I did it! I dodged almost all spoilers for The Last Jedi for more than a week until we were finally able to go see it.
I was a little nervous — reactions seemed really polarized for this one. Some people loved it, others hated it. Some of the hate was from trolls who couldn’t stand the idea of a franchise where white dudes weren’t front and center, but not all.
Personally? I loved it. And after a little spoiler space, I’ll talk about why…
Is that enough spoiler space?
How about now?
Okay, here we go…
I only got out of the theater a few hours ago, so this thing is still percolating in my head. But I want to start by spotlighting some of my favorite moments…
- Luke tossing the lightsaber over his shoulder and walking away. Not what I was expecting, but a perfect way of showing us where Luke is at, mentally and emotionally.
- “Those guys hate this ship!” Finn is perfect.
- “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” Rose is also perfect.
- “I’m holding for General Hux.” Thank you, Poe, for continuing to deflate overinflated villain egos.
- Leia using the force to save herself. Finally!
- Leia shooting Poe.
- Pretty much ever other scene with Carrie Fisher.
- R2 showing that clip of young Princess Leia, and Luke, “That was a cheap shot.”
- Luke brushing off his shoulder after surviving the barrage from the First Order Walkers. (And I love that he made himself younger for that projection.)
- Yoda!!! And not cranky butthead Yoda from the prequels, but smart-ass Yoda from Episodes V and VI, smacking some sense into Luke.
- “Page-turners, they were not.”
- The humor in general was great, and avoided getting too slapsticky.
- “Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong.”
- Holdo vs. Poe, and Holdo’s whole story. I wish we could have more of her. I loved how the conflict between her and Poe showed how we needed them both.
Just like The Force Awakens paralleled A New Hope, The Last Jedi had similarities to Empire Strikes Back. Both movies start with our overpowered heroes fleeing their base, and the rebels/resistance pretty much get their butt kicked, despite their victories. But it wasn’t a beat-for-beat parallel, which I appreciated. I mean, Rey didn’t even get her hand cut off!
I really liked Rey’s connection with Kylo Ren. I liked the Luke/Vader parallel, and her hope and need to try to save him. And I liked that, in the end, Ren made a different choice. They made such a good team after Ren offed Snoke…but instead of turning him back to the light, it eliminated his conflict and settled him in the dark.
Which we should have seen coming. In TFA, Ren talked about needing to kill his father to eliminate his doubt. He killed Han Solo (sob)…but by that point, Snoke had become his real father. And so it wasn’t until Ren killed Snoke that he did what he failed to do before. He accepted the dark side.
No story is perfect, of course. One of my biggest complaints is the same thing we saw with the previous movie: Captain Phasma was criminally underused. She was such a potentially interesting character, and it felt like neither film knew what to do with her. True, there were a lot of characters and storylines going in this movie, but they could have given her something to do.
The movie made it look like Phasma probably died at the end, but we never see the body. I hope she comes back for Episode IX and finally gets the screen time she deserves.
I was also disappointed in Luke’s backstory for this. I get that it’s supposed to be full of pathos and angst and tragedy, but it never felt earned. His error in igniting his lightsaber over a sleeping Ben Solo feels out of character for Luke Skywalker, the Jedi who turned Darth Freaking Vader.
I get the guilt and shame he felt. Doubly so, since this was his nephew. But again, what we got on screen wasn’t enough to make me buy the whole, “The Jedi have to end” thing, or his decision to turn his back on the galaxy and the Force.
This is something that bugs me about both movies. Having grown up with the original trilogy, and having loved and idolized these characters…they deserved better. I understand why the writers would choose to go this direction. “Happily ever after” doesn’t generally make a good story. But splitting up Han and Leia…turning Luke into a big ball of shame…these characters earned their happily ever after, dammit.
That doesn’t make TFA and TLJ bad stories. But it makes me sad as I watch them.
Rey’s parents, if we believe Kylo Ren…were “nobodies.” And Rey doesn’t argue — we get the sense Ren is right, that some part of her has always known, and just didn’t want to believe.
I like that she’s not a Skywalker or a Kenobi. She’s not part of the “chosen” bloodline. Who she is, is about her.
One of the critiques I’ve seen is that Rose and Finn’s mission was an unnecessary part of the story. They failed, so they didn’t actually affect the outcome of the battle between the First Order and the Resistance.
But look at the impact they did have. They brought hope to those oppressed kids on Canto Bight. And from a storytelling perspective, they showed a new aspect of this galactic conflict. War isn’t just about the space battles. It’s also about those who profit and empower themselves through them. It’s about who benefits from the perpetual conflict, and who suffers.
Rose’s character mirrors Rey’s, in a way. Rose is another “nobody” who rises to become a hero.
Also, Finn and Rose are just plain wonderful, dammit!
I don’t know how the next movie will deal with the loss of Carrie Fisher, but I hope they do her character justice. I also hope we get to see Force Ghost Luke, a Luke who’s at peace and more like his character at the very end of The Last Jedi. I want to see Kylo Ren settling into his role as Supreme Leader. I want to see Captain Phasma again. I want to see Rey continue to train and grow — I mean, she’s pretty powerful, but she might still need more than just three lessons. And I’d love to see Chewie get more to do. He didn’t get much screen time for this one either.
Basically, this movie made me want to see Episode IX.
What did you think?