Star Wars is one of the most iconic and beloved cinematic franchises of all time; now spanning and earning the adoration of three generations worth of loyal fans. With each new movie seems to come a whole new wave of hype: merchandise, video games, and adoring fanatics willing to do just about anything in the name of Star Wars. We saw the same things this time around and it seemed The Last Jedi may have been one of the most anticipated Star Wars movies in my lifetime. With hype like this, it comes as no surprise that the Star Wars movies are picked apart and dissected like picking hairs out of soup by both fans and critics alike.
With this in mind, The Last Jedi, as the eighth installment in the series, was understandably expected to be a fantastic film in order to carry on the legacy. The question we are now left with is whether or not it was successful in doing so; a question I find it quite difficult to actually answer. This particular article will be looking at things from a more comprehensive approach rather than going into too much detail. Though you shouldn’t need to worry about any major plot points being ruined, a minor spoiler warning should still be put in place.
A Disturbance In the Force
Critically acclaimed J.J. Abrams was the creative mind behind The Force Awakens. In it, we were introduced to all kinds of new characters, lore, and plenty of new stories to keep the audience begging for more. With The Last Jedi, Disney decided to hand the reins over to Rian Johnson, a director known mostly for his work on Looper and a few episodes of Breaking Bad. With the untimely departure of Abrams from the lead seat, it seems that much of the world that he had built in the previous Star Wars movie left with him. Right from the get-go, it was fairly apparent that The Last Jedi was going to be a much different film from any that had come before, and it became more and more apparent with every minute that passed.
Since the events of The Force Awakens, the First Order has essentially taken control of the galaxy and all but decimated the rebellion forces. Now, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone as Star Wars seems to have gone through the same cycle of Imperials taking control and the rebellion rising repeatedly throughout its entirety. What made it so different this time around was the pacing. The Star Wars films have not been shy when it comes to action-packed fighting scenes or suspenseful moments. The Last Jedi had these as well – in fact, it had some of the most chilling action sequences I have ever seen – but it felt far more reserved in regards to how it handled the story and characters. The majority of the film felt very slow-paced and political.
Star Wars is full of all kinds of creative and colorful characters. It doesn’t matter that they all seem to be going in circles because each character brings something so unique to the picture. At least, this is how it was meant to be. With so many amazing characters to work with and so many awesome stories to be fleshed out, there was so much potential going into the film. What began as excitement slowly turned into disappointment as I watched that potential slowly poured down the drain. There seemed to be far too much emphasis on the action sequences (which were pretty great, I might add) and introducing new and unlikeable characters and not enough on building upon the lore-heavy foundation upon which the franchise was built.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
What The Last Jedi lacked story-wise it certainly tried to make up for with its visuals. Without going into specifics, it did present some of the most chilling visual sequences in recent memory. The CG alone was enough to give you goosebumps, but paired with dramatic reveals and some of the most intense fighting sequences in any Star Wars movie to date it was enough to put anyone at the edge of their seat.
Though the visuals were phenomenal, they may have gotten a little over-zealous; occasionally trying to throw too many things at you than was really necessary. At times it no longer felt like a Star Wars movie at all, but rather a cliche Disney movie, filled with all sorts of “cutesy” and bizarre creatures in which the Star Wars characters temporarily made an appearance before leaving again. In contrast, there were also areas so devoid of interest that it made you wonder what purpose they served being put in the movie at all.
In general, there just seemed to be an awful lot of what I like to refer to as “plot fluff;” sequences that did little to further the plot, instead serving as opportunities to showcase visual prowess or make vague and often irrelevant political statements.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a great film with fantastic acting and beautiful visuals, but it feels like only a decent addition to the current Star Wars repertoire. It only adds what seems like a minute amount to the lore of the Star Wars universe and sweeps many plot points under the rug, which comes as quite a disappointment.
It is difficult for me to come across as what I feel to be somewhat harsh on a franchise that I have been a long-time fan of, but, despite all of its fantastic qualities, at the end of the day I am not sure if The Last Jedi reaches the potential that it should have been able to. While it is relatively entertaining, for Star Wars fans it only spells disappointment.