With the biggest movie of the year hitting theaters today, I thought we’d talk about it a little bit more in-depth. This review will be filled with spoilers, so if you’d like to check out my 100% spoiler-free review, you can click right HERE. After you see the movie, or if you’ve seen it already, feel free to continue on and join the conversation about The Last Jedi! It’s a little bit difficult to write a spoiler-free review sometimes because major plot points tend to be the things that I either love or hate, so without further ado, let’s spoil everything about Star Wars: The Last Jedi!
I’ve now seen the film twice, and as a whole, I love it, so I’ll start off by talking about some things that I absolutely adored. The Last Jedi gave me some of my favorite Luke moments in the entire saga. Luke had some incredible moments in the original trilogy, but when I look back on one of my favorite movie characters of all time in Luke Skywalker, the fight with Kylo is going to come to mind. I actually loved the comedy in the film, and one of the best moments was when Luke brushed his shoulder after being shot at by walkers, and seeing him as an actual master of The Force is something I’ve always wanted to see on-screen. I also loved the actual fight between Luke and Kylo. Rian Johnson shoots and choreographs action so beautifully, and we always know what’s happening. I fully understood both Luke’s and Kylo’s motivation and emotion. Kylo is fighting out of anger and the fear of betrayal while Luke fights because he has finally found peace and acceptance, and it doesn’t take words to convey that. I can’t say that I wanted Luke to die, but seeing him go the way that he did, becoming one with The Force and disappearing into it, similarly to Obi-Wan, was as satisfying as a Luke Skywalker death gets. I’m sure he’ll be back as a Force ghost, but seeing a character that has spanned 40 years of nerd-time come to a physical end hit my emotions like a ton of bricks, and the final look into the two suns was the perfect sendoff.
I also loved his relationship with Rey. Again, the small bit of comedy in those scenes worked really well for me. Seeing that things haven’t been well for Luke was a little bit frustrating, but it’s also the difficult way out for Rian Johnson and the crew. It would have been easy for Johnson to have Rey hand Luke the lightsaber then instantly fly them back to the Resistance in the Falcon and mow down some Storm Troopers. Instead, Johnson gave Luke layers and refused to give us that easy fan-service in favor of character-depth and story. I think it was a risky decision, but I loved how it payed off. I also loved his interactions with Yoda. The Last Jedi did a lot of exploring with The Force. Really, The Force is almost the greatest deus ex machina of all-time, but this movie gives it purpose, experience, and history, so it never bothers me. I loved seeing that Yoda is still the one with all the answers. Even though Luke is a Jedi Master, he still looks up to Yoda and his abilities, and I enjoyed seeing the practical puppet that looks so much better than the CG Yoda from the prequels. Also on Luke’s island, which I now know is called Ahch-To, were porgs. I don’t have much to say about them other than that I thought they were used perfectly. They’re unimportant enough that I had no gripes with them in the story, and I thought they provided great moments of comedy.
Another one of my favorite scenes was the scene with Snoke, Rey, and Kylo Ren in Snoke’s throne room. I was absolutely shocked to see Snoke die, but I think it was the best thing the film could have possibly done for Kylo Ren. It’s perfectly set-up by Rian Johnson with a perfectly choreographed fight sequence following, and it’s one of those moments that dropped my jaw as a Star Wars fan. Before I go any further, I have to say that Snoke looked so much better in The Last Jedi than he did in The Force Awakens, so I’m a bit sad that we won’t get to see him anymore. I do wish we would have been given a bit more depth from the character, but it’s not like we were ever promised more. It was fans who came up with the theory that Snoke was Darth Plagueis or that Snoke had been someone else, but the movies never told us that he would be more. We don’t get much depth from the Emperor in the original trilogy because it was fully committed to Vader as the main villain, and we knew everything we needed to know about Darth Sidious. This trilogy seems to be even more committed to Kylo Ren as the main villain, and I’m glad that Kylo has been given depth. Kylo might have been my favorite character in the film, and he stole the show every single time he was on-screen. I loved that internal battle, and seeing him showcase his emotions only makes me love him more. Adam Driver murders the performance, and I love that we have a flawed and conflicted villain. It makes him so much more interesting, and seeing how he feels about Rey only made that relationship easier for me to invest myself into. I might be in the minority with this opinion, but I also loved when it was revealed that Rey’s parents were junk traders. It’s almost a slap in the face to everyone who tried to draw conclusions as to who Rey’s parents were. We raise our expectations for things that are never promised, then we’re disappointed when those expectations fall flat. I think it gives Rey so much more depth, gives her a lot more to work with, and expands this huge Star Wars universe, so I’m very happy with that answer.
As much as I loved Poe already, I love him even more after The Last Jedi, and he has a drastic arc in this film alone. We open with a scene of comedy from him, which is true to his character, and Oscar Isaac delivers that dialogue really well. I know that we saw just how great of a pilot he is in The Force Awakens, but I’ll never get sick of seeing masters perform their craft. The opening action sequence is the kind of sequence that further solidifies why Poe is the best pilot in the Resistance, but it also showcases his flaws. He might be the best at flying and shooting, but he has no idea when to take his foot off the gas and remain satisfied. He has a one-track mind that only sees things that he wants to see, and throughout the film, he wants to jump in an X-wing and blow stuff up. I even loved how was wrong every single time he made a decision throughout the movie until the end. One of the best quotes in the movie is when Yoda tells Luke, “the greatest teacher, failure is.” Poe, among many other characters in this movie, fails, then fails, then fails again until he finally gets it right and decides to retreat to the back of the cave instead of fighting the First Order. Leia finally sees that Poe has become a better leader and understands what’s good for the greater whole.
That brings us to Leia. Carrie Fisher might have given her best performance as Leia in The Last Jedi, and I finally understand why she is such a highly touted leader. I assumed that she may have been given the role simply because of her involvement in taking down the Empire, but seeing her as a respected master strategist in this film was amazing. I also loved seeing her use The Force. We know that Leia is Force-sensitive, but we’ve never seen her use it the way she does in this movie. Is it a little bit weird when she sort of floats her way back to life? Yes, it’s a little bit weird, but I loved that the movie showcased her strength in The Force and her inner fight. We’ve always known that Leia wasn’t the type of female antagonist to wait for Han to save her. She was going to pick up a blaster and fight her own way out of a situation, and in The Last Jedi, she saves herself. I think that there could have been other ways to show exactly how powerful she is, maybe even ways that could have saved Admiral Ackbar, but I’ll settle for what Rian Johnson decided to give us.
Now to get to a few things I didn’t love about the film. I think that if Finn’s arc was deleted from the movie, it probably would have helped the story as a whole. The entire time he and Rose were on Canto Bight, I checked out. It’s sending a good message, and it’s a message that I think we can all get behind when it comes to animal cruelty, but it doesn’t belong in the story whatsoever. I thought that their arc felt more like an episode of The Clone Wars than a subplot of a saga movie. I don’t mind the character of Rose, and I thought that Kelly Marie Tran gave a great performance, but the story that she fell into with Finn felt so forced, unimportant, and out-of-place. It didn’t even feel like the same movie. I get what the filmmakers were going for with Finn’s character progression, but when it comes time to finally see what has become of that progression, Rose wipes it all away with a completely unearned moment of romance. I love Finn as a character. I loved seeing his side of the story as a Storm Trooper who didn’t agree with the First Order’s methods. That being said, I would have loved to have seen him die at the end of the film. In both The Force Awakens and in The Last Jedi, Finn has sort of been caught in the middle. He never wanted to fight for the Resistance. He simply wanted no part in the fight at all. He has been trying to escape this entire time, but he keeps getting thrown back into the mix. I would have loved to have seen him go from someone who couldn’t wait to get away from the war to someone who would pay the ultimate price to see the soldiers of the Resistance live another day. His fight with Phasma could have been an exceptional turning point for him, but instead it felt wasted to me. I was also disappointed with Phasma. I thought we’d get more of her, and I’m sad to see so little from Gwendoline Christie. From the looks of it, Phasma ranked pretty high in the First Order’s hierarchy of power. She might have been fourth of fifth. She still gets no attention and seems like a toy-seller rather than an actual character.
Sticking to Finn’s storyline, I also didn’t care for DJ, played by Benicio Del Toro. Benicio Del Toro gave a fine performance, but it was a performance that didn’t belong in the movie whatsoever. I think that his character was intended to be one of those standouts that everyone walked out of the theater surprisingly loving, but it totally backfired, and some of his dialogue is so awkward and clunky to me. It was also just about the luckiest thing in the world for Finn and Rose to stumble upon a person in prison who just so happened to be able to perform a job that only one other person could perform. I guess that entire subplot would have been for nothing if they were locked in a cell with any other prisoner in the galaxy. I also wasn’t aware that Poe and Maz Kanata were close enough that Poe could call her and ask for advice the way he did. It seemed like a cheap way to get Maz into the movie. I also would have loved to have seen more from Holdo. She definitely had a story as Poe pointed out when stating that she wasn’t what he expected, but we never really get any of that story. She remains mysterious and sort of flat. I will give her props for how she flew her cruiser into the First Order’s ship. On top of being insanely cool, it was one of the best technical moments of the year. Maybe we’ll get more from her in a novel, but I shouldn’t have to read the novels for this type of character depth.
Even with it’s issues, I still love this movie, and I plan on giving it a couple more looks before it leaves theaters, then adding it to my Blu-ray collection where I can watch it over and over again, and I’m sure I’ll find more to talk about, positively and negatively. I think it provided some of the best character moments in the entire saga, and it fleshed out our new characters. I was profoundly affected emotionally by multiple scenes, and I was genuinely shocked by a ton of the narrative choices, both for this movie and for the trilogy as a whole. It’s tough to shock audiences with stories anymore. We’re so used to being spoon-fed similar story after similar story, so I’m very happy with how many risks and chances The Last Jedi took. It’s the most unconventional Star Wars movie we’ve seen so far, and I can appreciate that all by itself. I can’t wait to see Episode IX, and I can’t wait to see Rian Johnson’s trilogy.
What did you think of The Last Jedi? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! This is a spoiler-filled review, so go ahead and fire away in the comments! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!