by Tanner Kinney
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE WILL CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE LAST JEDI. THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING. IF YOU READ THIS AND HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE, THEN COMPLAIN ABOUT SPOILERS, DON’T EMAIL ME WITH COMPLAINTS. THEY WON’T BE HEARD. THANK YOU.
It’s been a while since the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but the ripples of its release are still being felt. The film was heavily hyped up before release, and fans had a reason to be excited. While J.J. Abrams took Star Wars in a relatively safe direction with The Force Awakens, this new film had Rian Johnson, who was given full creative control over this project. Disney decided not to meddle with the second movie in their major blockbuster trilogy, giving full power to some guy who previously directed Looper and… not much else. It was a bold decision by Disney, and even if there was a bit of meddling from the higher ups, it was obviously a new an original take on the story J.J. Abrams established (or rehashed, if that’s what you prefer to say). Rian Johnson went in and took all of the fans expectations about this new Star Wars movie potentially being too “samey” and turned it all on its head. But how did the people feel about it?
Well, it certainly wasn’t a remake of The Empire Strikes Back. I’m not entirely sure it was a Star Wars movie, to be honest. I’m also not sure I’m not still watching the movie, considering I went into the theater a clean-shaven lad and left with a full beard. Seriously, that movie felt like it went on for days and days. Still shorter than Batman v. Superman felt, at least.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi released to critical praise, much to the delight of fans. Unfortunately, much to the dismay of fans, the movie itself hurt them. Check out the Rotten Tomatoes scores for both critics and user scores. The gap between the two is unusually massive, scarily so. The polarizing nature of this movie can be seen around the internet as well, with people conflicted on whether this movie was a masterpiece because of all the subverted expectations and new changes, or if it was a complete pile of pungent Porg poop for the same reasons. It seems there’s no middle ground for opinions on this film; you either love it and all of its weirdness or hate it and Rian Johnson for destroying everything you love. But what about The Last Jedi is making people so angry, and is there a good argument behind the wall of flame? Well, I did a bit of research and, along with my own opinions, came up with a few reasons as to why I think this movie is so polarizing.
The Story Structure is a Complete Mess and Nothing Happens
— Steph Spengler (@wnydapu) September 12, 2015
This complaint is probably the one most based on the movie itself as a movie and not as a continuation of the Star Wars universe. The Last Jedi has a runtime of two hours and thirty-two minutes, a single minute longer than the messy slog that was Batman v. Superman’s theatrical cut. The Last Jedi, however, isn’t one story being extended to this runtime. It’s secretly three different movies all loosely related to each other, trimmed down and compacted into one very big bowl of spaghetti. Typically, Star Wars fans would love to chow down on a big bowl of Star Wars Spaghettios (which is a real thing, of course), but not when Rian Johnson toucha their spaghett! The major points boil down to the movie containing a lot of unnecessary fluff with no substantial character development. Everyone sort of just returned to where they started in the story, except Kylo Ren and Rey. It was essentially a filler episode, except we didn’t get to see the cast go to the beach or a hot spring, only a pointless casino. We did at least get shirtless Kylo Ren, if that counts. More like WIDElo Ren if you ask me.
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, filming a topless scene for The Last Jedi (2017) pic.twitter.com/ACwb4ISQmx
— Star Wars Memes (@jedimemes) January 10, 2018
This complaint I completely agree with. There were a number of parts in the movie that just seemed silly, unnecessary, and wasted time. The movie, at its core and at its best, is about Rey learning the truth behind the Jedi and the Force. She and Kylo have both found their answers and want to take a different approach to going above all the politics, the Dark Side and Light Side, and try to get the other to join them in their quest to just end all the fighting. At the end of it all, Kylo’s frustration leads him further down the Dark side, and Rey has a new determination to join the Resistance and be the Jedi hero she was destined to be. If the movie was a nice hour and a half about Rey’s development, her interactions with Kylo, and where they end up respectively going into the finale of this trilogy, it would have been a pretty fantastic film.
Yet another LAST JEDI moment I loved: Rey, who grew up on a dry, desert planet, taking a moment to stop and feel the rain running off the Falcon. pic.twitter.com/oMHG3VwEgS
— Chris Evangelista (@cevangelista413) January 7, 2018
The film is bogged down with other characters, unfortunately. Nothing wrong with the new cast, I happen to love them all and their characters. I actually think, contrary to some people, that Rose was a great new addition to the cast, and am excited to see her character hopefully get more development in the next film. She deserves more development. Poe is a great character, and John Boyega is still amazing as Finn. It’s just that their subplots only served to pull the movie down. They are constantly failing, losing, and yet there are little consequences to their failure. They end up right where the movie started, except with Rose and Finn having a… romance? Sort of? Their subplot could still be a part of the film, but trim it down significantly; or choose to focus on either Finn and Rose in Casino Night Zone OR Poe dealing with the unhelpful Admiral Holdo who wouldn’t take 3 MINUTES to just TELL POE her plan, which would have resulted in LESS casualties. Poe’s not in the right either, but come on, just give the man a hint before he almost gets both of his friends killed.
The only quick thing in their subplots is that Captain Phasma is once again defeated in under five minutes. Great character you got there, Star Wars! She did just as much for in this trilogy as Boba Fett did in the original trilogy!
Your Snoke (And Rey Parentage) Theory Sucks
In The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams left the audience with his infamous “mystery box.” The mystery, this time, revolved around Supreme Leader Snoke and who Rey’s parents were. A little mystery is a good thing, I always believe, because it gets people talking. There were hundreds of fan theories written by hacks like me about how Snoke was actually Jar Jar Binks and that Rey is actually the secret love child of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Some Lady™. There were theories that Rey is a Skywalker, and actually Kylo’s long lost cousin/sister. Or, perhaps, Snoke willed her into existence to become an avatar of the Dark Side, but instead she chooses the Jedi and ends the trilogy killing a God with her cast of misfit friends she discovered along the way.
Rian Johnson opened up Abrams’s mystery box, and this was the result:
Needless to say, I’m not shocked Rian Johnson burned it all to the ground. It was better this way.
There’s a part of me that thinks Rian Johnson is a genius troll, intentionally making Snoke Some Guy™ who gets killed and Rey’s parents Some Junkers™ to piss off the Star Wars fans who treat it with a cult-like fascination. Let’s be honest here, they are so invested in their own headcanons that they would’ve been disappointed anyways. As a fan of chaos, I enjoy Rian Johnson doing that to piss people off, and think it was amazing to watch so many fans get their days ruined. As a fan of good storytelling, not giving ANY backstory to Snoke or Rey’s parents, despite it being an important plot point from the Abrams story? Kind of a let down. I can see why people would be upset about this, but personally, I thought it wasn’t a deal breaker. They should let Rian Johnson handle a big superhero film, I want to see the MCU fans squirm next.
You Aren’t Funny Star Wars, Get Off The Stage!
These complaints are ones I actually heard before going into the movie. Allegedly, The Last Jedi was a quip-tastic movie on the levels of Guardians of the Galaxy. The thought of having to sit through another movie as devoid of comedy despite trying really hard as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 made me instantly worried about the movie. Before going into the theater, I was genuinely worried this film would somehow be worse than Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which I had seen earlier in the week. I can say that the movie wasn’t as loaded with humor and quips as I expected, and there were some jokes that made me laugh, but I also will agree that the humor was out-of-place and coming from the wrong characters.
There were plenty of good jokes. I thought the scene where Luke mocks Rey’s understanding of the Force was very funny. I thought Luke going through his everyday business despite Rey’s pandering was a good touch, if less comedic and more just interesting to watch. I thought some of the lines delivered in the first interaction with Rose and Finn were amusing, and made me instantly like Rose as a character.
I also thought that Poe probably should have been quiping more than he was, considering he is the snarky hothead. Additionally, while I thought Luke was funny, I do think, along with some reviews I’ve read or watched, that his character probably should have been MORE bitter and jaded than what was portrayed in the film. Redirect some of Luke’s humor to Poe, and it feels more balanced. I mostly just hated all the meta-jokes during the terrible final act of the film, where it seemed like George Lucas had his hands on the script during the process. It’s like poetry; it’s eye-rollingly dumb to read when it’s coming from a complete hack. The humor didn’t kill the film for me though, and I don’t think it’s really that strong of an argument against the film other than addressing some errors in characterization. Besides, we all know the funniest part of the film is when Leia FLIES THROUGH SPACE LIKE MARY FRIGGIN’ POPPINS because that definitely happened and I thought it was hilarious.
Also the part where Luke milks some strange smooth walrus for some green milk, then takes a drink while giving Rey crazy eyes. I clapped.
Does It Suck?
I guess at the end of this article as unnecessarily long as The Last Jedi I should probably give my thoughts on it. If you couldn’t tell, I actually quite liked a lot of it. I left the theater feeling like I ran a marathon, but once I got out of that funk I realized I enjoyed the movie. It made me more interested in Star Wars than before, even if it was just because I wanted to see what makes other people hate this movie so much. Over time, however, I accepted that the film was a bit messy. It has problems, and some are even legit complaints against it. I think once all the anger dies down and people abandon their petitions to remove The Last Jedi from the canon, most people will find the movie is a lot like the Force: it just exists. It’s good in some ways, and bad in others. It exists, and only the people who obsess over it will find complete good or evil within it. At the very least, for better or for worse, it is certainly the most interesting Star Wars movie of the Disney bunch so far.
I will admit that I didn’t cover some things that people complained about because I liked them. The lightspeed kamikaze done by Admiral Holdo was cool to watch, but incredibly dumb once you think about the impact it has on warfare within the Star Wars universe, and the fact that it probably shouldn’t have worked. The scene in the throne room where Rey and Kylo take on Snoke’s FIGHTING POLYGON TEAM was also a really cool nod to some extended universe weapons, even if it was a bit unnecessary and seemed to fill the action scene quota. To me, they don’t impact the film enough to make or break the experience, but I thought it would be a good idea to add them here.
I just wonder what Abrams is going to do with this complete destruction of everything he tried to set up and establish. I think it would be funny if Abrams just retcons everything saying it was all a bad dream of Rey’s, and all of the fan theories are correct. It’ll be like MadLibs, each fan fills out their own plot points and then they get to hear auto-generated voices saying the names and lines they want to hear. The perfect Star Wars movie, where only the true experts determine what happens: the Star Wars fans.
— Tara (@tara_atrandom) December 21, 2017
Tanner is a Film and Media Studies major and a Digital Media minor. His Neo Yokio review won a second-place CSPA Golden Circle award for the 2017 semester. He enjoys playing JRPG’s of any variety, regardless of how obscure and strange it is. Tanner is also the host of Byte at the Movies, the premiere movie discussion live-stream.