The Last Jedi, the latest movie in the Star Wars universe has been nothing if not divisive and it is receiving starkly contrasting reviews from Star Wars fans. This movie has succeeded in creating a huge rift between the two camps in the Star Wars fan community; as for me, I’m in the middle of the two extremes although I’m leaning more towards the “positive” camp. Here is my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
** Now, this review 100% contains SPOILERS, so please only read it if you’ve already seen the movie! **
Blast from the past
From the onset, The Last Jedi is like déjà vu and looks quite similar to Return of the Jedi, and The Empire Strikes Back. The opening scene shows the Resistance, who had already destroyed the Starkiller Base, fleeing from the First Order forces. As this is happening, Rey (Daisy Ridley) the neophyte is on Ahch-To trying to convince Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to train her on how to use the Force.
Rey later on in the movie realizes that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is battling with his conscience, meaning that there a chance she can convince him to switch sides. Rey consequently turns herself over to the First Order only for Kylo to hand her over to the Supreme Leader Snoke who is intent on breaking her. The film lacks creativity as many of the scenes are borrowed from previous Star Wars movies earning it its deserved thumbs down.
Unexpected turn of events
Despite Disney rehashing major elements from Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back, the movie still has some surprises in store. The major one was in the case of the evil villain Snoke. About two thirds into the movie, Kylo drags in Rey before Snoke much like the throne room scene in Return for The Jedi. Snoke goes off in a typical Emperor Palpatine dialogue telling Kylo that he has to kill Rey to completely move to the dark side.
In a totally unexpected move, Kylo calls on the Force and activates Rey’s lightsaber from a distance which he uses to slice Snoke in half killing him instantly. I have to tell you that this was not expected considering Snoke was poised to become the villain of the whole trilogy.
Rey and Kylo then team up to effectively fight Snoke’s guards in a deadly battle. This proves to be one of the best sequences in The Last Jedi. Rey’s hopes are lifted, and she thinks that she has won Kylo over from the First Order. In an unexpected turn of events, Kylo’s anger returns and it becomes clear that he wants to take over the vacant Supreme Leader position.
The end of the New Republic democracy
In The Force Awakens, we are not sure if the Starkiller Base wiped out the New Republic or just the capital. The New Republic is however demolished in The Last Jedi, and the First Order is weeks away from taking over the entire galaxy.
This means the New Republic is short lived and has been overthrown three decades after toppling Emperor Palpatine from power. The democracy has been replaced by a tyrannical rule, and only a handful of freedom fighters stand in their way.
Luke Skywalker is a brooding, bitter old man
The Last Jedi sets up Luke Skywalker as a bitter old man with an embattled figure. Skywalker is weighed down by his past mistakes and losses which have dire consequences down the road. However, this melancholic mood is not misplaced because the galaxy has moved on and left him fixated on old ways and what had existed in the past. He was unable to establish a new Jedi order and is consequently left behind.
Snoke suffers from the same malady of trying to relive the past and his plan to replace Emperor Palpatine with Kylo as his Darth Vader falls flat on its face. Skywalker is visited by the spirit of Yoda in Ahch-To which tells him that “The greatest teacher, failure is” prodding him to learn from the past in order to forge a way forward.
Female power is thrown into the mix
The Last Jedi introduces a fresh perspective that women are more sensible than their ego –fuelled counterparts (males) and more capable of seeing the bigger picture. Disney seems to be bent on destroying the male hero figure, and this is shown by how Poe Dameron is treated.
In the opening scene, Poe (Oscar Isaac) disobeys orders from his General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) to counter-attack the Dreadnaught ship of the First Order. Although they successfully destroy the Dreadnaught, most of the Resistance fleet is destroyed. Instead of congratulating Poe, General Leia dismisses his actions and the First Order tracks their quarry through hyperspace and launches an attack on the already depleted Resistance Fleet. This attack kills most of the Resistance Fleet leaving Leia in critical condition.
Poe goes ahead to clash with Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) with his stern belief that she is incompetent. He then orders Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega) on a risky sabotage mission of a tracking device belonging to the First Order. Poe goes on to accuse Holdo of treason and lead a mutiny and only later discovers that she had a plan after all.
Holdo ends up sacrificing herself for the remaining members of the Resistance. The Last Jedi portrays the women Rey, Holdo and Rose as fighters who do not give up and possess a big picture thinking to find solutions. Finn, Poe, and Kylo are on the other hand portrayed as impulsive people with rigid thinking and emotionally fueled behavior.
Father figures in the Last Jedi
The scene between Yoda and Luke Skywalker is the epitome of a father figure. Although Vader was Luke’s real father, Yoda was the closest that Luke got to a real father. Yoda was always there for Luke, and even after his demise, he appears to him in spirit form to restore hope and give him much needed advice at a trying time.
The enigma of biological parents & Snokes origin
A number of theories have been circulating about Rey’s and Finn’s biological parents since the release of The Force Awakens which point to Snoke’s hidden identity. The Last Jedi further adds the confusion by showing that Snoke is just another Sith or Dark Jedi with no real backstory or history. Similarly, Rey’s parents are not of any consequence either.
It is refreshing to know that there are no mystical ties to major characters’ parents, unlike previous Star Wars movies. Luke also demystifies the notion that the light belongs to the Jedi and that if all the Jedi die the light will vanish. Being a Skywalker is also not a birthright to lead the Force. Rey who is a nobody is assured that she can achieve greatness from her actions and not lineage.
The evil side is weak
Kylo Ren is not a strong figure and blindly follows his dream of being the next Darth Vader. But this makes him a more believable bad guy just like General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) who hides his incompetence with arrogance. This portrays the real personalities of tyrants who are ridden by inferiority complexes. They consequently attack anyone who threatens their well being and are extremely self-centered showing that evil is sad and miserable.
Bits of comedy thrown in for good measure
Porgs, the adorable birds native to Ahch – To get on board the Millenium Falcon. Chewbacca is reasonably pissed although the Porgs do not add to any plot and are just eye candy that lightens the mood. Vulptex, the crystal foxes, are also for visual purposes and adding a bit of comedy to the mix. They, however, show the Resistance a way to escape the cave headquarters when attacked by the First Order.
The way forward
The Last Jedi ends with a depleted Resistance force escaping on the Millenium Falcon with the First Order in the hands of Kylo Ren. This sets the stage for a reborn Resistance driven by the children who have suffered under the tyranny of the First Order.
All in all, it was an entertaining movie with a story that leaves us wanting more. The Last Jedi is an improvement from The Force Awakens although it has failed to sufficiently present the new ideas in an understandable way.