A few thoughts on The Last Jedi


I saw The Last Jedi on Sunday night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I honestly don’t understand some of the criticisms it has gotten. In fact, some of the things it’s been criticized for are things I enjoyed about it. For me, it’s among the Top 3 Star Wars movies alongside The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope.1

That said, like any movie, it’s not perfect.2 There were things about it that didn’t wow me or just downright confused me. And certainly things that could have (and maybe should have?) been handled differently.

It should probably go without saying that there are MAJOR SPOILERS for The Last Jedi in this. So, if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want anything ruined, I’d suggest reading something else. Maybe this. Or this. Or even this (it’s Star Wars related). Regardless, this is your last chance to avoid MAJOR SPOILERS.

Still here? Great. This isn’t a review of the movie so much as it’s a few thoughts about what I liked or disliked about it. So, without further ado…

Things I Didn’t Like and/or Understand

The “Super Leia” scene: At one point in the movie, the ship Leia is on is attacked by The First Order and the bridge is blown up, sucking her and the rest of the crew out into space. Except Leia somehow survives and “flies” to safety on another ship. I think the scene is meant to show that she has a strong connection to the Force but I just thought it was confusing. Previously, her connection to the Force was shown as really just a connection with Luke but this is an order of magnitude far greater than anything we’ve seen before. There’s nothing to suggest it was possible and no explanation for it after the fact. If they needed her out of commission for a while (which they did), they could have just had an explosion on the bridge without the whole “suck everyone out into space” thing.

The Finn/Rose casino scenes: I like the idea of this subplot but not the way it turned out. It gave Finn something worthwhile to do but I feel like it dragged on unnecessarily. The escape scene on the cat-like horses was a little too reminiscent of the Pod Racing scene in The Phantom Menace in that it went on too long and didn’t really add anything to the movie.

Benicio Del Toro: I’m not exactly sure how to express this but he just didn’t work for me. At all. I think he’s a little too high profile of an actor to have what amounted to an extended cameo. And the stutter just made him hard to understand. I wanted subtitles every time he spoke.

Laura Dern: I’m not exactly sure how to express this but she just didn’t work for me (though I liked her better than I did Del Toro). I think she’s a little too high profile of an actress to have what amounted to an extended cameo. And this is major hindsight given Carrie Fisher’s death but I think it would have been better to have her character’s arc swapped with General Leia’s arc. That way Leia goes out as a hero and Holdo (Dern’s character) becomes the new leader of the Resistance. Speaking of Holdo…

One ship takes out multiple star destroyers? When Holdo sacrifices herself to give the Resistance time to escape, she aims the Resistance transport ship so that it would take out Snoke’s massive ship in the process. Which was a very cool move. But it seems like that move somehow also took out seven or eight Star Destroyers that were near Snoke’s ship. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what happened but it just didn’t make sense to me.

The lonesome death of Captain Phasma: Maybe this is another example of me being disappointed in a character’s arc because of who the actor is but I feel like Gwendolyn Christie was just wasted in these two movies. She’s such a great actress and Phasma had potential to be a great character but she just didn’t have enough to do. Maybe if Phasma was played by a nobody (the way Boba Fett was in the original trilogy), her death wouldn’t have been such a disappointment.

Again with the Maz Kanata: This seems like a character that was shoe-horned in just for the sake of shoe-horning her in. Though my feelings are probably colored by the fact that I’m still bitter that her role in The Force Awakens could have easily gone to Lando Calrissian. Speaking of…

Still no Lando Calrissian: What does it take to get Billy Dee Williams back in these movies?

Things I Liked

I’m holding for General Hux: A lot of people have criticized the humor in the film but I thought it was great. I loved the opening scene where Poe Dameron gets General Hux “on the phone” and just absolutely trolls him. That was unexpectedly brilliant. Though not every joke was a hit. I could have done without Luke brushing the dust off his shoulder during his confrontation with Kylo Ren on the salt planet.

Luke Skywalker: Another point of criticism for some has been the characterization of Luke Skywalker in this movie. He is at turns sarcastic and caustic and has no interest in training Rey or continuing the Jedi order. And I can totally buy into that version of the character. I thought they did a great job showing why he’s become that way and why he’s made the choices he’s made. He had a major moment of weakness when training Ben Solo and doesn’t really trust himself or the idea of the Jedi anymore. And I can understand his thought that maybe the best thing to do after all that is nothing because he believes that it’s possible he could make it worse.

Luke’s Grand Finale: Even with that criticism, when Luke does finally show up to “save the day,” people are also disappointed that they didn’t get a “real” showdown between he and Kylo Ren. But I loved the way they handled that. By projecting himself halfway across the galaxy, it showed just how powerful Luke had become. And it showed that sometimes the best way to “win” is to not actually fight. Plus, I loved the fact that Luke becomes one with the Force while watching two suns. It was a nice parallel to the first time we see him in A New Hope.

A surprise, it was: I usually don’t mind reading spoilers and, in some instances, will actively seek them out. But I didn’t for this movie and I’m so glad I didn’t. I had no idea that Yoda was going to make an appearance. And in puppet (not CGI) form, too. It was great to see him and Luke together again.

Rey’s Parent Trap: I love the fact that Rey’s parents are nobodies.3 I actually came out of The Force Awakens disappointed that she was likely just going to be another Skywalker or a Solo or a Kenobi. I was glad to hear that that’s not the case. Not everybody has to be related for the story to be interesting.

A few other random thoughts

Luke’s makeover: When Luke finally shows up on the salt planet, I actually spent a few minutes thinking “nice of you to get a makeover before showing up, Luke.” Because in the scenes with Rey, he’s got long hair and a long beard and both are pretty grey. But on the salt planet, he’s trimmed up nice and neat and he’s obviously gone through a few applications of Grecian formula. But when they cut back to him on the island, it all made more sense.

The lonesome death of Supreme Leader Snoke: I was surprised that Snoke died before we got more of a backstory on him. Though I was reminded today that we didn’t know much about the Emperor before Vader tossed him down a shaft in Return of the Jedi.

Rey in the Dark Side cave: I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think I need to see it again before I make up my mind.

Whither now, Leia: With Carrie Fisher’s death, I’m curious how they handle Leia in Episode IX.

Jedi books: For all Yoda’s talk about not needing the ancient Jedi texts anymore, it sure did look like Rey had them aboard the Millennium Falcon.

I’m sure I’ll think of more things I liked or disliked about the movie the second I publish this but it’s enough to be going on with. Plus, I’ve only seen the movie once. My average for seeing Star Wars movies is something like 3-4 times in the theatre and then countless more at home once it’s released on video. Which just means my thoughts might change after additional screenings.

1. My off-the-cuff ranking of Star Wars movies:

The Empire Strikes Back
A New Hope
The Last Jedi
Rogue One
Return of the Jedi
The Force Awakens
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
The Phantom Menace

2. Well, any movie that’s not The Princess Bride.

3. Assuming Kylo Ren can be trusted.

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