Do I like the Star Wars film series? Yes. Do I love it? Sort of. I certainly enjoyed the original trilogy. I found some joy in the prequels. I thought Rogue One was a joyless (yet beautiful) waste of my time. The Force Awakens is my favorite of the bunch.
So I was looking forward to The Last Jedi, but my investment in the universe is still dramatically less than the love I feel for several other universes (Harry Potter, Star Trek, the MCU, heck, even the Jurassic Park universe).
There are things in this new movie I love. I love the interactions between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Luke (Mark Hamill). Actually, I love grizzled Luke, full stop. I love the deepening of the character of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). I love Snoke’s (Andy Serkis) part of the story. All of this was dramatic and exciting and interesting and satisfying. I also pretty much enjoyed Leia (Carrie Fisher) in this one. She didn’t have a home run of a character arc, but I liked it. I also loved the porgs. I want one!
There are things in this movie that are okay. Poe (Oscar Isaac) is okay. Chewbacca (Joonas Suatamo) is (sadly) only okay. (He was so much more interesting in TFA.) Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) moves up from annoying (in TFA) to okay in this one. I’m hoping he will be more interesting still in Episode IX.
There are things in this movie I find annoying. Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) falls into this category. Her motivations were so muddy as to be nearly inhuman in the service of “drama”. But, you know, good line readings, I guess. Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) feels out of place. DJ (Benicio del Toro) is kind of a waste of space. Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) is really shoehorned in. Why bother?
And there are things I hated. Everything Finn (John Boyega) does in the movie bugs me. His motivations, his actions, his confrontations. What a let down after his excellent arc in TFA. They better get him right in the capper or I will be mad. Everything on the casino planet should have been written out of the film. Everything to do with Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) was a waste of my time. Either make her a central character or leave her out. Having a three-minutes per film arc is stupid.
My biggest complaints about the film are structural. First of all, it’s just too long. It was exhausting. (And this is coming from a guy who loved every minute of every ending in The Return of the King.) I think it’s interesting to have the entire film take place over the course of something like a 24 hour period, but the pacing felt off, somehow. Another structural problem was that the four leads of the film didn’t interact nearly enough. (By this I mean other than Luke and Leia.) Yes, there was a good amount of Rey-Kylo stuff. But Finn and Poe were almost entirely on their own. (And, sadly, doing not very interesting things.)
What’s funny to me is that my problems with the film are entirely distinct from the “fan boy” hate. Everything they have problems with (Rey’s parentage, the handling of Snoke, the introduction of minority characters) I liked. So they’re being dumb. I’m not going to spoil anything, because the reveals are some of the best stuff in the film.
Now that we have a new Star Wars film, it’s time for me to update my order of preference of the films. (I’m not going to bother adding justifications.)
- The Force Awakens
- A New Hope
- Attack of the Clones
- Return of the Jedi/The Empire Strikes Back (tie)
- The Last Jedi
- Rogue One
- The Phantom Menace
- Revenge of the Sith