Perhaps having so many female fighters is the reason the resistance was getting destroyed as badly as they were…I probably shouldn’t lead with that…forget I said that, let me rewind. I said watching the trailer, that I hope Disney doesn’t Mary Sue this and actually takes a risk in this film. Risk something that Disney doesn’t do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
After watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it seems more to me that this is a Disney thing and not a Marvel thing. With news, this week that Disney has brought 21st Century Fox, their control of the film industry has grown to great concern. Disney is a money-making business, not a great product business, Mark Hamill will tell you that himself. With the number of properties they now own, Disney has set themselves up to make millions of dollars off the name of their films alone. When you have a model like that, the quality of the films becomes irreverent because that is no longer the goal. Star Wars: The Force Awakens had me intrigued about the future of Disney’s Star Wars. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, bored to tears with how pointless it was. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I am now accepting the reality of playing by Disney’s rules.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi begins mere minutes after the events of the last film. The Resistance is desperately fleeing an incoming attack from The First Order (if this doesn’t interest you, bad times are ahead, this is the movie). Meanwhile, Rey (Ridley) finally finds Luke Skywalker (Hamill) on the water-world Ahch-To, however, Luke wants nothing to do with the Resistance and refuses to help. You also have Finn (Boyega) and his new lady friend Rose (Tran), whose mission is to go to a planet and find a man who can help them sneak on the enemy ship and turn off their trackers, then sneak back onto the Resistance ship and escape the First Order for the second of three times in this film (Side Mission, they also destroy a casino because the people are rich and sell guns to both sides which makes them evil…I’m not being a dick, this actually happens). The resistance is in a race for hope as they look to survive the first order and escape…three times.
Ok, where to begin here? Watching this in real-time, the story doesn’t bother you too much while you are in the middle of it, however, upon reflection; you realize what little meat this plot has which is inexcusable given this is the second film of a trilogy. This film should have been the boiling point which makes you hyped for the conclusion, but this doesn’t accomplish that. The first problem here is repetitiveness, this film is basically an escape plot repeated three times.
It opens with the FO chasing the resistance from their bases, the conflict in the 2nd act is how to escape the FO in space, and the film’s climax has been them escaping the FO again on a planet just 2 minutes after they literally spent the entire film trying to get there in the first place. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a problem if the runtime wasn’t 2 hours and 30 minutes, but it is. Instead of an epic story, it feels like you are watching a filler episode of The Walking Dead where Carl is walking around doing nothing and then Daryl shows up in the last 3 minutes before the preview of next week’s episode begins.
The second problem is the characters because this film did nothing to develop any of them or excite you about their futures. I only cared about what direction the newer characters were going to go here because they are the ones who need to carry this franchise going forward. So what do they do here? Poe (Issac) spends the entire movie going rogue on his female bosses, but becomes the defacto leader even after his plans get about 70% of the resistance killed. Finn is relegated to a side mission for most of the movie and the mission becomes completely irrelevant before the last act of the film.
If you were waiting to see how the Finn/Rey relationship progresses, too bad because they literally share 0 screen time until the last 2 minutes of the movie. Rey, who we all thought would be the primary hero (or at least I hoped, the primary villain) takes a backseat to the film’s Nostalgia Fest with Luke and Leia. When Rey’s background is finally explained, we discover that she is….nobody, her character has no relationship with anyone of importance in the Star Wars universe. The last piece of this disappointing puzzle is Kylo Ren (Driver). You figure that Ren would have his moment here to prove why he is the threat everyone claims he is but he isn’t portrayed as such.
Kylo is still acting like the mopey teenager with mommy and daddy issues he was in episode 7. He is basically a flunky for Snoke (oh, and if you were one of those guys who spent years debating how important Snoke would be the story, you wasted your time). Right when Kylo has the opportunity to take that next step and reach the main event status, they cop-out by having him fight Luke Skywalker’s hologram just to have Luke die immediately after the fight…why? Just have Kylo kill Luke. Then you have Kylo become the threat that you have told us about 2 films. Instead, the big bad guy is a person who has been outsmarted multiple times, bested by a girl who had only picked up a lightsaber 3 minutes earlier, and is too easily rattled to be a cunning villain the film wants.
The story is repetitive, the character portrayals are majorly disappointing, and the runtime is 30 minutes too long. These issues are death sentences for any film and this one has all three. Now it’s time to nitpick: How did Leia survive getting blown out in space? Why didn’t everyone else get sucked out of space when they opened the door to bring her back? How do you carpet bomb a ship in space? How is the resistance still losing to the order? Didn’t they win at the end of Episode 6? Was there any relevant reason for them to insert a lecture on classism in the middle of this film?
Finn and Rose spend their entire screentime looking for someone they never find in the first place, why? Does Disney have an issue with making an interesting villain? 200 Million Dollar budget and they couldn’t make Yoda look better than that? So the Porgs are only here to sell toys? They have no other purpose? Why is Luke Skywalker trying to murder a kid in his sleep? Didn’t they just blow a massive hole in this ship, why is everyone not dead? They’re already retreating from the base, didn’t they just get here? Why do I have the feeling Mark Hamill hates what’s Disney has done to Star Wars more than me?
Look, if I’m judging this film solely on entertainment value or as a popcorn flick, I would probably give it a 2/5 out of fairness. However, if I’m judging this as a story that is being told between three movies, this series is done. All of the doe-eyed intrigue people built up in The Force Awakens is done because they have undone every angle that had the fans’ interest and that disconnect is why the critics on Rotten Tomatoes have given it a 93% while the audience has given it a 56%, the lowest of any Star Wars film ever. What is the draw now for Episode 9, because I don’t see? Rey beats Ren aka the most predictable outcome ever?
Star Wars The Last Jedi is a dud, but the biggest problem here is that if Disney after buying 21st Century Fox is going to use the same filmmaking model with all of their properties that they have used for Marvel and Star Wars film, the film and television industry is heading to a (pun intended) constitutional crisis and perhaps an end of movies as we know them.