Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Retro Review
Disney offers its second film in the sequel trilogy with “The Last Jedi” and along the way further divides the Star Wars fan base. Rian Johnson takes over as director for this second film of the trilogy. He provides a different take on the saga that critics called the best film since “The Empire Strikes Back,” but fans did not particularly love it.
There’s plenty to unload with this one, so let’s get the good out of the way first. The CGI is wonderful. The scenes are as beautiful as ever. And the decision to claim Rey was the child of just some junk dealers had merit. The Skywalker/Palpatine line has made it clear that every new person we meet with Force abilities is from one of two families. The idea to say “no, anyone could be born with Force abilities” opens up an entire array of story arcs that could be explored. The potential for greatness is there.
It’s that potential for greatness that makes this movie’s failures even more disappointing. “The Force Awakens” asked several questions that “The Last Jedi” failed to adequately answer. While the idea of anyone being born with Force abilities is a good idea for a “Star Wars” film, it doesn’t work here because it’s just a throwaway line in a scene between Kylo Ren and Rey. It could’ve been so much more and explained so much better.
Star Wars fans left “The Force Awakens” asking who Supreme Leader Snoke could be. There is a wealth of material to choose from. He could’ve been a beloved character from the expanded universe of books, helping to bring them back into canon. He could’ve been Ezra Bridger who disappeared at the end of “Rebels,” tying in the popular cartoon to the current trilogy. He could’ve even been Emperor Palpatine or Darth Maul surviving their supposed deaths (we’ll see both of them later.) All of which would’ve been better options than no answer at all. Kylo Ren killing Snoke was guaranteed to happen in this trilogy, but some answers about Snoke would’ve been nice before he met the lightsaber blade.
One thing this film does right with Snoke’s death is how Kylo Ren doesn’t immediately become a hero. It would be the same story of Darth Vader “killing” the Emperor in “Return of the Jedi” and almost immediately becoming a Force ghost. “The Force Awakens” was enough of a rehash, they didn’t need to do that again. Kylo Ren moving from Darth Vader wannabe to the main villain of the story was an excellent choice and one that I wish was subsequently followed up on.
We learned in “Return of the Jedi” that Leia is Force sensitive, but we never see her learning to use the Force. Then, when the bridge of her ship is destroyed and she’s floating in the void of space she suddenly flies back to the ship like she’s “Mary Poppins.” While, we know she has Force capabilities, we need some example of her using it. Just expecting us to accept she had latent powers that suddenly manifested is a terrible away to advance the plot.
And, what was with the side quest to find the Codebreaker? That quest has literally zero impact on the rest of the movie. It looked like a way to say casinos are evil without advancing the plot. It was pointless and a waste of Fin’s character, along with a waste of Benicio Del Toro’s talents.
This film is immensely frustrating because the potential for greatness is there. But, Rian Johnson just decided to tell the answers without showing the work. It’s not a bad movie. It’s a lazy movie. The film would’ve actually been better if it had been a bad movie that put in the work.
Ranking: 1.5 stars out of 5
What did you think of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi?”