I loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi; you can read my The Last Jedi mini-review here (spoiler-free) and see what I liked most in The Last Jedi here (spoilers in that one). But it wasn’t a perfect film; there are a few things I have issue with.
There are, of course, spoilers after this point.
The lack of fallout from Poe, Finn, and Rose’s mission
Some folks are complaining that the Canto Bight side quest was pointless, because in the end all the did was screw up Admiral Holdo’s plan. People are countering that by saying that that’s the point—the whole point of this movie is that people make mistakes and it’s important to learn from them.
I tend to go lean towards the latter, but the thing is, Poe, Finn and Rose don’t actually face any repercussions for their actions.
Think about it this way: Early in the film, Poe disobeys orders, a bunch of pilots die, and as a result, Poe gets demoted (and slapped by Leia).
Later in the film, Poe launches an unapproved mission, stages a mutiny, and gets most of the remaining resistance killed, and as a result… um, well, he’ll lead the assault on Crait, I guess? And Finn and Rose will join in too!
I mean I know there isn’t much you can do at that point—there’s only about 50 resistance fighters left, how much discipline can you really give these guys? But I really do have to wonder if they learned their lesson. If they don’t—well, then, yeah, the whole damn thing was pointless.
The Canto Bight sequence was bloated… and a little prequel-esque
This seems to be, universally, the least-liked sequence in the film, and it’s easy to see why. Finn and Rose travel to this world to meet the only guy who can break into a Star Destroyer… but then end up getting thrown in jail, only to there meet someone else who can do the same? These twists just drew this part out and really slowed down this part of the film.
Meanwhile, they free these giant creatures that are locked up and used in races. Now, let’s side aside the lacklustre CGI effects in the chase scene (you’d have thought these guys would have learned from the god-awful creature chase with Obi-Wan and Greivous in Revenge of the Sith). But these creatures, it turns out, are so strong and tough and powerful, that they can literally run through windows and walls and trash an entire casino and stomp on speeders so hard the speeders actually explode. Oh, and they’re so fast, they can actually outrun flying security speeders.
But they’re being used in races? And they’re kept by slave children? Come on.
It seems to me that this sequence exists only to set up the orphans, to in turn then set off the final shot of the film. But I don’t think it was worth it. They could have trimmed 10-12 minutes from this sequence.
Playing the droids as boobs (invincible boobs, at that)
The droids have, over time, gone from loyal companions that we care about deeply, to the butt of jokes. It started in The Empire Strikes Back; when Artoo is eaten by that swamp monster, we (the audience) genuinely care about his well-being. Then he gets unceremoniously spat out. It’s a funny moment, and it works, but it started a downward trend. In Return of the Jedi, Threepio gets knocked around by Jabba, and get his eye pulled out by Salacious Crumb; Artoo ends up serving drinks, then gets shot on Endor, and makes some funny noises and then konks out.
Remember in Star Wars when Artoo was shot? “I’ve lost Artoo!” Luke cries. When he lands he says “oh no” upon seeing Artoo, and Threepio practically has a breakdown. By the time of Jedi, Artoo gets shot and no one cares. He’s invincible! Don’t even get me started on the prequels.
I understand that the droids have always been a source of humour. Look at Threepio and Artoo arguing in Star Wars! But that humour comes from their personalities. Not slapstick and pratfalls that have nothing to do with their individual characters.
In The Last Jedi, BB-8 has a lame scene of prequel-level humour where he attempts to fix a broken circuit by protruding one arm after another from his body, a seemingly endless supply. When that doesn’t work, he jams his head into the circuit, and saves the day. Later in the film an alien uses him as a slot machine; BB-8 in turn “shoots” the coins at a security guard and knocks him out (after knocking out three other guards off-camera). And saves the day again.
Why can’t the droids just be faithful companions who do robot things, like connect to computers? Why do they have to be the butt of jokes, and my God, why do they have to be super-heroes?
Rey and Finn only have one moment together
It was a beautiful moment and it made me cry: The Resistance blocked in the caves by a rock wall, then Rey lifting the rocks, and Finn seeing her, and rushing through the rock storm and embracing her. It was great… but all too brief. These two were so wonderful together on-screen in The Force Awakens, I really felt that chemistry was missing in this story.
I understand why Rey and Finn had to got their separate ways at this point in the story, and I’m glad that they had great scenes with Kylo Ren and Rose, respectively. But their chemistry is fantastic and I it was missing in the film. I hope JJ Abrams finds a way to keep them together more in Episode IX.
Luke tossing the lightsaber
I’m torn on this one, but ultimately I’m putting it down as a dislike. It’s not that I dislike that the lightsaber is unimportant to Luke; I’m glad it’s not important. I get the message that the people around Luke place this grand importance on the lightsaber, but to Luke—the actual owner of the lightsaber—it has no value. And clearly, I get the double message being sent there, about the importance fans place on these things.
So I’m fine with him not caring about it. But the over the shoulder toss was just a little much, you know? It’s too slap-sticky, too theatrical. It shouldn’t have been played for laughs; remember, this is our first indication that Luke is no longer the Luke we know. That’s not a joke. In addition, in this scene, Rey is our proxy; she’s sought out Luke, much like we’ve been waiting for Luke. He tosses the saber, and suddenly, she’s not our proxy anymore, because she’s confused, and we’re laughing nervously at a goofy joke.
I honestly suspect that this very moment is the one that put so much of the fanbase on the defensive.
I don’t like to do “here’s what I would have done” when I write reviews, but, I just think this scene would have played so much better had he simply dropped it. He takes it, looks at it, looks at Rey, lets it fall to the ground and walks away, because he literally can’t be bothered with it.
That tells the audience something is wrong, that this Luke is different.
The toss? That’s a bit of a fuck-you to the audience (and to JJ Abrams). And I don’t think it was necessary.
Well, there you have it; those are my nitpicks with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. They clearly don’t outweigh the things I liked about the film! But as always, there’s room for improvement.