‘STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI’
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The Rebellion is Reborn
Seriously! There must be more Jedi after this movie! It can’t be the last one! 😀
‘Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi’ is the eighth film in the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga, although ironically it was the ninth made since ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ was the eighth. The film was released in 2017. It was written and directed by Rian Johnson, who contributes first time to the saga.
In 2017, I did my ‘Star Wars Film Review Season’ where I reviewed all of the ‘Star Wars’ movies, baring ‘Rogue One’, in the lead-up to ‘The Last Jedi’ at the cinema. I enjoyed this very much and I was looking forward to seeing ‘The Last Jedi’ when it was released at the cinemas in December 2017.
Like I’d done with ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘Rogue One’, I decided to see this movie after Christmas 2017. There was a lot of hype built up to its release. I also saw it as a tradition to review every ‘Star Wars’ movie I watched after seeing it at the cinema. By then, it had become a Christmas tradition. 🙂
I hoped to avoid spoilers and reviews before seeing the movie. As I was looking forward to seeing ‘The Last Jedi’ at the cinema though, I discovered from left and right how people found this movie. Some loved it; some hated it. ‘The Last Jedi’ is arguably the most divisive ‘Star Wars’ film ever made!
I couldn’t help but look up reviews on ‘The Last Jedi’ made by IMDb users to see what they made of it. The majority of reviews I read had people saying they hated this movie and that Disney and Rian Johnson killed ‘Star Wars’. This shocked me! I didn’t expect this ‘Star Wars’ film to upset so many fans.
It’s also a shame because…I really like ‘The Force Awakens’. Even after two years to think about and re-watch these sequel ‘Star Wars’ movies, I still consider ‘The Force Awakens’ to be a great film. If you forget ‘The Last Jedi’ happened, it can still be argued ‘The Force Awakens’ is a really good movie.
The reactions to ‘The Last Jedi’ were crazy back in December 2017. A lot of fan opinion was divided. I didn’t want to judge the film too harshly before and after I’d seen it. But still, this movie angered so many fans and it’s being regarded as possibly one of the worst ‘Star Wars’ movies in the entire saga.
But…lots of critics have given the movie positive reviews and ratings despite the fans and audiences’ responses to it. (Pause) How can this happen? How can critics be praising the heck out of this movie whilst so many ‘Star Wars’ fans are loathing it? (Pause) It’s just insane! And pretty nonsensical, right?
(sighs) Okay, I’m going to try and be fair on this movie as I’ve done with previous ‘Star Wars’ films I’ve reviewed. I’ll identity what’s good and what’s bad about it as well as illustrate what I think could’ve been better. Because…something value has to come out of this, right? Just…something!!!!!
This is what I’ve observed from watching the film twice so far, first back in 2017 and second in 2019. ‘The Last Jedi’ takes place a day or so after ‘The Force Awakens’ ended. (Pause) There’s usually a gap of years in-between most ‘Star Wars’ movies, isn’t there? Why wasn’t this set a year or two afterwards?
It’s unusual for Rian Johnson to do that and it makes the film’s opening crawl quite pointless. I would’ve set the film a year or two afterwards to reflect the passage of time in seeing these movies. It would’ve also helped develop Luke and Rey’s relationship in the movie. We’ll get onto that in a bit.
Anyway, the Resistance led by General Leia continues to fight against the First Order before they set off to retreat to a new base in the galaxy. Friction occurs between General Leia and Poe Dameron in the Resistance as well as between Supreme Leader Snoke and the young Kylo Ren in the First Order.
Elsewhere, Rey has found Luke Skywalker on the planet Ahch-To. She hands him over his old lightsaber, which he takes and throws away. Luke refuses to return with Rey to help the Resistance fight against the First Order. Rey’s determined to stay on Ahch-To and persuade Luke to change his mind.
The biggest issue of this movie is Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Now that’s not to say Mark Hamill gives a bad performance in this movie. On the contrary, I enjoyed seeing him. This was the second time I saw Luke Skywalker on the big screen and I’m happy he got some dialogue for a change in this.
But it’s clear from watching this movie a second time that Luke Skywalker in ‘The Last Jedi’ is not the same one as he was in the original trilogy. Most of time, Luke is out of character. He comes across as a jerk and rather sulky. Luke refuses to do anything in assisting the Resistance to fight the First Order.
I suppose in a way, Luke’s now older and rather broken in failing to train Ben Solo to become a Jedi. But it does make Luke’s character rather inactive. This is probably what angered a lot of fans. They’d been expecting Luke’s return to the ‘Star Wars’ series to be a pretty triumphant and epic one here.
There’s also the other issue of Luke considering killing Ben Solo in his sleep which would be out of character. That can be put down to Luke being the son of Darth Vader when he thinks like that. But it does seem badly written and not properly thought out by Rian Johnson during the scripting stages.
Going back to my argument to set the film two years later, I think it would be fantastic to have Luke train Rey to become a Jedi whilst the battles between the Resistance and the First Order were still going on. Then they’d could go and help the Resistance to overthrow the First Order once and for all.
You can still have flashbacks to how Luke and Rey first met on Ahch-To, but it would allow us to appreciate the passage of time in how these two get to know each other during Jedi training. It would also provide a parallel of Obi-Wan/Yoda training Luke to Luke training Rey during the movie. 🙂
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the lovely Daisy Ridley as Rey. As much as I like Daisy Ridley’s acting in these ‘Star Wars’ movies, I did find Rey’s character development wasted here. As I said, it would be great to see more of the training aspects of Rey into a Jedi by Luke if it was two years later.
It’s also interesting how Rey’s connected to the Force in a rather weak manner as well as to Kylo Ren via the Force. She’s initially bitter towards Kylo for killing his father Han Solo, but it’s also intriguing how Rey sees the good aspects of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo since she can identify the conflict going on in him.
It was weird seeing Rey and Kylo talking to each other like that. The movie does have some intriguing concepts going on with regards to the Force, which I don’t think are properly explored in the film. Rey is very hopeful she can win Kylo out of his tantrums and his anger in order to return to the light.
Another controversial thing about this film is how Rey’s parentage was revealed. A lot of fan theories were conjured about who Rey was from ‘The Force Awakens’. Many speculated whether she was connected to Luke Skywalker as a family member. But it gets revealed Rey’s parents were…’nobody’.
What?! That can’t be true! Let me check!
Kylo Ren: “Do you know the truth about your parents? Or have you always known? You’ve just hidden it away. Say it.”
Rey: (in tears) “They were nobody.”
Kylo Ren: “They were filthy junk traders. Sold you off for drinking money. They’re dead in a pauper’s grave in the Jakku desert. You come from nothing. You’re nothing…”
I can’t believe that’s true! Rey’s parents can’t be ‘nobodies’! I’m sure the Force is more mysterious than we understand it! Snoke or Kylo Ren must have clouded Rey from knowing who her parents were. It also seems to be lazily thought-out by Rian Johnson when he wrote the script for this movie.
Rey’s back-story could’ve been more interesting than what we got in this second film of a trilogy. She could’ve been a relative of Obi-Wan Kenobi, I don’t know. Just something to satisfy the fans’ curiosity as to why Rey is connected to the Force and why she was able to sense Luke’s old lightsaber.
There’s also something else I find questionable about this ‘Star Wars’ sequels trilogy. How come J. J. Abrams wasn’t in charge of the entire trilogy in term of writing and directing from beginning to end? Giving Rian Johnson the slot to write and direct this second film in an inconsistent manner is so odd.
The whole island plot with Luke and Rey also seemed to drag out for me. It would’ve been better if Luke finished Rey’s training to become a Jedi in the space of two years before they went out into space to catch up with the Resistance fighting the First Order. It would’ve been really action-packed!
The late Carrie Fisher returns as General Leia Organa in the film. It was nice to see Carrie Fisher in the movie. It was strange though to think that this was her last film (sort of) as Carrie sadly passed away in December 2016. I’m happy a tribute was made to Carrie Fisher during the film’s end credits.
In the film, Leia comes across as a stronger, older person commanding the Resistance forces. She sadly becomes absent for most of the movie when her Resistance ship gets blown up by the First Order. She’s sucked out into space…and it leads to a very awkward ‘Mary Poppins’ moment for Leia.
Now at the time of seeing this movie, I didn’t it mind so much when Leia used the Force to propel herself back to the Resistance ship that got blown up. I was relieved Leia didn’t get killed off indefinitely as that would’ve been really disrespectful to the actress Carrie Fisher who died recently.
But seeing the moment again…yeah, it was stupid. What makes the Leia ‘Mary Poppins’ moment nonsensical is that it never gets explained how she was able to do that. It was never addressed by anyone who saved her as she came in through space, which I think was very bizarre thinking about it.
It would’ve been nice if Leia told everyone that Luke taught her how to do that trick with the Force during the 30 year gap between the original trilogy and the sequels trilogy. Mind you, I would’ve done it differently. Leia could’ve not used the Force and was assumed dead when she was picked up.
But then a trace of life is found in her connected to the Force and the Resistance members needed to find a way to revive her. Perhaps Finn and Rose could’ve gone out into space to find a cure to save Leia’s life. It would’ve given their side quest some meaning and a purpose instead of being pointless.
Adam Driver returns as the villainous Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo. Kylo Ren is still the servant of Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order. He still tends to lash out and get angry when things don’t go his way. He’s ditched his Darth Vader-like mask though, since Snoke berated him for wearing it.
I think Kylo should’ve kept the mask. It made him intimidating. 🙂 Anyway, Kylo continues to be torn between good and evil following ‘The Force Awakens’. It was interesting to see him having conversations with Rey via the Force whilst he’s with the First Order and she’s on Ahch-To with Luke.
There are occasions where Kylo tended to get hyper-angry and not come across as a strong villain. In many cases, that’s true. He does seem stunted at a young age, being a Darth Vader wannabe and wanting to take command of the First Order. He isn’t happy when trying to get rid of any opposition.
Kylo Ren is still interesting for me as a character, but I think it would’ve been better if more was explored about his backstory which isn’t dealt with. The reason why Darth Vader worked as a villain is that he had a connection to Luke and his backstory was explored in the prequels and the original films.
The disadvantage of Kylo Ren is that his connection with Rey is weak when she’s revealed to be a ‘nobody’ and he doesn’t have the advantage of having a prequels trilogy to explore his backstory. I know people criticise the prequel films a lot, but they did enable to develop Darth Vader as a villain.
Essentially, Kylo Ren clearly wants to be the new Darth Vader but can never be. That would’ve been fine if the sequel films reinforced that. Sometimes he can be manipulative and it was interesting how he told his side of the tale of when Luke tried to kill him compared to how Luke told it to Rey in this.
John Boyega returns as Finn in the movie. It’s interesting how this movie directly follows after ‘The Force Awakens’ with Finn reawakening from his cryogenic sleep and coming out disorientated and dishevelled. Quite naturally, he’s concerned about where Rey is once he reunites with Poe Dameron.
Finn meets up with Rose Tico, another member of the Resistance. The two team up to find a codebreaker with helping the Resistance to escape the First Order. Fine and Rose’s subplot does seem pointless and it’s annoying a Resistance ship cannot outrun a First Order ship in a fast-paced manner.
Finn and Rose go to a casino on an alien planet where lots of human-like and alien-like beings go. The casino aspects of the movie were odd and unusual to see in a ‘Star Wars’ film. It also makes it less like a ‘Star Wars’ movie and more a James Bond film with Finn and Rose finding a codebreaker.
The Finn and Rose subplot got in the way of the main Luke and Rey plot of the movie, which was rather annoying. There also seemed to be a romance…I think…between Finn and Rose. I’m sure that wasn’t well-developed enough here. There wasn’t a hint of the two falling for each other in the movie.
Oscar Isaac returns as Poe Dameron in the film. I enjoyed seeing Poe as opposed to seeing his limited appearance in ‘The Force Awakens’. It was interesting to see how reckless Poe came to be as a X-wing fighter pilot and how he questioned Leia’s decisions and temporary commander Vice Admiral Holdo.
I’d be lying if I didn’t find Poe a little annoying when he seemed to take matters into his own hands. It would’ve been better if Poe worked with Leia and Holdo more as opposed to questioning them. Mind you, Leia and Holdo could’ve told Poe what their plans were instead of teaching him a ‘lesson’!
Andy Serkis returns as Supreme Leader Snoke in the film. Unlike ‘The Force Awakens’ where he was a gigantic hologram, we get to see what Snoke looks like in the flesh. Andy Serkis as Snoke looks like he has prosthetic make-up on him instead of a CGI makeover. Not sure about the jacket he wears. 😀
I was looking forward to finding out who Snoke was and whether he was Darth Plagueis as people suggested. But…wait! Kylo Ren kills Snoke during the second half of the movie! Whoa! That was sudden! Who was he anyway? It would’ve been great to know who he was as a character in this trilogy.
Ah well, at least this gives Kylo Ren a chance to return to the light side after he killed Snoke…or he could just stay the way he was and still be evil in wanting to take control of the First Order with Rey. I’m not even kidding. That’s exactly what happens in this. After Snoke is gone, Kylo Ren is still all evil.
What’s with this guy?! After all Rey’s tried to do with getting Kylo Ren to see the light and come out of the Dark Side, she still hasn’t got through to him. It does seem vague as to why Kylo would stay the same. It also doesn’t make sense how Kylo is able to kill Snoke who’s claimed to be so powerful.
Lupita Nyong’o returns as Maz Kanta. In case you’ve forgotten, she was that former alien pirate and smuggler who owns an interstellar tavern in a castle on the planet Takonda in ‘The Force Awakens’. She also knew Han Solo well and she kept Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber deep in her tavern’s basement.
What can I say about Maz Kanta’s appearance in ‘The Last Jedi’? Not much. Yeah, she doesn’t really do that much. She only makes an appearance when Poe, Finn and Rose make contact with her about getting information for a codebreaker. She also seems to be fighting some enemies wherever she is.
Domhnall Gleeson returns as General Hux in the movie. Hux continues to be in command of the First Order forces and seems to be in a power struggle with Kylo Ren for the First Order leadership. He gets into trouble with Snoke who uses his Force powers to slam him to the floor of a First Order ship.
There’s an intriguing moment where Hux learns of Snoke’s death and tries to take control of the First Order away from Kylo Ren. He even defies Kylo Ren for taking leadership upon himself. Hux of course pays the price when he gets Force-choked by Kylo. He’s still needed however by Kylo Ren in the film.
Anthony Daniels returns as C-3PO in the movie. I’ve met Anthony Daniels in real-life now as I met him at the ‘MCM Birmingham Comic Con’ in November 2017 before I saw ‘The Last Jedi’ at the cinema. It was surreal to think that I’d met the actor who played C-3PO in ‘Star Wars’. I got a buzz. 😀
C-3PO seems to have gotten his right gold arm back in the film. What happened to his replacement red right arm is unexplained, especially in a day after ‘The Force Awakens’! C-3PO doesn’t do much in the movie, apart from providing comic relief and being worried when Poe took matters in his hands.
R2-D2 returns in the movie, played by Jimmy Vee. R2 accompanies Rey and Chewbacca to the planet Ahch-To. The droid tries to persuade Luke to come back and join the Resistance. R2-D2 plays his part by replaying the Princess Leia message from ‘A New Hope’ to get through to Luke and listen here.
It was good to see BB-8, Poe Dameron’s droid in the movie. BB-8 accompanies Finn and Rose when they journey to the Canto Bight casino on the planet Cantonica. I liked the moment where BB-8 used a killer robot walker to save Finn and Rose when they were about to be executed by the First Order.
The movie also features the return of Chewbacca, now played by Joonas Suotamo. Peter Mayhew wasn’t able to return to play Chewie in this film and he died shortly after in 2019. I liked the moment where Chewie smashed his way into Luke’s hiding place. Mind you, Chewie doesn’t do much either.
Apart from piloting the Millennium Falcon whilst Rey fires weapons to help the Resistance on the planet Crait, that’s about it. I would’ve liked it if Chewie’s mourning for Han was explored. He gets annoyed by the cute-looking porgs, especially when they’re aboard the Millennium Falcom with him.
And yes, I have to say this! I like the porgs! They look cute and cuddly and can easily be cute cuddly toys for kids to play with. I didn’t realise Chewie was eating one of them and a porg looked upset as he watched close by. I guess porgs are what Wookiees have for Life Day. Chewie became disturbing!
Gwendoline Christie returns as Captain Phasma, the commander of the First Order’s Stormtroopers. I didn’t talk much about Phasma in my ‘Force Awakens’ review since there wasn’t much to say about her. It also doesn’t help we don’t see her face in these ‘Star Wars’ films. She always wears a helmet.
With that said, Phasma seems to be someone who wants to get ‘vengeance’ back on Finn for betraying the First Order. It’s clearly demonstrated when she and Finn fight it out with each other in the movie’s second half. Finn obviously wins and Phasma gets killed, so let’s move on from here. 😀
Kelly Marie Tran stars as Rose Tico, a member of the Resistance who works in maintenance. She meets Finn when he tries to get away to find Rey. She stops him, accusing him for being a deserter. The two soon bond, I guess, as they go out to find a codebreaker to help the Resistance somewhat.
I don’t consider Rose a standout character. Her fondness for Finn goes too far when doing a stupid thing to stop Finn sacrificing himself to save the Resistance from a big cannon fired upon by the First Order. Her reason for saving Finn is very weak, since by saving him she’s also cost the lives of others.
Laura Dern stars as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, a Resistance officer with purple hair (the best part of her, I think 😀 ). Holdo comes across as a self-confident person and very dismissive of Poe Dameron when she refuses to work with him and reveal her plans to him. I wish she put her trust in Poe in this.
Holdo does come across as a weak leader in place of Leia’s absence. I would’ve put my trust in Admiral Ackbar, that fish-looking alien who first appeared in ‘Return of the Jedi’ than Holdo. She does self-sacrifice herself (weakly) in the movie in order to give the Resistance the chance to escape.
There’s also Benicio del Toro as DJ…yes, seriously…who’s an underworld codebreaker that Finn and Rose meet on Cantonica when they get arrested and imprisoned. DJ is not the codebreaker Finn and Rose are looking for, but he seems quite willing to help once they are to re-join their Resistance group.
Finn and Rose agree to take DJ on, despite him not being the person they’re looking for. (?!) But DJ soon switches sides and is with the First Order instead of the Resistance. This wasn’t a big shock for me as DJ seemed untrustworthy anyway. What was the point having him appear as a character in the film?
There’s also the return of Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz. This, in my opinion, is one of the best things in the movie. I was pleased to see Yoda appear as the Muppet-version of the character and not as the CGI version from the prequel films ‘Attack of the Clones’ and ‘Revenge of the Sith’. It made sense, especially when he appears as a Force-ghost.
Yoda as a Force-ghost manages to destroy Luke’s Jedi temple with lightning on Ahch-To. I’m curious as to how Force-ghosts can do that. I’m disappointed that Obi-Wan and Anakin’s Force-ghosts didn’t make an appearance in the movie. Maybe this will happen when we get to ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. 🙂
‘The Last Jedi’ does highlight more of what Jedi like Yoda as a Force-ghost can do. If Yoda can use lightning to destroy a Jedi temple, I’d like an army of Jedi Force-ghosts to appear and help the Resistance in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ like what the Army of the Dead did in ‘The Return of the King’.
The movie concludes on a shocking, controversial note. Luke Skywalker turns up to reunite with Leia before he goes out to face Kylo Ren on the planet Crait. Kylo meets Luke and the two have a brief lightsaber duel. Kylo then stabs Luke with his lightsaber, but it seems Luke wasn’t really there at all!
It was an image of Luke projected by himself from the planet Ahch-To to confront Kylo Ren. Luke was on Ahch-To all this time! Very interesting that Luke can do that. But in the endeavour, it drains his life-force and he sadly dies. I can sympathise with fans on how angry they’d be with Luke’s end.
I would’ve done things differently by having Luke and Rey battling Kylo Ren in a ‘Duel of the Fates’ style fight. It would’ve been epic and fantastic to watch. I also would’ve made Luke’s death more dignified if he fought Kylo like what Obi-Wan did with Darth Vader. A great pity Rian Johnson didn’t see it that way.
Another good thing about ‘The Last Jedi’ is the music composed by John Williams. It was great to hear John Williams’ musical score for this movie. He again reuses some classic ‘Star Wars’ music from the prequels and sequels. The musical score felt reassuring as I watched the movie throughout.
Once again, there aren’t any special features for ‘The Last Jedi’ DVD. Not that I’d mind very much since I’m not as huge a fan of ‘Star Wars’ DVDs compared to how I like my ‘Doctor Who’ DVDs/Blu-rays with special features. But it still makes these DVD releases very inconsistent as much as the movies are.
The special features on the Blu-ray are as follows. There’s an audio commentary with writer/director Rian Johnson; ‘The Director and the Jedi’ making-of documentary; ‘Balance of the Force’; scene breakdowns; ‘Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only)’ and deleted scenes.
I suppose I was wrong when I did my initial review on ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi’. The fans aren’t just angry because Luke Skywalker had an inactive role in the film. The film itself was a wasted opportunity. That’s quite an achievement especially with a ‘Star Wars’ film such as this here.
I’ll say this though. Having seeing ‘The Last Jedi’ again, I did find myself enjoying the film in a strange kind of way. There were lots of stupid moments to be featured, but I found the concepts intriguing and enjoyed certain moments. I even laughed at certain moments and did enjoy some action scenes.
I consider ‘The Last Jedi’ to be a brave movie whether you like it or not. If you’re a massive ‘Star Wars’ fan though, then yeah. This movie is a big slap in the face and I can sympathise with that. I wouldn’t rate it very highly but then again I can’t dismiss it entirely as it was very intriguing to watch.
This film should’ve gone in a completely different direction compared to what it actually ended up being. Give me a chance to write the script for ‘The Last Jedi’ and I would’ve given Luke a more meaningful role as well as make Rey a pivotal character to the saga and Kylo Ren a compelling villain.
If you like or hate this movie, then it’s entirely up to you. I found it okay and consider it an inconsistent film which I’ve come to expect with these ‘Star Wars’ movies. ‘The Last Jedi’ is a mess, but I look forward to seeing ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ next and how the sequel trilogy comes to an end.
With Luke Skywalker gone, how will Rey and the Resistance continue their fight against the First Order?
‘Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi’ rating – 4.5/10
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