Spoilers (obviously). Also, all thoughts are my own so feel free to disagree (but I’m right and you’re wrong so there).
So, following on from my last blog post, here’s another one of my realistic career prospects: film critic. Although, from what I have to say, I believe a lot of people will strongly disagree…
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away George Lucas created a fantastic universe adored by millions (possibly billions?). Star Wars was and still is one of the greatest things ever as far as I’m concerned. As a child, I watched the original trilogy on vhs so many times I ruined the tapes and I vividly remember the excitement I felt surrounding the release of The Phantom Menace (and the sound effects from the pod racers I can still make after a few drinks), as well as every other subsequent movie, including this one. No, I’ve loved Star Wars as far back as I remember. And that’s what makes this so difficult.
The Last Jedi was awful. Well perhaps that isn’t fair but as I see it, the Star Wars reputation seems to have everyone else I know fooled into thinking it’s the best thing ever yet again, following gracefully on from The Force Awakens in Disney’s very own Empire (see the irony?). But no. I strongly disagree. The film itself was a reasonable spectacle, but as a Star Wars movie it just wasn’t at the races. It seems to pander to the childish audience which, although that will be a big part of the market, is not what I believe the people who have grown up watching the franchise want to see. It also suffers from an issue very common among the movies churned out by Disney, that being humour thrown in for humour’s sake. I had thought following Thor: Ragnarok, they had finally got over this but seemingly no, we still have to be forced (no pun intended) into laughing at countless empty jokes.
Before you close me down, throw your laptop off the wall in rage, or leave some aggressively worded comments threatening my very being, let me dig into the details and show you why I’m right.
Where to start though? Well I suppose I should explain my childish comment to begin with. There were 6 force users in the movie, unless I missed any out, those being Luke, Leia, Rey, Kylo Ren, Snoke and Yoda. Almost all of them were ridiculously overpowered, leading me to the belief that this is one for the kids (because ooh, Force, magic, wow and stuff). We’ll start with Leia. She has spent her life almost in ignorance of the force until Return of the Jedi, and there was no evidence of her having furthered any training in the Force Awakens. Yet, as soon as she needed to, she pulls herself forcefully from space back to her ship with remarkable ease. There could be an argument for it being necessity or adrenaline or simply her connection to the force allowing her to do this at this time, but when I think of the training almost every other force user has to go through just to move a small pebble, it still seems beyond her realm of capabilities. I realise there will be new canon literature the more than likely explains this, but to the common movie-goer this simply raises (or should raise) more questions than answers.
Continuing with my list we have Rey and Kylo Ren. Rey was one of my biggest problems with The Force Awakens as, with no prior training she very quickly begins to use abilities she, for all we know, wasn’t even aware of before discovering she had a connection to the Force. But I’m not reviewing that movie. Her training in this one is somewhat limited, but seeing it is administered by Luke I can personally forgive a lot here. However, once again to the common movie-goer lacking the knowledge that Luke Skywalker may be the most powerful Jedi to have ever lived, this shouldn’t be enough to cement how strong she has become in a short period of time. Kylo, on the other hand, has actually had both Jedi and Sith training, so he is one of the only characters I expect to be proficient in the use of the Force. He is, however, young and naive, and similar in temperament to adolescent Anakin Skywalker who was, irrespective of being insanely powerful, always a step behind the Emperor. As such, he should very much have remained a pawn for Snoke at this stage in the story.
Which leads us nicely into the Supreme Leader himself. Snoke is a major enigma. The fact that his origins were probably the biggest talking point following The Force Awakens speaks for itself, and we’ll revisit that further down the page but for now, his power level. Snoke has a real mastery of the Force. From a brief use of the dreaded Force Lightning, to his manipulation and reading of both Rey and Kylo Ren’s minds (if he really is the one who forged the connection between them as he claims, I’m not convinced) he is exceptionally powerful. He levitates Rey around the room with ridiculous ease, entirely restricting her movement which, when we’ve discussed Rey’s power level, makes his seem almost uncapped. Even when the comparison to the Emperor of the previous regime is drawn, Snoke seems more than worthy as a successor. As much as I want to, I won’t get into why else this bothers me yet, but suffice it to say it will come up later.
Next on my list is Yoda. As a Force Ghost, Yoda does very little in the movie, and considering how strong he was a Jedi Master coupled with Obi Wan’s infamous statement, “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” (may be a mis-quote, will look it up later if I remember), I can forgive his sudden and never-before-seen weather manipulation power. But still, where the hell did that come from? I did however appreciate the use of original trilogy Yoda, rather than prequel trilogy which I almost half expected to have been shoe-horned in.
And finally, Luke. I’m not going to claim to have read all of the previous canon, now pushed aside by Disney into “Legend”, but from what I have read online and the multiple videos I’ve watched on YouTube, Luke Skywalker is essentially the most powerful Jedi to have ever lived. As a result, I was actually almost disappointed in Luke’s feats in the movie. His Force Projection (as I imagine it to be called, could be totally wrong) for the final battle was pretty cool, but other than that I felt there was very little he actually did and is therefore the only one I really believe wasn’t overpowered, he was quite literally the opposite. Not to mention he dies! So he’s never going to live up to that fabled potential unless he is one crazy powerful Force Ghost, which would probably just annoy me even more. I’m not going to lie, I took his death pretty personally and thought at first this was the only reason I didn’t enjoy the movie.
The Death of Snoke
Moving on, here we have reached my biggest problem with the movie: Snoke’s death. Having already discussed his sheer mastery of the Force, his demise was the most pathetic thing in the entire movie. I sat hoping it wasn’t going to happen throughout the entire sequence, believing (correctly) that Snoke was far too powerful to go out like this and he would stop it, punishing Kylo appropriately. But no, the master of mind reading couldn’t see what was coming, and was scythed in half by a youth who consistently looks on the verge of tears. No explanation of where he came from, gained his power or took up the mantle of Supreme Leader, just chopped down before we could really see his full might. Part of me hopes he will somehow make a miraculous recovery to return later but I see it as an unlikely scenario, that would just further my distaste for the direction the franchise seems to be going. Then, almost immediately following Snoke’s death, General Hux allows the First Order to be taken over by the same aforementioned youth without putting up the slightest whimper of a fight. Hux, who is essentially the leader of the the First Order, considering no one else (excluding Kylo Ren) had any face time with the Supreme Leader, can’t muster the bravery or the man power to put up the slightest impression of competition to Kylo’s takeover. Nah. I don’t believe it.
The Star Wars Formula
The Force Awakens’ critics slaughtered it for being too similar A New Hope. As such, Disney seem to have attempted to go in the opposite direction with The Last Jedi. The problem there is that Star Wars has a tried and tested formula which has worked in the past and worked for The Force Awakens. To deviate from this formula, in my opinion, has been a major misjudgement. It almost seems like they wanted to silence every critic possible, which has resulted in a disjointed effort at creating a Star Wars movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hoping the 3rd movie rectifies this issue as has been the case in the past. The second in the trilogy always seems like a stop-gap which on its own is the weakest of the movies, but this was the part of the franchise I was hoping Disney had fixed, rather than continue to build on.
All in all, as a film Star Wars The Last Jedi is a decent film. I would like to stress the fact that, as a movie, I do feel it was an impressive spectacle and did enough to wow the audience in many areas. My problem is that I don’t think it fits correctly into the jigsaw that is the Star Wars universe, more like someone thought this piece should fit and jammed it in like an angry uncoordinated child. I am still eager to see where the next stage of the journey goes and hope it corrects what I feel has been a dreadful detour in the Star Wars legacy.
There you have it, I may still add and edit pieces here and there, but that is my review. Feel free to tear me to shreds below
Oh and Luke dies! Luke! Wtf?!