Coming off the successes of The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I had high hopes for Star Wars – The Last Jedi. Great characters were introduced in Episode VII, and the ending left it open to a lot of different possibilities. Did it live up to them? Yes and no.
Rey (Daisy Ridley) is trying to convince Luke (Mark Hamill) to train her as a Jedi. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is trying to find out where Luke is hiding so he can go kill him. The Resistance—led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher)—is trying to escape annihilation by the First Order—led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). There is a lot of trying in this film.
I liked the dynamic that developed between Rey and Kylo in The Last Jedi. The dialogue didn’t always work, but I could tell they were developing a respect for each other. That’s not to say that either trusts the other, but the respect was there. I think both actors (especially Kylo) grew into their roles here, establishing themselves more firmly in the world of Star Wars. They both felt more mature this time around. It left me guessing what might happen next with each of them, at least to a degree. I found Rey very earnest in wanting to find out details of her past and also learn the ways of the Force.
The battle scenes were very well done, paced well, and exciting. However, there was all sorts of stretching of the laws of physics going on, even with things already established in the other films. For instance, it was a bit odd to see the First Order “lobbing” laser blasts at the Resistance ships. The whole scene with Leia and the destruction of the bridge was very far fetched. That, and a few other things, gave the feeling this was in the Guardians of the Galaxy universe rather than the Star Wars universe.
Then we come to the military leadership of the Resistance. Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) just didn’t work as a character in The Last Jedi. She projected arrogance and contempt for everyone instead of the confidence and experience needed for an admiral. It was as if the people writing it had no experience with anything military. Her dress was very out of place, too, looking more like she was ready to paint the town red during an exciting evening. How did she get to be a vice admiral?
Holdo exhibiting pointed indifference to the concerns of her very experienced subordinates, and refused to let them in on her plans. Yes, admirals have to make hard decisions, but they tend to make better decisions when they listen to the counsel of all those experienced officers and crew. With so few Resistance members left, there was no valid reason to withhold her plans from Poe and everyone else. All that did was add unnecessary drama.
The Resistance wasn’t alone in having odd leadership choices in The Last Jedi. General Hux doesn’t elicit confidence from his subordinates, and he doesn’t exude competence. How he became (and continued to be) a leader in the First Order escapes me. Then again, after all the build-up to how powerful Snoke was in The Force Awakens, he was a bit of a let-down here. Not at all as imposing as he seemed. He should have stuck to the holograms.
The pacing and plotting was very loose throughout the film. There really weren’t any unnecessary scenes, but many of them could have been shortened in order to make the pacing flow more clearly and quickly. Additionally, instead of finding clever twists in the film, I felt like the script writers were purposely withholding necessary information in order to pull off a few “gotcha” moments that failed to work. A final, really solid edit of the film could have fixed these issues.
Even with those problems (and the obsession with red), I enjoyed the film. It is not a great film, but it was still entertaining. I want to see it again so I can understand it better now that I know the general storyline. I look forward to seeing Star Wars – The Last Jedi again and owning a copy once it comes out on home video.
Release Date: December 15, 2017 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Language: 1 (brief, minor, deity)
Sexuality: 0 (though there is a kiss)
Violence: 3 (space and other battles, some brutal violence, death, mostly non-graphic)