Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

Warning: This should be obvious but this review will have spoilers for previous Star Wars films

After seeing The Last Jedi yesterday, I am now ready to share my thoughts on one of my most anticipated films of 2017. While I believed The Force Awakens was a rehash of A New Hope, I still enjoyed the film and Rogue One also cemented my continuing interest in Star Wars lore.

I try to avoid reading or watching any reviews of a film before I see it, since I want to avoid going in with preconceptions. I also try to avoid social media as a whole since Han Solo’s death was spoiled for me by one of the attention-seeking denizens of YouTube. I wasn’t able to abstain completely prior to seeing The Last Jedi but I can only hope that I successfully subdue any preconceptions or at least acknowledge the impact they had on my viewing of this movie.

Episode VIII begins right where VII left off, cutting between the stories of Poe, Finn, Rey and Kylo Ren. I am happy to say that this film doesn’t come across as a complete rehash of Empire Strikes Back, although there are a few moments of similarity. The film’s strongest arc is definitely Kylo Ren’s, who is still dealing with the conflict of truly embracing the dark side. Rey and Ben shippers have a lot to moments to look forward to. Aside from the will they/won’t they moments, Episode VIII delves further into Ben’s past and his relationship with Luke Skywalker.

While the plot revolves around getting Luke to rejoin the Resistance, Luke is a reluctant mentor for Rey. He is a tragic figure whose past failures hinder his ability to move forward. There is plenty to love in the original Star Wars trilogy, but my enjoyment of them was always hampered by Mark Hamill’s subpar acting. Hamill has developed a lot as an actor since then, with a plethora of voice acting and live action roles separating his speaking roles as Luke in Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi. Hamill is able to bring true vulnerability to the role, along with the wisdom expected from the last Jedi Master.

Aside from criticisms that may be reasonable, there is also a slate of alt-right vitriol since this movie has too many women and minorities for their liking. I always found it amusing that people who use the word “triggered” to insult others, are actually the most triggered. They will not be bothered by any of the issues present in “liberal propaganda” but it’s all hands on deck if a film set in another galaxy isn’t dominated by white males. I will ignore these people’s opinions, since they are no more valid than the thoughts of a flat-earther.

Andy Serkis puts in another great motion capture performance as Snoke, surrounded by a cast that delivers for the most part. Finn’s marketing bait and switch, from possible Jedi to bumbling comic relief, was one of my biggest criticisms for the previous film and I happy to see that remedied here. Finn has a meatier role this time around. Domhall Gleeson’s General Hux straddled the line between campy and intense in The Force Awakens, but he crosses that line here quite a few times. There are some weak performances from some minor characters; ones who only have a few lines. While this shouldn’t hamper a film too much it didn’t help that two such characters had the film’s first spoken lines, seemingly setting the tone for what was to come.

Rey’s character was met with a flurry of Mary Sue complaints and some fans will be happy to see some of their thoughts addressed here. One reviewer I follow said The Last Jedi is the Cabin in the Woods of Star Wars films, and I have to admit that this thought influenced my outlook on certain scenes. For example, in one scene Snoke criticizes Ben Solo for his lack of commitment to the dark side, noting that killing Han Solo must have broken his spirt since he lost a fight to a girl who had never wielded a lightsaber. With the Cabin in the Woods comparison in mind, I had to think that writer/director Rian Johnson was trying to address some of the previous film’s biggest criticisms. The film also takes this approach when it delves into Rey’s history, giving us a reveal that may be anti-climactic for some, but also helps to set it apart from other Star Wars films.

I think that some of these scenes help to account for the polarizing reception that The Last Jedi has among fans. While The Rotten Tomatoes critic score is 92%, the audience score is 54%. I am sure that this low rating is partly due to people bothered by too much colour and ovaries, but I won’t say that the alt-right is mostly to blame.

The Last Jedi is nearly three hours long, and its length was the main criticism from the friend I saw it with. While I didn’t feel like the film dragged, I will understand if people say it could have been shorter.  New characters are introduced, such as Rose Tico, Star War’s first Asian character and an easy target for the alt-right. She is paired with Finn for the majority of the film and I have to agree that this is a subplot that could have been condensed at the very least. This subplot leads to the infamous confrontation with Phasma that we saw in the first trailer, but one can’t help but wonder if we could have arrived at that moment differently. The subplot would not have been improved if Rose was white. I will say that like Rogue One, this subplot helps to bring in more moral ambiguity to the Star Wars characters. Instead of characters who are affiliated with light or dark, The Last Jedi shows us more who are simply looking out for themselves.

There are some moments of humour, or attempted humour, that do not work. However, I will say that the majority of jokes didn’t feel out of place. Aside from some flat jokes, there are also several scenes or moments that could have been cut to allow screen time to be used more efficiently. Yes, porgs are cute. After the film cut to them for the tenth time, I started to get annoyed. As a result of some unnecessary or dragged out scenes, we miss out on other moments that could have been expanded, such as the reunions of key characters. It would have been great to see more of Princess Leia, especially since this was Carrie Fisher’s last performance. Obviously she may have been written somewhat sparsely with more in mind for Episode IX, but a weak subplot just brings more attention to what else could have been presented. There are now more questions that will have to be answered by Episode IX. 

To end on a more positive note, The Last Jedi, has moments, whether dramatic or action-oriented, that I believe will become iconic parts of Star Wars lore. The action, at the very least, is sure to please fans, but I believe the film has more to offer as well. I honestly believe I may need to watch The Last Jedi again before I can give it a true rating. For the moment, I will say that I am looking forward to seeing it again.

Star Wars Film Rankings

Rogue One

A New Hope

The Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi

The Last Jedi

The Force Awakens

Revenge of the Sith

“” Attack of the Clones

“” The Phantom Menace

Hetero-normativity in Star Wars and The Walking Dead


Three months ago JJ Abrams announced that his new Star Wars trilogy would include gay characters.
I actually found out about this development through a friend and was reminded of it later when an Instagram user I follow commented on it. He criticized Abrams’s choice, saying it was an unnecessary addition. This user even said they don’t support gay rights. Sadly, I respected him for being able to admit that since many people choose to disguise their bigotry with more veiled language. I still unfollowed the account and I’m not giving the name of the user because I don’t want more people to check out his page.

As expected, this was met with plenty of criticism who accused Abrams of pushing an “agenda” and forcing homosexuality on audiences. This reaction is another example of the bigoted reactions I have discussed before. In this age of supposed “colourblindness” and equality for all, people realize that there is a stigma associated with expressing discriminatory ideas. Therefore, they come up with ways to change their language, without eliminating discrimination. People won’t say they have a problem with gay people, they will just say they don’t like it if it’s “forced on them” or if it’s part of an “agenda”.

Notice that this language is only present if minorities get representation. When a case of whitewashing pops up in a film, people will always argue that it is just a movie and that there is no need to bring politics or ideology into entertainment. Yet when you give a minority more representation on screen, politics and ideology are very important. As one comment on the included link says, “I mean, you can’t have ONE gay character in a blockbuster movie FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER that these guys will start saying they’re being FORCED into sucking dick, lol”.

Pretty much. The sad truth is that many people view straight as normal, as a default. That is why many people don’t complain about a heterosexual agenda in films.

If we have a new character in a film, and his sexuality is not revealed, many of us will assume he is straight. Of course, there are characters depicted as fabulous stereotypes but this example excludes those kinds of characters. For example, Paul Monroe, or Jesus, of The Walking Dead Comics is introduced in the series and is revealed to be gay several issues later. I assumed Jesus was straight. Jesus became part of a sexual minority that has been, and still is discriminated against when he was revealed to be gay. Straight people do not have to worry about their family and friends rejecting them due to their sexuality. That is a fact and no victim complex by the dominant group can change that.

Abrams never said the series will push the star wars lore aside and have their own version of Brokeback Mountain. He only said some characters will be gay. We may hear a male character say he loves another one, we may see a male character show affection for another male character. If you see that, for maybe a few minutes at a time, and let it ruin your enjoyment of the film: That’s your problem and not JJ Abrams’. Star Wars spans several planets and peoples, and you think it’s ridiculous that someone in the world might not be straight?

The Walking Dead TV show provides another example of bigotry. One of the gay characters, Aaron briefly kisses his partner after they reunite. One poster took to IMDB to complain about homosexuality being forced down his throat (no pun intended I guess?). The poster even says that he has no problem with gay people. Since this post was an older one, it has now expired and been removed to make way for newer ones. Realize that the heavy-handed homosexuality this poster was complaining about was a three second kiss between two male characters. If that is heavy-handed homosexuality, are all the kisses and implied sex in The Walking Dead heavy-handed heterosexuality? Didn’t think so.

My faith in humanity was restored a bit seeing that many others users called this one out on his thinly–veiled discrimination. I remember one user saying (Wording might be slightly off) “What’s with you modern bigots and not being able to own up to your discrimination?
That is the most important question.