It’s here. The movie we’ve spent most of 2017 waiting for finally arrived last week. The hype was almost as good as it was for the Force Awakens, and it should be. There was plenty to look forward to in the tenth movie of the most popular movie franchise to date. But just like when the prequels came out, some people are disappointed. In contrast to the rotten tomatoes score of 93, Metacritic gave it an 86, and IMDb a surprisingly low 7.8. So why didn’t people like it?
Before we can discuss that, this review contains just about all of the main SPOILERS for the movie.
For starters, the Disnification was obvious even more than in The Force Awakens. Porgs, while popular, were obviously something only Disney would put in a movie. The same goes for the ice foxes, formally called Vulpex, and even the “master codebreaker” looked like something out of a cartoon. On the other hand, some of the other creatures, including the Fathiers and the Caretakers, are distinctly the style of Lucasfilm and the original trilogy. While Disney’s influence does change the tone, it’s not necessarily a bad change, just different.
The big deal for some was that The Last Jedi tied off many of the loose ends presented by The Force Awakens too easily. It was almost like Rian Johnson simply discarded JJ Abrams’ ideas to support his radically different ones on how the sequel trilogy should go. Even if his idea was better, the change created some serious inconsistencies, and even plot holes.
Several characters were severely undeveloped and died prematurely in terms of the storyline. Such was Captain Phasma, aka Boba Fett 3.0. She is without a doubt the closest thing to another Mandalorian: just like Boba and Jango, she was introduced as a badass villain and quickly became popular among fans, only to die in a thoroughly disappointing way without doing much more than looking cool. Supreme Leader Snoke also died too easily. Despite all of the internet’s promising theories on his identity, Snoke is just Snoke: a menacingly powerful Dark Side user who appeared out of nowhere, attempted to take over the Galaxy, and died without so much as a fight. That is not to say that his death was bad; in fact, it was very well thought out. But there was so much left to do with him it was unfortunate that he was killed off so fast.
Leia’s stunt is another divisive factor. Theoretically, Leia is Force-sensitive, but not nearly as much as Luke, or she also would have been trained by Obi-Wan and Yoda. Naturally, using the Force to fly while nearly dead, stuck in a freezing vacuum, and without any previous training came as a bit of a surprise, but it got the point across: Leia is not done yet. If that was the intention, it was executed well, as unexpected as it was.
There are other issues, too. The Knights of Ren, briefly seen in Rey’s vision in The Force Awakens, were explained away as Jedi who joined Kylo after he massacred those that would not. Rey’s parentage, though it might have significance later, was also a letdown.
But we can’t forget the good things. The showdown on Crait was well done, and the snow-covered salt flats were a nice colorful addition. Chewie and C-3P0 are still around. The Rey-Kylo team up and their connection through the Force were good ideas. The dreadnaught, the walkers, Kylo’s TIE Silencer, the Resistance bombers, and all the rest were great new additions to the fleet of different vehicles already around. Yoda showing up was a good idea even though he did look a bit like a puppet. The Force and the Jedi were also portrayed and used differently, although that could be good or bad. Luke’s Force projection stunt was an interesting twist, and his death was fitting.
The Last Jedi was different from any other Star Wars film so far, and that threw some people off. It took Star Wars in an unexpected direction that hadn’t been done before. But in the end, it was a good movie. As with the prequels, it’s different because it makes it interesting. The next trilogy or the anthology movies that have already been announced will also be different, and some people won’t like it, but if all the movies were the same style invented in 1977 it would get dull and pointless. This one was an experiment, and it worked out pretty well. It still felt like Star Wars, and as long as Disney keeps future movies in the franchise that way, not much can go wrong with them.