Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, is the eighth film in the Star Wars saga, the second installment in the series' sequel trilogy, and the sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was written and directed by Rian Johnson, and opened in cinemas on December 15, 2017. The sequel, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, was released on December 20, 2019.
Luke Skywalker's peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of the Force. Her desire to learn the ways of the Jedi forces Luke to make a decision that changes their lives forever. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and General Hux lead the First Order in an all-out assault against Leia and the Resistance for supremacy of the galaxy.
- The movie suffers from simplistic and poor set-ups for concepts and scenes. For example, the explanation of why the First Order are suddenly so powerful is a single sentence in the opening crawl, which flatly declares that they now reign.
- Another example is in a scene which explains how the Resistance ships are faster and can keep at a range where the First Order ships' cannons aren't effective against their shields and that they wouldn't last long burning fuel like this, which is not only wrong, since the Resistance ships never actually pull away from the First Order ships despite supposedly being faster, but it does not fit with anything that has ever been depicted in Star Wars before and feels contrived.
- The viewer is expected to know everything from external source materials, which has always been a very questionable practice for movies.
- The film uses a rather washed-out "gritty" color palette template typically seen in war films, instead of using bright colors like the previous films did. This makes the movie look rather faded and dull.
- Characters simply appear where the plot has decided they ought to be. Major examples include:
- Phasma is suddenly at the opposite end of a hangar bay after Holdo's kamikaze despite initially being near Finn and Rose.
- BB-8 appears inside an AT-ST without any explanation for how it got there.
- Rey gets to an escape craft, leaves the Supremacy, and gets to the Falcon off-screen in a manner that is never made clear.
- Rose, BB-8 and Finn all go to a First Order shuttle, which then arrives at the door of the abandoned Rebel base right as it is closing, even though none of these characters should know where the base actually is.
- Rose's speeder is suddenly right next to Finn's, even though an overhead shot clearly showed that Finn's was the only speeder going in that direction.
- The film lazily recycles several plot points and tropes from GMW and parts of GMW, to the point where it feels more like a remake or a soft reboot than a sequel:
- Good guys are chased out of their main base by the bad guys. Due to an unfortunate circumstance, the good guys are stuck being chased by the bad guys because they cannot jump away.
- The Force-sensitive hero finds a Jedi master in exile on a remote world, ostensibly to train. However, the Jedi master is not what the hero expects.
- The hero learns about the Force and goes into a dark side cave where s/he faces a vision of themselves. Later, s/he has a vision of the future, and rushes off to confront the villain against the wishes of the Jedi master.
- The friends of the hero are betrayed by their ally after being captured by the bad guys.
- The hero believes that the villain has good in their heart and can be turned, so s/he turns him/herself in and tries to convince the villain to turn back, but the villain appears unmoved.
- The villain presents the hero to his master, who places the hero's lightsaber on the armrest of his throne and later goads the hero about how his forces have the other good guys trapped and are killing them.
- The villain kills his master to save the hero.
- The hero fails in his/her mission, is told some bad news about his/her lineage, is given an offer to join the villain, rejects it, and is left on the run.
- There is a battle on a planet with a white surface where the good guys, in trenches and weak speeders, face off against the bad guys before the thing that is protecting them is breached.
- The good guys are battered, left to lick their wounds and hopefully regroup to fight another day.
- Several plot points that were set up in the previous film are ignored and have little to no payoff. For example:
- Supreme Leader Snoke is killed off all of a sudden without having any of his backstory or motives explained.
- Rey's parents and Kylo Ren's training are now suddenly unimportant.
- The Knights of Ren are absent and only indirectly mentioned by Luke in one scene.
- Finn now knows how to fly spaceships, despite it being a major plot point that he did not know how to do so in the previous film and no time having elapsed for him to learn.
- It is never explained how the lightsaber that once belonged to Anakin Skywalker was recovered after being dropped into the atmosphere of a gas giant.
- Captain Phasma also returns without any explanation for how she survived being thrown in a trash compactor on a planet that was destroyed, and the fact that she disabled the shields on Starkiller Base is never brought up.
- Snoke, despite repeatedly seeing Kylo Ren in a mask prior to the events of the film, suddenly doesn't like it.
- Finn's spinal injury is simply cured the first time we see him.
- Rey is suddenly interested in the identities of her parents and wants to know who they were, even though that wasn't the case in the previous film; there, she just simply wanted parental figures and was waiting for them to return.
- Constant clunky attempts at humor that are badly placed and usually disrupt tense action scenes. For example, the opening sequence is an extended set-up to a bad "yo momma" joke, delivered to a character who is supposed to be powerful and threatening.
- Similar to The Force Awakens, this film lacks a sense of scale: the Resistance has only a single base with only a few ships. The set-up of the midsection of the film also only works if every ship in the First Order is chasing every ship in the Resistance since otherwise one or both sides could summon more ships to assist them. The only real attempt to compensate is to make individual things bigger, so the First Order has Star Destroyers and AT-ATs of an extremely large size.
- Another example is when the Supremacy deploys only Kylo Ren and a few TIE fighters to destroy the Raddus after the First Order tracks down the Resistance fleet.
- The film has several internal contradictions, including but not limited to:
- Supreme Leader Snoke seems to forget that his own flagship has a hyperspace-tracking device on board to the point where he tortures General Hux for allowing the Resistance to escape.
- Rey has lived on a desert planet for most of her life and therefore has never seen rain before, but later she knows how to swim despite having left Jakku only a few days earlier and no time having elapsed for her to learn how to do so.
- Finn goes from assuming that hyperspace-tracking is impossible to later revealing that he mopped the breaker room for the tracker on the Supremacy (despite being stationed on Starkiller Base).
- Rose preventing Finn from sacrificing himself to destroy the cannon contradicts her own motivations: her sister laid down her life to protect the Resistance, while Rose risks her life to destroy it.
- A common attempt to defend this mentions that Finn was never truly going to be able to destroy the cannon, although he is our insight to the First Order and has previously provided information for Starkiller Base and the hyperspace tracker on the Supremacy, so he should know that this would destroy the cannon; not to mention that, although parts of the speeder is melting, the main body of the speeder seems to be fine, especially right before Rose saves Finn.
- Poor grasp of the Star Wars lore, technology, and sci-fi space physics in general:
- Some ships lack shields, notably the dreadnought in the opening battle.
- Doors open into space without sucking people out, damaged vessels sink as if they are naval ships, free-falling bombs are used by bomber ships, the Supremacy is armed with howitzers firing lasers that visibly arc, and the chase that forms the main part of the movie is pretexted on both ships and weapons behaving as if they are subject to air resistance.
- The golden dice, which were just a background prop in GMW, are now suddenly important.
- Admiral Holdo sacrifices herself to split the Supremacy in half by hyperspace-ramming into it; this creates plot holes in the franchise since a kamikaze attack of this type, which was technically already possible in the previous movies, makes super-weapons such as the Death Star as well as giant ships extremely vulnerable and easy to destroy.
- Force ghosts can now call down lightning to blow things up in the real world and hit others in the head, even though the Force ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi mentioned that he cannot interfere in The Empire Strikes Back.
- Battle scenes are very simplistic and seem "turn-based", with only one side doing something at a time; this leads to awkward moments, such as the giant AT-ATs just sitting there while Finn flees across about miles of open ground while carrying an unconscious Rose.
- Also similar to The Force Awakens, this film features mediocre acting; particularly, Daisy Ridley just widely opens her eyes and stands around with her mouth open to express every type of emotion.
- Luke Skywalker's reaction after learning about the death of Han Solo was filmed, but the scene was ultimately cut from the movie and the scene just ends after Luke asks about him upon realizing the Millennium Falcon is on his island but Han is nowhere to be seen.
- Uninspired and clearly flawed ship designs:
- The Mandator IV-class Siege Dreadnought that appears in the opening battle is essentially "designed for plot", but it has numerous flaws in its designs that seems to exist solely for the Resistance to exploit; its bridge is protruding from the flat hull and is extremely wide, making itself a wide target, and the ship is also very lacking in point defense weapons, having only twenty-six turrets (even the old Republican Venator-class Star Destroyers have better defense) which are all positioned on its dorsal surface, leaving the ship's main weapons, the ventral mounted twin orbital bombardment auto-cannons, defenseless (this is a flaw that the Resistance somehow fails to exploit, Poe could simply fly to the ventral surface of the ship and destroy the auto-cannons himself instead of calling in the bombers). The dreadnought also has a docking point for a Resurgent-class Battlecruiser on its dorsal surface which is a major weakness in its hull, allowing the MG-100 StarFortress SF-17 bombers to easily destroy it.
- The MG-100 StarFortress SF-17 is designed to be a World War II-styled heavy bomber in an era of space battles, and it is a fairly big target due to their large bomb bays which protrude out like a magazine from a gun, as well as being extremely slow and having very weak hull armor. They also heavily rely on outdated tactics, like flying in tight formations (so tight that a single damaged TIE fighter manages to take down three bombers by simply crashing into them), and they attack by positioning themselves "directly above" enemy ships and "drop" their payload directly onto the target. While using magnetic force to push the bombs out of bomb bays to create a "free-falling effect" is possible in space, not using weapons with better range such as proton torpedoes or smart bombs makes no sense. Even the only redeeming quality of the StarFortress, which is its high bomb capacity, is not significant since it should not be a bomber in the first place.
- The movie still has several problems with the characters in this movie, but not limited to:
- Rey is still a rather dull and overpowered protagonist who pulls abilities out of nowhere as the plot requires, suddenly knows the Force after roughly a single lesson from Luke, and is shilled for by the narrative: for example, Luke claims her power frightens him, despite the fact that he has been in the presence of other Sith, and even Yoda talks about how awesome she is. Not only that, she also seems to barely acknowledge Finn for most of the movie as if he didn't exist to the point where she only calls out Kylo for killing Han and never brings up the fact that he endangered Finn's life, and she even defeats Luke in combat (not physically, though) and lectures him for being a coward.
- LCW is given a very questionable characterization throughout the movie, as he is now a terrified and cowardly man committed to dying alone wallowing in regret after a failed attempt at a cold-blooded murder, instead of being an optimistic hero who refuses to give up.
- In particular, the fact that he also gave into his impulsives and considered the cold-blooded murder of a sleeping Ben Solo on the basis of a vague premonition rather undermines his arc in Return of the Jedi, in which he learns to control his emotions and impulses that made him prone to temptation by the dark side.
- Supreme Leader Snoke isn't a threatening villain, as he turns out to be just a (mostly) regular-sized and weak-looking alien humanoid with silly-looking golden robes.
- Leia can now use the Force to "fly through space" and her scene felt like a deus ex machina; the fact that Leia is a powerful Force-user undermines the entire quest to find Luke in The Force Awakens, since she could've just helped the Resistance defeat the First Order.
- Poe Dameron's arc consists of him getting demoted for making what in retrospect was the only correct decision (even if the Resistance wasn't aware of hyperspace-tracking, he knew that they would've been obliterated in their next encounter with the dreadnought had it not been destroyed), being constantly talked down to, and learning a lesson about the value of mindlessly obeying orders and ignoring his own instincts. Given that the bombers are slow and vulnerable, it is not clear how they would've been able to join up with the Resistance fleet to flee before the dreadnought had a chance to fire a second shot, even if Poe had listened to Leia's orders.
- Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo is a very flat character and her feud with Poe is pointless given that she could just tell everyone about the existence of a plan, given the clear crisis of morale on her ship. Also, her uniform, consisting of pink hair and a ballgown, is very odd, given that she is supposed to be a military officer. She also sits around doing nothing other than lecture and speak down to Poe on her cruiser's bridge while the First Order destroys most of the remainder of the Resistance.
- BB-9E is supposed to be a threatening villain, despite its obviously harmless appearance since it is basically just a black-plated BB-8.
- Chewbacca is very underused except for interactions with the porgs and taking Rey to places via the Falcon, and isn't shown to be grieving for the death of Han Solo.
- Everyone in the First Order is incompetent to the point where Captain Canady, the commander of the dreadnought, orders the destruction of the nearly-empty Resistance base rather than the obviously escaping Raddus.
- Captain Phasma is wasted again, as she fails to execute Finn and Rose, loses a fight with Finn and dies again.
- Yoda is given a rather goofy characterization, similar to when he first met Luke on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, in which he acted like this to test Luke's patience before turning to his usual stoic and wise characterization; only there is no reason for him to act like this in this movie.
- Maz Kanata is also inconsistent, as in the previous film she is a quirky but sincere criminal leader who cared about the fate of the galaxy and offered sage advice to young adventurers, but here she is now too busy with union disputes and sexual innuendo to fight "the only fight that matters".
- The film continues a tendency started by The Force Awakens to quickly replace classic characters with new ones without any proper setup. For example, Luke is given a new characterization so that Rey can easily be better than him. Admiral Ackbar is pointlessly killed after he has spent less than a minute on-screen and Leia is pointlessly rendered unconscious for most of the second act, and are replaced with a new admiral character who is killed off in this movie.
- Scenes and plot points are severely affected by poor writing and are sometimes redundant:
- The script constantly re-uses the idea of a character being stunned unconscious before switching to another scene. Poe, Finn, Kylo, Leia, and Rose are all knocked unconscious before the scene can move to another location.
- Kylo goes from wanting to create something different from pretty much anything made before to just deciding to be in charge of the First Order, something that also existed in the past, without a clear reason.
- At one point Finn and Rose get arrested for a parking violation, which is too mundane for a Star Wars movie.
- The script sometimes forgets that the Resistance are not called the Rebels, notably when Finn refers to himself as "Rebel scum" while fighting Phasma.
- The interactions between Rey and Kylo feel very forced (considering that they are in separate locations across the galaxy and that there would've been no other logical workaround to get them to interact) and weren't developed enough for her to decide to go risk her life to save him despite the fact that he had previously injured Finn and killed Han Solo.
- Both of Luke's lessons on why the Jedi Order should end that he gives to Rey don't do much of any analysis beyond empty assertions:
- The first lesson is about how "the Force doesn't belong to the Jedi", which was never a claim that the Jedi had, especially not with how Luke was taught about the Force. In fact, the Force has always been described as an all-encompassing energy field in the previous films. The Jedi's mandate is to work with the Force, not control it or claim ownership of it.
- The other lesson, about how "at the height of their power the Jedi allowed Darth Sidious to rise, create the Empire and wipe them out", is equally empty, as it doesn't raise any further questions or provide greater reasoning for the Jedi's failure beyond "they lost", which would be a dumb thing to use as evidence that the Jedi are bad, as that loss only occurred at the end of a thousand generations of being successful peacekeepers.
- Also the Jedi weren't at the height of their power during Sidious' rise, they were quite honest with themselves during Attack of the Clones, before the start of the Clone Wars, that their powers had been diminished. They also didn't allow Darth Sidious to rise, create the Empire and wipe them out, they weren't sitting idly while he took over; they actively fought his forces and sought to keep the Republic together; and finally, the Empire was only created after most of the Jedi were exterminated.
- Overuse of lazy plot conveniences, such as DJ arriving out of nowhere with a ship to find Finn and Rose on the edge of a cliff.
- Laughable dialogue, particularly Rose's line about how they'll win "not by fighting what we hate... but saving what we love."
- Some lines aren't necessary and point out stuff that is obvious, like in the opening scene where Lieutenant Connix says "oh no" upon discovering a First Order fleet arrive above the atmosphere of D'Qar.
- Many scenes are copied from other movies, notably the scene where Luke is revealed to be a projection, which recycles the ending of Escape from L.A.
- The Canto Bight subplot has a lot of filler, consisting of Finn taking the time to run around the casino wide-eyed and wanting to have some fun gambling and Rose spending multiple scenes worried about capitalism and animal cruelty despite the fact that they are on an urgent mission to save their friends. This subplot is also never brought up again.
- The middle of the movie is a digression caused by Admiral Holdo refusing to tell one of her subordinates enough information to perform his job of reassuring his subordinates, which results in a rather convoluted plan to find a code-breaker to get onto the Supremacy in order to get into a breaker room to switch off a breaker to disable a tracker so that the Resistance fleet can jump to hyperspace, which is useless since the Resistance never needed the tracker to be off anyway.
- Yoda shows up to teach Luke a valuable lesson, telling him that "The greatest teacher, failure is", which is a lesson Luke has already learned over the course of the original trilogy; only there is no reason for Yoda to point this out to Luke.
- Luke's death at the end was pretty underwhelming and empty, as he basically uses up all of his life-force by projecting an image of himself across the galaxy just to distract Kylo Ren and the First Order.
- The ending sequence is very contradictory with the protagonists cheering, which feels very forced despite the death of Luke Skywalker and the Resistance being almost entirely decimated.
- The visual design, cinematography, lighting and integration of digital and practical effects are all top-notch. All the action scenes are well-shot and excellent from a visual standpoint, and nearly all scenes are beautifully realized.
- The scene of Holdo's kamikaze is stunningly-executed.
- The Yoda puppet is an amazing replica of the original puppet used in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The original molds and the original painter for Yoda's eyes were even used.
- Speaking of which, the scene where the Force ghost of Yoda hits Luke on the face with his stick is a funny moment and a nice call-back to The Empire Strikes Back.
- The sound design is excellent, and most tracks from John Williams' score deliver the precise mood and tone they are supposed to, despite feeling a little played-out at times.
- Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Andy Serkis are clearly doing a good job with the material they're given, and of the younger cast Adam Driver in particular also puts in a great performance.
- The scene where Luke speaks to R2-D2 aboard the Falcon is not only pitch-perfect and genuinely touching, but also gives the viewer a moment where he has proper characterization.
- The scene of Finn accepting that he is now fighting for something bigger than himself as he heads towards the giant laser cannon is extremely well-handled.
- Since the film focuses less on Rey than the previous one, there are far fewer scenes showcasing her character being flawless.
- The Porgs are, admittedly, very cute to look at.
- In particular, BB-8 is still cute.
- There are some references to the three films in the prequel trilogy, like when Luke mentions how the Jedi fell and how Darth Sidious formed the Empire.
- Despite having mediocre choreography, the scene where Rey and Kylo Ren team up to fight the Praetorian guards is a pretty awesome scene.
Critical and audience response
The film received positive reviews from critics, receiving a 90% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes; however, it divided the more devoted fans of the Star Wars franchise, receiving a 43% audience rating. Some fans have considered Star Wars: The Last Jedi to be the second-worst Star Wars movie after the Star Wars Holiday Special to the point where the prequels, namely The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, once widely considered the worst films in the saga, are now looked on more favorably in hindsight by some fans.
The media attacked the fans for this in a similar way to what happened with the Ghostbusters reboot, calling critics a "vocal minority", claiming that they were opposed to the film's "diversity" or didn't understand its "message" or accusing them that they didn't like it because it failed to match their "fan theories" (even though there were fan theories it did match), proclaiming that this was Star Wars for "a new generation," or even attacking the original trilogy by saying it "wasn't as good as they remembered".
Several scenes prompted a humorous reaction from the internet Star Wars community, notably the shot where Luke Skywalker makes a disgusted face after drinking a green liquid milked from a seal-like creature being used to describe the reaction to the movie itself; the scene where Leia flies through space was also referred to as "Leia Poppins" or "Super Leia" due to how forced some fans considered it to be. A clip of an interview where Mark Hamill, the actor of Luke Skywalker, is describing BB-9E became another meme associated with the film.
A major criticism from viewers came from the fact characters lacked their proper characterization in the movie, with Hamill backing them up by stating how Luke Skywalker was written in a way he wasn't supposed to be. John Boyega, the actor of Finn, also criticized Finn's characterization.
Director Rian Johnson stated in an interview that he never should've been tasked with directing a Star Wars movie in the first place, admitting that he never cared about the series' canon or history, thus explaining the inconsistent characterizations in the movie.
The film made $1.3 billion at the box office worldwide over the course of its theatrical run, with a budget of $200–317 million, though it had a colossal 68.5% second-week drop at the US box office. The film was also a box-office bomb in China, as movie exhibitors dropped the film's showtimes by 92% before it was pulled entirely after two weeks.
- The Porgs were created to digitally replace the puffins that inhabited the island of Skellig Michael in Ireland (the island where the scenes on Ahch-To were filmed), as the island is so heavily populated with them to the point where the production staff decided to digitally replace the puffins rather than try to remove them.
- The concept of Force-users communicating with each other from across the galaxy was originally going to be in Return of the Jedi, but was cut from the finished film.