The Last Jedi: Review / by Kenneth Buff

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second film in the new Star Wars trilogy. It follows the 2015 film, The Force Awakens. That film was headlined by Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and featured a handful of characters replacing the original trilogy's heroes as well as appearances by fan favorites R2-D2 and C3-P0 (and Leia and Luke, but luckily their parts were small. The Last Jedi unfortunately shows us what happens when you expand the roles of actors who haven't gotten in front of the camera in decades).

There were a lot of questions left from The Force Awakens. Questions of who Rey is (and why doesn't she have a last name?), who Snoke is, what happened with Luke and the jedi, what made Ben Solo become Kylo Ren, and just how is it that Han Solo is exactly the same person he was 30 years ago? None of those questions are answered in The Last Jedi. The movie's too busy moving through the plot points, and wowing us with new cutesy CGI creatures.

Don't get me wrong, the battles are fine. The CGI looks bright and pretty, the sound is fine, the music, everything is pretty fine. The acting isn't great, the parts aren't either (nobody gets any real growth). There's so much that's just "fine" in this movie, that it's hard to pin-point just what it is that makes it so unenjoyable. Because that's what one expects to experience when they go see a big blockbuster movie: a bit of joy. But in this movie I felt none. There was a brief moment where I thought "oh no, they might kill Finn" but then I immediately wondered if I'd really care if they did (the answer was "not really").

And the worst part is (and this is a problem that started in The Force Awakens) is that the hero is so much more powerful than the villain, there's exactly zero fear that the hero will lose in part three of this trilogy.

I don't know if it's that this series is just a repeat of the first trilogy (there's a joke before the "Hoth battle" of this movie that the snow is actually salt, so, you know it's different) that makes it feel by the numbers or if it's lazy writing. Lots of series take the same basic plot ideas, but then subvert them to make something new out of it, but this series seems intent on not really bothering, and also on not bothering in building the characters they have (instead they go for silly jokes you'd expect in a Transformers movie or a Pirate's of the Carribean movie, which seems to be all this series aspires to be: a fluffy cash cow, rather than something worth watching).

There's also issues with Luke and Leia. A lot of it stems from neither being that great at live action acting (Mark Hamill is an excellent voice actor) but it's also that EVERY character in this movie has very little to do that matters (nobody says anything to anyone that sounds genuine or has reason to). For a moment I thought Luke was going to bring up some genuine questions when he asks Rey, "Who are you? Why are you here? Why are YOU here?" but that's just brushed aside like everything else in this movie.

One of my biggest problems with the film was that the new heroes are so self-important. The biggest offender being Poe. The guy marches around like he owns the Resistance, demanding he be given full knowledge of what's going on, and throwing temper tantrums when he's not given what he wants. It's just so annoying. Poe hasn't earned any of the screen time he gets in the film. He's just not that important (or even likable, or smart or clever, or anything) so why is he even a main character? Finn has so much more potential to be interesting, but he's just waisted in this movie. He goes off on an adventure (mid slowest chase scene you've ever seen in a movie) to grab another character to help them escape the chase (and since it's such a slow chase, they have time). They don't find the dude, but somehow find another guy who can do the exact same thing in a prison cell that also includes them (and no one else). Finn spends time here being goofy ("Yay, we're in a casino!" he more or less exclaims) and that's pretty much it. The new character Rose is another one of those just "fine" additions to the cast, but because the cast is already jammed packed with characters it shouldn't be, adding one more of them who is just "fine" is unnecessary.

Overall, Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn't the worst film in the series, but is down there just slightly above them. If I had a choice, I'd go back and tell myself to see an indie movie instead, that way I'd leave the theater happy I watched a movie, instead of shrugging my shoulders and telling my wife, "It was fine."