I really needed to sit and think on this one awhile. We saw it on Tuesday and I left the theater in a state of deep conflict about it – did I like it? Did I love it? Hate it? I wasn’t sure, and I can honestly say I’ve never had that reaction to pretty much anything, ever. I was anxious and felt like I just had an argument for two hours.

Now that the brain sifting has happened, and I’ve allowed myself to read others’ reactions, I can definitely say that I liked it. A lot. But there are flaws, and the flaws are a bit problematic less for this particular film and more for the franchise going forward.

First, the good: the old guard were excellent. Mark Hamill rocked, and the entire interplay between him and Daisy Ridely (who rocked equally) was one for the ages. Carrie Fisher, when they gave her scenes where she was conscious, was great, too. Although I’ll confess to having a very “WTF?” moment with her use of the Force, after a bit I thought, that, too, was rad in both conception and execution (and not a little bit because of how off the wall it really was).

Of the new guard, again, Daisy Ridley/Rey is an excellent character and actor pairing. Adam Driver is also great, and Ren is probably as iconic as a character can be without quite getting to Darth Vader level icon-level – and that’s saying something, since nothing ever reaches that level. The cartoonish, ripped-off, and sketchy aspects of their characters that left them not quite popping in The Force Awakens were all gone here. Rian Johnson knows how to write dialogue and he knows how to direct actors as well as stage action, and any time the film engaged with their story, it worked like crazy. In fact, all the scenes that pushed along the Jedi/Sith (or whatever the fuck Snoke was) mythology were, in a word, great.

Moving down the list from great to ‘oh, so close,’ the introduction and dispatch of Laura Dern. Her end was an iconic moment, one of the most stylish and thrilling action beats in the history of the franchise, but, well, it didn’t belong to Admiral Holdo, it belonged to Laura Dern. Why that wasn’t given to some other established character rather than one we’ve never met before and only has five minutes cumulative screen time is kind of a mystery, and it’s just not smart filmmaking.

Now the problems: I’m not sure what Johnson has against John Boyega, but, holy shit, did they manage to take a character I really liked in the previous film and make him a useless appendage. The entire storyline was a bust, and all the screen time we spent with Finn, Rose, whatever the heck del Toro’s character was named, and BB-8 became an increasing drag. Every time the film cut back to their story, at first, I was interested. Then I was disinterested. Then I was bored. Then I was annoyed. All the points that Johnson was trying to make about the universe around the clash between the Republic/Resistance and the First Order were cool on an intellectual level but death for dramatic tension. And by giving Finn’s only motivation as to save Rey, and then maybe save Rose, the final grudge match between him and Phasma was just empty flash.

Johnson also mishandled the remaining legacy characters, especially 3PO, Chewie, and R2. 3PO’s general anxiety from the original series has morphed into being a cretinous jerk, which is sort of a drag. And I couldn’t tell you what R2 did during the film other than show Luke Leia’s message again if you held a gun to my head (please don’t test that theory).

The other bit of bad filmmaking was by doubling down on the questionable timeline of The Empire Strikes Back. So much shit happened in this film – a timeframe that took place over the course of 18 hours, once you do the math – that it almost rendered the amazing bits on Ach-To between Luke and Rey dramatically null and void, because of the effort I kept having to exert to ignore the fact that they did their whole song and dance over the course of a single day. Again, testament to how good Hamill and Ridley were together that I was able to just be in the moment, but why make such a stupid choice?

And lastly: I fucking hate Oscar Isaac with a crate full of hate. Not Poe, mind you: Oscar Isaac. Poe could be an interesting character if he were played by someone that didn’t possess the extreme anti-charisma of Isaac. I disliked him in The Force Awakens, but thankfully he was barely window dressing in that film. Here he was in every other scene, and on top of that, Poe’s fuck-ups were the source of almost every setback the Resistance had. Completely self-inflicted, so in addition to knowing that I’m going to have to deal with more goddamn Oscar Isaac if I want to see Episode IX, I now also have to deal with the damage that Johnson did to the character in this film, by taking the ‘cocky pilot’ archetype and just making him into a treasonous, catastrophically misguided, macho asshole.

That’s what I mean when I said earlier that I’m worried about the future of the franchise: given that Fisher is dead, and Hamill’s part will probably be little more than a cameo in Episode IX, I now like exactly one of the protagonists. That ain’t good. I could give a shit about more Finn/Rose/Poe adventures. Hopefully they make Driver and Ridley the big event in IX and everyone else gets very little to do.

All of that said, I liked this movie a lot, and could possibly even come to love it. I’m a defender of Lucas’s prequels for the primary reason that despite their flat acting and endless supply of guffaw-worthy moments, they were genuine works of a gifted auteur. What we were seeing in Episodes I-III was the vision of the guy who created the franchise given full rein, and that meant I loved it all, the good and the bad together. The Force Awakens barely had an impact on me because it was such product, which is why I’m not thrilled about the one-two punch of the divisive reaction Johnson’s film has had and the return of J. J. Abrams to the chair. Abrams is the dictionary definition of a safe and derivative hack, and the studio will now be less likely to take any risks. What a drag, because above all else, what I loved about The Last Jedi was that you could feel that it was the work of a gifted filmmaker with vision, passion, control, and originality. I hope TLJ is a film where the public consensus turns around, and that – plus the billion-dollar-plus global take and the general critical acclaim – ultimately convinces Disney/Lucasfilm to continue to take some risks and to again entrust the future of the franchise to people who, like Johnson, tried to give us something new.

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15 Comments

  1. I agree the Poe character needs some work, but it’s no fault of the actor. The actor does an amazing job, his character should have died in the Force Awakens as planned.
    Boyega does a great job as Finn, Del Toros character reminds us that “good and bad” all depend on your reference point. They are both great Addison’s to the saga.
    Organa flying through space was unnecessary and felt forced and fake. It was the worst part of the movie by far.
    The worst part of this review are the comments. The shower of calling someone racist for stating an opinion seems to be the new norm, and it’s sad.
    The movie is not as good as any of the original 3, it’s not as good as the last 2 released movies were (rogue one was phenomenal) but it is better than the awful episodes 1-3, though that isn’t saying much.

  2. "review?" are you sure? on

    maybe actually read a wikipedia article on what a coherent review is, because i know that this curse-ridden excuse for a “review” was not one. instead of bringing up valid points about how you disliked TLJ (which, there are many), you complain about how much you hate an actor – who is probably one of the more talented ones in the film, and how you turned a different character being sidelined into a reason to hate them, too? interesting.

    i have read some of these other comments, who claim that you are racist, and i have to agree. it seems to me you already didn’t like oscar isaac (like… maybe you don’t like the way he acts, but i can’t think of one reason why someone would hate a person so much – who they’ve never even met – simply because of his skill as an actor), and you were just looking for a way to hate the other minority lead. characters that i like, when put in nonessential and boring plotlines don’t make me dislike them. i liked finn before i saw TLJ and i liked him afterwards. the fact that the only characters you care about are rey and kylo ren and how they’re both white tells a lot. especially after you spent the entire “review” bashing the only two minority leads in the trilogy.

    i took a journalism class in seventh grade and i could write a better review based on that – and common sense. the amount of unprofessionalism and disgustingness in general in this “review” is upsetting.

  3. So you hate every single character of colour and their actors but you want the whites to be front and center- that’s all you needed to write!!! You didn’t need to go on and on with your piss poor attempt at journalism/critique with all the subtlety and complexity of a third grader’s english report

  4. I wish I could feel excited about the film as a whole.yes their were some memorable moments and nostalgic.I’m still wondering why I needed to see the shirtless actor.I felt this was just basically a blatant introduction of new characters to prolong the life and overmilking of the franchise.I’m a big fan of the series.time to let it go.

  5. this is by far one of the worst reviews i’ve read yet lmao the last jedi was by far one of the most inconsistent Star Wars movies yet

  6. Turn your location on I just wanna talk a bit you racist piece of shit. The only characters you liked were fucking white you pig. Also Oscar Isaac is a beautiful charismatic amazing actor you ugly pendejo. Also Finn was not unless whatsoever and the face off with phasma was amazing. Fuck off with this piece of shit article.

  7. What I find to be more annoying is that your complaint about him is hardly even a complaint. I don’t even understand what you are complaining about. If you have something to complain about, then quit cussing and make a complaint. All you did was cuss your brains out and complain about how he wasnt in force awakens bunch and that he was in every other scene in last jedi and that he will be in that he next one and that you have to deal with it.

    You are amazed at Mark Hamill. The best things that he has done is the joker, he did the voice and Luke skywalker. Oscar on the other hand has had far more movies that are better than him. Ex Machina, Inside Llewellyn Davis, the Promise, and other movies as well.

  8. Honestly?? just say you’re racist and leave! Stop wasting everyone’s time with your bullshit opinion. The last jedi lacked actual substance, continuity, character development and relied on character conflict to keep the movie going, it was trash.

  9. oh what a coincidence the only characters u liked are white!!!!!!! how about u take ur shit article and shove it up your racist ass fella, no one asked for ur dumb ass opinions!!!

  10. just say you are racist and go. i don’t know what was more trash if this or that crap movie.

  11. the fuck was the reason holdo hid all of their so called plan from their best pilot and one of the most loyal resistance fighters?? no, really, explain this to me. all poe did was to worry about the goddamn future and that somehow makes him an ‘asshole’.

    also. “extreme anti – charisma of oscar isaac” lmao what the fuck…

  12. This review is trash, tlj was trash, rian johnson is trash, and oscar isaac is an amazing actor and artist and overall person in general.

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