add continuity to the beloved original trilogy was an incredible prospect that brought so much hope and renewed vigor to the sleeping giant. After seeing it for the first time I was in full theorizing mode–my mind ablaze with all the different directions this film could take.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Well you just hated this new Star Wars because nothing went the way that you planned.”
That is not my reason why I hated it. What I hate is hanging on a cliff only to be dropped into a mediocre tangled cactus patch of insultingly mundane revelations that lack the fundamentals of depth, vision and intrigue. While TFA was not the greatest Star Wars movie by any means it at least gave fans something to cling on while we waited for the next installment– it provided good questions that demanded good answers. What we received in answer to the promises we were given was a incredibly convoluted and watered down crap shoot that left me listless, uninspired, and unimaginably bored.
The Road Trip Analogy
The best way to describe it is to compare it to your parents telling you to pack your things because they were taking you on a surprise road trip! Now obviously on the way the trip is not the greatest–you’re bored, you have to pee, and you’re starting to get a little carsick. However you’re happy to be along for the ride because you’re parents are promising that you’re going to be so thrilled and surprised when you get there. The thoughts start running through your head, “Are we going to the water park? Legoland? Disney World?”
You fall asleep as the journey drags on. Finally you hear you’re mom say, “All right, sweetie. Open your eyes!” You open them.
You’re in a parking lot.
You’re at the dentist.
That’s what The Last Jedi felt like. The Force Awakens doesn’t matter. The questions it posed were sloppily answered and cast aside. The build up and anticipation it promised was immediately snuffed out, and instead agendas, campy encroachments, and discontinuity were exalted to the point of utter disappointment and embarrassment. I’m thoroughly convinced that anyone could have watched The Last Jedi without seeing TFA and would have not been worse for the wear because none of it matters.
Reason 2: Plot Holes
Let’s be real. The plot of TLJ sucks. As alluded to in the last point there was so much that The Force Awakens pitched to Rian Johnson in terms of story direction, character development and intrigue and instead of knocking that pitch out of the park for a home-run, Johnson hit a foul ball that went somewhere…but nowhere important.
Other than the plot being uninspiring and unrecognizable as a Star Wars film at several points there are some pretty stupid plot holes that serve as circumstantial evidence to the sloppiness and slipshod treatment that this film endured. Some examples,
1. Admiral Holdo’s Plan
Not only does the Hunger Games lookin’ hyper feminist Admiral Holdo serve as one of the most annoying and unbearable characters in the film, but she also suffers from some sever lapses in logic. When Poe is questioning her seemingly ludicrous plan to plunge into deep space in order to reach the hidden rebel base while the First Order picks off Resistance transports one by one, she for whatever reason decides not to reveal the details of their plan–driving him and several members of the crew to commit mutiny. What would seriously be the harm in telling Poe, a respected Resistance pilot and hero, (despite his demotion) that she had a semi-viable contingency plan instead of luring him into the belief that she was an imebecile leading the Rebel fleet further into the jaws of impending doom? Because he’s an aggressive and dangerous “flyboy” that doesn’t deserve to be a partaker of her infinite knowledge and military acumen? Leaders inspire their subordinates–not sow seeds of doubt and mistrust.
2. Snoke’s Inadequacy to Sense His Own Doom
We’ll get to the character of “Snoke the Joke” soon but I want to talk specifically about his death and even more specifically about how he died. Given his feats during his short two film tenure, Snoke is incredibly powerful. He uses the Force effortlessly to yank people around (even through holograms) read minds, discern thoughts and intents of the consciousness, link Force sentient individuals, and yes, can even harness the power of Force Lightning. Given just a small taste of the power he possesses led many to believe (myself included) that he was certainly one of the more powerful Force users that we’ve seen in any of the Star Wars films Sith or Jedi alike In the the throne room scene as he apparently manipulating Kylo Ren to kill Rey after she refuses to join him (cough cough Return of the Jedi anyone?) he mentions that he can feel Kylo Ren’s every impulse and can sense his thoughts and intentions as well as the events that will lead to the continuous rise of the First Order and the fall of the Resistance. With all of this foreknowledge and intuition however, he fails to sense that Kylo Ren is secretly planning to sucker stab him with a lightsaber. So either Snoke is a liar (which he obviously isn’t being that his power is clearly demonstrated) or Rian Johnson decided it would be super cool to have an overconfident stereotypcial overlord meet his demise as a result of his own arrogance. The problem is he set Snoke up with so much power that his obliviousness to his doom is almost too ridiculous to sniff at.
3. Astral Projection Problems
Not only is the revelation that Luke is a astral projection one of the dumbest “deus ex machina” plot devices in all of Star Wars lore, it’s also quite inconsistent with how he’s portrayed before the revelation is granted to the audience. In the moments before Kylo Ren discovers he’s been fighting a fleshed out Force ghost (which is ludicrously laughable) we see Luke interacting with his environment in a way that a spirit or projection could not possibly do–leaving footprints, making sounds as his body interacts with the environment and even touching and holding physical objects such as Han’s dice. With every indication given that he is a walking incarnate version of himself the fact that he turns out to be a projection is a bait and switch that is as laughable as it is pathetic. We’ll talk more about Luke’s final moments in the Star Wars universe in just a moment.
4. Other Plot Problems
How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. These plot conventions weren’t necessarily holes but they were just plain stupid.
a. Luke On Ahch-To
Luke’s existence on Ahch-To (pronounced like a sneeze?) is so cringy and out of place that it’s more than worthy of a few facepalms. It was as depressing as it was unraveling to watch Rey follow Luke around while he makes an absolute fool of himself–milking the nipples of a hosenose bag of tits, stabbing a fish that looks like it came straight out of Pokemon Go! and tending to the island’s caretakers that were as disgraceful as they were unoriginal. For someone who came there to die, he sure does a lot of living…and filling his existence with rotary nonsense that breeds disrespect and discontent among fans who truly care about his character.
b. Finn and Rose…yawn
Finn, Rose, and the subplot with the weird little romance they had going on was as unnecessary and arduous as subplots go–a complete and utter waste of the alotted two hours and thirty minutes that the movie was given. The entire mission to find a master codebreaker on a Vegas-esque planet filled with characters from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while hashing over the dead horse of human slavery was such an out of reach caricature of basic plot development that, in most of their interactions I sensed very little Star Wars relation whatsoever. Finn’s showdown with Phasma was every bit as disappointing as the character of Captain Phasma herself–like Snoke a strawman of villainy that was so unintimidating and uninspiring that killing her off was more of a convenience than a victory.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet and you’re wondering which parts are good to go to the bathroom on, just wait for Rose and Finn to walk on the screen. Then you’re good to go for the next 20 minutes.
By the way if I were Finn I would have slapped Rose to the next galaxy for ruining my plan to bravely and sacrificially save the Resistance rather than dooming them through her interference.
c. Holdo’s Sacrifice
Holdo’s sacrifice (as cool as it was to see a ship ram another ship at hyperspace speed) was completely unnecessary. I get what Rian Johnson was trying to do by exalting women into heroic leadership roles but did he have to do it in a way that was completely counter-intuitive to logic? It had already been established that Holdo was second in command to Leia…so what if something had happened to Leia during the First Order’s attack? She would have had no trusted second in command because Holdo decided to something that any autopilot or droid could have done. That’s like Dwight D. Eisenhower ramming the machine gun nests on Normandy with a plane filled with explosives…it’s like…you do KNOW that anyone could have done that besides the operating leader of the entire Resistance, right?? Couldn’t have Admiral Ackbar done it?? Would have been a great send-off for a beloved character…especially one who has been proven to have brilliant strategical mind.
And now that we mention this why didn’t the fleet employ this strategy beforehand? They lost dozens of bombers trying to bring down a Dreadnaught. They could have just abandoned a transport and had it ram into the Dreadnaught at lightspeed. But I digress…
d. Princess Leia’s Survival (Mary Poppins)
I’m pretty sure that even people who LIKED TLJ complain about this scene so I won’t exercise redundancy here. It was lame, it pulled on zero heartstrings, and it’s completely unprecedented. I’m pretty sure not even the most powerful of Jedi could have done that, much less a reasonably Force-sensitive human with little to no training. Utter bollocks.
Reason 3: Abuse and Misuse of Major Characters
For all of The Force Awakens flaws it at least gave us exciting prospects and questions to observe and look into…especially the fate of the new saga’s characters. The Last Jedi basically destroyed those expectations in shameful fashion…
A. Snoke the Joke…
Talk about a letdown. I’ll be honest…I never liked Snoke from the beginning. One of my early review of TFA was that he was by far the worst part…a direct knockoff of an orc from Lord of the Rings with a toy box name and a rehashed persona. Granted I was (like everyone else) curious as to his origins, his knowledge of the Force, his age, and the source of his power. Not only were none of these questions answered but he was killed in such an anti-climatic fashion that it makes me wonder how that kind of drastic and rash decision to kill off a central character in such a lazy cop out ever got approved. As mentioned in a previous point it was obvious that he was highly adept in the Dark Side and his perceived age would have put him during the time of the Clone Wars or perhaps even the Old Republic which is why many theorized that he was Darth Plageuis. But none of it matters now because despite all his power and potential he died like a punk and we’ll never know or bother to care why the biggest fall guy in all of Star Wars mattered.
The False Darth Maul Analogy
Don’t you dare compare Snoke’s disappointing death to Darth Maul’s! Maul, as cool as he was had no dynamic pitch as a villain that would carry the prequels to any type of expected conclusion. We knew there was Vader and the Emperor to come so a mere apprentice getting disemboweled was not the most disappointing thing in the world in terms of story. Was anyone disappointed when Grevious died or Jango Fett? Of course not. It’s recognized that these were tertiary characters that served a means to an expected end. Snoke turned out to be nothing more than a DEAD end.
See what I did there?
B. Luke Skywalker
Apparently director Rian Johnson claims to be a huge Star Wars fan and claims that deciding on how to kill off Luke Skywalker was a decision that he wrestled with on the daily. Yet for some reason Luke Skywalker was treated with utmost disrespect and disregard for his character, his legacy, and even Mark Hamil himself. In fact it’s reported the Mark Hamil was initally displeased with Rian Johnson’s choice and informed him that he was not portraying the character in the way that Hamil would have wanted. Granted later he recanted that statement but still… how low do you have to be to take the face of Star Wars and his comments on the character and just throw him to the wind?
Let’s face it…Luke’s death was unnecessary, uninspiring, and unbearable to witness as the greatest of all Star Wars characters in terms of heroism and virtue died like a bum. For him to face his apprentice in a Astral projection form (which is the biggest deus ex machina convenience one could ever conceive) giving the appearance of sacrifice for no real cause when really he just gave up from exhaustion is one of the most sloppy and ridiculous ways for a character of his stature to go out–not to mention he died still bitter towards the Jedi Order that he swore to protect.
His sacrifice was essentially in vain…the Resistance could have escaped without his “diversion” and he could have stayed alive to continue to train Rey and form a new Order of balance in the Force. Instead he gave himself up and floated away as a disgruntled, blue milk sucking, tired old man…it should be a slap in any Star Wars fan’s face. Skywalker faded into obscurity–just like every other remnant of Lucas’s galaxy as Disney forges it’s own direction, leaving the foundations of greatness behind.
Rey and Kylo’s mind connection in which the nuance of “Force Skype” is presented as a loosely constructed plot device to rush a confrontation of ROTJ proportions without any of the build up. When we learn that Snoke was setting up the mind bridge as a trap to convince them that their bond was something even more meaningful than it was just to lure Rey in is another “deus ex machina” plot construct that is just as convenient as it is insulting. Rey’s motivation to convert Kylo to the lightside is severely lacking in forethought, necessity, and common sense. To believe that Ren could have been turned just by convincing him that Luke’s attempt to kill him was a misunderstanding is only a typical device of a screenwriter that is trying to cram a titanic conflict into a small window without all the necessary build up to make Rey’s efforts motivated and important.
Obviously I think everyone was a little disappointed with Rey’s parentage reveal. I don’t mind the fact that they were nobodies…some think that Kylo was lying and that her true parentage will be revealed later. I think the important question to ask here is how would Kylo know who her parents are? Because he could sense it? Or is there something deeper here? Yes, he asks the right questions to cause her to admit that her parents were no one important but it could mean that he does know who her parents are and is purposely concealing it. Of course what’s the point of theorizing right? These movies have no continuity after all….
D. The Force
Yes, the Force is a character in Star Wars and it’s in every single one the films. In fact just like it binds the universe together it also binds the films together. In The Last Jedi the Force is so mistreated an abused that it’s almost laughable–in fact it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. Here are some examples of how the Force was abused in TLJ
1. Astral projection. Yes it may happen in The Clone Wars but in this film it was used a convenient loophole to try to mindscrew the audience but instead was a letdown that served as a cheap outlet to kill off a major character with no stakes, conviction, or climax.
2. Force Skype where communication is no longer through intuitive feelings but rather through sight and touch. When you then consider that Snoke orchestrated this powerful connection unbeknownst to the users shows that Rian Johnson used the power or magic of the Force to make all his dreams come true and fill all the holes in his plot.
3. Luke being able to read and interpret Kylo’s dreams ventures into the realms of telepathy rather than the connection with the Force to sense feelings and intents. Once again another example of bending the Force to accomplish whatever you damn well please.
4. Rey’s lifting of the boulders in front of the cave exit with little effort is preposterous. The extent of Rey’s training being two lessons and some natural propensities by no means dictates that she can perform such a feat without some severe effort and concentration. Think how hard it was for Master Yoda to lift an X-Wing, a pillar, or pieces of stone ceiling. The Force is to be used through concentration and mental strength…not by wantonly waving your hand and getting crap done. Cheap theatrics, folks. Cheap theatrics.
5. Using the Force to survive the vacuum of space after a deathly explosion and propelling oneself back the hull. Unprecedented, ridiculous, and inconsistent.
Reason Four: Humor
Disney is known for this so I won’t beat it over the head. But the humor in this flick was pretty juvenile and cheesy but the main issue was that it was overdone. While Star Wars is meant to be enjoyed for many reasons it’s also a film that should be taken with a certain degree of maturity. The over simplification of the plot through forced humor is one of the greatest scruples that can tarnish a legacy and the expectations of tone.
Reason Five: Political Agendas
Most people won’t pick up on this but Disney and Rian Johnson are using Star Wars as a marketing platform to not just sell merchandise but to also sell agendas. The left wing emphases on feminism, extreme multiculturalism, and the economics run rampant through the film–I mean for heaven’s sake…the entire casino scene is a commentary on evil capitalism and the exploitation of the poor by the rich. Admiral Holdo’s disparity with Poe serves no greater purpose than to assert woman’s authority over men…there’s no reason for Holdo to hate Poe other than the stereotypes she uses to define him. It’s reverse sexism at it’s finest. The anti-American agendas and comparisons are rife in the film and should be noted.
Things I Liked
The movie wasn’t all bad…here’s a list of things that I liked.
- The space battles were creative and interesting.
- John William’s score was as incredible and emotional as always.
- The last battle on Crait was entertaining and visually spectacular.
- Kylo Ren is beginning to establish himself as a respectable villain.
- Daisy Ridely is a star. She has a excellent grip on her character.
- The movie has some beautiful cinematic moments
Granted the good in this film is vastly outweighed by the bad but it’s a good practice to see the rose through the thorns. And not this Rose…
The main thing that puzzles me is the incredible amount of polarity this movie possesses. When I left the theater with the nine of the friends that I had invited along, we were mostly in agreement that the film was rather disappointing. A few of my friends said that they enjoyed it with one saying he would need time to process and perhaps see it again. I thought for certain though, that despite the overwhelming number of positive critic reviews that true fans of the Star Wars saga would rise up and condemn the film for what it is–a catastrophic standalone from left field that does a great disservice to the legacy and integrity of one of the greatest film sagas of all time. But a great many of my friends–friends who I have known for a long time and that I can vouch for as being true fans of the franchise had overwhelmingly positive things to say.
I was quite confused. Was I duped somehow into seeing a different film–the unedited director’s cut or something? Am I in an alternate dimension where Star Wars Episodes I-VII never happened and this is now the standard of greatness when it comes to the sci-fi space opera genre? Am I a grumpy old man who has lost the magic of what it means to involve oneself in the adventure of a lifetime spanning planets, galaxies, creatures, and heroes from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?
The polarization of this film is undeniably present. The audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes are the lowest for any Star Wars film to date and the film has the worst week to week box office performance out of any Star Wars Film. The evidence is quite telling. Fans are extremely divided over this film which begs the question…why?
There appears to be two camps when it comes to this film–first there’s the Lucas purists who don’t like the discrepancies, discontinuity, and the overall new direction Disney is taking.
I call them conservatives.
The other camp is the group of fans that are excited about the change, how the filmed defied expectations, and adopt Lucas’s universe as a living organism that is free to be changed and adapted.
I call them progressives.
Whoa…is this what Star Wars has become? An alternate political arena divided into two sects of thought and ideals? A microcosm of the division that has infiltrated society and continues to run rampant in our culture? Or is it just a movie?
Most people would say it’s the latter and perhaps they’re right…but one thing is for certain–The most notable accomplishment of Rian Johnson and The Last Jedi is that he has managed to divide one of the largest cinematic fan-bases of all time into a conflict that can have no clear victor–a Civil War that will rage on for eons to come. Maybe it’s not that cut and dry. But The Last Jedi has some serious issues that cannot be overlooked and cannot be readily forgiven.
Daily Diatribe Rating: 4.7 out of 10