The Ninjabot

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Review: Disney Doubles Down on Their Disdain for the Original Trilogy

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 9:24 am by David "Snackbar" Edmundson

With the divisive nature of The Force Awakens, many fans were hoping that character-centric director Rian Johnson would be able to unite longtime fans, and new fans of the franchise whose entry point was The Force Awakens. The eighth episode in the Skywalker Saga, The Last Jedi, though thoroughly disappoints. Mark Hamill warned us folks, we just didn’t want to listen.

Beginning shortly after the events of The Force Awakens, Last Jedi sees a total upheaval of the political structure in the galaxy. Out is the Republic, and in is the First Order, led by returning baddie Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), screaming military commander Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), appearing for the first time in non-holographic form. The resistance is being decimated on all fronts, and General Organa (Carrie Fiisher) must lead her resistance to safety, and hopefully spark a new rebellion.

The film kicks off right away, and throws you into a terrific space battle. It is well paced, and packs a lot of action and emotion. It re-introduces us to a number of characters, and serves as a great entry into the pantheon of Star Wars space battles. Sadly, it quickly devolves from there. The Last Jedi consistently disappoints on almost all fronts. The dialog is often abysmal, and the performances wooden.

What hits you first is the extreme shift of galactic power. From a shadow organization mere days ago, we are told that the First Order will be in control of the entire galaxy in a couple of weeks. They also have amassed an enormous fleet, complete with devastating weaponry that rivals the Death Star. Clearly Starkiller base was just a setback. The Resistance in turn is apparently unable to rally the universe in any sort of opposition, and their entire fleet consists of a handful of capital ships and a couple dozen fighters.

Returning characters Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) are not given very satisfactory arcs within the film, and their dialog and performances are extremely disappointing. This is particularly upsetting since the trio was a highlight of The Force Awakens. Here they seem to be simple caricatures. Poe is the hot-headed pilot who cannot accept that other people have good ideas. Rey takes her place among whiny Star Wars Protagonists who want to go “into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters” and “I’m a person, and my name is Anakin.” She spends half her time with Luke serving as an exposition dump, and reciting nonsense dialog on par with the worst of the prequel trilogy.

There is also a number of newcomers to the franchise. DJ (Benicio Del Toro), Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and live-action Grand Disappointment Snoke all make their debut in the Last Jedi, and are all forgettable duds. With all the speculation surrounding Del Toro and Serkis, their letdown hurt twice as much. The lone bright spot of the new characters was Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), she brought gravitas to the role and was a great addition to the galaxy… far, far away.

The Last Jedi is just disappointing in their treatment of other characters. Fan favorites R2-D2, Chewbacca, C-3PO and Maz are all given minimal screen time, and what they get is ineffectual and underwhelming. Remember Captain Phasma, that awesome looking chrome Stormtrooper? It’s okay if you don’t because the filmmakers did too. I will say that the Praetorian Guards, the updated crimson Royal Guards, are pretty cool and at least give us a fun fight scene. There is also a fun surprise cameo from an old friend.

Easily the most infuriating thing about The Last Jedi was its knack for giving us an incredible moment, and then negating it moments later. There are four significant events that will get your heart pounding and have you cheering in your seats. Unfortunately, they are all undone within minutes. It is clear that Disney either learned nothing from the fans reaction to the treatment of Original Trilogy characters in Force Awakens, or they simply do not care about anything created by George Lucas and are only interested in forging their own path.

Johnson, like J.J. Abrams before him, seems unwilling to meld the old and the new. Sure, they’ll give us smatterings of classic characters, but they have no idea what made them so iconic in the first place. At least with The Force Awakens we got a significant amount of Han Solo, but his absence is palpable, and they seem unwilling to give us the Luke Skywalker we all want.

As for the Jedi badass, well there is not much I can tell you without spoiling things I do not want to spoil, but he is incredibly disappointing. Mark Hamill does the best with what he is given, and he is clearly committed to the part, but again Disney clearly hates the original trilogy.

In the end, it is Star Wars, and even bad Star Wars, is decent cinema, but I am left with the lingering disappointment that Disney feels that the original trilogy must be negated for the new trilogy to flourish. Passing the torch is not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of the character assassination we are getting for some of the most iconic figures in all of cinema. I understand that maybe Luke is too powerful, but there are clever ways around that as well. In this instance, it seems that they were simply traveling the path of least resistance, and longtime fans are an afterthought to children who want to buy toys based on the new characters.

Grade: C

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