WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE LAST JEDI IN THIS POST
It’s become a tradition on this website for the first “regular” writing piece of the year to be related to Star Wars due to the fact that Star Wars movies have been coming out in December lately and I oftentimes don’t see them until early January. This past December we got the eighth mainline entry in the series with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. More so than any past Star Wars movie, (at least in my mind) The Last Jedi has been very divisive. It seems like people either think it’s the greatest film since Citizen Kane, or they think it’s a travesty on par with the worst elements of the Prequel Trilogy. I saw The Last Jedi in late December and afterwards had a lot of opinions that I wanted to publish right away, but I thought it best to wait and see the movie a second time before sitting down and typing out my thoughts. Earlier this month I watched The Last Jedi again, and after doing some more thinking I’ve had some of my opinions changed, while others were reinforced.
Overall I’m slightly more positive than negative on The Last Jedi. I enjoyed my experience both times that I saw it and emerged out of the theater still a Star Wars fan after both viewings. That said I do have some problems with it. Some of these issues are minor things that aren’t too big of a deal while others are truly significant flaws. Below are my thoughts on a selection of things I found problematic to varying degrees about The Last Jedi. Certainly there are more things to talk about than what I’ve listed, but I don’t want to go crazy on this writing piece so I won’t go through every last thing on my mind.
When did DJ betray Finn and Rose?
I, like some others, was confused as to exactly when DJ betrayed Finn and Rose to the First Order. It’s a minor point, but even after a second viewing of the movie I’m not entirely sure when it happens.
The green milk scene
This scene wasn’t so much bad, as it was just gross and weird. I didn’t need to see this. At the very minimum it would have been good for Rey to say something like “That’s disgusting!” when she sees Luke milking the alien sea cow. Alternatively, we could cut the scene entirely and just have Luke say that the island’s nuns keep him fed.
Leah’s superman-style space flight
Much like the green milk scene, Leah’s space flight could have been handled better. I don’t have a problem with Leah suddenly using the Force to pull herself through space and back into the ship (she is a Skywalker, after all, so it’s reasonable to think she has some level of Force abilities) but the scene is filmed very awkwardly and ought to have been redone. A better way this scene could have been handled would be for Kylo Ren to push her back to the ship. We saw just moments before Leah was blown out into space that Kylo couldn’t bring himself to kill her, so just show him using the Force to push her and we both solve the problem and add to the story of Kylo’s conflicted feelings.
Vice Admiral Holdo not telling Poe (or hardly anyone else) her plan
This was a really stupid decision on Holdo’s part. Yes, Poe is a loose canon who made a very bad decision that costs the Resistance their entire bomber fleet and Holdo is rightfully angry with him, but one of the most basic rules for dealing with people who are loose cannons is that you don’t keep them in the dark about your plans. Doing so almost guarantees that they will exhibit even worse loose cannon behavior, which is exactly what happens in the movie. Whereas I can let Hux’s mistakes slide because he’s clearly portrayed as a bad commander, Holdo is supposed to be built up as a strong female lead but her decisions would have you question that. In the movie Holdo says that she’s dealt with people like Poe in the past, and I wonder if she made the same mistake with them too.
The Resistance’s choice of bombers
Seriously, why does the Resistance use these morbidly obese bombers? They’re slow, lumbering hulks that are easily destroyed and for some reason are flown in close enough formation that blowing up one means that another will get taken out too. Why isn’t the Resistance using updated versions of either the Y-Wings or the B-Wings?
I wanted to like Rose—I really did. One of the things I enjoyed about The Force Awakens was its theme that anyone could rise to be a hero and Rose could have been a fine continuation of this theme, except that she’s incredibly annoying and very poorly written. She’s so awful that she manages to drag Finn down with her, reducing him from hero back down to zero. Also, the little romantic bit between her and Finn in the final part of the movie seems to come out of nowhere (and personally angered me, though that’s merely because I had already shipped Finn and Rey).
Luke trying to kill young Kylo Ren
While I’m willing to accept most of the character changes that were made to Luke in The Last Jedi, this one I can’t get past. It simply makes no sense that Luke, a man who went to the extremes that he did to redeem Darth Vader, would somehow snap and try to kill his student after sensing that Snoke was starting to corrupt him.
The implications of Holdo’s kamikaze attack
Why has no one ever thought to do this before? While very cool, I’m afraid that Holdo executing a hyperspace jump directly into the First Order flagship means that from now on it’s going to have to be explained why the Resistance doesn’t repeat the tactic. If a cruiser can cut Snoke’s gargantuan ship in half, (and damage nearby ships with the wreckage) then it’s reasonable to think that smaller ships can be equally effective on the First Order’s fleet of Star Destroyers. The First Order’s military advantage in terms of warships can be made completely irrelevant with a few kamikaze strikes, and it shouldn’t be hard for the Resistance to find some volunteers to sacrifice themselves to bring down their evil enemy. Or, if the Resistance really doesn’t want to sacrifice anyone doing this, then they could pilot their ships remotely or equip them with some sort of autopilot program.
Finn and Rose’s completely worthless plotline
The plotline went nowhere and the movie would have been better served if it was just cut altogether and replaced with something worthwhile, like a plotline giving us more story for characters like Phasma, Snoke, or the (strangely absent) Knights of Ren. I don’t have a problem with the fact that Finn and Rose’s mission was an utter failure—just change the mission to something that induces fewer face palms. Had Holdo told Poe what she was planning none of it would have happened.
I knew Luke was going to die at some point in this new trilogy, but this isn’t quite the way I would have picked. Shortly after giving us what just might be the most badass Jedi moment in all of the movies, Luke (on a completely different planet) vanishes into the air in the style of Obi-Wan and Yoda. I get that Luke was overexerting himself in projecting his presence across the galaxy, and Kylo stated the danger of doing so in an easily missable line of dialogue earlier in the movie, but this wasn’t the heroic death he deserved. Instead of going out like this, I would have Luke collapsing from exhaustion but with a smirk on his face (knowing he pulled off the greatest Jedi mind trick ever) and then give him a proper death in the next movie.
A missed opportunity to really shake things up
The Last Jedi seems to be a movie about subverting Star Wars traditions, but it missed an opportunity to really shake things up. After Kylo and Rey team up to take down Snoke’s personal guards, there’s a moment where it looks like one or both characters could have a major change, but instead they both stick to their expected roles. How earth shaking would have it been if one or both of them changed sides, or if they decided to forsake both the Jedi and the Sith and go down a new path together?