We come at last, to the resharing of my opinion (“reviews”) of Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. We came close to this before, when I discussed how online arguments about this movie haven’t really been about the movie. I played coy because it wasn’t relevant to the point I was trying to make in that post.
I’ve since shared my opinions on the other Star Wars movies released during the Disney Era, so the next logical move was to share this as well. I know, this seems late. But I shared them at the time on letterboxd, so feel free to keep up with me there.
Like The Force Awakens, I also talked until I was blue in the face about this movie. One of my recordings earned the online scorn from someone for being “too negative.” I mean, that’s where we are. Any critical opinion gets the “negative” label slapped on you. It’s a refuge for people who can’t handle differing viewpoints.
The irony is that my final rating isn’t bad. I was just offering pointed criticisms that overloaded this bloke, I guess.
Additional thoughts follow the reviews.
Original Review (Dec. 14, 2017):
It tries new things (good!) but doesn’t pull them off particularly well (bad!). It has at least one theme that is challenging (good!) but undercuts it with messy editing and a meandering, pointless subplot (bad!). It blunts its own character arcs (bad!) but Adam Driver delivers a great perfomance (good!). The effects are good for Snoke and Crait (good!) but mediocre to weak for a lot of the other parts (bad!). It portrays the Resistance as dependent on blindly following without question (bad!) and ends up basically with the characters at the same point at the finale (bad!) while giving a nice moment to Luke (good!).
I complain it lacked cohesion and focus. My friend had a great observation as well – it plays more like a collection of short stories than a movie.
So of course people will come at you hard if you dislike it openly. Even the official Star Wars social media accounts – and its acolytes – will imply you have nefarious reasons for lodging complaint. Accept it gracefully and remember, it’s just a movie.
Supplementary Review from Second Viewing (Dec. 30, 2019)
My opinion didn’t change from the original viewing so much as solidify. Kylo Ren’s arc/ Adam Driver’s performance is the best reason to see the film; the Rey/Luke arc is good but lacking a real emotional hook. In short, I don’t know that Rey/Luke connect like they should. The Resistance subplot is boring, to be honest, and the end robs itself of any true significance with hodge-podge decisions and a lingering obsession with Marvel-style comedy.
Sticking Points with Other Fans
I think what’s galling to some fellow fans, who fall into the same bucket I do when it comes to this series, is that my review of The Last Jedi is roughly equivalent to criticisms I had of both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it. There were positive things about it, There were messy elements that could have been handled better. Sometimes they were frustrating. In almost every case, I think that the core issues exist at a script construction level.
The important qualifier to all of this is that I have never revisited Star Wars: The Last Jedi on home video. I watched it twice in the theater. I haven’t gone back since.
I don’t know if that’s because I suspect a harsher review is laying somewhere in my heart, which of course I would share with the world at large. I don’t know if it’s because the conversations were so supercharged with supposition on both sides that I didn’t even want to think of it.
I Will Return to The Last Jedi
I do know that I will be revisiting it as we continue our Disney®™© Era re-examination for Aggressive Negotiations on The Nerd Party. I’m curious whether my reaction will remain static, or change to a more positive or negative view.
To be honest, the only Disney®™© Era Star Wars release that’s put a solid smile on my face is Solo: A Star Wars Story. I want more Star Wars movies like it.
It’s fair to ask what I mean. But this is about The Last Jedi.